No Mixed Drinking Allowed!
You probably have rightly assumed that I’m not referring to the way one drinks alcohol. The title means that the gospel must be imbibed straight, with nothing mixed in with it. The gospel of God is unique. It won’t mix or blend with any other religious system in any measure. You cannot mix the gospel with Roman Catholic or Orthodox sacramentalism. You cannot mix the gospel with liberalism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, or Christian Science, or any other religion, including Judaism. The gospel is exclusive and any attempt to mix it with rules, rituals, or any form of religion is to totally evaporate its contents and force a change of label.
In this age that insists on diversity, tolerance, pluralism, inclusivism, and universalism, we must announce unapologetically the singularity of the Christian gospel. This means that any intrusion that mixes or alters the uniqueness of the gospel renders it null and void.
In Luke 5:33-39, Jesus gives four illustrations using pairs of things that do not mix, all pointing out that the old way of Judaism does not mix with the new way of the Gospel.
- Feasting and Fasting (Lk 5:33-35)
- New patch on Old Garment (Lk 5:36)
- New wine in Old Wineskins (Lk 5:37-38)
- New wine and Old Wine (Lk 5:39)
Are you adding anything to the Gospel in your walk of faith? Do you think that you can merit God's favor tomorrow by performing some "good work" today? For example, are you counting on your quiet time in the mornings, the size of your gifts to the church, baptism, church denomination, etc. to earn you favor with God and help you to live a holier life? Even if you have been saved by believing the unique, unmixed gospel of God, and are now attempting to work out your salvation by adding a mixture of do’s and don’ts, it will only produce futility and frustration in your sanctification process because it will grieve/quench the Spirit who is our Sanctifier. As Paul wrote to the Galatians "This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected (BEING SANCTIFIED) by the flesh? (see Gal 3:2-3). Are you attempting to live the Christian life by adhering to a list of do's and don'ts? Jesus would say "DON'T!" No mixed drinking allowed! You cannot mix the old wine of works with the new wine of grace!
The Greek word translated "new" in relation to wine is neos. But the word translated "new" in relation to wineskins is kainos and literally means "renewed." In Bible days, wineskins were relatively expensive, so when they began to get hard, he who didn't have money for a new one would soak the old one in water until the elasticity and the flexibility returned. The analogy is interesting because the Scriptures are likened unto water (John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26). How do we stay flexible, usable, and contemporary in whatever the Lord might be doing both corporately and personally? We soak ourselves not in traditionalism or denominationalism, but in the Word (Jon Courson).
What God did yesterday was good and new, but eventually everyday ends. The once new day becomes yesterday, and a new day begins. What does God have planned for tomorrow? Will we miss it? Are we flexible wineskins or dried-up unusable raisin skins? I don’t know about you, but I want to stretch with new wine in me; with joy unspeakable and full of glory; with a relentless heart-hunger to see, savor, show, and share Christ more than ever before.
Jack Hayford defines experiencing the fullness of God as “stretchability.” It means that we allow the Holy Spirit to renew the wineskins of our souls, to expand the vision of our understanding, to enlarge our heart for Christ, and his people, and to extend our reach to the world.
When Christ fills our lives, the swelling within stretches us to new limits. The inner pressure expels unneeded things and fills every aspect of our lives.
What does the old wineskins represent for us as believers?
(1) Our previous experiences with the Holy Spirit.
(2) Our present level of growth.
(3) Our level of learning.
(4) Our cherished customs, traditions, and denominations.
(5) Our prejudices and preconceived ideas about what God will do when He manifest His presence and power.
(6) Our comfort zones. These are those areas in which we feel we can explain, contain, and maintain any movement of the Holy Spirit.
When God is moving in our midst we are to be discerning of the counterfeit, but we must also be discerning of our own conceit. It is our natural tendency to analyze any fresh move of God in order that we may either formulize it into principles and legalize it into a fixed standard of measurements for all moves of God, or to rationalize it in order to categorize it so that we can criticize and paralyze it!
The new wine filling new wineskins is not just to excite our minds, or delight our emotions, but to ignite our ministry! Not just for personal enjoyment, but for public deployment.
- The old wineskins need to be soaked in the oil of the Holy Spirit. It’s unwillingness to change, not brittleness or age, that labels the wineskins as old. They can be revived, renewed, and reused! This requires change and change isn’t easy and is usually painful at first.
- The wine is the main thing, not the wineskin. The wine represents the life of Jesus released in us by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We are the wineskins who must change to accommodate the explosive move of the Spirit of God. New wine calls for new structures. Instead of doing things the same old way year after year, we must be open and willing to move with the Spirit, always open to God’s doing something new, fresh, and powerful.
- The wine isn’t just for myself, but for ministry to a joyless world. Christianity brings perpetual joy for those who will take it and cultivate it. The early Christians were accused of being drunk with new wine. The reformers in Geneva, Switzerland, set the Psalms to such lively music that they were nicknamed the “Geneva jigs.” The first Methodists stole some of the tunes for their hymns from the operas and set the songs of Zion to dance music. The first Salvation Army members jumped for joy because General Booth always told them that if they felt the Spirit move them, they could leap in a hymn or a prayer, and they did!
Psalm 104:15, “And wine that makes glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.”
C.H. Spurgeon’s prayer is mine: “God, send us a season of glorious disorder. Oh, for a sweep of the wind that will set the seas in motion, and make our ironclad brethren, now lying so quietly at anchor, roll from stem to stern! Oh, for the fire to fall again. Oh, God you are ready to work with us today even as You did in the days of the apostles. Stay not, we beseech Thee, but work at once. Break down every barrier that hinders the incoming of Thy might! Give us now both hearts of flame and tongues of fire to preach thy reconciling Word for Jesus’ sake Amen!”
The issue is the willingness to extend and expend, to be stretched and spent, to be broken and spilled out and used up in a passionate love for Jesus.
Robert Capon describes the Reformation as “a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace - bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel - after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps - suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started. Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice; neither goodness, nor badness could be allowed to enter into the case."
No Mixed Drinking Allowed!
The Lord’s final illustration in Luke 5:39 describes the tragedy of those who reject the Gospel of grace and cling to their false system of works-righteousness. Jesus likened such people to those who are content with the old wine they have been drinking and have no desire to taste the new. They swish their familiar drink, stubbornly clinging to their comfortable religious traditions, and have little or no interest in the new, fresh saving truth of the Gospel. For those unwilling to leave their false religions and embrace the Gospel, there is no hope of salvation.