Summary: What is Jesus and His gospel to you?
Stumbling Stone or Building Block
* How many people here want to go to heaven? Over the years, I have heard many stories about preachers asking that question.
* One preacher stood before his congregation and asked, “If you are ready to go to heaven, please stand?” And the entire congregation rose to their feet except for OLD CANTANGEROUS JOE. Having everyone else sit, the preacher addressed Joe with, “So Joe you are planning on going to heaven?” To which Joe responded, “Oh yeah, preacher I’m going to heaven.” Well, why didn’t you stand?” Asked the confused preacher. Dryly, old Joe said, “Well, I thought you were getting us a bus load.”
* One day a Priest went into a bar. He said: "All of you who want to go to heaven raise your hands! Nearly everyone raised their hands. A cowboy standing nearby said, ’They are all faking. Only I can point out those who really want to go to heaven! The father said, ‘Go ahead my son! Do anything you want’ the cowboy took out his pistols and aimed at the crowd and said’ whoever wants to go to heaven raise your hands!
* Truth be told, when this life is over everybody wants to go to that better place which we know as heaven but not everyone has discovered the right way to get there. And finding the right way is a discovery indeed!
* We have just read the last four verse of Romans 9, which has the potential to stir up theological debate about a myriad of things which offer us little hope and help in our quest to become right (righteous) before God. But for us, let’s see how the truths found in these verses can assist us.
* Look with me in verse 32 and let’s consider the last phrase of this verse. It says, “They stumbled over the stumbling stone.” Isn’t this interesting. There is a rock which, by design, is a stumbling stone? One paraphrase says it’s “it’s a stone which was in the way.” Gene Peterson (The Message) words it, “like a huge rock in the middle of the road.” However you care to say it, we have a picture of this in our minds. But let me carry it further;
* This is a concrete block. Anyone who has ever worked with concrete blocks for very long have felt “led by God” to do something ELSE for a living. These things are heavy and strong. When we were on the Bahamas several years ago, it was common for the houses to be constructed with blocks and concrete so they could stand up against the hurricanes & such. This concrete block is designed for building and in the hands of an experienced brick mason; it can make a building almost impregnable. It is that strong. Let’s set this here, in plain sight and use it to help us. Allow me to offer you 5 truths which will help us understand this stone.
1. The Person who is this Stone - From the very first, let’s be clear; this stone, this rock, or this block, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
* It is this rock which is repeatedly spoken of in the Old Testament. 2 Samuel and Psalms says, “The Lord is my rock.” Isaiah tells us He will be a stone to stumble and trip over. The choruses of praise and worship and gospel ring out to remind us, “I go to the Rock”, “My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”, “Jesus is the rock in a weary land”, “The Rock of Faith is Jesus.” The praise could go on and on.
* Just for argument’s sake, consider this; a rock, block, or stone, is not intrinsically good or bad. A rock left to its own, is neutral. However, this rock spoken of so frequently in God’s word is NOT one of those neutral stones. This stone is a good stone, it is more than a rock, it is literally a HE and that HE is an important block. Why? We find our answer in;
2. The Placer of the Stone. – From verse 33 in this passage tells us that God placed this stone us. Peter thinks this is important enough to include it in his writings (1 Peter 2:6). It matters not what version (translation or paraphrase) of the Bible you read, the wording is the same. It reads, “I” lay in Zion. God gave this stone to us. He placed it and it is an important stone because it is a LIVING stone. We know it is a living stone (which is very unusual) because verse 4 tells us. And we know it’s important because God doesn’t waste His time on unimportant things.