Contrasts and Parallels

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The various turmoils in the wilderness which the Jews experienced were all recorded, and they were recorded, Paul says, as examples for the new covenant believers at Corinth. Because of this, the one who assumes that he stands needs to take heed lest he fall.

The modern evangelical world likes to draw contrasts between the old and new covenants at just the places where the new covenant itself draws clear and overwhelming parallels. And because we draw contrasts at such places, we think, somewhat presumptuously, that we stand.

In the new covenant, we say, everyone knows the Lord. And since we know that no one who truly knows the Lord can fall away, we affirm the dangerous half-truth of “once saved, always saved.” Now it is quite true that someone who is singled out as a recipient of God’s electing and saving grace cannot be denied eternal receipt of that saving grace. The elect cannot be lost.

But we are not yet in glory. We live in the visible world, and God has given us a visible covenant in that world. And visible covenant members do fall away, and their bodies are scattered over the desert.

There is no temptation, Paul says, but what is common to man. The nature of temptation has not changed between the covenants. The nature of faithfulness has not changed. The nature of apostasy has not changed.

So you are coming now to the table of the covenant. And so, we charge you, and we fence the table in this manner. Come with submission. Consider your frame. You are flesh, and need to be nourished. Do not trust in theological abstractions to save you. Only the Lord Jesus Christ is your savior, and He calls you to take heed lest you fall. Come to Him.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

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6 years ago

Breath of fresh air. I’d get some seriously raised eyebrows if I said something like this in my NCT based church. Thank you

Mike Bull
6 years ago

Good call against presumption, but even the parallels are typological. What kind of “wilderness” were the Corinthians actually in? What kind of “nourishment” was God miraculously providing for them? Neither of these were physical in nature but that does not mean that they were “theological abstractions.” What *is* a theological abstraction is the imagined Judaistic fence around New Covenant accountability. Yes, Jesus Christ is our Saviour, but Jesus Himself *is* the New Covenant. That is why the New Testament hardly uses the word, and when it does, it usually refers to tablets of stone. The first and last Pentecosts were… Read more »

john k
john k
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bull

The parallels in temptations are in no way typological. They are entirely exemplary. “Tupos” here means “example,” not “type.”