Periodically I fly to India, landing in Chennai. Being of limited means I fly economy, destined to look with longing at the spacious business class seats and never expecting, ever to be seated in the freedom to spread my limbs and be myself in a first class seat.
This is quite like the person who omits the new covenant from his spiritual existence, choosing to survive in the semi-ordeal of ‘economy’ when he has already been gifted the largesse and space of sumptuous surroundings in first class.
Let’s get some clarity about salvation. The new wineskin is not about some new thing a church is doing. It is not salvation per se. It is about a way of reclaiming our status as sons of God. This wineskin is a new and living way that is Christ Himself becoming our life. If we have been raised in a law-culture then it might be understandable that the new wineskin would seem to fall under the generic heading of ‘salvation.’ This is not it at all. Human beings always were going to be saved. The new wineskin is the radical manner of this saving - which is more than a rescue of a drowned body. It is the infusion of our person with the actual life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The new wineskin is a state of being and relationship. It is Christ our life. The reality of this life is found in God incarnated in our being.
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring’ Acts 17.28 NIV.
‘Christ our life’ as used by Paul and announced by Jesus when He said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ simply means that He is the totality of our being and living towards God, with nothing left out. This has been called the vicarious ministry of Christ – of God being for us in every respect through the person of Jesus. Salvation is not a legalism. It is a new and different life, a new and living way that is Jesus from first to last.
It is new and different because it is not an abstraction to live by. It is a life to live in. This is the incarnation – the God-head bodily – its fullness in Jesus and now in us. Thus you are the expression of His life, of God’s life, of the three in One. You are together, you promote togetherness and the ability to love on account of the love that dwells in you. Of fundamental importance is the knowledge that we are embraced by God and that we are able to love ourselves. This is the life of the water changed to wine and the reality of the new wineskin. The new wineskin is the vicarious ministry of Christ. It is what contrasts the Kingdom of God with Islam, all lesser religions and all retrograde Christianity.
I have known people addicted to work because they are intent on demonstrating to self and to God that they are worthy. Out of bed by seven and engaged in ‘doing’ by eight, their life project is about ‘earning love.’ Earning is a hard task-master. Our industry suffocates the love that is already our, perpetuates a sense of aloneness and immunises us to our real and actual position in first class with Father.
If ever we needed to be released from the illusion that Jesus never confronted anything, this would be it. Jesus cleansed the temple. This was not only about dealing with self-serving ministry. It was more than that. It was an angry un-doing of the work of the thief. From Jesus, this was both ministry and a sign. Here was a declaration that we are no longer dependent on our own bartering of the knowledge of good and evil. No more dependence on worship and religiosity in order to be included with God. We no longer need to earn acceptance, purchase it with pious motions and attempts to be spiritual or with our own sweat. No more climbing Jacobs ladder or earning acceptance to get to the next level. Jesus has removed the burden of our proving that we are worthy of being on earth or in heaven. He has done this by entering the temple, cleansing it of sordid works, entering ourselves and being our worship for us. This is the vicarious ministry of Christ.
Since Christ is our life He is our worship.
This scene of violence is not just against the marketing of religion. It is about our attempts to purchase intimacy and favour with God by human effort. Jesus in the temple attacks our addiction to try-harder-religion. At the cross He rids the world of the religiosity introduced by Adam and replaces it with Himself. He comes to our house, replaces and re-orders it. He attacks, removes the old covenant with its rites and law. He rids us of the barrier of religion and churchianity that is focused on ourselves and our need to ‘be worthy.’ And He replaces it with Himself. In Him we are the church that is Jesus writ large. The temple created in three days. This is Christ Himself as our life.
‘We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands’ Mark 14.58 NIV.
Some denominations have never abandoned the law and old covenant. Other Believers live a less than full life in a coma of religion, sleep-walking in an institutionalised mode of Christianity that is far less than Christ our life. One effect is to drag around a body of death that we call our ‘Christian life.’ The other effect is the sustenance of a Christian Industry based on dependency creation. But you have a position in first class. The beauty of the incarnation is that Resurrection is our life. The new and living way is our spirit and our life and heaven invades earth through the simple act of being ourselves in Christ.
Don't rob people of life in the name of 'My Religion.' Let’s be clear. If we are too smug, too dormant, too married to our theology and ‘special identity’ to embrace the new covenant wineskin. If we are happy to let the innocent live a law-bound, performance driven, old covenant life because this is our perspective - we have nominated ourselves as members of a den of thieves. This may seem a hard saying but it is an accurate one.
‘It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers’ Luke 19.46.
If you are indeed one with Jesus you will expel every element that robs Christ of fullness and cripples people because you are son after the manner of your Brother, Jesus Christ.
The sons of God are an apostolic people because they are sons who live in the Spirit of Sonship in the embrace of our Father. They relax in His heart and in so doing are loved and transformed. They are life-giving spirits. Others may speak doctrinally of the Spirit of Sonship but do not experience it. They live tied to law and letter. Consequently they cannot rise above religion. They are bound to bits of scripture, religious motions, themes and occasions that are largely irrelevant to the advance of the Kingdom. They are not in His flow. They cannot do what God is doing now because they are not living in what He has already done. Like the Second Army in Rick Joyner’s vision, they have a measure of the Holy Spirit and some flashes of light. But are largely engaged in stirring up the ground. They need to sit in first class where they belong.
Jesus cast all that is un-life out of the temple when He drove out the money-changers. Don’t live from what Jesus has expelled with his own body. Live from the fact that He is our life and our worship. You are seated in first class. Don’t settle for less.
In God is For us, J Baxter Kruger writes, “This is what the Father wants - people who understand and believe in His Son and are therefore at peace. He wants people who believe that their alienation has been utterly destroyed and that they have been given a real relationship with Him in Jesus. He wants people who see and know and therefore radiate the victory of Jesus' attack [on religion] from their innermost being.”