New Wine New Skins
The new wine of the gospel needs to be put in new wineskins to be effective in reaching the Pre-Christians today. To be transformed into the image of Christ disciples must be flexible enough to change.
“New Wine New Skins”
There are two messages today and we are going to try to wrap them together because I find it hard to speak of the one without exploring the other. The first deals with how we do church, and the second deals with how we do discipleship. What we will end up with is that as a congregation and as disciples we must be prepared for the new work God is doing in the culture and in our lives. In our exploration today new wine refers to the gospel and the ongoing work of the gospel in transforming believers into the people God declared us to be when we first believed. An old wineskin is how we’ve always done it. The new wineskin is how we need to do it now.
Jesus told his disciples a parable, a story, about new wine and wineskins. The new wine was the message of the Kingdom, and the old wineskin was the rule-bound legalism of how Judaism was being practiced at the time. The wineskin of the day fits well with what had gone on before. But as we shall see Jesus said this new wine of the gospel, wasn’t going to work in the old wineskin of first-century Jewish sensibilities.
Luke 5:33-39 (NIV)
They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."
Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."
He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"
When new wine was put into wineskins it fermented and gave off-gas. If the skin was new, there was a certain elasticity and the skin would expand under pressure; but if it was old, the elasticity was gone and it would burst. (William Barclay) Both wine and skin would be wasted.
The new wine Jesus was speaking of is the gospel. You can summarize
Jesus gospel in one verse, the most famous being John 3:16—
John 3:16 (MSG)
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
When we read the book of ACTS we see how the old wineskin of traditional Judaism could not contain, could not make room for, the new vintage of the gospel. God was doing something new and if you were stuck in the old way of doing things, the old ways of thinking about spiritual things, you would get left behind.
In your bulletin, you’ll find our mission statement. We derived it from John 10:10
John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.
Our Mission: Empowering People To Live Life to the Full
Our Task: Grow Deep, Grow Up, Grow Fruit
Our Method: Engage, Edify, Encourage, Empower.
This purpose and action statement describes how we are going to deal with new wine.
The wineskin is how we practice our faith. With the old wineskin, the way we have conducted our faith for years, there is familiarity, there is nostalgia, there is security, there is a comfort, you know what to expect and you know what is expected of you, there is a tradition. Words like progressive, liberal, and change sound rather heretical. There is a lot of good in the old, but the old wineskin is the rigidity of thinking. If we are not fulfilling our mission now we must not allow ourselves to become trapped in our old wineskins.
Looking through our old wineskins, our old paradigms, we misdiagnose our current problem. That problem is reaching folks with the good news of the gospel in the world in which we live right now. The problem for the follower of Jesus is not being effective in the Kingdom. Enamored with the old wineskin we decide to double down and do a better job at what worked before. We decide that we need “more prayer”, “a revival” “better worship,” “a new and improved pastoral leader,” and more of what we did before. What worked before is not working now so we better do more of what we did before to get things on track again. That sounds like a good plan because everyone prefers the wine of the gospel in old skins. But it’s not a good plan, it results in “’Oldwineskinitis,’ which kills churches and debilitates disciples.” ( https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/markdroberts/2007/10/the-problem-of-wineskins.html#k06eDUXbDYC1JXp6.99
The gospel transforms lives, changing people from lost to found, from rejected to accepted, from stranger to friend, from lonely to loved, from empty to fulfilled, from meaningless to purposefulness, from grievous sinners to forgiven saints, changing us from ego-centered to Christ-centered, from bondage to freedom, from death to life. We must note that every time our lives are transformed becoming a little more like Jesus, it is because we have drunk the new wine the Holy Spirit has given us.
We have for the pre-Christians the new wine of the gospel. Here is that gospel in one verse:
Romans 10:9 (NIV)
“…if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
For believers, we have the new wine that transforms us into Christlikeness.
Romans 12:2 (MSG)
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
“…Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2 (NIV) That transformation is from being constantly refilled with the Holy Spirit.
The question becomes how do we get this gospel to people today, in a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to the faith? The old wineskin concentrated on marketing techniques to attract consumers to come to our church. By church I don’t mean people as we should rightly understand the term, instead, I mean a building; because our facility is nice, there’s adequate parking, the worship is spiritually entertaining, the teachings so positive and uplifting, and the programs are all-encompassing, something for everyone, people should come. This is no longer working, all it really does is shift consumer Christians from one congregation to the next based on how a particular group can meet your needs, while the unchurched remain without a clear witness to the gospel.
For the disciple, there’s another word that describes “Oldwineskinitis.” That word is audience. I come to watch, to be entertained in worship, and to be encouraged, but not to contribute. I am a spectator. I like to see others making things happen when it comes to carrying out my congregation's Mission, but I really don’t have time to get involved myself. This never worked but far to0 many disciples still refuse to use their gifts and graces to reach others with the new wine of the life-changing gospel and at the same time refuse to drink the new wine of transformation that is part of the gospel promise which would actually get them doing what Jesus expects in the first place.
The gospel is more than just acknowledging the need of a savior, believing that the savior you need is Jesus, making a life commitment to be a follower of Jesus and asking God to accept your faith. The gospel also includes transformation into holiness, into being like Jesus in this world.
Colossians 1:22-23 (NIV)
“…[God the Father] has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.
Jesus’ message of the new wine and the wineskin is “don’t let your mind become like an old wineskin that cannot accommodate how the wine of the gospel has to be distributed in a new time.” "You can't put new ideas into old mindsets. You can't get new results with old behaviors." https://www.unity.org/resources/articles/how-stop-putting-new-wine-old-wineskins
We as a congregation and we as disciples of Jesus need to become something other, or at least in addition, to what we are now so that we can be the means of distribution of the gospel and continue to be transformed into devout and holy saints.
As a congregation, we must become flexible to proclaim the gospel. As disciples, we have to do our part to see lives transformed. Corporately you are already party to this new flexibility. We end our gathering 15 minutes earlier to accommodate NEW CREATION CHURCH that arrives at 11. Soon another congregation will be coming alongside JESUS HOUSE. The new wineskin just might be Christians with slightly different doctrine uniting under the banner of the Kingdom to distribute new wine. Another new thing we are doing instead of expecting people to come to us because of our clever marketing, we are going to the people through social media. That’s why it’s so important that you tell others about our online activities. Last week we had 75 views of our morning gathering. One of the reasons I am excited about collaborating with JESUS HOUSE is because in their DNA is a code for being involved in the community. They get their hands dirty as they bring the new wine out of the facility and into the community. We are going to get to be a part of that.
Whatever God wants, whatever changes He directs, I want to embrace them fully. Regardless of what, or how, we did it in the past, I want the new wine for reaching people today. Pray that God opens doors for Huntington Beach Community Church to effectively carry out her mission.
As disciples of Jesus, we need to drink our fill of the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Every time someone in scripture is filled with the Holy Spirit they advance the Kingdom, they put it all on the line and bring glory to God, they live out the gospel and people are transformed.
John 7:37-39 (MSG)
Jesus cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says." (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive.)
Acts 13:52 (NIV)
“… The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:18 (NIV)
“…be filled with the Spirit…”
When the Holy Spirit fills us with the new wine of the gospel it matures us. We have to change, or we burst with ineffectiveness. The bursting destroys the new thing God is calling forth in you. The bursting can destroy your faith. The new wine of the gospel needs a flexible, obedient soul that will accommodate it by doing things never done before. We grow deep, grow up, grow fruit when we partake of the new wine. It gets us out of the spectator stands and into the action. The action is to Engage, Edify, Encourage, Empower, that person in your world, in your ends of the earth, that does not know Jesus. The action is using your gifts and talents to love on others, an ambassador of Christ.
The old wineskin is how we have done church, and how we have practiced our faith. The old ways, as good as they were, are no longer effective in reaching this current generation and they may no longer be effective in transforming us and empowering us. We must choose to become new wineskins both corporately and individually so that we can contain the new ways of the Spirit that are effective in reaching the lost with the old gospel message and becoming more like Jesus.
Would you join me in a commitment to the new things that God is doing? Corporately the walls of doctrinal division need to come down and Christians need to unite under the banner of the Kingdom, not surrendering doctrinal differences but loving each other in spite of differing opinions, in order to reach this current generation. Individually we need to stop spectating, by drinking deep of the Holy Spirit so that we are filled with the Spirit and get into the action, engaging, edifying, encouraging, and empowering others with the same gospel that has saved and changed us.
All we need to do is desire to be filled with the Spirit, filled with the presence of God, and we will become effective in distributing the gospel.
Jesus said this:
Luke 11:13 (MSG)
“…don't you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?"
Ask the Father in the name of the Son, to fill you with the Holy Spirit, discarding the old wineskins so that you can be full of the new wine that will make a difference in the life of the church, in your own life, and for those who need to know the good news of the gospel.
Do you want to ask?