What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Paul closes out chapter nine with a sad commentary on Israel’s failure to understand the purpose of the Law. As a result of this, they rejected Jesus (the stumbling stone). This is an amazing passage of Scripture. The Gentiles, without willing or working, found righteousness in Christ because God worked and God willed it. The Old Testament Scriptures had prophesied it. The prophet Isaiah declared that Gentiles were to be saved. In other words, Israel, pursuing a law that should give righteousness, did not arrive at such a law. The Jews tried to produce a righteousness of their own through the Mosaic system. They didn’t produce it.
Religious people are the most difficult people to reach with the gospel. They think they are good enough to be saved. In our modern culture, it is all about performance. We see this at every stage of life. When we are young, it’s all about earning grades at school so we can get into the best college. In college, we are encouraged to excel so that we can get a good paying job. Once on the job, it is all about performance and advancement through self-effort and achievement. This is the way of the world. The Gospel is countercultural. It is not about performance. It is all about grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
The Jews stumbled because they failed to understand the true nature of the coming of the Messiah. They were looking for the Conquering King when they should have been looking for the Lamb of God. The one who believes, either Jew or Gentile, will be saved. The humble mind will come in simple faith. The natural man will try to produce salvation by self-effort through religion. This is all the natural man knows. In the end, Jesus (the stumbling stone), provides refuge for those who entrust themselves to Him, but provides the downfall of those who stumble against Him. Those who trust in Christ as the Savior whom God provided need never fear that their trust will prove to be ill-founded. God vindicates His people’s faith.
Questions to Ponder:
How has our performance-driven culture influenced religion today? Have you ever failed to perform to someone else’s standard? If so, how did it make you feel? What is the foundation of your self-worth? The true Gospel is not about performance but about faith. How does it make you feel to know that you don’t have to perform in order to be loved by God? Are you a thankful recipient of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness?
- Worship our Father as King of the Universe, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
- Adore God as Messiah, Cornerstone, Perfect Stone, Perfect, Spotless Lamb of God, Rock, Fortress, Strong Tower, Conquering King, Revealer of Truth, and Light of the World.
- Thank Him for the free gift of salvation, the reality of being His child, co-heirs with Christ Jesus. Thank Him for His Indwelling Holy Spirit.
- Continue to thank Him for what is on your own heart.
Merciful Savior, Loving God, Faithful and forgiving Father, I worship You as my all-in-all. Thank You for being my center. Lord, I ask that You would remind me and all the saints at Oak Pointe of the fact that You love us just as we are. There is nothing we could do to make You love us more. Thank You, too, that Your love or commitment is not based on our performance or what we do for You. Your love and commitment are based on the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Our righteousness comes from Him and Him alone. Thank You, LORD. I ask now, Lord, that You would open the eyes of my heart (and those of Your church), so that we may know You better. I ask that we, Your children, would know our inheritance in all the saints, and we would know of this Dunamis power that resides in us, the Holy Spirit. We posture our hearts even now, Papa, and ask that You reveal Your tender heart to us. In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask. Amen.