The STUMBLING STONE (Jesus)

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.[a]32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.[b] For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.Rom 9:31-32

In this passage, Paul tells why the majority of the nation of Israel stubbornly clung to the wrong kind of righteousness and thereby missed out on God’s salvation.  “but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.[a]32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.”  They stumbled over THE STUMBLING STONE (Jesus),

He further comments in Rom 10:2-4,  “2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Paul wasn’t just speaking on his fellow Jews here.  His heart’s desire and constant prayer to God were for their eyes to be opened to see the mistake they were making by rejecting God’s way to be made righteous and trusting on their own righteousness instead. 

Down to the dark history of the church, this fact of ‘justification of faith’ has been the most maligned, misunderstood and neglected truth of the Christian faith.  A failure to properly understand and accept the reality of Jesus as the means of righteousness has stripped believers of the assurance of their standing with God.  It has crippled them into thinking they must be on an endless treadmill of works in order to maintain their acceptance with God.  It is hard to  see  how  this  vital truth could be missed by anyone  who is seeking to carefully examine and teach the Word, since it is the heart of the message of the Apostle Paul.  What Jesus have introduced in numerous parables in the gospels concerning justification, Paul amplified doctrinally in the epistles particularly in Romans and Galatians.

Obviously, the reason Paul made such an emphasis upon this truth is because of the impact that this doctrine had upon his own life.  He makes this clear in his word of caution to the Philippians.  In that letter to this young church, Paul seeks to undo some of the erroneous teachings that a group of super-religious Pharisaical Jews had sown behind his back and which subtly contradicted his previous teachings.

 

Judaizers/Self-Righteous Teachers

This individuals were unbelieving Jews during Jesus’ days and are even found among us today who in some ways accepted Jesus as the Saviour but believed it was still imperative to keep all the Mosaic laws as well as offering prayer of repentance for remission of sins, if they truly want to be acceptable to God.  This was diametrically opposed to what Paul has taught.  His emphasis was on faith alone in Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection that contains the absolute righteousness of God as being sufficient to bring about perfect remission of sins and salvation to a lost soul. 

In his admonition to the church in Philippians 3:1-9, Paul argues that the truly circumcised person is the one who worships God in the Spirit and puts no confidence in fleshly rituals or deeds.  He then cites his own admirable testimony of how blameless he was in keeping the Jewish laws and his zealous persecution of the church, prior to his conversion.

Friends, Jesus is the means for our righteousness to attain perfect salvation in Christ.  If we choose to deny this Truth of salvation, then Jesus Christ will become a ‘stumbling stone’ or a rock of offense.  Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life.

 

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