“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Jesus found great blindness in Israel as He walked the streets and by ways of Israel. There were, of course, the physically blind, and there are many accounts of Jesus healing blind men. But what broke His heart was the spiritual blindness of the people whose job it was to help others see Him. Sadly, many who are spiritually blind prefer to stay that way. Such was the case in Jesus’ day as well. We have an example of Nicodemus in John 3 who wanted to see; and when he saw Jesus, he believed, but many of his colleagues in the Pharisees and Sanhedrin refused to see Jesus for who He was.
I fear that we have a similar thing today in the Lord’s churches. We have substituted fame for substance. We have watered down the Gospel for the sake of popularity, and we have made the Lord’s churches too comfortable. Jesus made life uncomfortable for the people to whom He ministered. From the woman at the well and her admission to having 5 husbands, to Mary and Martha and the importance of listening to Jesus over being busy, to admonishing Peter not once but three times, calling him ‘Satan’ one time, we find that Jesus did not pull a lot of punches when dealing with people. He was lovingly blunt; we would call Him offensive in our politically correct culture today.
Israel was already blinded when Jesus got there. They had so polluted the truth with traditions that one could hardly see the truth anymore. Wow! I am having this very discussion with some brothers in the Lord right now. There are so many traditions in the North American churches that we have a hard time separating preference from precepts. I grew up in Barbados, a beautiful little island in the Caribbean. I was saved at 14 years old one Monday night in the spring of 1981 at an outdoor service hosted by the Billy Graham ministries. My younger brother was saved the next night after we moved indoors because of rain. The salvation that was taught those nights was the same Gospel I teach today, that one is saved by faith in Jesus only.
One can be saved only by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for salvation. It is the same Gospel that many local churches all around the world teach daily under trees in Africa, in homes in Japan, in garages in South America, and all around the world. However, once one is saved, then where you live is fraught with tradition that can thwart one’s growth. There are a lot of religious things that are not of God, even seemingly good things. Once we begin to put these manmade, tangible things into place as landmarks, they can take over and choke the true spiritual growth.
We are all different. Things like learning to forgive, being a good servant, loving unconditionally and being selfless, learning to give financially to the Lord, and things like being available to the Lord at all times – these are the true spiritual growths that are universal to all cultures and peoples. But things like haircuts, whether the ladies wear pants or skirts, or if they wear makeup, if the music is contemporary or traditional, whether you meet in a building or a house or under a tree, these things do not matter.
We have built a Christianity that has made being a Christian cheap. We have traded external change for true genuine change; we have traded the spiritual disciplines of humility and sacrifice for whether we hold our hands up and cry at the watered-down and repetitious singing that we call worship. We are blinded; even the saved are blinded for the most part. Every day I listen to interviews with lost people of all ages who are completely sold on evolution, abortion on demand, that men and women are the same, and that being a man or woman is subjective and not a matter of science-based on XY and XX chromosomes. They believe that their gender is fluid and they can be anything they want to be.
They don’t fear answering God one day and think they will school God on His mistakes. They are blinded by the lies of this world. Sadly, many Christians have fallen into the trap that they are the Social Justice Warriors (SJW) of the world as well. They think that loving people means accepting them and their sinful lifestyles; who are we to judge? This is hogwash, and we are called to call out sin; we are called not to be hypocrites but to admit first that we are sinners and then to call out sin.
Many of our churches are no longer separated unto Jesus and thus offer no real refuge from the world system. Many pastors interpret the Bible in today’s words and not as it was written. They want the Bible to be relevant; well, it is written by an ever-present God; thus, its teachings are as relevant today as they were then. They do not need to be reinterpreted; they need to be taught and applied.
I have just read through the book of Romans in my personal devotions, and once again I see the promise to Israel that their blindness is temporary. The time of the Gentiles is coming to an end. The end of the church age is quickly coming to an end; and soon, the eyes of the Jews will be opened, and they will see Jesus. 144,000 Jewish men will be called as missionaries in Revelation 7 to go throughout the world and call the Jews from all corners of the world to come home. Once the Jews’ eyes are opened, the Gentiles of the Tribulation world will be, for the most part, blind. But for now, we can see; you need to be saved from your sinful condition, and Jesus is the only answer.
He will send His Holy Spirit to open your eyes if you are tired of being blind, and like Paul in Act 9:18, the scales of blindness will fall off, so to speak, and you will see Jesus as He was crucified and glorified. This is the Jesus that you need, the Jesus that calls out sin, the Jesus that convicts the heart of right and wrong, the Jesus who breaks us and then remakes us in His image, the Jesus who calls for the total surrender of both ourselves and our possessions for His Kingdom. That is the Jesus that you need. The one who gave His all for us and continues to stand for us and with us daily. The Jesus who carries us when we cannot carry ourselves, and the Jesus who never changes.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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