Memphis Belle

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Are You In A New Wineskin or An Old Brittle Wineskin?


If you’ve been around the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, say you were an old Worldwide Church of God member like me, you left after being disillusioned in 1995, maybe spent some time wandering, like I did, even spent some time in a Calvary Chapel or some other evangelical church, and you wondered why they were so alive (like I did) and then came back into the knowledge that the Sabbath command of God had not been abrogated or transferred to Sunday (like I did, see the article by that name listed on the upper nav bar)---and now you’re visiting the many differing Sabbath-keeping denominations that broke off of the Worldwide Church of God right after 1995, and you notice that they all seem like “old wineskins.”  They just don’t have that zip and life you and I experienced when we first came into Worldwide, or even that zip and life we experienced in some of the other groups out there which we encountered in our spiritual wanderings.  Transcribing this sermon (excerpted below) helped me understand what I was looking at as I visited the various Sabbath-keeping Church of God denominations out there when I came back into the knowledge that the Sabbath had not been abrogated or transferred to Sunday.  Everywhere I went, they were very nice people, old Worldwide people I knew, I even renewed some friendships.  But I soon realized, with every group I went into and fellowshipped with, I soon found out ‘this group is nothing more than an old wineskin.  Jesus loves them, he’s not going to abandon them, but they’re just not going anywhere, they’re not growing, they’re remaining static, they’re running in-place spiritually.’  I did find one Sabbath-keeping denomination which appears to fit the pattern of one going through a genuine revival, as Pastor Joe described in this sermon excerpt below.  It just went through a very painful split, where over half their denomination broke off, where a bunch of what I term “hard-liners”, folks that didn’t want change, broke off and formed another denomination of their own.  But those who remained now amazingly enough find themselves in a Sabbath-keeping Church of God denomination that is being led by Jesus through a genuine revival.  They’re not throwing out one “jot” or “tittle” of God’s Law, but they are fast becoming what I term Christ-agape centered in their worship and outreach to the hurting world.  They’re not there yet, but they are on the right path and headed in that direction.  I’ll leave it to you to find them, but it won’t be hard if you have a ‘Worldwide’ Sabbath-keeping Church of God background.  Below is a short excerpt from my section on the Gospel of Luke which explains how Jesus defined the difference of being in an “old wineskin” and a “new wineskin.”  Be sure to read it.  When I transcribed the sermon this was a part of I instantly knew what I had been looking at as I went around attending all the differing Sabbath-keeping Church of God denominations that broke off from Worldwide after 1995, all except one Sabbath-keeping Church of God denomination.  Like I said, I’ll leave you to figure out who they are, it won’t be difficult. 


New Wineskins verses Old Wineskins


“And he spake also this parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.  No man putteth new wine into old bottles [wineskins]; else the new wine will burst the [old] bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.  But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.  No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new:  for he saith, The old is better” (verses 36-39).  His answer is this, ‘No man puts a new patch on an old garment.  You guys who went through the 60s and early 70s with me, knew that we worked hard to have our jeans wear out.  We did it the old-fashioned way, you buy them worn-out looking now.  We did it ourselves.  And then when they wore out, you waited for the holes to come, that was part of our generation.  My daughter does it now, and I don’t understand it at all, but I understood why I did it, I forget.  But you saved the ones that fell apart so that you could use the old denim to make a patch on your worn-out jeans, because if you took a, besides looking weird, but it didn’t look cool either, but if you took a brand new piece of denim and sewed it on your old jeans, and then it got washed and dried, it looked like a bear-trap, it just pulled it all together, you know.  Nobody did that.  It says they don’t agree.  And Jesus is saying, ‘You know, I didn’t come to patch up the old system.’  How can we take a patch of something that is brand new and sew it on something that is old?  How can we take a new era of God’s grace, a new demonstration of who he is, grace and truth, the Law came by Moses, Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.  How can we take this and put it on an old system?  Jesus is saying, ‘I didn’t come to renovate the old system.  I didn’t come to patch up the legalistic Judaistic system, I came to usher in an entirely new system, an entirely new era, an entirely new covenant, the New Covenant in contrast to the Old Covenant.’  Then he says, ‘No one takes new wine and puts it in old skins,’ it says bottles, it’s wineskins, because the new wine, the fresh wine then ferments, and the old wineskins had become rigid and dry, and as it [the new wine] fermented the old skins would burst.  And then you have wine, of course, running out all over the place.  And Jesus says both the bottles and the wine perish. 


Jesus Cares For The Old Wine and Wineskins Just As Much As He Cares For The New Wine and Wineskins


Now it is interesting, take note of this.  We often have people who come to us and say, “Look, I see what the Lord’s doing here, pray for my pastor, pray for my church, we’re so caught up in just a system and everything, and everything seems so dead.  Just pray that something new would happen there, that there would be new life.”  And we’ll do that, but you know, it’s hard to put new wine into old skins.  And Jesus voices a concern, he doesn’t want the old bottles to perish.  You know, if you just take a, you know, people come in here and they watch what’s going on, and they think, ‘Well let me see, the secret is you have to wear Hawaiian shirts, then things start to happen.  Or the secret is, you’ve got to get guitars and drums up there, and if we take a new patch and put it in our old church, then…’  It’s nice, but it doesn’t produce what they’re looking for.  And then what happens is some of the folks that have been there for years say ‘What happened to the organ player?  We don’t like this, who is this?  This is not worship, what is this, Rock n’ Roll?’  And you’re losing the bottle and the new wine.  And God cares about the old bottles.  There are some wonderful places around here.  You know, let me tell you something, if Jesus tarries for 50 years, we’ll be an old bottle.  We’ll be here.  ‘Yeah, we worship in the meter factory, the way it has to happen is you have to have this, and you have to wear Hawaiian shirts, you have to use chicken-buckets when you take the offering, you have to do this.’  And we’ll be set in our ways, and our kids will be going ‘Oh man,’ and they’ll move somewhere down the street and God will do a whole new thing.  If you study the history of the Church, it’s the way it always was.  [Comment:  Whether you look at the Sunday-observing side of the body of Christ with it’s various genuine revivals-turned- denominations or the Sabbath-keeping side of the body of Christ, with it’s seven successive eras, this is very true.  See and]  There was always a new wave, you know, Billy Graham’s organization got behind a book called ‘An Unbroken Line of Splendor’ and it just traced the trail of revival through the Church. 


How To Revitalize an Old Wineskin


Now, one of the things that can change old bottles is a sovereign move of God.  When George Whitfield preached up and down the Eastern Seaboard, churches that were nominal in regards to being Christian or experiencing the new-birth were revitalized.  Churches that were believing but dead and worn out came back to life again.  When there’s a revival, you know, right away we think that means people getting saved.  No, that’s just a by-product.  A revival is when something that used to be vived, gets vived again.  That’s why it’s called revived.  It’s when something that used to be alive [and now is more or less dead] is made alive again.  But that is sovereign.  The general rule is you can’t put new wine in the old skins, unless God does it, when there is a sovereign move in the Church [or in a church and/or denomination].  We’re not talking about resurrecting Judaism, we’re talking about in the Church [Body of Christ, or within individual denominations], and there’s an awakening.  And how we pray for that in this nation, before the Lord comes, that God would move in a sovereign way in the churches all across the city.  That we ourselves would experience a revival, an awakening.  And there would be then a great ingathering, because the very Body of Christ would come to life and become infectious.  Well, we pray for that wonderful thing. 


Why God Creates New Wineskins---He Loves the Lost


But God so often moves outside of the old established systems to begin something new.  The reason he does it, is because he loves the lost generation that he does it in, for God so loved the world, not the Church, the world, that he gave his only Son so that whoever would believe would not perish but have everlasting life, that he would take us in and make us the Church.  You know, if you’re sitting here tonight, and you’re not a believer, you know, chances are, we couldn’t get you into a normal church.  That’s why you’re here.  Chances are we probably couldn’t get you somewhere with hymnals, and a pastor or a priest or a reverend, whatever they are, that was wearing a robe, you’d probably say ‘Nah, I don’t want that.’  So God loves you enough to get you into an old meter factory, so that you could hear his Word, hear about his love.  [The Calvary Chapel in southern Massachusetts, with 2,000+ members meets in a renovated old Super K-Mart building they bought.  The one that meets in Central MA meets in a renovated old mill building.  This denomination is fairly new, having begun with Chuck Smith in Costa Mesa, California around 1970.  They are not filled with a lot of rituals the older established denominations have become filled with, they’re fresh, new wineskins is what Pastor Joe is saying.  And as you can read here, they have a very good and unique way of preaching, via the “connective expository” sermon method.  See to see how they started and learn more about this recent revival of Jesus Christ.  The Messianic Jewish revival is fairly new, exploding in growth from about the same period of time, the early 1970s.]  They’re coming to Jesus, ‘Why is this happening?  Why are you eating with tax gatherers and sinners?  Why are you reaching beyond the religious borders that we placed up?’  And Jesus is saying, ‘Because those that are sick need a physician, not those that are healthy.  Those that are outside our border, they are able to be healed.  That’s who I am, that’s why I came.’  Those that were part of the old religious systems that didn’t reach my generation, that were ineffective, God reached beyond them, and reached our generation.  And I remember in my generation when LSD became prominent in America, and the Beatles and some of the bands were leading the wave, and a whole generation was going to hell.  And all of a sudden, right in the middle of it, God steps in, and you start to hear about Jesus Freaks, and all of a sudden the same people who were listening to the other things, all of a sudden now, instead of dropping out and turning on, they’re getting saved and being born-again, and they’re coming into the churches with long hair and bare feet.  And the old wineskins are going ‘Hey, you can’t come in here, you’ve got bare feet, you’ll get the carpet smelly!’  And Chuck [Smith] said early on, when the Hippies first started coming into his church, he said they’d put their toes in the communion cup holders in the back of the pews, and all the old folks were getting offended. [laughter]  And they said ‘They can’t come in here with their bare feet, we just got new carpets.’  He [Chuck Smith] said ‘Rip the carpets out, and let them in!’ ---1969.  Now, there’s 700 Calvary Chapel’s in the United States, hundreds in other countries around the world.  And there are many other moves like that, by the way.  We’re not exclusive.  But God is still working.  Jesus says he creates new wineskins because the old containers are not able to be flexible enough to contain the new wine, the living work that I’m doing.”  [this short section was excerpted from a Pastor Joe Focht connective expository sermon covering Luke 5:37-39, (1996) Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116] 


Another Sovereign Move Of God Is Taking Place---Take Care Not To Be Disrespectful Of the Old Wineskins


Obviously, “a sovereign move of God is taking place within this one Sabbath-keeping Church of God denomination I made reference to.  Does this mean God is through with all the others?  Not by a long-shot.  He loves them just as much as the “new wineskins.”  They just can’t be worked with nor led around like you can lead around a “new wineskin.”  And we must be very careful not to say anything disrespectful against the leaders whom Jesus is using to guide and protect those within these older wineskins.  (I know one personally, and he is a great spiritual leader of those under him.)  Jesus is keeping those children of his safe and sound through them.  I know all my old Worldwide Church of God friends from these other Sabbath-keeping Church of God denominations will probably disown me for writing this article, accuse me of name-calling, and the like, feeling like this article is a slap in the face to their denomination.  I have been careful not to do that.  If you take an honest look at a denomination, spend a little time attending within it, getting to know them, and see their fruit is the fruit of an “old wineskin” then you’re just telling the truth, and I’ve been telling that truth in love, because I love them.  But there are times when one has to tell it like it is.  If you don’t like it where you are, there’s no apparent sovereign move of God, Jesus taking place, move to where there is more of that taking place.  If you like it where you are, stay where you are.  Don’t give up on the Lord, hold fast to what you have.  In that movie Mr. Roberts, Mr. Roberts did all in his power to transfer to a ship headed for action, going into harms way.  All the other sailors he left behind on the “SS Bucket” were still in the United States Navy, and they all were fulfilling a vital role in the war effort.  We’re all in God’s Army/Navy/Air Corps.  Serve loyally where you are if you like it there, or transfer out if you want a piece of the action.


Related links:


For some of you pastors, ‘How do some of these new wineskins preach so effectively?’  Take a look at another healthy method.  See:


Here’s the link to my research article proving the Sabbath has neither been abrogated nor transferred to Sunday, which led me to realize I had to find a suitable Sabbath-keeping Church of God denomination to attend.  See:

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