"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wineskins: Out with the Old, In with the New?

So the other day I asked about wineskins. Specifically what do they symbolize in Jesus' example in Matthew 9?

16"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

We discussed it a bit in the comment section of that post, but I wanted to share a couple of short things I read about wineskins.

First my Quest Bible notes:

"Wineskins were the bottles made of animal skins sewn in the shape of a flexible bag. At first they were soft and pliable, but with age they became brittle. Since wine gives off gases and expands as it undergoes the process of fermentation, a wineskin had to stretch to accommodate the expanding wine. Non-elastic, old skins would burst during fermentation."

And it continues:

"Jesus used this as a metaphor. Old wineskins represented the Jewish system, which was unable to accommodate the new wine of the kingdom of God." (pg. 1397)

I checked a New Testament commentary that we own and read this:

"The image of the wineskins teaches that [Jesus] gives spiritual fullness. Jewish religion was a worn-out wineskin that would burst if filled with the new wine of the Gospel. Jesus did not come to renovate Moses or even mix Law and grace. He came with new life!" (pg. 35)

About the garment mentioned in verse 16, the commentary reads:

"The illustration of the cloth reminds us that He came to bring spiritual wholeness; He did not come to 'patch us up' and then let us fall apart."

My preacher often compares the Holy Spirit to wine. He says the old wineskins represent people or churches who refuse to budge from tradition when the Spirit is leading them to do something different. He's talking about people who are so stuck in their own ways that they will not yield to the Spirit of God trying to work in their lives. People who hold tradition or their preferred methods above God. Let's face it, God doesn't always work in ways that seem sensible to us. His ways are higher than ours.

What do you think?



quotes from Quest Bible & The Bible Exposition Commentary Volume I - Warren Wiersbe

18 comments:

Amber said...

Susanne,

What I was taught agrees with your Bible commentary. The old wine skins were representative of the old, Jewish law, which could not hold the Gospel.

'He says the old wineskins represent people or churches who refuse to budge from tradition when the Spirit is leading them to do something different.'

I (unsurprisingly) disagree with this. How do you know that the 'spirit' that is prompting your church to do something new and different is really the Holy Spirit? If a 'spirit' prompts your pastor to start baptizing infants, should he follow that spirit lest he become on 'old wineskin'? Following whatever 'spirit' hits one is what has led to the thousands of Protestant denominations we now have, and the division within even those. The accusation that people who choose not to follow the 'spirit' of the moment (the new fads, etc.) are the 'old wine skins' Christ was talking of is actually sort of silly.

If this 'spirit' beings a 'new wine', a new message, then it has to be rejected as false, an anti-christ.

Amber said...

'He says the old wineskins represent people or churches who refuse to budge from tradition when the Spirit is leading them to do something different'

I actually had a thought about this this morning while I was getting ready.

I can almost extend the thought your pastor was having to individuals who become Christian. If they don't let go of old habits, their pre-Christian life style in many instances, they cannot hold the 'new wine' of the Gospel, and fall away, out of Grace.

Sarah said...

Interesting saying. I have never really thought about it before.

With the cloth part, he's saying that a new patch will break the old garment. The new is bad for the old.

With the wineskins part, he's saying that the old is bad for the new, as the old wineskin will not be able to safely hold the new wine.

Since most of his preaching was about the coming kingdom of God, I would imagine he's saying that the old kingdom will have to be left behind and you can't mix the two?

Carmen said...

I loved this post Susanne and think it's a great explanation. Thanks so much for taking the time to search and research more about it.

"I (unsurprisingly) disagree with this. How do you know that the 'spirit' that is prompting your church to do something new and different is really the Holy Spirit? If a 'spirit' prompts your pastor to start baptizing infants, should he follow that spirit lest he become on 'old wineskin'? Following whatever 'spirit' hits one is what has led to the thousands of Protestant denominations we now have, and the division within even those. The accusation that people who choose not to follow the 'spirit' of the moment (the new fads, etc.) are the 'old wine skins' Christ was talking of is actually sort of silly."

Well, how do you -ever- know when the Holy Spirit is speaking? According to the Bible, the Holy Spirit was sent by God after Jesus left - to give us power, to comfort us, convict us, speak to us.

You learn to know by discernment.

Amber said...

Carmen,

But every single denomination and church believes that they have discerned that the Holy Spirit is the one leading them. And yet they disagree on so very many things.

So, clearly, they are basing their 'discernment' on something that is not solid, but rather mutable.

Carmen said...

Amber, so we just throw the HS out of the equation and ignore that part of the Bible? I'm confused.

How do you personally interact with the Holy Spirit?

Do we let some that are wrongly interpreting the HS invalidate what the Word of God says about the HS?

Amber said...

Carmen,

Of course not.

But what are the criteria for discernment? Shouldn't they be the same for everyone, so we would all be on the same page, if we were truly following the Holy Spirit?

I don't deny that the Holy Spirit is active within Christians, but it's the claim of the day to say that the Holy Spirit led me to such and such, and people will follow it because it is 'new', and the 'holy spirit' said so, but they either aren't actually examining the claim, or are using some criteria for discernment that isn't correct.

Carmen said...

If we had a bunch of criteria, and a list, we wouldn't need the Holy Spirit. Now, sure, we are to weigh the things against the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit would never give us new revelation that is contradictory to the word of God.

I don't see this passage about wineskins saying that though or meaning we should take a hunch or a feeling and call it the Spirit.

If you don't deny the HS is active within Christians, how do you support that belief? The other things you are saying, don't make it seem like that's the case.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I promise. lol Just trying to figure out how you can believe there is a HS but then be skeptical on how "He" moves and speaks.

Susanne said...

Amber, my preacher wasn't talking about changing your message. He's talking about churches here who insist on King James Version only and such "rules" that aren't in the Bible (e.g. hair a certain length, women must wear this or that, don't go to movies). Not changing doctrine to suit changing cultural times. :) I totally agree that a message against the gospel is not good and my pastor feels the same way.

Thanks for your comment!

Susanne said...

Amber, I should have said thanks for your commentSSSSSSSSSS. ;) I'm enjoying yours and Carmen's exchange of ideas!

Sarah, yes, I think that's the understanding. I just thought I'd put these verses up here and let people discuss what they thought. I'm really glad you shared your thoughts on it. :)

Susanne said...

Carmen, I'm glad you enjoyed the post and that you added your own thoughts. I think this is key to discerning whether or not the Holy Spirit is at work:

"The Holy Spirit would never give us new revelation that is contradictory to the word of God."

Do you all thinks this warning from John pertains at all to the Holy Spirit or just those out in the world?

From I John 4

1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Thoughts?

Thanks for your comments, all!

Suroor said...

Hmm, so what happens to Jesus not abolishing the old law but fulfilling it?

Susanne said...

Suroor's question makes me wonder this:

what does 'fulfilling' something mean?

When Jesus fulfilled the Law did it then become unnecessary? Like he completed it so it was then null and void for his followers?

Thoughts?

(Great question, Suroor. At first I was like "what is she talking about?" and maybe I've misunderstood so please explain if I have. Thanks! :))

Amber said...

Carmen,

'If we had a bunch of criteria, and a list, we wouldn't need the Holy Spirit. Now, sure, we are to weigh the things against the Word of God.'

But that is a 'list' of criteria. If it doesn't match the Bible, Tradition, and what has been taught since the early church, then it fails to meet those criteria. For me, anyway. I understand that not everyone would include Tradition and the early church in their criterion.

'The Holy Spirit would never give us new revelation that is contradictory to the word of God.'

True. But then we hit the question of how do we interpret the word of God? Through the power of the Holy Spirit. So, if one is following a 'spirit', and also trusting that 'spirit' to help them interpret the Bible and then weigh the 'new revelation' against the Bible, they're going to have a problem.

'I don't see this passage about wineskins saying that though or meaning we should take a hunch or a feeling and call it the Spirit.'

Neither do I. :) I misunderstood what Susanne's pastor was saying as a 'go wherever the 'spirit' blows methodology, but Susanne has said that's not what he meant.

'If you don't deny the HS is active within Christians, how do you support that belief? The other things you are saying, don't make it seem like that's the case.'

I believe that the Holy Spirit is active within Christians and the Church, guiding us individually toward the truth, and keeping the Church (as Christ's Body), from error. I just don't believe that everything that everyone says came from the Holy Spirit does, actually, come from the Holy Spirit. If it did, there wouldn't be the dissension and confusion that I see.

'I'm not trying to be argumentative, I promise. lol'

Neither am I. Promise. :)

'Just trying to figure out how you can believe there is a HS but then be skeptical on how "He" moves and speaks.'

That'd just be the specialness of being me, I guess. ;) I'm skeptical about pretty much everything, but not to the point where I won't accept the evidence that is before my eyes.

It's sort of like the saying, 'Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.' We were told that there would be false prophets. We know that Satan moves through the world, seeking to lure us away from God. How better than to fool us by believing that what we're hearing *is* God?

Carmen said...

Jesus fulfilled in the law in the sense that sacrifice was no longer necessary to be forgiven. He fulfilled our obligation for that as the perfect and blameless sacrifice.

Now, we go directly to Him.

Amber said...

'what does 'fulfilling' something mean?

When Jesus fulfilled the Law did it then become unnecessary? Like he completed it so it was then null and void for his followers?'

I've always thought of fulfilling something sort of like fulfilling a contract. Once all the terms have been met, the contract is ended. The parties are free to enter into a new contract, with different terms, if so desired. (And since, in this case, the terms of the second 'contract' are so much better, why wouldn't we?) The original contract is still there, to be referred to and perhaps learned from, but it is no longer binding.

So. With that in mind, once Jesus fulfilled the old law, it became null and void, and we entered into a new 'contract' with God - the New Covenant.

Susanne said...

Carmen, I can vouch for Amber's specialness. ;)

Amber,

"It's sort of like the saying, 'Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.' We were told that there would be false prophets. We know that Satan moves through the world, seeking to lure us away from God. How better than to fool us by believing that what we're hearing *is* God?"

Hmmm, that's a good point.

Susanne said...

Thanks, Carmen and Amber, for sharing what Jesus fulfilling the Law means to you. I really appreciate that. Perhaps I'll do a post sometime and quote y'all. :)