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“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.

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.  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 anyone’s sanctification for them.  They do not need negative scrutiny; they deserve gospel encouragement.  Should problems be addressed along the way?  Sure.  But the main thing to communicate is confidence, because God is at work in them.  That work is sacred.  That work can be trusted.  I am walking among living miracles of God.

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9 thoughts on “New Covenant pastoring”

  1. Moe Bergeron says:

    Dear Ray,

    Wonderful post and right on!

    It was nice to meet you at the Lead2011 up in Maine last Fall. Hope to meet you again in this life.


  2. Todd Braye says:

    Marvellous! Freedom for the pastor and his flock; a great outworking of gospel freedom. Thank-you, Ray.

  3. matt ballard says:

    Phenomenal (as always!) blog post and sweet reminder that I am not the Holy Spirit, nor do I have to attempt to be the Christ.

    1. Tricia says:

      Matt,Short, sweet, and oh so very true,thank you for this.

  4. Gary H. says:

    Amen. “Accountability” groups should take this to heart. Not long ago, I started calling my men’s groups “Encouragement Groups”.

  5. Steve Fuchs says:

    Might we even say it this way?…

    ‘Jesus looked at his people and said, “Sure, you have problems. But I’m not worried about you. In fact I will die so that the Father will write me upon your hearts, and you’re going to be just fine.”‘

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Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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