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.Romans 9:30-33
God says there is a way you can tell whether you are being drawn by the Spirit unto salvation or whether you are being permitted by God to remain where you already were, lost and condemned: The way you can tell is by what you do with Jesus. God has planted a stone in the midst of society. When you walk down a path and come to a big flat rock in the middle of the path, there are two things you can do. You can stumble over it, or you can stand on it, one or the other. That is what Jesus is — a stone planted by God.
The Jews, who determined to work out their salvation on the basis of their own behavior, their own good works before God, stumbled over the stone. That is why the Jews rejected Jesus, and why they reject him to this day. They don't want to admit that they need a Savior, that they are not able to save themselves. No man is able to do this. But for those who see that they need a Savior, these people have already been drawn by the Spirit of God, and awakened by his grace, and made to understand what is going on in their lives. Therefore, their very desire to be saved, the very expression of their need for a Savior causes them to accept Jesus. They stand upon that stone. Anyone who comes to God on that basis will never be put to shame. God says that is the testing point. The crisis of humanity is Jesus: You can be very religious, you can spend hours and days or an entire lifetime of following religious pursuits and apparently honoring God, but the test will always come: What will you do with Jesus? God put him in the midst of human society to reveal those who he has called, and those who he has not. Jesus taught this very plainly:
No man can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him, (John 6:44); and
all that my Father has given me shall come to me. Him that comes to me I will never, never cast out, (John 6:37 KJV).
So what is left for us? To respond to Jesus, that is all. And to thank God that, in doing so, we are not only doing what our own hearts and consciences urge us to do, but we are responding in obedience to the drawing of the elective Spirit of God, who, in mercy, has chosen to bring us out of a lost humanity.
Father, how this makes me realize afresh how desperately dependent I am upon your saving grace. I did not save myself — I could not. I did not even initiate the desire to be saved — that comes from you. But I thank you that you have called me and redeemed me and brought me to yourself, at infinite cost to yourself, and thus, Lord, I give myself afresh to you today.
Are we investing our lives in short-term approval from performance? The Person and saving grace of the Lord Jesus is our personal crisis. Have we consented to His reign, the redeeming power of His Presence?