| Winds of
revival or "refreshing" are sweeping the land.
New/old terms are being
added to the vocabulary of charismatic believers around the world... Ezekiels river of
life, fresh fire, falling under the power, holy laughter, the "tangible"
anointing of God, among others. Perhaps the most curious terms to the uninitiated
refer to getting "drunk in the Spirit" and drinking the "new wine."
somehow seems irreverent to talk of holy things in such language. Yet these terms are
straight from the pages of the Bible, and even from the lips of Jesus Himself.
Jesus used the term "new wine" as a description of His ministry and the
Spirit-empowered life. It didn't originate with Him, however. The ancient Hebrew prophets
before Him saw new wine as a symbol of Gods refreshing Spirit, a sign of Gods
blessing and abundance. Its no coincidence that Jesus first miracle was
turning the water into winefiguratively, transforming the life-sustaining waters of
salvation into the vibrant wine of the Holy Ghost.
In Luke chapter five Jesus was approached with some concerns
about His lifestyle. "You eat and drink with sinners... you dont fast,"
etc. Basically the complaint was, "You dont act religious enough, you have
entirely too much fun in church, youre not like the Pharisees or the disciples of
John the Baptist. How can you be a true man of God?" Jesus answered them with a
parable, an illustration about new wine, quoted in our text above. Let me point out three
characteristics of that spiritual brew...
New Wine Is New
Notice that the Lord makes a point of saying "new"
wine, not just any old wine, but new wine, especially as opposed to mellower, vintage
wine. New wine is new. Its this years harvest. Its the
latest wine on the scene.
The ministry of Jesus is the cutting edge of whats
happening in the spiritual realm. He was Gods most recent move back in Galilee. It
was no longer good enough to be a follower of Moses (as the Pharisees claimed to be) or
even a disciple of John. The baptizer wasnt even dead yet, but he was already
yesterdays news. He had been superseded by the Son of God Himself.
The Holy Spirit is always doing something new. God is the God
of the living, the God of now. He has something for every generation. He is forever
raising up new moves of the Spirit, pioneering new things, initiating new thrusts into
uncharted areas. As His last move begins to fizzle out, turning inward, relying more and
more on the arm of the flesh, He starts something new, something often regarded as too
radical by the older folks.
God is radical rather than conservative. How is it then that
the Christian community in the United States today has become known as the guardian of the
old ways, at the far right of the political spectrum? Certainly we share some of the moral
values of the conservatives, but we must operate in a completely different spirit.
Were not looking back with nostalgia upon the good old days, but forward with
anticipation to the kingdom of God.
The children in the wilderness were warned not to eat
yesterdays manna. It became a seething mass of worms and rot if not used in its
time. So it is when Christians refuse to partake of the new things that God is doing. The
old is not good enough, it is becoming rotten, it doesnt sustain the same degree of
spiritual life. You must enter the new, pick todays supply of manna from heaven, and
enjoy the God of the new things!
New Wine Is Active, In Ferment
New wine is not finished. It is still in the fermentation
process. The chemical reaction that forms the alcohol is still going on. Its
bubbling, expanding, releasing gasses. Thats why you cant put new wine in an
old skin. The old skin is dry and not flexible enough to handle the activity within; it
soon cracks, and you lose both the wine and the skin.
So it is with a new move of the Spirit. Unpredictable things
are happening all the time. Its not finished, it hasnt reached its final
state; when it does settle down and fall into a predictable pattern it is no longer a
revival; its business as usual as man finally brings the move of God under his
I have no desire to bring the Holy Spirit under my control.
Im not too crazy about order, not mans order anyway. My father is buried in a
military cemetary. In it are thousands of identical stones, arranged in orderly
rowsseen from any angle the lines are geometrically perfect. Nothing could be more
orderlyor more lifeless.
God is a God of order (1 Cor 14:33,40) but Gods order is
not the order of straight rows and predictable services. When the Holy Spirit is in charge
you may get out by noon and you may not. You may hear two sermons that day or you may hear
none; there may be a time of ministry that looks like complete chaos to those who have
been reared in more traditional religious surroundings. But if the Spirit is orchestrating
the events it is in order. Our own concept of church order is not based on the New
Testament pattern anyway, but rather on the ritualism developed by the church of the
You have to leave the Spirit of God room to work in your
lifeif youre too busy to accommodate yourself to His will and timing, then
youre too busy. He must also have liberty to do what He desires in our churches. How
dare we put the Lord on a timetable? How dare we dictate to Him when He can and cannot
move among us? How dare we relegate the gifts of the Spirit to a few seconds time
after the worship, in which we allow a message in tongues or an occasional prophecy? How
can we say we are the church of Christ if He is not allowed to have His way in our midst?
We must allow the Holy Spirit sufficient room to move among
our doctrines as well. No, we wont be replacing fundamentals such as the deity of
Christ or salvation by grace through faith. But many of our other teachings and practices
are far too restrictive. A move of the Spirit will force the rethinking of much of our
scriptural understanding and our methodology. Is your skin flexible enough to handle new
Pastor John Arnott of the Toronto Airport Vineyard said,
"God is offending our minds to test our hearts." He is pushing our religious
wineskins to the limit to see if were flexible enough to handle the great work that
He desires to do in our day. The manifestations are as uncommon as have been seen for a
few decades, but the needs of this hour call for strong medicine. The conditions are
extreme, there is much to do, and the time is short. Look for God to institute even more
radical measures in the next few years. New wine is active, in ferment, ever changing and
repositioning itself. Let the Holy Spirit do what He will.
New Wine Is Intoxicating
The disciples in Acts chapter two were accused of drunkenness
because they were acting drunk! If someone is walking straight and has his emotions
under control he wont be accused of having too much to drink. If hes speaking
an unintelligible language he may be accused of being a foreigner, or even a nut, but not
a drunk! Peter replied that it was only nine oclock in the morning, that there
hadnt been enough time yet to drink enough to get as drunk as they were!
"Its the Holy Spirit," he explained, "as prophesied by Joel."
"excess" has been a characteristic of almost every
historical revival. Manifestations of drunkenness are not uncommon. Jonathan
Edwards, one of the great theologians and thinkers of American history, experienced this
sort of behavior in his meetings during the Great Awakening of the Eighteenth Century.
His wife was often so drunk in the Spirit that her head would fall into her food at
the dinner table. A hundred years later, Evangelist Charles Finney reported people falling
off the benches while he preached. Efforts to revive them or bring a semblance of order to
the meetings were often in vain. In the original Methodist camp-meetings, people were laid
out like cordwood as they fell under the power of the Holy Ghost. Peter Cartwright spoke
of heads snapping like whips as the convicting power of the Spirit pierced their hearts.
The Azuza Street and Latter Rain revivals of the Twentieth Century experienced similar
manifestations: drunkenness, falling and fainting, uncontrollable laughter and weeping.
Like it or not, this is what happens during a move of God.
Paul exhorted the Ephesians, "be not drunk with
wine...but be filled with the Spirit," (5:18). In his mind the two conditions were
similar or at least comparable in some respects. As weve said, new wine is associated in the Old and New
Testaments with the blessing and joy of the Holy Spirit. Judges 9:13 says that "new
wine cheers both God and men." Certainly God doesnt drink earthly wine, but He
rejoices in the wine of the Spirit, and the cheer that it produces in His children. If
Bible scholars recognize wine as a symbol of the Holy Ghost, why should they be surprised
if people act drunk when they get in the Spirit?
We do not seek the manifestations. We do not seek the
laughter, or the falling down. If laughter itself is spiritual, lets rent a Laurel
and Hardy movie! If falling is a blessing, in and of itself, let's all dive onto the
floor! We seek the Manifestor, we seek a genuine touch of God and the conversion it
brings. But understand that there can be no manifestations without the Manifestora
manifestation is simply the outward display of the inward reality. The power of God
is real. If someone goes to church and gets drunk without drinking, its a
reasonable assumption to say that they've encountered the Holy Spirit and tasted of the
No Wine For The Satisfied
Notice the final statement of Jesus regarding the new wine of
His ministry. "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he
says, The old is better," (vs 39). Those who are satisfied with what
they already have will not be willing to drink of the new. Those who like
business-as-usual churchianity will resist the rocking of their religious boats. The
person who is content in a time of spiritual decline will not be happy in a time of
revival. The two conditions are totally contrary to each other.
But the Holy Spirit knows how to make even the smugly
self-satisfied to hunger and thirst for new depth in their walk with Jesus. He knows
how to expose their inner needs and challenge them to come and drink, to "taste and
see that the Lord is good." Dont force people along against their will,
just shine all the brighter so that your joy will create a thirst in them for the wine
And if youre still undecided about the new wine and the
present refreshing wave of the Spirit, you neednt be afraid. Its of God.
History, the Bible, and every responsible student of revival in the land give it their
unanimous support. The only danger is that you may miss what God has for you today by
clinging stubbornly to the stale old drink youve been nursing all these years. Reach
for the new wine and be revived.
All Scripture quotations are from the
New King James
version, unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 1998 Kim
Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries