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Stage 3

The New Wine

"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 new wine into new wineskins" Mark 2:22.

Jesus referred to the Spirit-filled Christian life as "new wine." He was talking about the nature of the Christian life, which involves daily change. Just as new wine is undergoing a fermenting process which pushes out against the wineskin (Job 32:19), so the Christian is undergoing a transformation process - a conforming to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29; 12:2).

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" 2 Corinthians 3:18.

The Holy Spirit is God's agent of change in the Christian life. He is the one who is transforming us into the image of Christ. He is the new wine that is being poured into our lives.

"Do not get drunk on wine...Instead, be filled with the Spirit" Ephesians 5:18.

The Vineyard

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" John 15:5 (read also verses 4,8).

God often likens His people to a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7; 27:2-6; Luke 20:9-16,19). We are designed by God to bear good fruit - grapes that can be made into new wine.

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers" Luke 6:43-44 (see also Matthew 12:33).

The Wine

"'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills'" Amos 9:13 (see also Joel 3:18).

Wine is used as a picture of two things in the Bible - God's joy (Psalm 4:7; 104:15) and God's judgment (Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:10,19). Wine is made out of crushed grapes. In the same way, it is only as Christians are "crushed" together in the winepress of true fellowship that the new wine is poured out. This new wine is made out of the fruit of God's Spirit displayed in each believer's life.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control..." Galatians 5:22-23 (see also Ephesians 5:8-10; Philippians 1:11; Colossians 1:10).

Many people don't like the process of fermentation. They don't like the change. They prefer the old wine - religion that makes no demand of change on their lives (Luke 5:39). But God is in the process of producing the miracle of new wine in His Church (read the account of the miracle of new wine in John 2:1-10).

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost" Isaiah 55:1.

The Need for a Wineskin

In Bible times, people used wineskins to hold wine. The wineskin was a container, so that wine could be poured out. In the same way, God has created our lives to be a container of His presence. The Holy Spirit is poured into our lives, and then from our lives into the world.

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy" Acts 2:17-18.

There are, however, two wineskins that can be used to try to hold this new wine:

The Old Wineskin

When Jesus talked about the "old wineskin," He was referring to the hypocritical lifestyle of the Pharisees, observing the law of Moses - but only on the outside. They had ordered their life with human traditions that had the outward appearance of holiness (Mark 7:9). Even in the Church, it is easy to fall into the trap of outward law (Galatians 3:1-3). The old wineskin is based on rules and regulations, the "written code" of self-effort, and the outward trappings of Christianity. It can never contain the new wine of God's Spirit.

"But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code" Romans 7:6.

The New Wineskin

"...The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'" 1 Samuel 16:7 (see also Romans 2:27-28).

In contrast to the old wineskin, which focuses on external things, the new wineskin is all about the internal things of the human heart - our love for God, our daily relationship with Him, hearing His voice, being led by the Spirit. It is about a lifestyle of obedience to God, not just to a list of rules.

"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place" Psalm 51:6.

Containing the Glory

"But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?..." 2 Chronicles 2:6.

No building can ever house the fullness of God's presence (Acts 7:48-50). But God's plan was never for a physical building. From the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4), He planned for a Body of people that would contain His presence.

"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way" Ephesians 1:22-23.

God's plan is for the Church to be a wineskin that will pour out new wine - the revelation of the presence of His glory - into every corner of the world.

"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" Habakkuk 2:14.

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Copyright 1981,1996 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

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