New Wineskins Part 1

Over the decades I have heard a great deal of talk about the need for new wineskins. Yet there has been little accompanying explanation of how they are made and the purpose they serve. I believe we are in a season where we need clear and sound explanations accompanied by spiritual strategies and right actions. 

Jesus introduced us to the concept of new wineskins when He said the following.

21  No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” Mark 2:21-22 (NKJV)

The difference between new and old wineskins is their flexibility. New wine expands and will burst hard inflexible wineskins. I’m not sure how many of us see that in the three and a half years that Jesus walked with His followers teaching about and demonstrating the kingdom of God He was forming a new wineskin to hold the wine that was to be poured out on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

A concept I have come across over the years is the idea of plausibility structures, presented here by professor and philosopher J. P. Moreland, a committed evangelical, “The lesson here is that culture, which has a set of background assumptions – or, a plausibility structure – set a framework for what people think, which affects how they are willing to listen, evaluate, feel, and behave. The framework shapes what people consider plausible or implausible.” I believe plausibility structures are akin to wineskins. They are a filter or way of viewing the world that determines what we accept or reject. We tend to think with rather than about our wineskins while they sit in the background influencing our thoughts and actions.

I see in Jesus life that He spent His ministry time here teaching, demonstrating and sharing parables that were designed to help people actually look at how they viewed the world and what they believed was or was not possible. Jesus demonstrated over and over that many things people thought implausible were in fact not only plausible, they could happen right in front of them – healings, the dead being raised, the religious leaders being silenced. Jesus released hope for something new and better, a kingdom that cared about and ministered to people. He publicly declared His kingdom charter when He began His ministry.

18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

This kingdom charter was a new wineskin that embodied freedom and hope because the kingdom of God had drawn near. In our lives let’s allow Jesus to help us take a look at the wineskins that are guiding our thinking, what we think is plausible or implausible. We can start by reflecting on whether we have a wineskin that is alive with hope, expectation and confidence in Jesus.

I leave you with those thoughts for now – more to come as we seek new wineskins and new wine.  

A New Year

We are a week into a new year, 2020, when many are expecting new or improved vision. At the same time it is easy for our resolutions to fade in the light of the reality of the day to day tasks of the post holiday season. Given that the scriptures encourage us to embrace one primary resolution.  

18  But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18 (NKJV)

Our calling is to continually seek to get closer to Him, to draw near to His heart. In the process something I think we need to reflect on is our corporate rather than individual calling. Our culture encourages a great deal of focus on self, and while we need an awareness of our purpose and calling, the context is always as part of a body.

The New Testament places great value on the individual soul but not in isolation. In our calling to walk deeper into Him we are called to the following.

15  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – 16  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 (NKJV)

We are to speak the truth, be motivated by love and seek to see each one of us take our place in the body and see the whole body strengthened and each member effectively doing their part. The context is that we are together being built into His dwelling place.

19  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, 21  in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22  in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 (NKJV)

It is a joined together body that Jesus is building for His dwelling place. This past week. A friend sent a note asking what I sensed the Spirit was saying for this year. I prayed and what He spoke to my heart was, “We need to find our voice.” My understanding of this is that ‘we’ the church as a corporate body need to understand and embrace our authority and discern His strategy in speaking into our culture.

In conclusion, my prayer is that this year we would resolve to find our place in His body and see it strengthened to accomplish His corporate purposes.