Of course, this wine does not refer to the physical wine, since the apostle Paul explicitly charges us, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissoluteness.” However, he does exhort us to be drunk with another kind of wine: “But be filled in spirit.” As believers in Christ, we all should aspire to be come “intoxicated” with such heavenly wine.
In Matthew 9, the Lord Jesus told the disciples of John, “Neither do they put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” The new wine here, as presented in message 2 of the past Memorial Day conference, signifies Christ as the new life, full of vigor and cheering strength, stirring us to excitement and satisfying us. Because of His “fermenting power”, Christ could not be contained in the old wineskins, which signify religious practices such as fasting. Throughout the Gospels, we see again and again that wherever the Lord Jesus went, the old wineskins were ruined: the Sabbath bursts, fasting bursts, ordinances burst, traditions burst. Nothing of religion was able to hold the exciting life of our Lord Jesus.
It was not until Acts 2, when the one hundred and twenty believers, after praying for ten days, were filled with the Holy Spirit, that the new wine finally found its home. They were so beside themselves that others were amazed and even questioned if they were drunk. Peter, along with the eleven, stood up and explained that these men were not drunk “as you suppose”, but they were indeed drunk with the “new wine”. Peter went on to proclaim this new wine Jesus to the crowd. That day, three thousand people were saved and added to the ever-expanding, corporate, fresh wineskin.
Day by day, they met from house to house in one accord, continuing in the teaching and the fellowship of the apostles. They partook of food with exultation and simplicity of heart. They exulted because they, as the fresh wineskin, were full of the new wine. “Praising God and having grace with all the people”—they were so filled that they were bubbling over and flowing out the new wine as grace to those around them. Indeed, without the new wine, the wineskin does not have the content and is meaningless; but without the fresh wineskin, the new wine does not have the expression and the means to exist, either. As the Lord Jesus said, “They put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
So, what kind of wineskin are we? If we are merely going to the meetings in a routine way and trying to fulfill our services out of religious obligations, it is quite possible that we have unknowingly fallen back to self-made religion. Since such old wineskins are unable to hold the new wine, we gradually lose vitality, freshness, and excitement brought by the new wine. But if we are willing to repent and give ourselves to the Lord afresh for the proper church life—meeting from house to house and day by day, cherishing and nourishing one another in an intimate and organic way, we will become the fresh wineskin in the Lord’s eyes, and He will gladly fill us all the time with Himself as the exciting new wine. The taste of the church life will change drastically, and we will be able to testify to what Brother Lee said fifty years ago:
“When we are full of the Spirit, we cannot help but be beside ourselves, because it seems as if we have been swept off our feet. Our praise is no longer common praise, and our singing is no longer common singing. We are as those who are ‘insane’ before God; we are drunk with God.” (How to Enjoy God and How to Practice the Enjoyment of God, Chapter 9, Section 1).