Preparing A New Wineskin
Saturday, November 30th, 2013
“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours a new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:22
The church of God born of the water and the Spirit is a wineskin designed by God to hold a new wine. That new wine is the power and ministry of God’s Spirit working in the hearts of His children who believe in the baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus. Simply put, they believe all their lifetime of sin have been passed on to the body of Jesus by John the Baptist at the River Jordan. Subsequently, Jesus lived a perfect life and eventually laid down His life as a ransom for all man on the cross. Those who believe in this Truth are raised to a newness of life and become a body of Christ, the Church. Thus, God wants His church to have a structure which can allow the free movement of His Spirit.
“And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” Eph 2:22
The Old Wineskin
When Jesus talked about the old wineskin, He was referring to the Law of Moses. The system of the Law could not contain the Spirit of grace without bursting. However, many churches have come under the written code of self-effort again. They have put church life back into the old wineskin. There is no way that God can pour His new wine into the old wineskin. He abolished the old wineskin so that we could have a new one. “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the Law so that we can serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” Rom 7:6. The old wineskin is a structure of Law and self-effort. It is also a structure of control and condemnation. If a church reverts the old wineskin, the result will be a lot of spilt new wine.
The New Wineskin
The ‘new’ way of the Spirit is the wineskin of grace and truth. It is a structure of relationship and mutual growth of believers in the Gospel Truth of the water and Spirit. It is the structure designed for the new wine of God’s Spirit.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Pet 4:10
The Spirit has given each believer gifts and these gifts define church life. Many churches today have a pre-defined structure which tends to box in and suppress the gifts. This structure creates a leadership bottleneck with pastors at the top and lay people at the bottom. In fact, church structure is not supposed to shape church ministry. Rather, the gifts and ministries of every believer in the church should shape the church structure. This is what the new wineskin is all about.
A Structure For Church Life
There are two extremes common in the church today. Some churches have not enough structure. The church of Corinth operated in the gifts of the Spirit, but Paul had to give them some structure for using those gifts. 1 Cor 1:7.
“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace …” 1 Cor 14:33
However, many churches have too much structure. Thus, rigid rules have structured God’s Spirit out of church life. The body of Christ needs a balance between the free movement of the gifting of each believer and the structure which defines the movement.
A Flexible Structure
In Col 2:19 and Eph 4:16, we are exposed to a flexible structure based on three very simple principles.
1. Every Believer Is In The Ministry
Church structure envisages every believer born of the water and Spirit to discover one’s ministry and operate safely under leadership. The success of a church is not measured by how big it is. Success is measured by believers growing in Christ and functioning in the Spirit.
2. Leadership is Guiding
The new wineskin also affects the way we lead. The old wineskin is one of top down control through rules and regulations. Old wineskin leadership is scared of giving too much freedom because then there will be loss of rigid control. However, new wineskin leadership is the equipping of believers for the work of the ministry. It works by the principle of grace and not by law. It works with the Holy Spirit and not against Him. New wineskin leadership works by guiding not by controlling.
3. Church Life Is A Daily Experience
The church was designed by God to be daily church and not a weekly church. This does not mean that we fill up the weeks with scheduled meetings. A daily church means righteous Christians having daily contact with each other in daily ministry in the world. Acts 2:46-47
The Holy Spirit’s work is a daily work, church structure should be daily structured. For God to pour out His new wine, we must change wineskins from a structure of rigid law to a structure of daily grace that can withstand the shakings of His Spirit.
“And they prayed, the place where they were they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31
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