The End of the Law For Righteousness
Ro 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
We want to be very careful with this verse. We do not want to give the impression that ďonce upon a timeĒ you could become righteous in Godís eyes by your obedience to the Law. We donít want to give the impression that when Christ came a ďnew wayĒ was given to obtain righteousness.
It has always been by faith. it has always been given to those who believe. Adam and Eve believed that God was going to raise up a seed to redeem them. Noah believed God and buitl an ark, Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
Christ ended the law in the sense that He perfectly fulfilled it. The Law was made complete in Him. Not only in His complete and perfect obedience to the spirit of the Law, but also in the fulfilment of all the foreshadowing presented in the Old Testament.
The minute details of the temple and the strict instructions for sacrifices and worship and feasts....all foreshadowed Christ and were fulfilled in Him. He is the fulfillment, the end of the law for righteousness! Jesus said, Mt 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
But the Jews refused to believe it. They refused to see Jesus in the foreshadows and sought instead to attempt to keep the letter of the Law to earn their salvation.
Donít be too hard on them though, for it is easier to keep the letter of the law than to submit to the spirit of the Law. In so doing, we donít really have to face our sin. We can go on kidding ourselves as so many people in our land are doing today...even in the church!
We think we are okay because according to the letter of the Law, we havenít murdered anybody, we havenít committed adultery, we remember the Sabbath by going to church on Sunday, but Jesus set us straight on those accounts when He equated a lustful look with adultery and hateful speech and actions as murder!
Most of us are no different than the rich man who came to Jesus. We are quick to zoom in on the letter of the law as it concerns our righteousness and actually think, weíve done a good job!
Mr 10:17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
18 So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
19 "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and your mother.'"
20 And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth."
Do you think this man was lying? Not blatantly! He really believed it and he may have indeed kept the letter, but Jesus loved him enough to not allow him to stay in this fantasy land.
21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."
22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
What was Jesus doing? He was showing this man the ďspiritĒ of the Law, and the spirit of the Law is to sell yourself to Jesus, surrender to Him! Pick up the cross of death to self and follow Him because He is the fulfillment, the end of the Law!.
God bless the Law, it has not been destroyed. Itís just been fulfilled perfectly in Jesus. It is still useful to the Christian as a guide and to the world as a curb, but it can only be fulfilled by that which is perfect...namely Jesus Christ!
Hear what Moses said about the Law:
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them."
This is the truth. If you keep the Law perfectly, you will have eternal life. You wonít need Jesus! But here is another truth....no one except the God-man Jesus Christ was able to keep the law perfectly and thatís whatís required for salvation. Perfection!
So there is only one who lives by the righteousness which is of the Law....Jesus Christ. By faith, we must turn to Him, we must live in Him, if we have any hope of salvation.
How does this righteousness by faith work? Paul explains it to us in the next verses.
6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
7 or," 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
Huh? What in the world are you talking about? Thereís gotta be a better way to describe the righteousness of faith than this.
But hold on here. The Holy Spirit is not playing games! He is not being careless with words. Remember, Paul is talking about the trap that the Jews fell into as it concerns salvation by works. So he goes back to one of their favorite books, the book of Dt. to make his case. Any Jew worth his salt would recognize these words as a rough quote of Dt 30:11-13.
This is not by accident. The Holy Spirit draws us all back to the 30th chapter of Dt, and I hope as I quote selected verses from this chapter, youíll see why. Itís imperative for the Jew and for us to realize that Moses and Paul are on the same page as it regards salvation by grace through faith!
It was always Mosesí intent that people would follow God by faith from the heart, not to lead from the works of the Law! Listen to Moses in Dt 30:6, ďAnd the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live!Ē
Who circumcises the heart? God. What is grace? Divine influence on the heart! Grace comes through divine influence, then love for God! Then in Dt.30:8, ďAnd you will again obey the voice of the Lord and do all His commandments.Ē
You see, the circumcision of the heart by God is accomplished first, then love for God follows, then obedience to the spirit of the Law rather than the letter of the Law. Perfectly? No! We still battle our flesh and we fall, but we have an Advocate in Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law for us and covers our shortcomings. Itís faith (circumcised heart) then works!
Dt 30:10 says, ďIf you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments ....and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.Ē Again, this speaks of obedience that is connected to a committed heart, not obedience that produces one.
Then in a rough paraphrase of Dt 30:11-14, we could say something like, ďThis salvation by faith is not all that difficult folks. Salvation is not found somewhere out there past the stars, or somewhere in the deepest trench of the ocean. (Though it might as well be if you want to rely on keeping the letter of the Law or rely on good works for salvation.)
No! Salvation is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart. So near to you, yes even you, may obtain it. Paul puts it this way:
8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
He is talking about the Gospel. The Word of God. The power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16) Thatís where saving faith is found. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Itís the word of God that works grace and circumcises our hearts and produces faith. This Word has been proclaimed to you, it has been spoon fed to you, placed in your mouth and it needs to move into your heart.
Sometimes I think we take in the gospel like a baby takes in Gerber. You know, you spoon in some food, then wipe off the excess around the mouth, and you see that you hardly got any in there at all, so you try again. God keeps bringing the gospel to us and we keep spitting it out.
ďNot yet Lord, Iím full, Iíve got too much of the world in me.Ē Ycchhh! I donít like the taste of the gospel, Iíd rather have the sugar laden good for nothing food of the world. But God keeps bringing the spoon. He doesnít force it on us, but He keeps bringing it, hoping weíll take it in.
The food must not stay outside the mouth, It must not just be kept in the mouth, it must move to the stomach, to the heart in order for it to avail anything.
One other point I want to make about Rom. 10:6,7. Notice that Paul asks, ďWho will bring Christ down from above? And ďWho will bring Christ up from the dead?Ē With those two phrases he gets us thinking about the incarnation of our Lord and His resurrection.
Who among the living could make the incarnation, the virgin birth happen? Who among the living could raise Him from the dead?
None of us! Itís not about what we do, itís about what God did and does. Itís not works, but of faith!
Alright, so what must I do to be saved? Iíve been told that the word that has the power to save me (the gospel) is near me, itís in my mouth and itís in my heart...now what? You gotta burp it back up my friend.
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
When true faith is received in the heart, we are compelled to say something about it. We are compelled to prove itís penetration by word and deed. When our heart is convinced that God raised Jesus from the dead, confession or agreement that Jesus is Lord will follow. Anything less is kidding yourself.
This is why Peter and John said to the council, ďFor we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Those things that they saw and heard were the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how it was the fulfillment of the law. Jesus was Lord and they had to say something about it!
Now, there have been some bad things that have happened in Christianity in the name of altar calls and the evangelistic zealousy to wrestle a confession out of an unbeliever. The result is the cart has been put before the horse and many have been manipulated into premature confessions, which are really no confession at all.
Thatís why we see so many people falling away after they have said the sinners prayer or some other type of confession of faith. Itís easy to say Jesus is Lord. Why even in the Lutheran church we confess it every week when we say the Creed. But itís one thing to say it freely from a heart thatís been penetrated with the Gospel, and another to be compelled by men.
Thatís the difference, true confession is compelled by the Spirit of God and you cannot help but confess. No one needs to tell you to do it, you want to do it! You want to shout it from the rooftops! I believe Jesus is Lord! I believe He is God! I believe He has saved me from my sins!
The same word used here for Lord is the OT equivalent of Yahweh. And here is where the rubber meets the road. Because sometimes we say it, but we donít live it. And if we donít live it...then our Lord is a paper Lord. Lord by title only.
What does it mean when we confess Jesus as Lord? It means that we agree that what He says in this word goes.
That means He is Lord of our pocketbooks, He is Lord of our sex life, He is Lord of our tongue, .
He is Lord of our marriage, He is Lord of every facet of our lives. And mere lip service confessions wonít cut it. Either He is the boss or He isnít. God raised Him from the dead to demonstrate that He is Boss! He is Lord!
It is very easy to get someone to acknowledge with their lips that Jesus is Lord. I got you all to do it this morning by simply putting the Creed into the bulletin.
But, if we read this passage correctly, we see that there is to be no wrangling. We see that the person who really believes that God raised Jesus from the dead, to prove Jesus is Lord and to seal the deal of forgiveness of sins, cannot help himself....confession is made that Jesus is Lord! To confess means to agree and if we agree from the heart, surrender is the only option!
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
And understand this about salvation. Paul writes in 1 Cor 12:3, ďNo one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.Ē It is He working in the Word of God, the testimony of the Apostles to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. and the payment for our sins has been accepted by God. He enables us to believe the testimony of Scripture concerning Jesus.
To wrangle a confession out of someone whose heart is untouched by the Holy Spirit is a waste of time. Rather let the confession pour forth from a heart that has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
Whoever believes! Whoever calls! There is no distinction. Jew or Greek. Educated or uneducated. Rich or poor. Wise or foolish.
My job, is to proclaim the word of faith with Peter in his first sermon on the Day of Pentecost. ďThis Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, bot h Lord and Christ.Ē
If the Holy Spirit causes you to believe this from your heart. You will call upon the Lord and you will be saved. What does it mean to ďcall upon the Lord?Ē Any teachers here? What do you do when you ask the class a question and someone raises their hand? You acknowledge them, you call on them.
To call on the Lord is to acknowledge Him as Lord, not just with your lips, but with your life! And there is no other way to salvation! Believe in you heart that He is the end of the law for righteousness and that He rose from the dead, proving that He was the only one who could fulfill the law perfectly, then confess, show your agreement by acknowledging Him as Lord Jesus Christ in word and deed, and be saved!