W W W W  World Wide Web Witness Inc.  Home Page   Contents Page for Volume  What is New




With the Spring rains, new fulness can flow down the old channels, and make things sing.
There was however ONE Spring which would come ONLY ONCE.
The time of its flow is NOW.

Matthew 9:16 records words of Christ concerning things old and new, in a specialised way.

No one, He says, proverbially it seems, puts new cloth on old clothes, lest the patch pulls away;
"NOR," He continued, "do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

What evoked this imagery ? this highly practical imagery!

John the Baptist's disciples were in a quandary. They - and, unlikely company! - the Pharisees often fasted; but Jesus' disciples had no such practice. That is, it may occur, but it was not an habitual thing. It was not at all routine. It was not a distinguishing mark of the life.

What was Jesus' answer ? This: that His disciples were like friends of the bridegroom, filled with rejoicing, their happy hearts celebrating the day of His advent and miraculous power and undimmable knowledge, which none could put in the shade. WHEN He left, THEN would be their time for fasting.

In other words, there was an intrinsic happiness about the One whose Sermon on the Mount recounted in wonderful precision, brevity and power (Matthew 5-7), the triumphant aura of living with the Son of God in the flesh, among you as a friend. There would come rigours enough as the world teased and tested, including His own crucifixion, but nothing could hide the joy. Even the crucifixion would be followed by a resurrection so absolute that they would actually rejoice after the whole travesty of justice and triumph of power was over (as in John 16's pronouncements by Christ, and the fact seen in Acts 4).

HE HAD COME. He was THERE! No longer was it a matter of waiting. It had happened.

Now this brings up the useful consideration of the new and the old wine in Christ's figure, His mini-parable or proverbial imagery.


Often have we considered this topic, and hence this is not a review but an application (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13, for example).

Here we merely note these things:

Now the new wine is representative of a new life without the special symbolisms unfulfilled, the absence of the Prince of Life, with the ransom (Matthew 20:28) providing Christ at one's side, and His miraculous power available if needed, while His friendship without any intermediary, but normally in the presence of His other friends, suffuses the heart with a joy unspeakable and full of glory (as in I Peter 1:8).

The old wine is NOT without a sense of His presence (as often in the Psalms such as 23, 21, 17), and not without a sense of personal assurance of salvation (as in Psalm 17), and certainly NOT without the reality of rest in the Lord (as in Psalm 37:7), one which could nevertheless be voided by rebellion of those with form but not faith (as in Deuteronomy 29:19ff.), even by a whole category of persons (as in Psalm 95, by implication cf. I Corinthians 10!).

No, it is unwise to ignore what the Bible teaches in favour of some 'theology' on the base definition used above.

What then IS the new wine more than the old ? It is

The day of rest, duly moved to commemorate the deed greater than creation, which brought re-creation but not a novel being, would continue (cf. Biblical Blessings Appendix  1,  2,  3).
The various legal provisions of the Old Testament sabbaths (rest days), sometimes intermingled with sacrifice, were part of the symbolism of law and were no more needed;
but the essential nature of the weekly sabbath was as unchangeable as that of man, made in the image of God who created in that way.

However the new Sunday day of rest would commemorate for REST, NOT the creation (which required it), but the SALVATION, the RESURRECTION in particular, and rest would be in approaching resurrection on the Lord's return. The scene was advancing, the scenario significantly and indeed substantially progressing to its evocative and wonderful end. We are looking not down the barrel of peril, but down the avenue of wonder.


It is not a NEW GOD, but a new covenant with which we are dealing.

But let us summarily look at some of the relationships of the new wine to the old.

There is the same precision,
pronouncement procedure,
power and
depiction of man the sinner,
sacrifice, now fulfilled ONCE
for the former merely symbolic many,
there is a NEW priest, instead of the many old ones.

He is God, not mere man (John 8:58).

There is a NEW SACRIFICE which He makes of Himself,
there is a new INTIMACY with the Saviour direct, since God came to earth, God manifest in the flesh;
there is a new structure of the church, but not a novel one, since God is the same.

There is the same stress on justice (sin must be paid for);
on mercy (God will do it to those receiving it according to covenantal mercies, by faith)
on judgment (there is no escape, God is not forgetful, but deliberately 'forgets' what is borne in judgment on Christ);
and there is the same
propositional presentation of what God gives and requires;
while there is a wonderful amplification of many things.

Thus there is a glorious emphasis on assurance of eternal life
(see Christian Assurance, in A Spiritual Potpourri),
and a personal presence unforgetful, inimitable,
of the One greater than Moses (as in Hebrews 4),
who was not too great to humble Himself to the format of man
for the function of celestial love,
in its sacrificial splendour,
its direct broadcast through eyes and mouths of His life to man,
He the very eternal life itself (I John 1:1-4).

The new wine is deep in the heart of the wonder of the manifestation of the word of God in flesh, and His enduring presence in that love and greatness which He displayed on earth, as I John 1 so evocatively reveals! It is not that things are removed and strictured, but that structures are fulfilled in the personal presence of God in a way which having been as visible as flesh, moves in the invisible realms of the human spirit with a new directness, more obvious protection, more abundantly announced in provisions and available power.

Thus there is NO MORE mere ritual;
symbols remain, but the major matters are now realised,
and the realisation is such that the Sydney Olympics are as a puddle to the ocean.

Indeed, there is this delicious and entrancing fact that THIS covenant is THE ultimate, that the LAMB who slain and the LORD who is resurrected, the sacrificial sovereign who mastered fate with the purity of power and the power of His purity, has this declared of Him:

ONE throne is His with the Father (Rev. 22:3), while He with the Father IS the Temple
(Rev. 21:22), and there His servants, redeemed, reign for ever and ever (Revelation 22:5).

This is new, but not novel; for it was foreshadowed as we have seen in Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, and it is now in force. The presence of school holidays, for all that, can ravish with joys, however well understood was their (eventual) coming; and the presence of the Lamb fills with "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter 1). HE has been SEEN (II Peter 1:16-18), and His reality has been known (I John 1:1-4), eternal life has been revealed in His wonder and glory. This is the new wine.

Foretold ? Yes, it is still the same type of liquid. Foreknown ? Yes the wineskins are still skins. But the gleams and beauties of this new thing can only be understood as glorious before, glorious now, but now with a glory which surpasses (II Cor. 3:8-10). Spring has become Summer, and though it be hot, yet it is glorious!

There is more newness.

Priests are replaced in their highly specialised roles in the Temple of stone, with believers with their entrusted gifts (I Cor. 12-14, Romans 12) in the living temple of living stones; but there is no licence, for the word of God now, rules as ever before, and those who ignore this are being intoxicated not with splendour, but with presumption. It is not a question of ANY outpouring, but of His,

and note that his word of address for the epistle,  in I Corinthians 1:2, is to

THAT is the other side of the incarnation: it is that of the LORD. He did not show His face for scorn, or His back for smiters, so that some interloper should arise to despise His work, or alter it in one particle. (Cf. Biblical Blessings 9, Christ the Pinnacle.)

But what more ?

Internationalisation is now the formula, a royal priesthood of believers is a mode,
a Gospel expressly to be sent to all,
now replaces the inclusion of converts into the national religion;
and vision and wonder would be poured out on a believing people,
till the end came,
and that now was final, sure and steadfast.
It was all truncated and explained.

NOW when the GOSPEL had reached the nations, all, then the Lord is to return
(Matthew 24:14). This finale awaits like a landing from the final leg of a vast flight!
There is no more to come, but HE! and His coming is not for suffering, but for triumph.

And that coming. It is near (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), but more than that ?

Time when ? This was expressly messianically hidden (Acts 1),
but indications were messianically made manifest (Matthew 24).

To His own, these would be reassuring and stimulating (Luke 21:24),
while to those still asleep, it would end in anything but a yawn (Matthew 24:22ff.).

The covenant was the same but new;
plans consummated; presence showered in splendour,
the ends of the Age coming into their final overdrive
as we race towards of the line of the ceremony (as in Acts 2:17ff.).

Then comes the marriage feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19),
which completes the pilgrim phase,
and commences the advent in splendour of the King, who will rule,
till all hypocrisy being over, all rebellion terminated (Revelation 20),
the very heavens and earth disappear like morning mist (Revelation 20:11),
and heaven itself in its full panoply of glory is all that remains for life eternal (Revelation 22:5).

The new wine needed new wineskins; it is still wine: but what a wine is this!




This is short, but Scoop of the Universe 51 puts many of these things in more detail.
For those interested, this is to be regarded as a companion chapter. Other references above such as Appendix 1, 2, 3 in Biblical Blessings and Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13 also complete the picture in some aspects.