In my reading this morning, I was reflecting on Paul’s words in Romans 9:33. He speaks of Christ as the stumbling stone when he writes:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Evidently the early church combined two passages from Isaiah (8:14; 28:16) to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah; the heir of the Throne of David.
Jesus is, in fact, the Stone of Offense. Humanistic religion puts man at the center of the universe, reason as the savior, and man’s own good works as the means of salvation. The motto is In man we trust! Christ, in fact, challenges all of that. God is the center of the universe. Man is a sinner, personally and corporately. Reason without revelation leads to illusion. Christ is the Savior. Our motto is In God we trust!
This simple fact of the Stone of Offense is true on both a personal and a corporate level.
The French Revolution and the American Revolution, while occurring at the same time in history, were of a radically different order. The French were overthrowing - revolting – the old order, thus making the state sovereign, reason alone, the source of all knowledge, and looking toward the perfectibility of man. The American Revolution was not so much a revolution as it was a reformation - a re-forming – a building on the older order where God is sovereign.
The French experiment was led first by anarchists and then, as society broke down, by tyrants. The American experiment was led first by God-fearing Puritans and then by their children from the Second Great Awakening (1790-1840). The mindset and actions of the French Revolution left man at the center of the universe, and stateism-Communism , Socialism and Fascisms – as the model of governance. The American experience was an experiment of freedom where God is sovereign and citizens are self-governing - obeying all that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28: 19-20). Since then, nations around the world have been reflecting on the two experiments, the French and the American, to discover the root and nature of free societies.
When Atheism reigns, “freedom” is spelled license – the right to do wrong and to promote evil. When God is sovereign, freedom is spelled liberty - the right to do good and promote righteousness in every area of life.
Christ is the Rock of Offense. He is who He claimed to be, the Lord and Savior of mankind and of nations. For individuals who want to save themselves, they will stumble at the Stumbling Stone. For people to find themselves, they must have an internal conversion from self to Christ, from “I am OK, you are OK,” to “I am a sinner who needs the blood of Christ for my sin and his righteousness as my righteousness.”
Likewise, nations who long for freedom must experience an internal conversion – a new metaphysic – the worldview of the Kingdom of God. A nation under man leads to chaos, and ultimately tyranny. A nation that longs for freedom must first deal with the Stumbling Stone, and seek a metaphysical conversion – becoming one nation under God.
For freedom to reign in the hearts of men and nations, the Stumbling Stone must become the Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6).
-Darrow L. Miller