Posted On September 1, 2021

The Faith of the Gentiles

by | Sep 1, 2021 | Featured, Romans

Romans 9:30-33, “ What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[a] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 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.”

Facing the question as to whether the failure of a majority of first-century Jews to trust in Jesus the Messiah means that God’s plan to save Israel had failed, Paul answers with a thorough exposition of Scripture that proves the Lord has never redeemed people solely on account of their ethnicity. In fact, God makes distinctions within bloodlines, choosing some for salvation according to His purposes and passing by others. Indeed, the Lord has promised to save Israel—not Israel according to the flesh, but Israel according to the promise, realized through Spirit-given faith (Rom. 9:1-18). This Israel according to the promise is a remnant, and, as we will see, ultimately includes both Jews and Gentiles who rest in Christ alone for salvation (vv. 19-29). We infer this from the Apostle’s application of a text from Hosea to God’s salvation of Gentiles, a text about the salvation of a remnant of Jews. In any case, Paul will be much clearer about this in Romans 11.

In contrast to Jews’ failure to receive Jesus as the Savior is the Gentiles’ eager embrace of the Galilean carpenter as Lord, and in today’s passage the Apostle Paul looks at the reason for this more from a human perspective than from the divine perspective he has stressed thus far in Romans 9. God’s eternal decree of election and reprobation explains why some people believe in Jesus and why others do not; however, this decree does not negate our response. Paul explains that so many Jews in his day failed to follow Christ because they pursued righteousness the wrong way. Instead of seeking it by faith, they sought it by works (vv. 30-32a). They had a twofold problem. First, they had too high an estimate of their ability to obey the Lord, which led them to believe they could meet the perfect standard required to be declared righteous in God’s sight. To be sure, these Jews believed they needed divine assistance to achieve righteousness, but they thought their imperfect but divinely aided efforts would suffice. Jesus shows us this in His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee counted on his own efforts to justify himself, not realizing that even the best works of fallen people are mixed with sin and cannot serve as the righteousness we need to stand before the Lord unafraid.

Second, the Jews who rejected Jesus erred by treating the law as an end in itself. Instead of looking for the One to whom the law of God points, they saw the Mosaic law as the Lord’s final act of salvation. Thus, Christ became a stumbling block to them (Rom. 9:32b-33).

Coram Deo

Embracing justification by our works is no minor error. Rather, it is a battle against our most holy Creator. John Calvin comments: “Christ has been given to us for righteousness, whosoever obtrudes on God the righteousness of works, attempts to rob him of his own office…. Whenever men, under the empty pretence of being zealous for righteousness, put confidence in their works, they do in their furious madness carry on war with God himself.”

The Faith of the Gentiles, Copyright (2021), Ligonier Ministries.

Related Posts

9 Wrong Ways to Read the Bible (And One Better Way)

9 Wrong Ways to Read the Bible (And One Better Way)

A Book of Good News Many of us approach the Bible not as oxygenating, but as suffocating. We see the Bible lying there on the end table. We know we should open it. Sometimes we do. But it is usually with a sense of begrudged duty. Life is demanding enough, we think....

You Shall Not Eat

You Shall Not Eat

Genesis 2:15-17, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not...

What We Know About the Created Universe

What We Know About the Created Universe

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “Do we know what God was doing before He created the universe?” What You'll Hear on this Episode The Fellowship of the Trinity. Planned Redemption and Glorification. Planning His Kingdom. The Christian’s Destiny...

The Demands of Justice and Truth

The Demands of Justice and Truth

Genesis 2:15-17, “15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not...

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Weekly Roundup 8/30/2021-9/4/2021 - Servants of Grace - […] The Faith of the Gentiles by Ligonier Bible Study https://servantsofgrace.org/the-faith-of-the-gentiles/ […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share
Tweet2
Email
Reddit
Share