Jesus the Stumbling Stone

In yesterday’s study, we saw quite an extraordinary picture of how God has chosen to deal with the Jews and the Gentiles of Paul’s day until now. The picture that is given, though presented in racial terms, is not based totally on race (i.e. Jew or not Jew), but it is also based upon their relationship to God’s Law. Expectedly, the Jews who possessed the law of God had a much different reaction that the Gentiles who did not possess the law. Yet, instead of finding the fulfillment our natural expectations, i.e. that the Jews would find themselves in God’s favor and the Gentiles would find themselves destroyed, the opposite is true. We find that the Gentiles who were not looking for God and righteousness found both, and the Jews who were looking for God and righteousness found neither.

Why did the Gentiles find righteousness and the Jews did not? Simply because the Gentiles received it by faith and the Jews attempted to attain it by works. For Paul writes, “They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame’” (Romans 9:32, 33).

For those who work, Christ will always be a stone a stumbling unto damnation. For the working soul says, “What deeds shall I do to inherit eternal life,” not recognizing that there is nothing that he can do to inherit eternal life. The working soul despises Christ and the doctrine of faith because it removes all of the glory from the worker and places it all upon God in Christ. For the apostle writes earlier:

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith (vv. 3:27-30).

God will receive the glory for his salvation, and for this reason he has prescribed that faith would be the vessel through which salvation is granted.

A question that I asked myself when I came to these verses is, “What does this text have to do with Romans 9?”—“What does Gentiles receiving a salvation that they did not pursue and Jews not receiving a salvation that they did pursue have to do with our present context?” The answer: God’s glory. The reason that God elects and reprobates, the reason that God hides himself from the wise and reveals himself to babes, the reason that he trips Jews and receives Gentiles is all to glorify his work of salvation. Salvation is from the Lord. Period.

Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study

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