Summary: In Romans chapter 10, Paul explains that the majority of the Jews had missed the salvation turning point of history. They didn't understand that Jesus was the end of the law, and tripped over the stumbling stone of Christ. They failed to believe in Jesus.
A. When it comes to salvation, there are many paradoxes and ironies that go with it.
1. Salvation is free, but it costs everything.
2. Salvation is available to all, but few receive it.
3. Salvation is something that everyone needs, but few recognize it.
B. So when we talk about salvation and people’s need for it, many if not most people aren’t interested and don’t think they need it.
1. However, when people are asked about heaven, rather than about salvation, most people think they are going to heaven.
2. An interesting survey done back in 1997 asked people whether prominent public figures of that time were likely to go to heaven.
3. Here are some of the responses: What are the chances these people are going to heaven… Mother Teresa (79%); Oprah Winfrey (66%); Michael Jordon (65%); Bill Clinton (52%); and O.J. Simpson (19%).
4. But here is the best part about the survey, none of these prominent people received the highest scores.
5. Who received the highest scores? Of those being asked the survey questions, 87% of them believed that they themselves would go to heaven.
6. But who really is going to go to heaven and how will that be determined?
C. As we move into chapter 10 of Romans, Paul is going to address some of these questions as he explains why many of the Jews will be lost, while many of the Gentiles will be saved.
1. In last week’s sermon covering much of chapter 9, we stopped with verse 29.
2. We stopped there, because verse 30 begins a new section.
3. Most of the time, the chapter divisions are put in the right place to divide one section from another, but that isn’t the case here at chapter 10.
4. Beginning with chapter 9, verse 30, the words “righteousness” and “faith/believe” become dominant.
5. These words are at the heart of Paul’s argument in 9:30-10:13.
6. Three times Paul contrasts two kinds of righteousness:
a. “Righteousness that is by faith” verses “a law of righteousness” (9:30-31).
b. “God’s righteousness” verses “their own righteousness” (10:3).
c. “The righteousness that is by faith” verses “the righteousness that is by the law” (10:5-6)
7. These contrasts are at the center of the three paragraphs into which this section divides.
8. In each of these sections, Paul explains that Israel has failed to enjoy the blessings of salvation because she has been preoccupied with a righteousness based on the law, but the Gentiles, on the other hand, are streaming into the kingdom because they have embraced a righteousness based on faith.
D. With that introduction, let’s dive into the text: 30 What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness—namely the righteousness that comes from faith. 31 But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. 32 Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written, “Look, I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over and a rock to trip over, and the one who believes on him will not be put to shame.”
1. As we saw last week in chapter 9, Paul focused on God’s sovereignty in election as God first chose the Jews to receive the law and the messiah, and then later God’s call included the Gentiles.
2. Here in chapter 10, Paul will now focus, not on God’s sovereign choices, but on the individual decisions of human beings to believe, or not to believe.
3. Paul starts with the Gentiles, explaining that they had not been pursuing their own righteousness, as a matter of fact they had been ignorant of God’s promises and had been excluded from the covenant and had no concept of right standing with God.
a. But when God offered the Gentiles His grace through the gospel of Jesus, they responded by faith and received the righteousness of Christ.
4. In contrast to the Gentiles, however, is the situation of the Israelites.
a. God had given Israel the law and the righteousness that is based on the law.
b. Paul is suggesting that the law of Moses, when rightly interpreted and practiced, calls for faith and not just for works.
c. Israel’s problem was that she was so preoccupied with the law that she missed faith.
d. The people of Israel focused so narrowly on the works the law demanded that they missed the larger demand of God to submit to him in faith.
5. Paul then explains that basic problem again in verses 32 and 33 by giving an illustration.
a. He draws the picture of a walker who is so intent on pursuing a certain goal that he stumbles and falls over a rock lying right in his path.