Christ is the end of the law to all who believe

 

I prepared notes for a sermon principally to believers on Romans 10 verse 4, showing how Christ’s work is both the termination and the fulfillment of the law. I tackle some false teachings concerning the law. I explain how this verse shows the end of all the symbols and ceremonies of the old order, and note parallel verses. I include notes on how you would use this verse to explain the way of salvation.

Context
The context of this text is Paul’s grief for Israel according to the flesh, for they have not understood the purpose of the law and the way of salvation. ‘Paul understands the tragedy of Israel in light of his own conversion. What he says of Israel had formerly been true of himself and corresponds with his autobiographical statement in Phil. 3.4-9. Both the pre-Christian Paul and unbelieving Israel had a “zeal” for God’s law, but “not in accordance with knowledge” of the Messiah and the righteousness that comes only through him by faith and not works. When Christ appeared to Paul, he received a true “knowledge of Messiah Jesus” (Phil. 3:8) as “the end of the law” Israel was in the condition that Paul was in before he became a Christian.’[1]

Notes on the wrong interpretation of the meaning of “Christ is the end of the law”

  • There is a false teaching of antinomianism which says, that the moral law of God is not binding at all in any sense to believers. Some even go so far as to say, that Christ is the end of the law in the sense that even unbelievers are not going to be judged by God’s moral law. They are only going to be held guilty of their unbelief. They say that God gave the law under Old Testament dispensation, but that once Christ came, the law was finished; it no longer applies. This is a very serious error.

 

  • These false teachers do not care if their doctrines make the whole Bible contradict itself. Jesus himself said that he is not going to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-18). Paul said in Romans 3:31: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” D. M. Lloyd-Jones said well: “The law of God which He gave to the children of Israel through Moses is a permanent expression of God’s holy character and of what God expects from men and women. The law is not temporary; it is eternal. The law is still the expression of how God would have men and women live in this world.”[2]

 

  • Every person has to face this law of God. Romans chapters 1-3 is clear on this: unbelieving Jews and Gentiles are both under the law and God demands that his law is kept. The law makes its demands on believers as well, it shows the kind of life which we should be living. One of the purposes of salvation is to enable us to live a life that is in accordance with God’s moral law.

 

  • There are other false teachers who make this sound like we should never preach and talk about the law to unbelievers. All they want to talk about is the “love” of God. You don’t need to preach against sin – they say, because God loves everybody just the way they are, unconditionally. This is false.

 

  • All teaching concerning salvation must be put in terms of the demands of the law. In Romans 3:24-26 Paul talks about Christ as our mercy-seat (Greek word hilastērion) as a key element of the Gospel. Any teaching that bypasses the demands of the law will never preach how Christ became the propitiation for our sins. Any teaching that belittles sin and does not make known, that God hates sin and sinners (Ps. 5; 7; 9; 11) will never be used by God to bring people to salvation. The law of God needs to be fulfilled, the wrath and justice of God need to be satisfied, and the heart of the Gospel is, that Christ did it all for those whom it is granted to repent.

Notes on the ways in which Christ’s work is both the end and the fulfillment of the law

  • Christ is the end, or the goal[3]of the law in the sense, that for all those who are in Christ, the law is not able to condemn them. In Romans 6:14 Paul said: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.” This doesn’t mean that the Christians are not to obey the Ten Commandments. It means that they are not under the curse to fulfill the law in order to be saved. To be “under” something means to be under a burden (Rom. 3:9).

 

  • We are no longer under the burden of having to work our way to heaven. This burden was cast upon Jesus (Gal. 4:4) and he obeyed the law in our place perfectly. He suffered the penalty in our place, and because this was certain, Christ said: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).

 

  • The whole argument of Romans chapter 6 was that the believers are slaves (doulos) of righteousness, they’ve been united to Christ, they are new creatures, and therefore Christians obey righteousness; not as a burden, or as the way to heaven, but because they’ve been set free to do it. St. John wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John. 5:3).

 

  • Charles Hodge commented[4]: “The doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture, that those who are out of Christ are under the law, subject to its demands and exposed to its penalty. His (Christ) coming and work has put an end to its authority, we are no longer under the system which says, Do this, and live; but under that which says, Believe, and thou shalt be saved. This abrogation of the law, however, is not by setting aside, but by fulfilling its demands. It is because Christ is the fulfiller of the law, that he is the end of it.

 

  • What was the purpose of the law in and of itself? It was ordained to life, but now we’ve found out that it is unto death (Rom. 7:10). The law cannot justify us because we’ve broken it. Therefore, the eternal purpose of the law was to magnify sin and to bring us to despair, so that we would trust in Christ, for God gave His only Son so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us’ who are in Him (Romans. 8:4).

Notes on how this verse shows the end of all the symbols and ceremonies of the old order, and some parallel verses.

  • The law is the schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24) and as all types and prophecies are meant to point to Christ (Col. 2:17; Heb. 9:9), He is the fulfillment of them as the Prophet, Priest, and King.

 

  • You could make an endless list of how Christ is the fulfillment of all the symbols and ceremonies of the Old Covenant that prefigured Him. Here are just a few:

 

  • The Law and its order prefigured the righteousness of Christ. The law of Moses is a reflection and foreshadowing of the absolute perfection and righteousness of Christ, rather than Christ being a reflection of the law.

 

  • The earthly tabernacle prefigured God’s presence through Christ. The tabernacle of Moses was a copy or a shadow of the true dwelling place of God in heaven (Heb 8:59:24).  It showed what God was like and what was needed to deal with sin.  In this way, it symbolized what the Messiah was to do for our salvation.  We may say that it “foreshadowed” the Messiah and his work.  It was like a shadow of the Messiah cast backward in time into the Old Testament period.  The shadow was always inferior to the reality.

 

  • The sacrifices prefigured the final sacrifice of Christ. All the aspects of the sacrificial system are combined fully in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Christ bore the punishment for our sins (1 Pet. 2:24 53:5). Therefore, Christ is the final sin offering. Christ was wholly consecrated to God. He suffered death and destruction for sin, and also brings about our death to sin (Rom. 6:2-7). Thus, He is the final burnt offering. Christ in his perfect obedience gave to God the honor and thanks that is due to him. Thus, He is the final grain offering. Christ now offers us his flesh to eat (John 6:54-58). By communion with his flesh and blood we have eternal life, we have communion with the Father, and we are transformed into Christ’s image (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus, Christ is the final fellowship offering.

 

  • The priests and the people prefigured Christ’s relation to his People. The Priests prefigured Christ as a mediator (Heb.7; 8).

Notes on how to use the verse (Rom. 10:4) to explain the way of salvation.

  • All men have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and are unable to pay for their sins. All men are unable to keep the law, for they fell in Adam and are slaves to sin (Rom. 5; 6).

 

  • Christ was ‘made of a woman’, He was ‘made under the law’ (Gal. 4:4). The Son of God added humanity to His divinity, therefore being a God-man, truly God and truly man. The reason for this was, that He came to live and die as a substitute for His people.

 

  • Christ’s active obedience (His obedience to the law of God) fulfilled all the requirements, that are demanded from those who would enter into heaven.

 

  • Christ’s passive obedience (His suffering and death on the cross for all the sins of his elect people, whom the Father had given Him) satisfied the wrath and justice of God, so that there is no wrath left for those for whom Christ suffered (Rom. 3:24-25; Joh. 10:11, 14, 15, 26-30; 17:2,3,9,10)

 

  • Christ rose from the dead as a proof that He completely fulfilled and satisfied every single demand of the law in every respect. He rose from the dead for our justification (Rom. 4:25). “He ascended to the Father. He presented His blood in the presence of the Father. It was accepted. He is seated at the right hand of God in the glory everlasting. That is how He is the end of the law: not by doing away with it but by giving a complete answer and satisfaction to it. That is what He meant by saying on the cross, ‘It is finished.’” – D. M. Lloyd-Jones.

 

  • Heaven and hell exist. Christ is the only way to heaven, for He is the end of the law in the sense described before. He is the end of the law only for those who believe. God commands everyone everywhere to repent and to put their trust in Jesus Christ, for there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved (Acts. 4:12). The reason is, that He is the only one whose righteousness God has accepted, and it is imputed by sovereign grace through faith. Believe and you shall be saved.

 

[1] G. K. Beale – New Testament Biblical Theology p. 295-296

[2] D. M. Lloyd-Jones – Exposition of Romans chapter 10 p. 56

[3] William Hendriksen in his commentary translates the Greek word telos as “goal”. He writes: Instead of “For Christ is the goal of the law,” many prefer, “For Christ is the end of the law.” As a translation this can stand. The further question is, “What is meant by the Greek word telos and the English word end? In addition to other meanings, both of these words can mean: (a) termination, finish; or (b) goal, intention, purpose, meaning and substance. However, meaning (a) does not apply in the present case, for the notion that because of the work of Christ the Old Testament law has in every aspect lost its usefulness, and is therefore “finished” is contrary to Paul’s teaching, as is clear from Rom. 3:31; 7:7. Accordingly, to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding, it is probably better, even in the translation, to substitute the term goal for end.

[4] Charles Hodge – Romans p. 336

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