Today’s message is entitled “The Spirit’s New Move.” As we journey through the gospel of Luke in this message series, we see Jesus constantly upsetting the traditions of men. He upsets the Jewish leaders. They thought they were following God by keeping various rules and regulations. However, Jesus taught that there was only one way to have a relationship with God. And that way was not through keeping rules.
John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus made it clear that there is only one way to have a relationship with God, in this life and for eternity. The one way is through Jesus Christ. So how does a person follow Jesus the way?
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Following Jesus requires, not good works, but faith. Faith believes that God exists, that He rewards seekers who put their trust in Him. Polls in America and around the world show that most people believe that the way to have a relationship with God, the way to heaven is to be a good person. All religions other than Christianity are rule-based religions. You must do certain things they consider good order to have a relationship with God.
This was the case of the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day and it is the same for Jews today and every other religion. Unfortunately, many people who claim to be Christian think that they are going to heaven because they are good people who do good things. No one can be good enough to go to heaven.
Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Every person on earth has a sin problem. Just one sin, and we all have many more than one, keeps a person from a relationship with God and heaven in eternity. Only Jesus was able to solve mankind’s sin problem through His death and resurrection. After Jesus’ rose from the dead, He began to pour out the Holy Spirit to empower those who through faith choose to follow Him.
Acts 2:17a (ESV) And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…
On the day of Pentecost, God began to pour out His Spirit on those who were praying and seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God continued to make available His Spirit down through the millennia. However, unfortunately, not many were seeking the power of the Spirit for thousands of years. That changed in a dramatic way in the early 1900s as people in America began to seek after God in a new and fresh way.
In 1914, the Assemblies of God fellowship was created to reach the world for Jesus through the power of the Spirit. The Assemblies of God is now the world’s largest evangelical and largest Spirit-filled fellowship in the world with over 70 million members and hundreds of thousands of churches. It is now estimated that there are 645 million Spirit baptized believers in the world. Why is this all happening in our lifetime? I and many others believe that God is preparing for a great move of revival to usher in the return of Jesus Christ. So, how can we be part of the Spirit’s new move in our world today?
Luke 5:27-28 (ESV) After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
In Jesus’ day, tax collectors were some of the most despised people in society. Tax collectors worked for the Romans and routinely overcharged taxes to pad their own pockets. Tax collectors were very rich and not respected by the ordinary people. Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi at his tax booth and just spoke two words to him, “Follow me.”
Those two words meant that Jesus loved Levi and desired for him to be one of his initial twelve followers. Levi, did as the others that Jesus called, he left everything and follow him. Another name for Levi was Matthew, who was the author of gospel of Matthew. What was the first thing that Levi did as a follower of Jesus?
Luke 5:29-30 (ESV) And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Who did Levi invite to this great feast at his home? He invited fellow tax collectors and other friends who were not followers of Jesus to meet Jesus. Levi did what every follower of Jesus should do, invite others to meet and follow Jesus. The rule-keeping Pharisees and scribes grumbled at the feast. Why? Because their rules stated that you should keep yourself separate from sinners. How did Jesus respond?
Luke 5:31-32 (ESV) And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus replied that He came to this earth to heal those who were sick and to call sinners to repent. Those who consider themselves righteous, like the Jewish leaders, were in fact not righteous at all. And because of their mistaken pride were far from becoming a follower of Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, we must share the good news with the needy just as He did.
Who are the people that are closest to becoming a follower of Jesus? It is the needy, those who know they have problems and needs in their lives, be it physical, emotional or spiritual. People who think they have it all together and have no needs are far from following Jesus. So, to follow Jesus and Levi’s example, we must see needs in other’s lives as opportunities to share the good news about Jesus. The needy may be both non-religious people or those who consider themselves religious. Being religious does not save a person, only becoming a follower of Jesus. Let’s look to share the good news with the needy and …
Luke 5:33 (ESV) And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.”
The Old Testament only required fasting on the Day of Atonement. However the Jewish scribes had created rules requiring fasting on a weekly basis. The disciples of Jesus were not seen to be fasting at all. In fact, they along with Jesus, often ate at feasts with sinners who likewise did not fast. Here again, we see the rule-based religion of the Jewish leaders confronting Jesus.
Luke 5:34 (ESV) And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
The time when Jesus was physically present on the earth was like the bridegroom being present with wedding guests. It was a time of celebration, a time of reaching out to the needy over a meal, a time of enjoying the presence of Jesus. That is why the disciples of Jesus did not fast during the three years that they followed Him on the earth. But that was going to change.
Luke 5:35 (ESV) The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”
Jesus, the bridegroom would be taken away through His death, resurrection and ascension back into heaven. When Jesus was no longer physically here on this earth, He said that His followers would fast.
What is the purpose of fasting? Biblically, fasting is a way to humble yourself before the Lord and to seek Him in prayer. Prayer and fasting are strongly linked together, especially in times of special prayer for pressing needs. Jesus’ statement that His followers will fast when He is gone is a command to us as His followers to fast as the Lord leads us. Fasting helps us concentrate on our prayer and enhances the power of prayer. Fasting and prayer for revival and the return of Jesus is part of being a follower of Jesus in the last days.
When Jesus returns, we’re going to feast with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb. There will be no fasting necessary in the new heavens and the new earth. Yet, here and now, prayer and fasting is essential to seeing the power of the Spirit break into our world in revival. Revival is simply God moving in power through salvation, healing and deliverance. The same things that Jesus did while He was here on the earth. Pray and fast for revival in our day, in our church, in our city and around the world. Finally, we must …
Luke 5:36 (ESV) He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.
A parable is a story that has a spiritual meaning. In this next section, we’re going to look at two parables that Jesus told. Both highlight the difference between the new and the old. They both have important implications for us today. Jesus said that it makes no sense to tear a piece from a new article of clothing to sew onto an old piece of clothing to fix a tear. Not only will the new be ruined, but the patch won’t really help the old.
So, what do the new garment and the old garment represent? The new garment represented the new move of the Spirit that Jesus was bringing. This new move of the Spirit resulted in salvation, healing, deliverance and the power of the Spirit. The old garment represented the rule-based religion of the scribes and pharisees. Jesus was saying, you can’t patch up rule-based religion, the religion of trying to be a good person. It doesn’t work, you need embrace the new garment of the Spirit. He makes the principle clear in His second parable.
Luke 5:37 (ESV) And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.
In this parable, you have new wine and old wineskins. The new wine specifically represents the power of the Holy Spirit. The old wineskins represent again the rule-based religion of the Jewish leaders. Old wineskins have yeast in them that would cause the new wine to ferment, ultimately breaking the brittle old wineskins.
Luke 5:38-39 (ESV) But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
The new wine of the Holy Spirit must be put in new and fresh wineskins. The fresh wineskins represent born again believers, those who are followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus need to filled with the new wine of the Spirit, the power of the Spirit. Unfortunately, those who are drinking old fermented wine don’t want to change. They are stuck in the rut of their ways and want to stick with what they are used to. The last statement of Jesus refers to the Jewish leaders who were always criticizing Jesus. And it refers to everyone today who is satisfied with rule-based religion without a relationship with Jesus. God calls us to embrace the new wine of the Spirit that is moving in fresh ways around the world.
The new move of the Spirit has only been going on in the last hundred or so years. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to pick up the book Power for Life on our guest table to learn more about this move of the Spirit. All religions other than Christianity do not lead to a relationship with God. Unfortunately, many of the denominations that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years are part of rule-based religion without the power of the Spirit. Just because someone you know says they believe in God, that they are a Christian or that they go to church does not mean that they are a follower of Jesus. Ask questions, get involved in spiritual conversations, share the truth about Jesus and the power of the Spirit. Embrace the new wine of the Spirit for your own life and share it freely. It’s a gift from God that is offered freely to everyone who desires more of God.
Today, we’ve talked about how we as followers of Jesus can be part of and share the Spirit’s move. Seize opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with the needy, whatever their need may be. Pray and fast regularly for revival, in your life, our church and our city. Embrace the new wine of the Spirit for your own life and spread the truth to others. The enemy seeks to silence or cancel us in today’s culture. But through God’s power, we can be part of the Spirit’s new move in our time.