and, "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.1 Peter 2:8(NASB)
In Old Testament times, it was Israel who was called to be a holy people unto the Lord. They were chosen from all the nations on earth, to be God's peculiar people. They were to be a light to the Gentiles. They were to act as the priestly mediator between earth and heaven, so the world would know that God is the Lord and salvation is found in Him, alone.
The promised Messiah was to come through Israel. He was the promised Seed of Abraham, through Whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. He had to be born through the house of Judah, "for salvation is from the Jews" - salvation comes through faith in their Messiah. But God knew they would reject His authority and crucify the Lord of Life, and so, for a season, Israel was set aside. Today, God is working through the Church. The gospel of grace is being preached by 'The One New Man In Christ'- which is made up of believing Jews and believing Gentiles, who trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The dispensational transition, from Israel to the Church, was difficult for many Jews, who clung to their former appointments and established traditions. And although some accepted Jesus as Messiah in principle... many refused to surrender their position as God's witnesses on earth to the Church... unless they adhered to Jewish rites and rituals as well as believing in Jesus. This caused Jesus to become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to them, instead of the Rock on which their salvation is built.
Jesus was Israel's CORNERSTONE. He was the final piece in their march towards the promised kingdom. He was the King of the Jews, and had He been accepted by them, the kingdom would have been established on earth, there and then. But they put to death the Author of their salvation, and Christ became the FOUNDATION Stone upon which the Church is now being built. And for 2000 years God has been building His Church with 'living stones' - men and women- Jews and Gentiles, who trust God's Word and believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Paul explained that the Church is being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone, and Peter confirms this truth, by expanding Isaiah's prophecy, "Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly Cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed by it."
To those who trust in Him, Jesus becomes their Saviour. To those that are 'The Called of God', both Jews and Gentiles, He is Christ - the power of God and the wisdom of God. He is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe - both Jews and Gentiles. But to those who reject Him - both Jews and Gentiles, He becomes their Judge. To those who refuse to believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God, He becomes "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE. They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom, they were appointed."
Christ is either Saviour OR Judge. Every man will either experience His mercy, OR have to face His wrath. To those who believe... He becomes their springboard into eternal life and everlasting light. But to those who do not believe, and choose to remain in darkness... He becomes the instrument of their eternal destruction. Those who choose to remain dead in their sin will remain estranged from God through time and into eternity.
Peter informs us that those who are disobedient to God's Word - i.e. those who do not believe on Christ, were appointed to death and destruction. They were destined for this end. God determined that those who believe were destined for eternal life while those who did not believe were destined for destruction Paul describes such people as, "vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction," and Scripture clearly teaches that those who believe will be saved, and receive eternal life, while those who do not believe in Christ, will be damned, and face the eternal Lake of Fire.
Some subtract from this truth and refuse to accept that the Bible teaches that lost souls are eternally damned. They teach a limited punishment. They incorrectly teach that unbelievers will eventually be brought into heaven - but this is NOT what the Bible teaches.
There is also a satanic doctrine that has pervaded much of Christendom, which teaches that God has foreordained certain people to damnation. This again is not biblical. The wages of sin is most certainly death... BUT the free GIFT of God's Salvation is open to ALL WHO BELIEVE. Those who are obedient are the ones who BELIEVE, and they are not NOT condemned. Those who are disobedient and do NOT believe... are condemned. They are appointed to death and destined for destruction, through their own choice... and not because God foreordained it. No one is excluded from His offer of salvation, and this wrong interpretation of Scripture should be vehemently rejected.
Every man has been given the free will to EITHER believe and be saved OR not to believe and be damned... and everyone is responsible for the choices they make in life. The Bible teaches that every man is convicted by the Spirit about sin, righteousness, and judgement. Every man is responsible for the choices they make in life. Everyone can CHOOSE EITHER to believe and be saved OR not to believe and remain condemned. The choice between Eternal Life and the Lake of Fire is their sole responsibility.
God's grace towards man has been extended for 2000 years, and the Church has become His witnesses on earth to the lost and dying world. May we recognise the serious nature of the choices we all have to make in life, and choose the good and reject the evil.
Heavenly Father, thank You for opening my understanding to the serious nature of the choices each of us has to make in life. Thank You that I have chosen to trust in Christ for salvation, and that there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus. Thank You that He is the Foundation Stone on which the Church is being built and the Rock upon which I stand. But Father, there are many who are disobedient to Your call to trust in Christ - in Whom are the words of eternal life. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would continue to convict many lost souls of their need of salvation, today, so that Christ does not remain a Rock of Offense that causes them to stumble, but becomes their eternal hope and joy. This I ask in Jesus' name and for His eternal glory, AMEN.