Romans 9:30–33 (NKJV)
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,Romans 9:30-33
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Paul describes the modus operandi of each group, Gentiles and Israel. The Gentiles are not pursuing a law, per se, but are believing in the saving work of Jesus by grace. They did not before live righteously, but they were made righteous by grace. The Israelites have pursued the law, seeking to achieve righteousness by adherence to that law. However, they have not attained righteousness, because no one can keep the law without sin. Only by faith can one be forgiven and redeemed, not by the works of the law. Therefore, they stumbled on the stone of faith. Paul then quotes Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16, prophecies concerning the Messiah, who we know to be Jesus Christ. Those determined to earn their salvation by adherence to the law will stumble over His grace message, thinking it not enough. Those who will believe in faith will not be put to shame, however, and will live. Believe on Christ today. Do not depend on your own righteousness, or you will stumble over the simple truth of grace through faith. Don’t let that wonderful Rock trip you up. It is steadfast and secure, and cannot be moved. Instead of tripping on it, build your life on it!