The Berean Expositor
Volume 52 - Page 202 of 207
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teach that God "endured with much longsuffering" vessels that in His own sovereign will
He had Himself "fitted to destruction". What God has done is with the object of showing
His mercy towards those whom He calls whether Jews or Gentiles. The fact that, at the
end of the Acts period God laid aside Israel in unbelief, was no more against His
promises than the rejection of the ten tribes who were carried away into captivity by the
Assyrians; for, although thousands were deported, yet a remnant returned to perpetuate
the race, and it is this doctrine of the remnant that is so important to understand. If any
reproached God for the smallness of the remnant, Paul says that such should be glad to
think that a remnant had been spared at all, for, as Isaiah had said, the people had become
like Sodom and Gomorrah and the Lord, but for His mercy, might have left them all to
perish (verse 29).
The conclusion of this section of Romans is clear. No one is in a position to criticize
God or His actions, denying the fact that He has a right to do what He wills with His
own, for the whole world has been brought guilty before God (3: 19) and so has no claim
upon a holy God Who is Judge of all the earth. He is a God of mercy and grace and no
sinner can be entitled to this.
Paul goes on to sum up:
"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have
obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;  but Israel, who pursued a law of
righteousness, has not attained it, Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith, but as it
were by works. They stumbled over the `stumbling stone'. As it is written, See, I lay in
Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who
trusts in Him will never be put to shame" (Rom. 9: 30-33, N.I.V.).
The attitude to righteousness of these two classes, Gentiles and Jews, is made clear.
The former accepted God's verdict on them as being guilty sinners and then accepted His
gracious provision of righteousness through Christ's sacrificial work. The Jews on the
other hand imagined that they could keep the law of Moses by their own efforts and
attain to a standard of righteousness that God would accept. This might have been
regarded as being blameless in the sight of men, but not before God. Even Paul could
regard his pre-Christian life as being blameless (Phil. 3: 6), but he soon learned that his
own righteousness was worthless.
The Apostle quotes from Isaiah and combines two verses. Isa. 8: 14 and 28: 16
whose common term is a stone laid by God. Isaiah foretells that the future Assyrian
invasion will sweep over the land of Israel like the waters of a flood. The only safe place
will be God Himself likened to a rock upon which they can stand safely. But those who
do not trust the Lord will be swept by the flood against this rock and come to disaster. To
them it will become "a stone of stumbling" and a "rock of offence". Peter quotes the
same references in I Pet. 2: 8 and also combines another, Psa. 117: 22.  These two
opposite effects have always followed the preaching concerning Christ and His
redemptive work. Some believe and build on Him as a secure foundation for eternity;
others reject, to them He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, as
I.Cor.i.18,23,24 declares.  Just as the sun both melts wax and hardens clay, so this
twofold effect goes on wherever Christ and the gospel are faithfully preached. It was true