Wednesday, December 10, 2014

NTDS (34): The Stumbling Stone

Rom 9:32 “They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." NIV

When you read this verse, the obvious questions arise, “who are they” and “what is the stumbling stone?” The answers are also pretty obvious when we look at the context. “They” are the children of Israel. The stone is Jesus.

But what message is Paul trying to get across here? He has been addressing his fellow Jews as to how righteousness is obtained. Even those Jews who believed in Jesus had difficulty understanding that their righteousness did not come from their works. That concept had been ingrained into them from the time they were born, so it was hard for them to discard it.

 In verses 30-32, Paul explains it.
“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.”

He shows them that since the Gentiles (non Jews) never had the law, they could not be saved by it. They were declared righteous
by their faith in Jesus, not by any works. The Jews on the other hand, feverishly tried to keep the law by their own efforts (works), but they did not attain righteousness. Why not? Because it is impossible to perfectly keep the law. Gal 2:16 “so we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” This truth is what caused them to stumble over the stumbling stone, Jesus.

Paul then combines quotes from Ps 118:22 and 25: 2-3 and 20. He articulates another wonderful truth, which should revolutionize the thinking of his Jewish brothers and sisters, as well as you and I! Rom 9:33“and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

Have you contemplated that amazing statement? If you have put your trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, you will not be put to shame. You will be able to stand before the Lord as righteous, not because of any goodness in you, but because of His sacrifice for you. That is why it is called amazing grace!

The nation of Israel as a whole would continue to stumble over this. They could not understand that their promised Messiah had come, not to fulfill the promise of an eternal kingdom on earth yet, but to give them an opportunity to be in right standing with God. You see, without the penalty for sin being paid, no one could stand as righteous before the throne of God, therefore the kingdom of God could not possibly be set up.

There are many today who stumble over Jesus as well. It is hard for them to accept that they become righteous before by accepting His free gift, rather than by earning it. Even some, who “believe” in Jesus, still seem to think they have to earn their way to heaven by good works.

Paul wants to make it clear that no one can be justified by his or her works. He sums it up in Eph 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Don’t let Jesus be a stumbling block for you. If you are a believer, rest in the knowledge that you will never be put to shame. Draw close to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and just thank Him for His free gift of salvation. Then, walk day to day in the power of His Holy Spirit, fulfilling His call on your life.

If you have not yet trusted Christ, quit tripping over Him. He is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). You cannot earn your way to heaven by any amount of good works. He has provided you with the opportunity to receive eternal life with God, by His death on the cross. Put your trust in the rock and receive Him as your Lord and Savior today!

God bless you


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