The last days are upon us. The final work of the Holy Spirit has been in the making for centuries. God gave each generation a specific stewardship to recover an expression of divine life, a knowledge of scriptural truth and a further understanding of God’s purpose upon the earth. Sadly though, most works (revivals/movements) tend to focus more on the knowledge of scriptural truth, a little on the expression of divine life and perhaps nothing of the understanding of God’s eternal purpose.
Reformation not denomination
Most recovery of scriptural truths conscripted men into schools of thought that eventually hardened into what we now know as denominations. Usually when a truth is still fresh with a people, they are called a movement; but when the experience of truth has cooled down and hardened, they then become a denomination. As a movement, the people would have known a measure of Christ’s headship and the Spirit’s working of the Father’s purpose, but as the work becomes bigger, human wisdom tends to set in (usually disguised as a genuine concern for the work and the need to organize it), and the effort to organize God’s work normally reduces a reformation to a denomination.
Once a work is denominated, it reduces its global capacity to affect the entire body of Christ; because the points of their uniqueness (which is meant to be a recovery for the Universal Church) becomes misconstrued as a reason for division. While a true reformation focuses on the recovery of the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), basically “content” rather than “container”, denominations tend to focus on the outward forms of these eternal realities (which is merely a maintenance of old experiences).
While we cannot fault the exodus of men from earlier works when gripped by new scriptural truths, the subsequent organization of those who gathered around these truths, has always come short of the full thought of God. This has always made another reformation inevitable. Hence, it has been a cycle of revival (growth) – declension (cooling off) – another revival (recovery)… These observations ought to make us to seek the LORD, and not just coast along with the status quo. Let’s seek Him from the book of Luke chapter 5:33-39 to gain His counsel .
New Wine Skins Needed for the New Wine
Reformation proves at least two things: a generation that is resistant to the continuous work of the Spirit (old wine skins), and a remnant within that generation that are open to have the fullness of God (new wine skins).
“And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?” Luke 5:33
Here is a comparison of three groups. The disciples of John, the disciples of the Pharisees and the disciples of Jesus. This already shows to us that men will always notice the distinctions that exists between different works. There was a sharp contrast between those who were following Jesus and those who were following John and the Pharisees. So, let us establish that every new work will usually have an expression of LIFE that all previous works may not understand.
The response of Jesus opens up a matter that must characterize any work of the Spirit that will not be terminated again by the subtle introduction of self (i.e. works of the flesh).
“And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” Luke 5:34-35
Is there a problem with fasting? No! Does Jesus have an issue with fasting? No! He fasted Himself. But when it comes to the experience of His LIFE in His disciples, it was never a matter of coercion or “commandment”. That has been the unfortunate characteristics of many previous works. Many followers of those whom God used in the past always copy the life of their leaders without necessarily growing into it, which often makes the experience of these truth quite external. Hence, we see Jesus raising a question: “Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?”
Every experience of truth has its root in an ongoing experience of the LORD Jesus Christ. For a truth to blossom in a life, it has to take root within and then germinate. All these is a matter of time. The import of what Jesus said is this: You cannot make someone do something that has not yet taken root within them, and does not naturally blossom as a matter of life. The word “make” has a lot of meaning for us. It seems to point to what is done by force. The bridegroom is still with them, so they cannot fast. When the bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast. Simple!
Hence, we see that the recovery associated with the LORD Jesus was not only a recovery of Truth, but it is a recovery of LIFE that leads uncompromisingly along the narrow Way. Which means that a single truth or a number of truths in God’s Word is not sufficient to produce God’s glorious purpose; it is the whole counsel of God, as we know it in the LIFE of Jesus, that has the capacity to sufficiently restore all lost truths, without setting anyone aside.
“Because strait is the gate, and NARROW IS THE WAY, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14 Emphasis mine
There is no room for Compromise
“And he spake also a 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. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.” Luke 5:36-39
Having noted that the emphasis of God’s final recovery today is LIFE, as seen in the response of the LORD in the Scripture under consideration, we must now proceed to note a crucial qualification for that LIFE. This will explain why when God is doing a new thing, it almost always requires to stand apart from previous works, although that does not necessarily suggest divisiveness. We say this because that which previous works were privileged, under God, to recover are still relevant and must be recognized, however to enter into the new thing God is doing today, we will also need to allow the LORD to give it definition Himself.
As long as a generation refuses to progress with God into the next phase of His recovery, it stands the risk of being set aside by the LORD, as He moves on with those who are more open hearted and wholehearted enough to receive and fulfill His counsel. Therefore, when God wants to express Himself and His people have grown so rigid and hardened into systems of thought and traditions that antagonizes His will, He can only raise for Himself another people, with whom He will now fulfill His purpose. This is the principle at work in God’s rejection of Saul and the preparation/selection of David. Saul represents any generation, work, or movement that has frozen into a way of thinking that now hinders God. No matter how Samuel mourns for Saul, the only verdict of God is to fill up his horn with oil and anoint David (1 Samuel 16:1).
This is the way God does His work. He will not force any generation to change. Those who are stuck in the Old Covenant will have to be exempted as God moves on to fully unleash the greater glory of the New Covenant. Moses will have to shrink, as glorious as his face was, for Christ to be the only light with which we see and understand the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 3:1-18). And even the Holy Spirit, that is the Governor of our current dispensation, has only one central assignment: to glorify Jesus (John 16:13-14).
This is the only way to experience genuine transformation.
New wine requires new wine skins so that God’s final recovery can be preserved. Jesus is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle, as well as, a glorious church (Ephesians 5:27). This principle cannot be compromised now because a glorious church must be made ready to “greet” the LORD Jesus at His appearing.
The old is the enemy of the new
“No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.” Luke 5:39
This is the reluctance our generation has for the New Covenant. The taste of previous moves of God, which is not a bad thing, has crytallized into certain traditions, that has not only locked God’s people out of the Promise (Hebrews 3:10-11), but has limited the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:41). Why are you saying “the old is better” when the new has come and it is here to stay? Why hold on to the shadows of the old when all that they represented and were pointing to has come? If we don’t let go of the old, we cannot have the new; and even if we could have something of the new while retaining the old, we will only waste it. There will be an accident. The new wine will burst. And we will have wasted a portion of what God is recovering in our days.
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
This is not the time to enter into arguments with men, because there will always be many who will not follow Jesus all the way, even when it is clear that they are in error. It is like that because they are drunk with the old. There is no space to accommodate the new wine. If you will ever receive the new, you will need to “vomit” (let go of) the old wine, so that God can give you a new heart and a new spirit (which is essentially the new wine skin that can contain/preserve the new wine of God’s recovery today). Ezekiel 36:26-28
This is the time to know, with certainty, what the LORD is doing, and to find out what your portion is, so that you can make good use of the opportunity God gives you to be a fruitful member of His body.
“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”
“All of us who have grown to be spiritually mature should think this way too. And if there is any of this that you don’t agree with, God will make it clear to you.” (Easy-to-Read Version)
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotation is from the King James Version.
Picture Credit: South Valley Church Australia