07. BUILDING OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS

In the next verses, Paul says, What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Rom 9:30-33). In these verses, Paul reaffirms that justification of human does not occur because of good deeds based on the Torah, or Law, but based on faith.

The Jewish people must accept the reality that their pride as the chosen people by the blood and flesh because they are Abraham’s children, has no more legitimate compared with the justification by the sacrifice of Lord Jesus on the cross, that is for those who listen to the Gospel. Therefore, it is very clear that becoming the chosen people by the blood and flesh (the Israel nation), is God’s determination based on His sovereignty, but the eternal salvation to be the “children of Israel” based on faith, depends on each individual’s respond and responsibility.

The righteousness by law which is applied by the Israelite, represents various patterns of heavenly religions in general, but it does not make them receive and own salvation or made righteous, because it must only be through the faith in the Lord Jesus. No one can be made righteous without Jesus, because if there is no one who “takes up the sin of humankind”, then all humans will surely perish, no matter how good the person is. There is no need of judgment if Jesus did not redeem sin, and all humans will go to hell inevitably. But, since the Lord Jesus has taken all mankind’s sins, then there is judgment, where it gives us chance to enter the world to come, or become a member of the family in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Actually, the animal’s blood cannot take away human’s sins. God is the God of order. Sin that done in human’s flesh, must receive punishment in human’s flesh too. In this case, there must be a punished human as the replacement. Jesus, as the Lamb of God, has taken away the punishment of sin caused by human rebellion. The way to heaven through the sacrifice of Christ, is the right way, for it is in accordance with God’s justice principle. This is the truth taught by the Bible (John 1:29; Acts 4:12).

The righteousness by law which is applied by the Israelites, whose religion is Jew, and they represent heavenly religions in general, cannot bring people to perfection, where humans are restored to the image and likeness of God, where Jesus is the model. Their way of life is the way of law. While Christianity is the way of God, how people have the character of God in their lives. That’s why a believer must have the mindset of Christ. It is the fact that, though the Israelites have struggled to pursue the law to get the righteousness, but they cannot apply it perfectly. It is only by the grace in Jesus Christ which can bring us to a spotless and unblemished life, or be perfect like the Father (Matt 5:48).

This phenomenon is illustrated like a stumbling stone. Paul said, “Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written:“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame” (Rom 9:32-33). For the Israelite, the salvation in Jesus Christ that they reject with various reasons and argumenta, is a stumbling stone, and this is caused by:
– They think that they are the chosen people, the descendants of Abraham and have a Law that was sent by the Elohim Yahweh, through Moses.
– They consider themselves as a special nation in God’s eyes.
– They are very confident that it is enough just by applying the Torah, where the settlement of sin can be done by the lamb’s blood.

So, it is understandable if they strongly reject the salvation in and through Jesus Christ.

Ironically, the non Jewish people, who are undermined by the Jews, and considered as the uncircumcised gentiles, become the permanent God’s chosen people. Those other nations are justified not because of applying the law, but because of faith, which is like the faith of Abraham. The content of Abraham’s faith is doing whatever things instructed by God. The nations outside Israel indeed don’t have the law like owned by the Israelites, but by the Gospel, those chosen people from various nations, are able to live according to God’s will, more than just applying law. The will of God for the Jews, which represent others heavenly religions, is represented by law. But the will of God for the believers, is His own thoughts and feelings.

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