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"New Wineskins"

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 2, 2021 5:00 am

"New Wineskins"

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Hi there, this is Lon Solomon and I'd like to welcome you to our program today. You know, it's a tremendous honor that God has given us to be on stations all around the nation bringing the truth of God's Word as it is uncompromising and straightforward. And I'm so glad you've tuned in to listen and be part of that. Thanks again for your support and your generosity that keeps us on the radio.

And now, let's get to the Word of God. This is not your father's Oldsmobile, is what the ad says on television. Back in the 50s, these cars were great cars. They were sleek, they were powerful, they were classy, but I definitely would not want it for my everyday driving. And the reason is that a 50s Oldsmobile is just not a car for the 90s. It doesn't have seatbelts, it doesn't have air conditioning, it has no cassette or CD player, it has no Bose speakers.

My point is that what was state of the art technology 40 years ago isn't even acceptable for basic transportation today. This reminds us once again of how fast our world is changing, doesn't it, at a rate that is unprecedented in human history, a fact that has enormous implications for us as Christians and for our churches as we grapple with how to keep communicating with a society that is changing as rapidly as our society is changing. And Jesus addresses that in our passage for this morning as well as giving us a great personal so what for our lives when he says that new wine needs to be put in what?

New wineskins. And that's what I want us to talk about this morning. Verse 33 of chapter 5 of Luke's Gospel.

Look there with me, would you? It says, They said to him, this is the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel, John the Baptist's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, that yours go on eating and drinking. And they're complaining about this. Now it's important for us to understand that the religious leaders of Israel, the Pharisees, had turned Old Testament Judaism into a prison. They had concocted all kinds of rules which they had superimposed on the true worship of God. In fact, in the Mishnah, they had 613 of these rules laid out that they assiduously observed. One of these rules required them to fast every Monday and every Thursday. You say, Well, Lon, where is that in the Bible? Well, the answer is it isn't in the Bible. The only day that the Bible demands fasting is one day a year called the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Other than that, the Bible doesn't demand fasting at all. What they had done is gone way beyond what God had required in the Bible, and they had made up their own man made tradition regarding fasting. And apparently they asked Jesus about this here in verse 33 on a Monday or a Thursday while they were fasting. But Jesus and his disciples were eating and drinking and having a ball, and they didn't like it and they didn't understand how this could be. Look at Jesus's response.

Verse 34. Jesus answered, Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he's with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and in those days they will fast.

What's Jesus really saying? What he's really saying is that fasting is great. It's appropriate when there is a reason to fast, but not just when tradition calls for it. Jesus says, Look, I'm like a bridegroom, and I'm here with my bridal party. And when the groom is with his groomsmen and the wedding is going on, nobody fasts.

But Jesus said, There's coming a day when the bridegroom will be gone, no doubt looking towards the day when he will be crucified and hang on a cross. And he said, When that day comes, there will be good reason for my disciples to fast, and they will. Folks, the issue here between Jesus and these religious leaders was not fasting. The issue was tradition, tradition for its own sake. The Pharisees were really asking Jesus the question that they asked him in Matthew Chapter 15, verse two, when they said to him very bluntly, Why do you break the tradition that we and the elders have set up? And Jesus's answer was just as straightforward. He said to them, Look, tradition is a good idea when it meets a vital need in people's lives.

But when an old tradition becomes irrelevant, it needs to be scrapped, and it needs to be replaced with something new that meets people's needs the way the old tradition used to, but doesn't anymore. And then he goes on to tell a parable to illustrate his point. In fact, he tells you, verse 36.

He told them this parable. Nobody tears a patch from a new garment and sews it onto an old one. If he does, he'll have torn the new garment and ruined it.

And the patch from the new will not match the old. In fact, in Matthew's gospel, he goes on to say the new patch will shrink up and tear the old garment worse. And then he tells another parable from the world of winery. He says, Look with me, verse 37, And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the old wineskin, and the wine will run out, and the wineskin will be ruined. Because when wine ferments, it produces gas.

It gives off gas. And if you put it in a new wineskin that's elastic and flexible, the new wineskin will stretch with the gas that the new wine is making and everything will be fine. But if you put it in an old wineskin that's become brittle and has lost its elasticity, as the gas is released from the new wine, it will burst the wineskin. The new wine will flow out onto the ground and be spilled and be lost and be ruined and the wineskin won't be any good to anybody.

Jesus said, You don't do that. You put new wine in new wineskins, not in old ones. What Jesus is really trying to say to these religious leaders is this, that the wine that he's talking about is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of Jesus Christ about salvation and redemption.

And the old wineskin is the religious tradition that these people had concocted. And what he was trying to make them see is that the new message he was bringing could never be accommodated by the dried up, brittle, inflexible religious tradition that they had created. God had not given them the 613 rules. They had made them up. God had not told them to fast on Monday and Thursday.

They had made it up themselves. And Jesus was saying, What I am bringing will not fit into the man made religion that you've come up with in order to appropriate what I'm offering you, Jesus said. You religious leaders are going to have to be willing to let go of those old, useless wineskins, and you're going to have to embrace a whole new way of relating to God. You're going to have to learn some new wineskins.

Now, did he think they were going to do it? Look at verse 39. No one, Jesus says, after drinking old wine, wants the new for he says the old's good enough. Jesus was trying to say to these people, Look, I don't expect most of you guys to change. I don't expect most of you guys to be willing to trade in your old wineskin of Judaism.

That's performance based for what I'm offering in the gospel. And the reason is that as people, Jesus said, we tend to become wedded to old wineskins. We get comfortable and used to the way we've always done it. The fact is there's a tendency in all of us as people to resist change. And we say things like, Well, if in order to get that new wine, it means I have to change wineskins, then I don't want any new wine.

Old wines good enough for me. We don't like new stuff. We don't want to change.

We don't want to deal with changing wineskins. And nowhere is that more obvious than when it comes to religious tradition. You know, the forces that are shaping our world today are very powerful.

They've created a world that is so different from when your father drove his fifties Oldsmobile. And yet is the church we seem determined, not just our church, but the church in general. We seem determined to hold on to traditions and ways of doing things and ways of trying to communicate the message of Jesus Christ that worked well with Wally and Beaver. But, folks, Wally and Beaver are dead. They are gone forever.

So is Donna Reed. They are never coming back. This is the world of Bart and Homer and March. And the really important question for our church and every church is, have we got the unchanging wine of the Gospel packaged with the right new wineskin to keep communicating it to the world of today? That's the question every church has to keep asking itself.

In his book Dying for Change, Leith Anderson cites research that says 85% of America's Protestant churches are either stagnating or dying. I'm trying to reinforce a mindset that I want us as Christians and I want this church family never to lose a mindset that says if it doesn't violate the clear teaching of the Bible, we are willing to change any wineskin, no matter how much of a sacred cow it may be, if it will make us more effective in carrying out our mission. And what is our mission? Touching lives with the love of God. A mindset I'm trying to accomplish in us that says our mission matters more than our tradition.

And if we can do our mission better by changing a tradition, we will change the tradition. We'll use puppets. We'll use drama.

We'll use contemporary Christian music. We'll use recovery groups. We'll go to three services. We'll go to a Saturday night service. We'll give away Nintendos and VCRs at junior high outreaches. You say, you really do that? Yeah, we do.

We'll let high schoolers shoot each other with paint pellets. Whatever it takes to reach people. You understand what I'm trying to say? Rudyard Kipling, the Pulitzer Prize winning British writer and novelist, as a very young man, met for the very first time General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. And the first time they met, he didn't like William Booth very much because he was from a very staid religious British tradition.

And when the first time he ever met William Booth, William Booth was at an evangelistic meeting in the open air in London playing the tambourine on stage. And he didn't like that. That offended Kipling.

After they became friends later on, Kipling remarked to Booth how much he disliked the tambourine and how much it offended him that he would be playing the tambourine. And I love what William Booth said. I quote. He said, young man, if I thought I could win one more soul for Christ by standing on my head and beating the tambourine with my feet, I would learn how to do it.

You like that? I love that quote. Because this is a man who's letting his mission drive him, not tradition. And Jesus was a man who let mission drive him, not tradition.

These Pharisees were tradition driven. Jesus was mission driven. And I believe that every effective church, every effective Christian has got to be a mission driven Christian, a mission driven church, not tradition driven. And I want to keep saying that to you until I convince you that it's right.

You understand what I'm saying? That's a mission driven mentality. And that's what we need to have as a church and as people. That's what Jesus had. Well, that's our passage for this morning. And now we want to ask the question. You say, I thought we just got it.

No, no, that was just talk. This is so what? We've already said that the main point here, let's not forget the main point, is that you can't take Jesus Christ and superimpose him on man-made religion. It won't work. It's like smearing fresh icing on moldy cake.

It just won't work. But the same truth applies to us on a personal level. You say, what do you mean?

Let me explain. I find that so many people who've never accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, but they're thinking about it. They're thinking about it. Man, these people can get excited about the new wine Jesus is offering them. He's offering them the new wine of forgiveness of sin. He's offering them the new wine of eternal life. He's offering them the new wine of unconditional love. He's offering them the new wine of a personal walk with God and so many other things. And they get excited about that.

But so often what you find these people wanting to do is to kind of smear all of this right on top of the moldy lifestyle that they're presently living. They want to take Jesus' new wine and they want to put it in the old wineskin of their ungodly lifestyle. And God says this is not one of the above selections.

This does not work. This is not acceptable. Jesus is not looking for people who want to take new wine from him and put it in their old wineskin. That's not what he's after. Jesus is after people who are prepared to make a radical change in their lives. People who are prepared to junk their old wineskins, junk their old sinful habits, junk their old dried up brittle lifestyle and let him make their lifestyle into a brand new wineskin. That's what he wants. You say, well, Lon, are you saying that for me to accept Jesus Christ, for him to save me and redeem me, that I have to go change all my life and become Pat Robertson?

No. No, folks, you couldn't change your own flesh by your own power anyway. No, that's not what God's looking for. Jesus Christ will do the changing. But you and I have to be willing to present him with a willing heart, a heart that's willing to be changed, a heart that's willing to submit to his reshaping of our lifestyle, his reshaping of our habits, his reshaping of our values and our attitudes. The Bible says Romans Chapter 10, if we confess that Jesus is Lord and we believe that God raised him from the dead in our heart, we will be redeemed. We will be saved.

But did you notice what we have to confess with our mouth? That Jesus is what? Lord. Jesus is not offering to be your fire escape from hell. Jesus is offering to be your savior and your Lord. And as Lord, he's going to change your wineskin.

And it's a good deal. If you've never done that and you're here, I hope you will. Twenty-two years ago, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and my Lord. And I said, Jesus, I need you to change my wineskin. My wineskin stinks. If the wineskin of my lifestyle was so great, I wouldn't want you and I wouldn't need you, but my wineskin is in terrible shape.

And I understand that's part of the deal and that's great. And I'll tell you, I'm not the same human being I was 22 years ago because Jesus Christ came into my life as Lord and he made some sweeping changes. And every change Jesus Christ made in my life has been for my benefit.

Every one of them. Now at first I don't know that I altogether got this. I mean, it took me a while to figure out that this is the way it really was. I'll never forget one time I was sitting in my fraternity house smoking dope with my friends, but I'd become a Christian about two, three weeks before this. And I was trying to share Christ with them.

That's true. And I was very serious and I was very committed to this. And finally one of my fraternity brothers just started laughing and I got so angry. And I said to him, what are you laughing at?

I was so upset. And just like that he sat up and he pointed his finger at me, I'll never forget it, and he said, Solomon, you're such a hypocrite. He said, here you sit here smoking dope and getting high just like all the rest of us and talking to us about sin and about righteousness and about holiness, but you're sitting here getting high just like all the rest of us. He said, I don't want to hear about it. You're just a hypocrite like the rest of them. What do you say to that?

There's not much to say because he was right. And I'll never forget, I got up, never said a word, just walked out the room. Went for a long walk. And on that walk I said, you know, Jesus, if my life's really going to count for you, there's really some changes we're going to have to make, isn't there? Changes in the way I'm living. Changes in my habits.

And one of the first is we've got to deal with this dope. I said, you know, Lord, for all these years I've been saying, I can quit whenever I want. Quit whenever I want. I can quit whenever I want. But you know what? Honestly, Lord, I'm not so sure I can quit.

But if you'll give me the power to quit, I'll do it. This is just one of the sweeping changes Jesus Christ made in my life. And you know, once we become Christians the process doesn't stop. There are many of us here who are Christians, who somehow look at the process as something that we did the first year we were Christians. We got rid of smoking and we got rid of drinking and we got rid of doping and we got rid of carousing and we did all that.

And then we say, oh, this is great. I traded all my old wineskins and for new wineskins and now it's just a coast. Uh-uh. No, no.

Not right. After more than 20 years, you know, God is still asking me to submit more and more of my old wineskins to Him for transforming. Because you see, as Christians, God's goal is not just to redeem us, but God's goal is to transform us into His likeness, into godly men and women. And Ephesians chapter 4 says that God's goal is to have us put off the old self, the old person with all of its corrupt habits and desires and actions and speech and to put on a new person that Jesus Christ wants to create in us that follows holiness and righteousness and that is a lifelong process. It's just that God digs deeper as the years goes on.

He digs deeper. Over the last year, as you know, with my daughter being so sick, God has really used all that to zero in on a whole bunch of old wineskins in my life. Old wineskins like arrogance and self-sufficiency. Old wineskins like insensitivity to the needs and the hurts of people around me. Old wineskins like valuing things more than people. Old wineskins like materialism and love of material things more than having a heavenly focus. Man, there's a whole bunch of old wineskins in my life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-24 19:53:08 / 2023-11-24 20:01:02 / 8

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