NEW AND OLD WINESKINS
Through my interactions with others, I am realizing more and more, that some have a belief system based upon an ethical understanding of what a Christian should be. These are those who exhibit good moral character, but somehow the power and the infilling of the Holy Spirit is absent in their lives. They speak and do what is right in the eyes of all. They go to church, raise their children in a wholesome and good home, and they pay their tithes, and teach others to do the same.
Then there are those who have experienced hardships and tribulation has been their on-going friend for years now. And yet these are those whose spirits have tapped into the river of God. They come often to drink there and to be filled with it. Yes, they along with all of us, have made their share of mistakes, but somehow the great weaver of the tapestries, has woven a new display out of those mistakes and sins. The warp and weft threads have somehow been changed into the very fabric, and now what is being seen is an entirely new scene of beauty.
Who are we if the very things that we profess to believe, don’t have the power or exhibit the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do our songs and sermons then come from rote learning and knowledge that we have been taught down through the ages, or is there an ever-present “life” of new things being seen in what we do and say? Indeed, it is Him in us, the hope of glory that we must have. We are nothing apart from Him, but “in Him,” we exhibit more than just good moral character. We now exhibit those very things that are “in Him.” In Him we live and more and have our being.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:4-5
This new life in Him has not only given us the hope of glory and a faith in Him, but it has established us in the heavenlies, and has given us His gifts and callings from above. The Holy Spirit now gives forth His unction in words of wisdom—in prophecy—in discerning of spirits, and a whole host of multiple ways, displaying His Spirit in us and through us.
Even though there are things to be learned from man and the teachings from the past, there is new revelation knowledge now to be learned and known. There is a freshness, a newness in these things that far exceeds anything that could be taught in a university or the best of seminaries.
Those baptisms by water and those confirmations taught in various denominations, while having the semblance of importance, pale in comparison to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even so, what John the Baptist preached of repentance was just a precursor of what Yeshua came to do.
And yet, it’s not about gifting necessarily, because without the character of Christ within us and the fruit of the Spirit, all the manifestations are as filthy rags. We must long for the new wine. At the wedding of Cana Jesus changes the water into wine and many were amazed that the best wine had been left for the last. But aren’t we promised that the latter house would be greater than the former one?
Our wineskins can’t hold the new wine if our mind-sets and prejudices keep us from these things. This new wine of the Spirit cannot be filled into the skin of the Pharisees, or those who are legalistic in their understanding. It can only be filled into hearts that are ready to receive this in-filling.
17 Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17
The ultimate question is what prevents one from receiving this new wine? Perhaps one of the greatest impediments is tradition. Tradition in itself is not bad, but when it replaces our spiritual focus then it can keep us tied to a hollow philosophy.
If the order of our services is tied to standing up or sitting down only at appointed times then perhaps tradition has set-in. If the only songs that we sing can only come from a dusty hymnal then perhaps we are tied to tradition. If the only one that can teach or preach is the pastor, then perhaps tradition has set-in.
The order of a church service should be done decently and in order. However, if we aren’t open to the ebb and flow of the Holy Spirit directing our time together, then tradition has left its stale mark upon us.
It’s time for the river to follow a new course. The river’s course has been traveling through the same cliffs and over the same old rocks for centuries now. It needs to cut a new channel—one that is instituted will come as it flows into every crack and crevice. And then as this river begins to flow, it will wind its way finally to the deep ocean of the boundless supply of God Almighty.
Stephen A. Hanson