New vs. Old Covenant Pastoring

Hey guys (Anybody and Everybody – but Covenant Men in particular),Ray Ortlund

Tell me what you think about this (from one of my favorite pastors, Dr. Ray Ortlund at Christ is Deeper Still):

“For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord. How much more after my death!” Deuteronomy 31:27

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13

Moses ministered the old covenant. Paul ministered the new covenant. The difference is obvious. Moses looked at his people and said, “You sorry bunch of rebels, I’ve had to watch you like a hawk. And the moment I die, I know what’s going to happen. You’re going to run from God so fast . . . .” Paul looked at his people and said, “Sure, you have problems. But I’m not worried about you. In fact, you don’t even need me around any more. God is at work in you, and you’re going to be just fine.”

As a pastor under the new covenant, it is not my job to manage other people’s sanctification for them. They don’t need me to do that, nor am I qualified to do that. They do not need negative scrutiny; they deserve confident encouragement. Should problems be addressed along the way? Sure. But the main thing to communicate is new covenant confidence. God is at work in them.

I, frankly, agree with Dr. Ortlund on this point. The question I have is:

Does this seem to run against the current of some of what we’ve been hearing?

I’m not trying to stir something up (other than a good discussion). I think that maybe more thought and attention is needed to just what is the difference between the Old and the New Covenants.

Agree? Disagree?


2 thoughts on “New vs. Old Covenant Pastoring

  1. Yes, Yes, Yes! I love it. The point could have been made even from the Golden Calf (while Moses is on the mountain just after the people have sworn to “do all that you command us” or from Judges transitioning from Joshua (“We will serve the Lord” (Josh 24)… “a new generation arose who did not know the Lord” (Judges 2 having just quoted from Josh 24). It is clear the rebellion of the people who have been given every reason to serve the Lord (see first half of Joshua 24, Ex 19, etc.) but all they do is serve other God and do not rid themselves of the false gods of the surrounding nations.

    The Point that I wish Ortlund had made is that things (from our perspective) have not fundimentally changed God’s people continue to rebel against him despite his relentless pursuit of Her (as his bride). Pauls point is clear though, despite our weakness and propensity to do the very thing we hate, God has, is, and will continue to work for us and in us through his son inorder to ensure that we will walk in the good works he prepared for us to walk in (Ep. 2.10) and thorugh is spirit he has enabled us to “serve the living God” (Heb 9.10) – a striking shift from the covenant renewal at Shechem, Covenent renewal at the Lord’s Table is in the confidence of the faithful obedience of Jesus (the second Adam and true Israel).

    Very good post and seemingly different then much of what we hear.


  2. Hey Chris,

    I don’t know about that pastor, but I absolutely agree with the point of your post. Too much continuity is not a virtue!

    PS – you have a very cool blog.



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