The New Wine for New Wine Skins
The New Wine for New Wine Skins
Jesus did not come to just rearrange the furniture in the theological living rooms of our lives. He came with a wrecking ball to totally demolish the house many so desperately cling to and try to beautify. Despite the sound of the swinging ball, many still try to wallpaper an already condemned home. Jesus was a revolutionary. He came to put an end to the dilapidation. He came to raze the old house in order to usher in the new. He came to raise the skyscraper of grace.
Luke 5:33-39 states, “And they said to Him, “the disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.”
And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?” And He was telling them a parable; No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise, he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one can puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, “The old is good enough.”
Transitions always cause great upheaval. Wine skins bust. People frantically patch up the old containers of their lives and find it doesn’t work. The wine continues to spill. Bags continue to break. Spillage is a good thing if you ask me. It causes one to think, “Maybe it would be a good idea to change my wineskin so that I can hold the Beaujolais Nouveau (new wine). The ones content with the old wine let the fermentation continue to sag and fill the old religious containers of the past. They are safe but spiritually dead.
New wine needs new wine skins. God is serving new wine at this time. It’s the only thing on his menu for the church.
Before I proceed, I would like to make a few points to set the foundation right. Wine, whether it’s new or old, is still wine, fermented grape juice. The basic elements still reside in both. However, the flavor, the bouquet, and the color can be totally different. It’s the same with the new outpourings of God’s Spirit. The Spirit and the Word continually carry the same basic elements like God, Jesus, salvation by faith, forgiveness, fellowship, and so on and so on.
The difference is this: God constantly drives us back to a simple relationship with Him, not dead religion. The new wine always welcomes us back to the table with the Almighty God. This is his goal. Human beings tend to muck up relationship with religiosity. We get stuck in crusty tradition and forget about the vibrant Trinity. The insidious flavor of aged, religious wine always tempts us toward antiquated familiarity.
Take for instance my last article in which I compared the old model of church to the new Apostolic model. The old was centered on holy titles, but the new is centered on heavenly identities; the old was focused on being the pool of Bethesda, but the new is centered on being the river of Ezekiel 47; the old lends itself to codependency with one leader, but the new trains and releases into interdependency with the five-fold; the old relied on teaching religious doctrine, but the new leans on teaching fresh divine things; the old promoted individualism, but the new realizes the importance of teamwork; the old loved perpetual Christian day care, but the new revels in commissioning people into the harvest. There are more, but this will suffice. Do you see the common thread in all of these shifts? All of them call for a deeper relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The new wine challenges us to get real with God. Only a real relationship with God will sustain us through the fiery tribulation coming down the pipe. Only a real relationship with God will lead a skeptical world to Him. Only a real relationship with God will produce the abundant life found in John 10:10. Only a real relationship with God will produce the real church.
The confusion comes when we see some of the old in the new and then think “What’s wrong with sticking with the old?” For instance, sound Biblical doctrine is immensely important, but many have anesthetized themselves to real relationship with God through the acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge is hypnotic. It makes many think they have relationship with God. Many have chosen the tree of the knowledge of good and evil over relating with the tree of relationship with God. It’s one thing to know the doctrine of the love of God; it’s another to know and experience the embrace of God. The old always weakens real relationship with God. Yet, many like the comfort of knowing about God rather than knowing God. C.S. Lewis likened it to a small kid who would rather play with mud pies in his backyard when he could be frolicking in the bubbly surf at a white sandy beach. The new wine calls to frolic with God at the beach, not play in the boring confines of our muddy back yard, making useless things.
As one can see, there are similarities between the two. Both use the Bible and the Spirit, but
in this season, God is showing us the stark differences. It’s imperative that
we see and choose wisely. It’s
important that we do not fall into the trap of offense. The new wine has an
edge to it. The tannins are pretty sharp. The flavor is absolutely wonderful, though.
Pastor Dean shared that our church is a “grouch free zone.” When I first heard it, I thought, “This is a good challenge to walk in greater joy.” I never realized, however, the deep, Biblical truth that was being laid down before us. Going back to Luke 5:33-39, we see the Pharisees questioning Jesus about his disciples’ behavior. They were eating and drinking, frolicking at the beach, having a good time, while they, the deeply spiritual Pharisees, were fasting and praying. Even John’s disciples were fasting and praying. “Get with the spiritual program, Jesus” they cried.
The disciples acted perfectly normal. The bridegroom, the Son of God, was in the house. It was time to eat and drink, not pray and fast! It was time to be joyful and happy, not solemn and serious. The Pharisees were trying to pour old wine into new wine skins. They were trying to pour the old wine of legalism into the new wine skin of grace.
Yes, Jesus said there would come a time when they would fast and pray, but that was already accomplished when the disciples prayed and fasted in the upper room before the outpouring of God’s Spirit (Acts 1:14). What happened when the Spirit finally came? They got drunk (Acts 2:13). They partied! Why? The bridegroom returned in the person of the Holy Spirit. Where am I going with this?
The church has to be a “grouch free zone” because the Bridegroom perpetually dwells with us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 1:13). Let me repeat this again: The bridegroom perpetually dwells with us! We are not called to live in the solemnity of the Law and legalism represented by the Pharisees and John the Baptist; we are called to eat and drink in the Spirit of the New Covenant. We are called to walk in joy and happiness. We are called to walk with Jesus. Grouchiness is not natural in the New Covenant because we are at a perpetual wedding party. God completely demolished the old covenant house and replaced it with a banqueting hall.
Moreover, we have been given eternal wedding gifts. We have eternal life (John 5:24), God’s love (Roms 8:38-39, 1 Jn 3:1), God’s forgiveness (Eph 1:7), gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:11), reservations at ‘Che Marriage Feast of the Lamb’ (Matt 8:11, Luke 13:29), and everything (which means everything) in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph 1:3).
With all of these reasons, we cannot justify worry, anger, unforgiveness, fear, insecurity, and, of course, grouchiness. Jesus said in John 16:22, “Therefore, you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” The disciples lived in a momentary place of despair, but their sadness turned into perpetual joy when Jesus rose again from the dead. We live in the same perpetual place of joy.
Yes, we are still called to fast and pray, but in a spirit of joy (1 Thess 5:16-17). Yes, the great tribulation of Revelations will fall upon us some day, but it has no power to steal our joy and happiness (John 16:33). Yes, we face hardship and trial at times, but James said to consider it all joy (James 1:2-3). Our joy is not dependent on our temporal circumstances, only eternal (2 Cor 4:16-18); it’s not based on the external, but the internal reality of our place with God (Rom 5:1-3).
Joy and happiness are totally natural in the New Covenant, not grouchiness. The latter attitude is unnatural. The apostolic church zone lives in the reality of the joyful, New Covenant mindset.
Jesus commands us to become new wineskins that can hold the new wine of His grace and joy. He has razed the old house of the Law and built up the new house of His unconditional love. We can now walk in deep joy because the bridegroom perpetually dwells in the house of our lives, we are eternally in The House of God, and we have received the beautiful wedding gifts of the Holy Spirit. No more grouchiness anymore, it’s time to party!!!