Contrasts and Parallels

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, presumptively, 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.” 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.

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 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 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.

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