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In Roman's 9, Paul presents a topsy-turvy picture. On the one hand are the Gentiles who didn't even have any interest in righteousness but who found it in spite of themselves. On the other hand are the Jews who earnestly pursued righteousness but failed, in spite of their zeal, to obtain it. Why?
The reason the Gentiles had obtained righteousness was that they had accepted the free gift of God through Jesus by faith. And the Jews failed because they had sought to attain it by works of law, but they "did not succeed in fulfilling that law." The plain fact is that it is the crucified Christ who is the key to salvation. And when people come face to face with His substitutionary sacrifice, either they accept it by faith or it becomes an offensive teaching that they end up rejecting.
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