“What then shall we say?” Romans 9:30 (NIV)
Bringing his teaching on election to a conclusion, Paul asked this question a second time (vv. 14, 30), and followed it with a contrast between those who trust Christ by faith and those who insist on continuing a broken religious system that was originally meant to work in tandem with faith. Paul asserted that the Gentiles, who had never pursued any righteous path, obtained righteousness through faith in Christ. Israel, however, having pursued righteousness through law never achieved the standard of the law because faith was left out of the paradigm (v.31).
The Roman Jewish-Christian was introduced to the biblical precept of God’s bedrock of faith (Matthew 16:18) becoming a stumbling stone to those who seek God’s favor through a religious system of man’s works (v.32). Again, citing from the ancient prophetic texts, Paul brought Isaiah’s words to the forefront once again:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (v.33)
To the first century Jew, Isaiah was a revered and well-read text. In it, the reader found hope for the promised Messiah, The Redeemer of Israel (and the human race). Utilizing this precious resource, Paul was able to bridge the divide between Jewish tradition and the arrival of the Messiah and the New Covenant. Paul himself had stumbled over the stone that the builders rejected (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42-43; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17). He grew up in the Jewish tradition, was schooled as a pharisee, was zealous for Judaism – even to the point of persecuting the Christian awakening (Acts 22:3-5; Philippians 3:4-6). Paul was a full-bred Hebrew! Yet, Paul came to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. You can read about it in Acts (22:6-21).
Peter took a cue from Paul and described Jesus as the Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4-8):
“As you come to Him, The Living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in scripture it says:
‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’
“Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and ‘a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’”
We see, then, a thorough description of Christ:
The Living Stone: He is not dead; He is very much alive!
The rejected Stone: the Rock of Ages which was dismissed and scorned.
The chosen Stone: Jesus was chosen from among the Trinity to take the penalty for the sin of mankind.
The precious Cornerstone: upon Him the entire law and prophesies are fulfilled.
A stumbling Stone: The Living Stone has a way of getting in the way of those who reject it… becoming a stumbling stone.
Just as those from the Abrahamic covenant were chosen, so the new covenant welcomes those chosen to receive God’s grace through Jesus Christ. Peter echoed Paul’s argument with these words:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9 – 10)
Election… God’s powerful display of grace through adoption by faith. Do you have any Jewish friends? Pray for the opportunity to share this wonderful news of faith in Christ and how He fulfilled His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Have a blessed day…