Don Guthrie
Ministries
Radio Broadcast Messages
Aired week of Oct 9 - 15, 2011

“New Cloth - New Wine”


      Hi, I'm Don Guthrie and I would like to thank you for joining me today as we look into God’s Holy Word to learn
how to become a better Christian and a faithful witness to the world.

      Father, I ask that you anoint me this day with your Holy Spirit that I might speak the words you would have me
speak. I ask that you open our ears and our heart so we can hear the message you have for us, and understand
your Holy Word. I pray this in Jesus name: AMEN.

      I’ll be continuing my series on the Parables of Jesus with a message today entitled “New Cloth - New Wine.”  
This parable in found in three of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark & Luke.

      I’ll be taking my scripture from Matthew today.

Matthew 9:16-17
16. 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.
17. 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.

      New cloth in an old garment, new wine in an old bottle. What in the world is Jesus talking about? What was he
trying to get the people to understand, and what does it mean to us today? These are questions I hope to answer
as we look into this parable, as the answers will help us understand ourselves, and our church a little better.

      When I was still a child; the wearing of clothes which had been patched was something most people did in the
country. When my pants got a hole my mother looked through her rag bag until she found a piece of material with
the same amount of wear, one that was faded about the same as the pants which had the hole. Then she carefully
patched that hole. Even though there was a patch, it was hardly noticeable, the material matched, the patching was
done neatly, and I was proud to wear the pants wherever I went. This is the way a patch is supposed to look and
the way it was supposed to be.

      Along came the sixties and the seventies and kids started sewing patches all over their clothes not because
they were torn, but just to have patches on them. They had patches of every shape size and color that were sewn
onto their clothing.

      Then came clothes with holes cut in them. Kids cut up brand new clothes making holes. They washed them
repeatedly so they would fade because they didn’t want them to look new.

      Today, you can go to the store and purchase clothing that looks warn out. The clothes come from the factory
with holes, looking like they’ve been worn and washed a hundred times. They come with strings hanging from them
they’re raveled. Surprisingly they cost more than clothes that look brand new.  

      Most of the young people today have no idea what it’s like to wear clothing that’s patched properly which
makes it hard to explain this parable, or for them to understand. However, let us have a go at it anyway.

      Verse sixteen says:

16. 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.

      To say this in more modern terms:

      "No one," Jesus said, "takes a piece of new material, material that is un-shrunk and patches an old garment
with it. If he does, on the occasion when the garment gets wet, the new patch will shrink, and as it shrinks it will tear
the cloth apart and put a rent in the garment worse than the original hole that had been patched."

      It’s important to note that Jesus was speaking to the Jews. This is important because the Jews were attached
to things they had just like we are today. They didn’t want any changes to occur, and they considered it a sin to
change.  For them, the Law was the final word; if one added to or subtracted one word from the law it was
considered to be a deadly sin. The purposes of the Scribes and Pharisees, was to build a fence around the Law.  
They believed a new idea was not a mistake, it was a sin.

      That same spirit is alive in the church of today. Often when a new idea, a new method or any kind of change is
suggested, someone will be heard saying, “We never did that before, why do we need it now.”

      Throughout history, the church has clung to their old traditions. What Jesus was referring to is; there comes a
time when patching an old garment is useless. When that occurs, the only thing one can do is to scrap it and start
over again.

      Then Jesus went on to say, “no-one puts new wine in old bottles. A better translation would have read
wineskins instead of bottles. In Jesus time, man stored their wine in wine skins. When new wine was put into the
skin, the wine had not yet started to ferment. This unfermented juice was what the bible refers to as new wine or
grape juice.

      After this new wine, was placed into the skin, it began to ferment. As kit fermented, it gave off gases, exerting
pressure on the skin. If the skin was new, there was a certain amount of stretch in it, so no harm was done. But old
skins grew hard over time. They became brittle and would not allow the skin to stretch. If new wine was placed in
an old skin, the pressure from the fermenting gases would burst the skin and the wine would be lost.

      To put this in modern terminology that better relates to us and to our churches, our minds must be elastic
enough to receive and to contain new ideas. Don’t hear me wrong. I’m not saying that we are to accept sin and
sinful things into our church, what I am saying is that we need to be willing to make changes in the way we do
things, and we must be willing to listen to other folks ideas and so on.  

      Throughout history, anytime there has been progress suggested, the suggestions have come up against the
prejudices of shut minds. Every new idea has faced a battle for its existence against others refusals to grow.

      The automobile, the train, and the airplane were each regarded with suspicion when they were introduced to
the world. Simpson, the inventor of chloroform, had to struggle against closed minds in order to introduce
chloroform to the medical profession. Lister, who discovered antiseptics, had the same struggle.  Copernicus was
forced to retract the statements he made that the earth went around the sun, instead of the sun going around the
earth. It was much later that scientist had to admit he was right. Even Jonas Hanway, who invented the umbrella;
when he first brought it to America; had to suffer from folks throwing rocks and insults at him when he walked down
the street with it.

      Change doesn’t come easy. It’s so in the world, and it’s the same in the church. In the church, we very often
are guilty of attempting to pour new things into our old moulds. We attempt to pour the activities of a larger, more
modem congregations, into an ancient church building which was not designed for them. Not all change is good,
but all things need to change. When any living thing stops growing, it starts dying.

      Maybe we in the church should start praying that God would deliver us from our shut minds, and that we would
allow the Holy Spirit to work in is and in our church.

      Again; don’t hear me wrong. Jesus wasn’t telling us to accept false teaching or every wind of change that
comes along. He didn’t mean for us to accept anything the bible says must not be, nor are we to allow sin in our
churches. Instead, we must speak out about sin, preach repentance of sins, and teach others how to live a
righteous life.

      I believe Jesus meant for us to be willing to change and grow, as our congregation changes and grows.
Traditions and the way we always did it, doesn’t always work. It doesn’t matter which side of the church the piano
sets on. It isn’t a sin to have cushions on the benches. It isn’t a sin to smile and enjoy each other, and have a little
fun. There’s nothing wrong with allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you.

      Churches divide and split over building projects because some of the members don’t want change. Churches
are forced to use worn out benches, scratched up tables and chairs, in a brand new building, because folks won’t
allow change. Often the result is having a beautiful building, with mismatched furniture and fixtures.

      I’ve seen pastors come into a church with great ideas, wanting to start new programs and have multiple
services. Often he is excited and full of the Holy Spirit when he arrives, and instead of allowing him the opportunity
to do what God called him to do, the congregation shoots him down, breaking his spirit, and refusing to move
forward, because they never did it that way before.

      Often change is needed. Sometimes we get into a rut in our worship and in even in our daily lives. Change
challenges us, stretches us a little and forces us to grow. That’s a good thing, for it gets us out of our seat and puts
a little action and excitement into our life.

      The Church of the Brethren, through which I’m ordained, requires its ordained ministers to receive a certain
number of Continuing education credits. Schoolteachers have the same requirements. Numerous professional
people are required to do the same. I think it’s a great idea. We need challenged so we can grow.

      Not only do pastors need it, Congregations need it as well. Once in a while it would be good to walk through
your church as if it were the first time you ever saw it. Pretend that you are a visitor. What do see? What appeals to
you? What doesn’t? If you didn’t know where the rest-rooms were, could you find them? Were you greeted? Did
you feel welcome?  

      Better yet, ask your visitors what they did or did not like about your church. Were the people friendly?  Did
anyone show them where the Sunday School Rooms were? Did anyone tell them where the rest rooms were
located? And so on. Was the worship service understandable? Was it to short? Was it too long? Did they have a
problem finding a parking space? Is the sanctuary inviting to them? What would make the worship experience
better? What should we change?

      We go to the same church week after week and get wrapped up in our church to the extent that we no longer
see any problems. We talk to the same folks, and often don’t have time to talk to the visitors.  

      Another area we must be willing change, is ourselves. As a born again believer, we should be daily seeking the
directions and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our life. I hope each of you pray daily, and that you seek the Holy
Spirit guidance and the will of God for you from His Holy word.  

      Yet I wonder how many of us get so wrapped up in our church traditions and doctrines that we refuse to listen
to God speaking to our heart? How many of us have get so wrapped up in traditions, that we have no room to grow
in the Lord?

      I want to propose today that you take an inventory of your heart to determine if there are changes that need to
be made. I urge you to look at your church and determine if there are changes needed there as well.

      If you determine change is needed, are you willing to throw out the old and begin with the new? Are you willing
to make changes that will allow you to minister to those attending your services?

      David wrote in Psalm 51:11

10.   Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.   

      David didn’t ask God to change his heart, He asked God for a clean heart, a new one, one that was clean and
pure.

      I challenge you to pray David’s prayer for yourself and for your church. I challenge you to pray that God will not
just change you, but that he will make you new again, creating in you a new heart with a right spirit. I challenge you
to ask God to tear down the barriers we’ve placed in our churches, and replace them with a welcome mat to
everyone, so they can come and learn about Jesus.

      I challenge you to seek God’s wisdom in order to change, so that our Church services and our lives are godly
and holy, yet modern enough for society to understand, without tearing down our biblical values or our well founded
belief.   AMEN