“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” (Romans 9.30-33 ESV)
It all comes down to faith. That is what Paul is explaining here. Those who were not Jews were not seeking God’s righteousness while Jews were seeking righteousness through the law. The non-Jews found righteousness through faith in Christ. Many Jews did not find righteousness because the law was not sufficient to save.
What it all boils down to is that faith is what we need. Working or trying to follow a strict set of rules will only lead to ruin. Faith in God the Son, Jesus, leads us into God’s grace and salvation.
This idea has become a stumbling block, something offensive, not only to Jews, but to many people around us. It is unpopular to say the Jesus is the only way to salvation; the truth is often unpopular. People often want to hear what they want to hear no matter the consequences.
We have only faith to save us. Any time anyone adds anything to faith they fall into heresy. The Church of Christ and the Roman catholic church teach that one must be baptized in order to be saved. That is adding works to salvation, which is in total violation of what God teaches us through Paul here in this Scripture. We need to remember that all the blessings we have through our salvation were attained by faith in Christ, not because of anything we have done.