For many years, I have read about new wineskins in the Church being described as new and creative models of ministry. There is nothing wrong with those teachings as metaphors as long as we understand the original intent of what Jesus was saying. Jesus was telling His listeners in Luke 5 that He was the new wineskin. He came to replace the wineskin of an old and expired covenant.
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” Luke 5: 37-39
The teachers of the Law were demanding that Jesus and His disciples fit into an old wineskin that was passing away. They were saying by their life and theology that, “The old is good enough.” Jesus was illustrating the point that the structure of the old covenant would not be able to contain the freshness of the new. A new spiritual container was required to hold a new covenant, not a refurbished wineskin.
We understand at the moment of our salvation we became a new creation – a completely new wineskin – capable of containing the expanding effects of the wine of a new Kingdom. We now walk through culture as living containers of God’s increasing grace not as some tired and brittle old wineskin of law that does not have the ability to contain new life.
The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians regarding leaving behind the old wineskin of the Law, “For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him.” (3:8-9) In the context of that chapter Paul first listed his significant Jewish pedigree in the law then he said he threw it all away for Christ. He was discarding the former wineskin to become one with the new wineskin - Jesus.
If we describe our life and ministry as something new and culturally expressive and then call it “a new wineskin” there is nothing wrong with that as long as our model was first formed by the life of Christ expressed in our unique context. Keep that order of progression in mind as you create new expressions of Jesus in culture. Once that understanding is in place you are free to enjoy the journey and drink the new wine of a new covenant poured freely from the Wineskin of Heaven – Jesus Christ.