New Wineskins – David Ray

David Ray

In Matthew 9:16-17, Jesus taught the following:

No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

Contextually, Jesus is comparing the things practiced by the Pharisees with the new plan He was bringing. Their way of thinking would not allow them to accept what He was saying. It was a mismatch. Jesus’ new teaching was a new order and needed to be received in a new framework. If they didn’t open their minds to His being the fulfillment of the old covenant, as it predicted (cf. Jer. 31:31-34), then, like the old wineskins expanding and being destroyed by the new wine, they too would perish.

Again, this context is a comparison of the old law of Moses and the new law of Christ. This change happened almost two thousand years ago when Christ nailed the old law to His cross (Col. 2:14).

There are those who have made improper application of this to their own modern hermeneutics. They see themselves as bringing a new teaching that cannot be understood or accepted by brethren who hold to the old ways. This is true, although these false teachers wouldn’t agree with my assessment, which is that they have altered the teachings of Christ and His apostles in such a way that those who hold to the truth refuse to digress along with them.

In reality, when Jesus made this statement He was comparing His new teaching to the old law, and such a statement does not apply today since there is no new law today. Yet, there really is a similarity to be noted: what the New Testament teaches, and has taught for almost two millennia, is just as foreign to most professed believers today as it was for the hard-hearted Jews of Jesus’ day when the teaching was brand new.

Consider a few biblical teachings that are considered error and anathema by most believers today:

  1. The true purpose of baptism is for the remission and washing away of one’s sins and, therefore, is absolutely required for one to be forgiven, saved, added to the Lord’s church, and Heaven-bound (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-6; 1 Pet. 3:21).

  2. The proper attitude God’s people are to have toward His word is that it is the complete, all-sufficient, authoritative pattern for the Christian’s life, never to be altered (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3; Col. 3:17; Gal. 1:8-9).

  3. There is but one church or body of Christ (Eph. 1:22:23; 4:4; Col. 1:18,24), and denominationalism (i.e., division) is sin (1 Cor. 1:10-13).

  4. The church of Christ was not an afterthought in the mind of God, but was part of His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10-11) and a necessity in the scheme of redemption (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph 5:23).

  5. Christian music in worship is done with only two instruments: the voice and the heart (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16); mechanical instruments such as the piano, guitar, and drums have never been authorized by God for use in His church’s worship of Him.

  6. Complete, heartfelt obedience to God’s word is prerequisite for salvation; i.e., “once saved, always saved” is a false and soul-damning doctrine (Heb. 5:9; Gal. 5:4; Col. 1:23; 1 Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10).

To some of us, these teachings are as clear as the passages that teach them. But most people have been taught opposing doctrines all of their lives and have as hard a time accepting them as the Jews had accepting Christ’s teachings two thousand years ago.

It’s important to acknowledge that neither of these groups has any excuse; Scripture says what it says regardless of our presuppositions and close-mindedness. But the purpose of this article is to encourage all who read it to put aside the things they’ve been taught and submit their minds to the teachings of the New Testament without prejudice. None of us will have anything to lose in doing so. Either the things we’ve been taught are true and accurate and our faith will be solidified, or we will find that our beliefs have been wrong, giving us the opportunity to now hear with an open mind the truth of Scripture and be saved through humble obedience.

God is a forgiving God (Psa. 103:8-18; Heb. 10:16-17). The error we have believed, taught, and done in the past means nothing if we change our thinking and become obedient to the teachings of Christ and His apostles now and in the future. This will assure a home in Heaven for us, as well as for those we are able to teach and bring to obedience.

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Author: Editor

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