Cornerstone or Stumbling Stone?

Chris Gardner

February 17, 2019

Cornerstone or Stumbling Stone
There you go. Let's go to Romans chapter 9 Romans chapter 9 today is the last four verses in the Book of Romans 9 last four verses in the Book of Romans chapter 9, by the way, if you look at your handout, I've done something a little bit different this week and I'm probably going to do more of this as we go through our house.
Bible study on the back page. I've got the passage were studying and the reason I'm doing this is because I believe one of the greatest things a person can do is learn how to underline their Bible. I believe your Bible ought to look like it's falling apart by the amount of underlyings you've got and that bad thing is the day and age we live in we don't nothing false, you know.
My Bibles falling apart. So I went and got a brand new one, you know your cell phone. That's not what I'm talking about. You ought to be studying the Bible underlining it making it really does matter. And so this you can underline you can get some ideas about what's going on in Romans chapter 9 as you go for it.
So thank you for being with us this morning. The last handout for Romans chapter 9 is in your hand. This is the last message to cover Romans chapter 9. We've tried to go verse by verse. As a church we decided that we're going to wrestle with the word of God. What that means is this if you are comfortable with the word of God and with every verse in the word of God, you don't know the word of God.
You don't know the word of God because if you are a student of the Bible there are passages you wrestle with and that's what we've been doing is we've wrestled through Romans chapter 9 we wrestled with the passage. We've seen what God saying through Paul to the church at Rome about Israel in the Gentiles.
Today we continue with the same question Paul asked six different times in this book there on the screen where it with Huey today. We continue with the same question that Paul has asked six times in the Book of Romans six different times have I said something weird or what? Okay, the six times in the Book of Romans and that's this look at the look at Romans 6 and verse 30.
Here's what he says verse 30, very first sentence. What shall. We say then. Can I just say that this question is a really big question. What shall we say then six different times in the Book of Romans 9 after all the truths we've seen in this passage. What are we going to say about them now? The reason that matters is this we have to understand the importance.
Of the word of God always demands this question honestly believe that you ought to get in your car after church on Sundays and look at your family and say, What shall we say then? What shall we say then? So after the word of God because he the word of God is not something to entertain us. We live in a day and age of skinny jeans and electric guitars and drums and Lighting systems and and we live in a day and age where the church is built to entertain us.
The word church is not supposed to entertain us. The church is supposed to be a place where the word of God is expounded and when it's expounded this is the question we've got to ask ourselves. Okay, we heard the truth of the word of God. What shall we say then? How is that going to change the life that I live?
What we say? What will we do? How will our lives change and how we engage the world with this truth? How are we going to engage the world with this truth? So let's get ready and dig into these last verses of the book of Romans in chapter 9 in this final section. We're going to see a contrast of two different ways of seeking for righteousness.
You can look for righteousness by faith. Or you can look for righteousness by the law. Now. I did not say you can find righteousness by the law, but you can look for righteousness. By the law you think you can live good enough. If you were to ask the vast majority of Americans your to knock on their door and you were to say do you know that you would go to heaven when you die, they would say I'm not really sure and then you ask them.
So how do you think God will decide whether you go to heaven or not? And here's what they'll say. Well, you know, I've done all the good and I've done a lot of bad, but I just hope the good outweighs the bad. What they don't understand is that there's absolutely no possible way for the good to outweigh the bad because one bad is worse than any good that you will ever do in your life.
You like Chris. Why don't you don't understand? I've done all this good all this good. Nobody cares what good you've done. The question is have you sinned? You can look for righteousness by the law. You can look for righteousness by faith, but there's only one way to find. Salvation is only one way to find righteousness and that is through faith and only by faith.
Once it gets very challenging part of he explain to them how they have failed because they pursue God. You see a lot of us think that God is going to judge our intent. well I intended to do well I. My dad Pastor the church Liberty Baptist Church in Cartersville, Georgia, when I was born and basically pastored there for 15 years before our 13 years something like that before we went to the mission field.
We had a secretary in our church that always drove a Lincoln Continental, you know, all those longboats style very. Comfortable car, you know, she drove this Lincoln Continental and me and my friends decided we were going because I was the pastor's kid. I was always at church later than anybody else.
And so we decided my dad had a Christian School. We had a daycare and we had a church which basically meant my home address was the church address on grass Dale Road. I live there. I'm talking about morning noon and night and we decided that we were going to start a car washing business. So we went around to ask the church members what they if they were interested in getting their car washed and I was probably eight years old and Israel House of friend of mine.
Who's a friend on Facebook said he's going to come visit us soon here at the church. He lives up North and North Georgia good ways from here, but Israel house in Dustin Sheridan and Chris Gardner, we all got together. We're going to start this business of washing cars and man. It was going great. I could sell a car wash to anybody and I was making a killing.
It was awesome. We were enjoying life. And then miss Caldwell said Chris. Why don't ya go ahead and wash my Lincoln Continental. Well, I got a Lincoln Continental there was a problem because it seemed that there was some kind of something on next to the door handle. I couldn't get clean and I came up with this bright idea.
You know how when you can't get a pan clean you use one of those scrubby towel things. Well, we didn't have that. Thank you Maria the Brillo pad whatever those are called. You can tell I spent a lot of time washing dishes. That's a beautiful thing by the way of having teenage kids. It's awesome.
And so so we're sitting there and we're sitting there and I was like, I was I was always the Thinker so I'm sitting there going guys, you know, we don't have a Brillo pad, but if we were to grab really fine gravel stuff we could do the same thing. Lincoln Continental and we're washing and there's just one area that I couldn't get clean Jacob.
This is he now you can make fun of me some after it's done with Jacob sitting there going. Okay that I'm not the only one that does weird stuff. My dad did too. So I sure remember grabbing this little these little pieces of gravel and putting it on the rag and taking and trying to wash off that thing that wouldn't.
Can I just say this Miss Caldwell did not judge my intent. It does it does that make sense? She did not judge my intent because my intent was to cleaner car. I was only trying to do the best for her. I was like with a pin when you can't get stuff off you get the scratch you pad so the scratch all the stuff off.
So I'm just doing the same thing and the Miss Caldwell for the next four years drove a Lincoln Continental with scratches next to the door handle and that got made fun of more than you could ever imagine. And here's what you don't understand. She never judged my. She was sweet. She was kind she was forgiving thank God, but she didn't judge my intent because I missed your car up.
The funny thing is we think that God's going to judge our intent, but God's not going to judge your intent God's not going to judge. How good you think you are God's not going to judge any of that. God says, there's two ways to look for salvation. One is by the way you work and the other one is trusting in Me by faith, and there's only one way to find Salvation.
And so the truth is we gotta remember this. Here's the very key thing to remember out of Romans chapter 9 here on the screen. Look at this with me. Israel was never rejected. Israel was never rejected understand that Israel. It's not like God in heaven said I reject Israel. Israel has not rejected Israel decided.
to not pursue Christ. Israel has never rejected Israel decided not. To pursue Christ they decided that there was a better way. What did you spell to understand was that the law was never intended to be God's last word. The law was never intended to be God's last word and I loved I loved the way somebody put it I was listening or reading somewhere this last week and I love this.
I actually went in and edited my message to add this but what the Jews did not understand what they had a hard time understanding. Was it the law wasn't meant to clean the dirty room? The law was meant to turn the light on so that you could see that it was dirty. That was the job of the law. The law was never meant to clean the room.
The law was never meant to bring you salvation. The idea of the law was this have you ever noticed how in the dark your house looks cleaner than it does in the light. If you just turn the light off everything's good. The law was not meant to clean the room. The law wasn't just flip that switch onto the you look at it and go I'm not near as clean as I thought I was how many of you have ever tried to get ready trying to respect your spouse and they're still in bed.
And so you're trying to get ready and you decide to do it. Do you keep the lights off as long as you can and you put makeup on not me. I'm just saying it's kind of hard to do that with a light of the law was never meant to clean stuff up. The law was meant to show you where the problems were. The finish line of the race.
That was the law is Christ and Christ Alone. He is the reason for the law the law pointed to Christ, but they were so focused on the track that they were running on that they couldn't see that it was pointing to and because of that they kept doing the exact same thing. They stumbled on the one that was the whole reason for the law.
They stumbled on the one that was the whole reason for the law in these verses are going to find Paul illustrating to the Jews how they went wrong. He speaks of The Stumbling Stone because this is what they had done with the Messiah that they have been waiting for that. He was a stumbling Stone.
One of my favorite videos on YouTube or Facebook or wherever all of your videos are playing nowadays is the video that shows men preparing to be dad. And I don't know if you've seen it or not, but they have them on a treadmill anybody seen this video or not. They have them on the treadmill and they're pouring Legos on the treadmill.
And that's what I certainly didn't because that's the reality of being a dad. There are Legos everywhere. And here's what here's what Paul is going to teach us. Jesus is either going to be a stumbling Stone. Or Jesus is going to be the Cornerstone. Of your life. It's one or the other. He's going to be a stumbling stone or a Cornerstone First Peter chapter 2 verse 6 tells the same Messiah and a different approach to the stone.
That is the Messiah. Here's what he says wherefore also it is contained in scripture behold. I lay in Zion a Chief Cornerstone elect precious and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. You're not going to be confused if you believe on the. Cornerstone in this Cornerstone was very very important.
There's two groups of people that want to find here in this passage more than the Jew and the Gentile we find these groups of people you're going to find people that see Jesus as a Cornerstone. And then you're going to see others that see Jesus as a stumbling Stone. That's what you're going to see.
He's either a Cornerstone or he's a stumbling-stone. This Cornerstone is the most important part of the. This Cornerstone would dictate whether the building and its walls would be straight or crooked and unstable. That Cornerstone dictated every single thing about the building each side in each corner of the stone had to be perfectly straight and square.
If it wasn't it would dictate how bad the building would end up being because if you start with a bad Foundation guess what happens everything messes up? The rest of the building with only exaggerate the imperfections that are found in the Cornerstone. The Cornerstone was perfect. Then all the other Stones would fall into place for this building that they're making.
But why does the bible call Jesus the Cornerstone what see the Cornerstone of if you study your Bible what you're going to find that he's the Cornerstone of this? He's the Cornerstone of the church. You can't throw away the church. Because if you do you throw away the Cornerstone of the church, we live in a day and age where people look at church.
Anyway, they want to and they say the the famous words are this. I am the church. So Church doesn't matter. Well, no, no. No, you're not the church. Jesus is the Cornerstone of the church. You're not the church. Jesus is a corner and let me just say this. No single person is the church. I am not the church.
We together are the church to church matters. Why are we going to be meeting on on March the 3rd in my house? You know, why because Church matters the Gathering of Believers matters. We together deciding we matter the church matter to him to such a degree that he's depicted as the foundational piece of that church.
If we do not get Jesus, right? Then we cannot get the church right? Let me repeat that if we do not get Jesus, right? We can't do the church right now many people go around looking for churches in the way. They look for churches as they ask is the music, right?
They'll say stuff like is the youth program, right? They'll say stuff like is the kids ministry. Right are my kids going to have fun is that right is the building right is the carpet is not right in here. But let's just say here's the carpet right are the chairs right is the program right is the preacher right?
But very very very very I don't even know if I've ever heard anybody ask this question. Do they have Jesus right? Because see every other question ought to be based around that question. If they don't have Jesus, right if they don't have the Cornerstone rank your song leader may have the skinniest skinny jeans in the world and you're not Andre.
I just saying your song there may have the skinniest skinny jeans in the world and may look like a rock star maybe built like Arnold Schwarzenegger was back in his day. You may have the coolest place to go the hippest place to be the coolest sounding music, but that's not the question. We asked. We asked about the church.
What we asked about the church first and foremost is this do they have Jesus, right?
Because guess what? We may not have a building but I can tell you one thing. We are people of the scriptures and so we try our hardest to have Jesus right? Everything else is built upon that if not, you might as well put them in little league over youth the youth. Because all it is is choosing which babysitter you want to leave your kids with.
Youth groups all around the nation. Do you know what youth groups are it's overgrown babysitting. You know, what you do for youth groups you get a bunch of kids together. You grab a pizza and slap in the middle of a table have them eat it and run around and then we say, oh, we're magnifying Jesus because we prayed before the pizza that we ate.
Do you have Jesus right? If you don't have Jesus right then nothing is right. He's our Cornerstone. He's our Cornerstone. Do you have Jesus ride? If you don't have Jesus right? You cannot get the church, right? This should be the very first church question. We asked about a church. Do they have Jesus right?
If they didn't if they don't have Jesus right? Then you're going to be able to tell it in many ways inside the local Gathering. I believe there's a Paul saying to the Jews you are missing the most important piece. Because you followed the law. But you've not run into Jesus and confronted Jesus.
That's the missing piece. You follow rules. You pride yourself in that you do, but you don't know Jesus. Can I just say that one of the things that scares me the most is that our churches around America are full of entertained people, but they're not full of people that know Jesus. Religion didn't start with Jesus.
Everyone's always looking for a clear-cut list of what makes them good Christians or if you do this, you're a good Christian. If you don't do this and just I'll tell you for sure almost always the do not do list is longer than the. You can't do this. You can't do this. You can't do this. You can't do this.
You can't do this you get this long list of things you can't do and guess what the bad thing about churches that preach to you a list of things you can't do is that somebody's always going to add one more thing to the list. It's all about Jesus. It's easy to look at this and think how we don't deal with this issue.
But the truth is that we do it's really easy. To miss what life is about what scriptures are about and what God is saying because we're focused on the wrong thing. How many of you guys on Facebook if ever seen these pictures and it says how many faces are in here or once you see it. Have you ever noticed those little things that once you see it?
You can't unsee it look like you're sitting there. Like what are they talking about? Whoa, there it is. And then once whoa There It Is Everything Changes? You cannot even go back to seeing the same thing the way that you used to see it. Well, here's what you have to understand. That is Jesus he is what life is about I love this statement by Winston Churchill.
I love reading books by Hillman. Here's one. Here's what he said. Have you got that quote? Can you put that quote up? Here's what he said. He said men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of themselves most of most of them pick themselves up and hurry off. As if nothing ever happened. Did you get that men occasionally stumble over the truth?
But most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened and that's the story that we see in Romans chapter 9. So I wanted to show you a picture. There's text on there somewhere that I put and I don't see the thing is once you see it. It's going to be awesome. You see this is one of those once you see it, it's going to be awesome.
So number one. Here's what we find in Romans chapter 9 verse 30 and 31. Here's what we find we see the. The illusion look at verse 30 and verse 31 with me. The Bible says what shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to righteousness. They're like how in the world.
Can you say that somebody that was not even looking for righteousness now righteous, even the righteousness which is of Faith verse 31, but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness hath not attained to the law of righteousness. So Paul explain to me what you're saying here what you're saying is the people that never looked to be righteous all of a sudden they're righteous just because they believe but we have tried our entire lives to do what God wants us to do.
We haven't found righteousness. I don't get it. Once again, we start with a question that Paul is use repeated in the book of the Romans. What do you want to say about it? What do we say? This part blows? The Jews who have followed the law way and Paul has dealt with it time and time again in this chapter.
This is the conclusion of what he's trying to say. He says are you saying that these nations by the way Nations not individuals. Do you saying these nations have found righteousness. Are you saying that they have become righteousness? Here's really what they're saying. Are you saying that just because of Faith their righteous?
Are you saying that I kept all these laws but didn't have faith and I'm not righteous. And Paul goes. Yep. That's exactly what I'm saying. It's mind-boggling to a rule keeping group of people that have prided themselves and how well they've kept the law. They the Gentiles didn't even live their lives trying at all.
And you're saying they're saved can't you hear their little temper tantrum there? The Jews are throwing a temper tantrum. They're in the middle of the floor screaming and moving the arm drunk. Oh, no, how dare you? you it's. In their head, they're sitting there thinking it's almost like trying to be the referee for two kids that have gotten in a fight and you can see that in the next verse, you know, the problem with kids when they fight the problem with kids when they fight at is there a lot like adults when they fight they're never wrong.
Have you ever noticed that your kids when they fight they're never wrong? Have you ever noticed when you fight anyway, I'm not going to go there. They always have a reason that it's the other person's fault. If you have more than one boy at home brace for impact because guess what happens one boy hits another boy that boy hits the other boy back.
It's just they're just playing they're just being boys or you know, and then you say stop it kids and because it wasn't my fault. He hit me first. How did he hit you? Oh, he just tapped me on the shoulder then. Why did you sock him in the face? That's probably not a good idea, but nobody will ever admit.
They're wrong. Did I think kids are like that? I mean all of us don't I? Because everything is always somebody else's fault. All you have to do is ask them. Here's the words that you hear all the time, but he. He what did you fill in that blank? But he that's where it always starts at me. Look at the next verse with you and pay attention to what Paul says.
Here's what he says that Nation did not even try and go after righteousness. They didn't even try to obey the law. But Israel, did they pursued it? They pursued all these rules and you're saying they didn't get what they were looking for. But the ones that didn't even look for it found it man.
That's confusing and what it might look not look too confusing for us reading it today being hundreds of years detached from the reality that they had a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea that these Gentiles could be saved. They had a hard time thing here that will Paul was saying could even be true at all.
Gentiles did not even did not did it try found which they had been pursuing for as long as we can. Remember. Well, they had a hard time understanding was that the law was never given so that you could attain it. The law was given so that they would realize that they needed something more than the law.
There is no way that could ever live up to what the law had taught them. They needed a redeemer. They needed a messiah someone that could live up to. The standard and that's exactly what Paul was saying here. He was saying Jesus is the only one that's lived up in can pay the price for them and for you look in the books of the book of Acts writes about the same thing going on with the same kind of crowd and acts 13 38 to 39.
We're not going to look at it the job of Moses and his law was to point people to the coming Messiah. That's the job of the law the law had one job and that was just show you what was wrong and point to Jesus. You know what Genesis does it points to Jesus, you know, what exit is does it points to Jesus?
You know, what Leviticus does it points to Jesus and I could do that through every single book of the Old Testament. They point to Jesus. he says I'm not even saying here in the book of Acts anything that Moses and the prophets didn't say they were all pointing to. Christ so you would think that when they learn the truth that it would change their lives wouldn't you think that the Israelites would be looking and just like the picture that you see on Facebook and all of a sudden you go.
There it is. They would see Jesus, but that didn't happen. Reminds me a lot of us here in 2019 because here's the problem with them. They were hard-headed. Couldn't bring them to believe this. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? They were Superior they knew better. Funny as I travel around the world with missionaries and even as I lived in Peru as a missionary Americans would come down and they just knew one thing more than anything else their way was always superior.
Well, that's not the way we do it. Well, we in your country anymore. But Americans always see their superiors another way that we are we think we have the answer that everybody's looking for. And actually see Paul dealing with us another time and with another people to and acts 18:6 the same thing could be said for us today.
Here's the truth of the Gospel whether you believe it or not is not my problem. My job is not to make you believe the gospel. My job is to preach the gospel. And as I preach the gospel you decide what you do with that. Galatians 3 9 through 12 teachers that no man can be justified by the law. This is something that is extremely hard for them to swallow.
No one would ever be saved by the law that they kept. This is a great. This is a game-changer for him. The Israelites believed that possession of the law of Moses was all that was required as long as they tried to live up to it. Just like I tried to wash mitts Caldwell's car. That's not the way it goes down.
There were aiming at a goal. That was not attainable. We are loved by the god of Heaven to the extent that he sent his son to die for us on the cross of Calvary. We are loved not because of who we are or what we've done. He has shown us his love because of who he is. God does not love us because we deserve to be loved.
Because guess what? We don't deserve to be loved. God loves us because he is love and when he is loved and we realized that he is loved it changes everything about the way we do stuff. We are recipients of that when we place our faith in him. The imagery that Paul uses here in Romans 9 is an athletic illustration.
I've heard people say I don't like so many sports metaphors that Chris gives in the Pulpit. Well, guess what the number one metaphor that Paul used was. Sports so I'm in a good company there with Paul and he's talking. He's those sheep all love these illustrations. He speaking here of a foot race.
He's basically saying this the Gentiles were not even in the race. But they won the prize. Imagine that they're not even in the race, but they won the prize while the Jews were giving all that they had and they didn't win the prize. So let's look at these next verses and we'll read through them.
We're not gonna have time to finish them this week as Bill said I'll finish this in 2020. And so here's what verse 32 says right? Let's start verse 30 what shall we say? Then the Gentiles that followed not after righteousness have attained after have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of Faith but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness hath not attained to the law of righteousness wherefore.
How is that because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by The Works of the law they stumbled at that stumbling-stone God. That's what they did. They stumbled at that stumbling-stone stumbling Stone as it is written behold. I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
see. The book of Peter says that he's the Cornerstone but here he says he is a stumbling block. He's a stoned and stumble on instead of being the Cornerstone and see that's the choice that you get to make is which one of those you haven't here's what he says. He says they sought it not by faith. Is it were they stumbled at that stumbling-stone as it is written behold.
I lay in Zion a stumbling Stone a rock of what? That makes Jim Gaffigan make all the sense in the world the great Theologian comedian that he is Jim Gaffigan stands up and he says I want to make everybody comfortable Hill tonight. So let's talk about Jesus. Jesus is supposed to bring a fence. Jesus is supposed to be I love Justin Purvis told me that he tells his kids and you can ask his kids.
What's the most dangerous today? Has that go?
And the answer to them is follow Jesus. The most dangerous thing you can do. It's not safe. It's not cool. It's not following. Jesus is the most dangerous thing you could do. He is a rock of offense. He is going to offend people people are not going to like that. He actually says if you're going to be my disciple pick up, Cross and follow me and it wasn't an 18 karat gold cross around your neck that he was talking about when he said that he said take this instrument of torture.
They nailed me on that's got blood dripping down the side that brings back really bad memories. Take that and follow me because guess what I will bring a fence and I am a stumbling-stone. So you just sad is he going to be your stumbling-stone? Or she going to be your Cornerstone? That choice is truly up to you.
I can tell you about him, but I cannot make you accept him for who he is. Is he your stumbling-stone or is he your corner sun? And can I just say this? Everybody that wants to fight against this idea. They love fighting against this idea, but they never bring this book to the battle. Well, I just don't see it that way.

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