Stumbling or Standing?

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. 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 9:30-33 ESV)

The focus of the passage revolves around the idea of standing and stumbling. We will see one group who is standing upon the rock of Christ Jesus and another group stumbling over him and then the question will come to you, “Which one are you?” Are you standing upon the rock of Christ Jesus or have you stumbled over him, that is, have you been offended by him? You say, “Well, I thought this passage was about election, and this sounds like human responsibility.” You are right on both counts as I have tried to tell you this entire time, for our God elects and human beings are responsible. We will see the consistency of God in salvation by faith alone and his judgement of salvation by the works of the law.


  1. The Gentiles Stand by Faith (30)
    1. Gentiles have righteousness they did not pursue (30): Romans 3:9-12; Ephesians 2:1-3.
    2. Gentiles have righteousness they attained by faith alone (30): Galatians 3:6-9; Ephesians 2:4-10
  2. The Jews Stumble by Works (31-32)
    1. Jews do not have righteousness (not all Jews, because there were certainly believing Jews at that time) even though they pursued it (31a).
    2. Jews do not have righteousness because they pursued it through the law (31b-32): Romans 10:1-4; 1 Peter 2:6-8;

The Jews mistook the diagnostic for the cure. I am indebted to Matt Chandler for this illustration, as he underwent surgery and chemotherapy for brain cancer and at this point is cancer free. Two years ago at Thanksgiving, he had a seizure and after taking him to the hospital they found out something was wrong with his brain and he had to undergo an MRI. The MRI showed a massive cancer in the front part of his brain and he had to undergo aggressive treatment. The treatment was just to get more MRI’s. Does that sound right? No, it’s not right. An MRI machine has no ability to treat cancer, only the ability to point out that cancer is present. It would be crazy to use the diagnostic as the cure. 


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