There is much controversy over the phrase “the end of the law” in Romans 10. As Peter himself noted, it is easy to misunderstand Paul and wrest his words. So, today we’re going to do a brief, but careful, study of Romans 10 to let him speak for himself. How is Christ the end of the Law, and what does it mean to confess Him? Let’s find out!
The Questions We Will Answer
Here are a couple of very pertinent questions that we shall seek to find answers to as we study Romans 10:
Where do we go to find faith?
Where do we go to find Jesus?
Let us get right to the answer of the first question of where do we go to find faith. Verse 17 of this chapter tells us plainly:
Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by THE WORD OF GOD.
Like the centurion, we are to depend upon “The Word only” (Matthew 8:8) to accomplish what it says. And this is the message that the Lord was trying to impress us with in the latter part of the 19th Century through His messengers A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner, but we refused to hear it because we thought it went against what we believed about the Law and we called it fanaticism.
A Counterfeit Christ
A christ outside of the Word, which is founded on the Torah, is a counterfeit christ; but the life of the Son of God is in His Word: “The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). No wonder the Psalmist exclaims, “How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). Do we find the words of God’s Law to us sweeter than honey, or do we find that they are for other people, perhaps those who are not yet converted or those living before the Cross?
The End of the Law?
But some are proclaiming that “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4), and they wrest that passage of Paul to try to make him say that when we receive Christ then that is the end of need of the Law for us. But the Greek word “telos” translated to “end” in the King James can mean “goal”. In other words, the Law is a means toward the end of receiving Christ. But do we receive Christ just once and then we need no more? No! We need more of Christ daily; we need a continual flow of His life coming into us so that a continual flow comes out of us in praise and worship toward God (which includes doing His will) and good works toward men.
Therefore, the Law, and all the rest of the Word, is to be the means of receiving more of Christ by hearing that Word (Verse 17, which we started with), expecting it to do what it says, just like the centurian. Verse 5 says this: “Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” Some try to make this in opposition to the “faith” that is described after that. But need we to understand it as such? Isn’t the Law God’s Word, and the very foundation of it? Then we cannot say that it is in opposition to faith. Moses described what righteousness is in the Law so that we would know what to receive in Christ.
Faith and the Law Work Together
There is a perfect harmony between the Law and faith, but false teachers will just quote Verses 4 and 5 and stop with that, not connecting it with the rest of the chapter. We are to cherish the words of the Law more than our tongues cherish sweet honey, and hear them. This is how faith comes. Faith recognizes not just the words on the page but “the Word of faith” – the unseen Word that is in our mouth and in our heart, accomplishing the very descriptions of righteousness that we read from Moses.
God through the apostle Paul promises in the same chapter: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (v. 9). Now, evangelicals will interpret this as a once-in-a-lifetime event when you accept Christ into your life. And those among us who are teaching the end of our needing the Law are teaching something similar. But this is not what Paul is teaching. Nowhere does he say anything about a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The entire context of this chapter is referring to the Word of God, and specifically the Law of His Word. So, how does this promise apply then?
It applies every time we open up God’s Word in our Bibles. We are not to merely see the dead letters, like the legalists were teaching, and then try by our works to fulfill what the words say. No, that is not faith! We are to depend on the Word itself to do what is commanded us. And who is the Word? “The Lord Jesus.” In whatever we are reading, we are to see our Lord in it, for as He said Himself of the Scriptures, “They are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). When the Word rebukes us for something, we can confess Jesus in that Word – that He came in our flesh to fulfill that Word on our behalf and also that He, by His Spirit, “IS come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2) to fulfill that Word.
A Quick Review
Let’s read that passage again in whole, and notice that it is speaking of the Holy Spirit, who is Jesus Christ, and in the present tense:
“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
— 1 John 4:2-4
The Spirit of Antichrist
Friends, any doctrine that teaches that the Holy Spirit is not Jesus Christ is the spirit of antichrist – a spirit that is not Christ. But for salvation, we must confess that Christ – by His Spirit, which is in His Word – fulfills in us what the Word says. This, my friends, is saving faith! I want more of that faith, don’t you? I want to remember every time I study God’s Word, morning and evening, that the life of Christ is in His Word and will fulfill what His word says on the pages I’m reading. This is what the apostles are trying to teach us – not the false gospel of christ being outside of the Word, which only keeps us without His power, under the Law – its condemnation – since without the life and power of Christ, which is in His Word, we cannot meet the Law’s demands.
Christ is the end, or goal, of the Law
We need Christ, brothers and sisters, and we need Him daily! He is in heaven, but He sheds forth His Holy Spirit to us (Acts 2:33), just as verily as He shed forth His blood on the Cross to give us temporal life by redeeming us from the dominion of death. It is His life of righteousness we need, not an impersonal, mystical essence that amounts to nothing. “He that is in you” is the subject, and thus the context, of both apostles John and Paul. We are to find faith in hearing the Word; and there we find the lovely Jesus. Every precept is a promise of His righteousness that He wants to fulfill in us that we may have His eternal life. Therefore, every law, when we receive it by faith, leads to its end: Christ, the Living Law.
But we need to confess Him in the Word; we are not to stop with confessing our sins, for it is Jesus that saves us from our sins. That is His Name; that is who He is. Jesus Christ in us is “the Gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15) – even, the “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). He is personally in heaven, but His Spirit represents Him in us (see John 16:13-15); and that is how Christ is in us.
I hope that this brief study on Romans 10 was of help to you. We don’t need to settle for the wresting of Paul’s writing, nor that of John. Context is key; the Scriptures interpret themselves. The Law is not a foe but a friend. It imperfectly, through human words, describes the righteousness of Christ in contrast to sin so that we can confess both our sin and Christ and receive His righteousness perfectly. And in that very confession, we are permitting the Word to do what it says through the creative power of Christ that is in it. The dead letters without Christ cannot save us, but it is because that so many people only see the dead letters that they have thrown out the Law, pronouncing it as a thing of the past.
They say, “Let us have Christ and not the Law.” But it is an impossibility. Christ is in His Law – all of it, from Genesis to Deuteronomy – and He is also in the Prophets that testify to the Law from Joshua to Revelation. We just need to see Him there and confess Him as our righteousness.