River City Church 2013, Happy New Wineskin!


Gal 3.v5,6

Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Paul was saying here “Galatians, there is a supply of the Spirit, a supply of the life of God, a divine flow, a river of life, the anointing to work miracles

Think Galatians, how did that river begin to flow in your midst?

  • Did you work for it, did it come because of your obedience to the Law?,


  • Did the Spirit flow in power in your midst because you believed the gospel, because you received by faith the promises of the New Covenant?


Can I put that question in another way, for I believe that this is a question we as a church need to hear and have the right answer to, if we too are to know a free flow of the life of the Spirit in the midst of us.


  • Did you make the Spirit move because of your performance, your obedience to the commands of God?


  • Did you let the Spirit move because of your faith in His promises?


I think that is such an important question; how does the Spirit operate in the Church, in response to what, religious activity or faith, that it would be good to remind ourselves of what Jesus said.

.  John 7.v37-39.

7On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.


Notice here a great truth that Jesus declares about the flow of the Spirit in the life of a believer.

How does someone receive the flow of the Spirit, the river of life from God?

John writes “He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.”                      We receive the Spirit by believing, not by doing.

Jesus did not say, He who works for me, out of His heart will flow rivers of living water, but He who believes in me.

What I want to show you this morning is the great truth that Paul declared to the Galatians and the Colossians and all His churches; that

The way the Spirit flows in the life of a believer does not change from the way He flowed on the day you got saved.

He always flows by the grace of God, through faith.


. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.

What I am going to show you today is the Spirit moves in the church, in your life and mine, from first to last (your first day to your last) by the grace of God……

and the moment we turn away from believing that our salvation, from first to last, is all by grace, we will find that we have turned away from the supernatural power of God and back to the natural efforts of men.

The river of miracles dries up.

So the river of the Spirit flows by the grace of God through faith.



River City Church, we are not called to make the river flow, but to let the river flow.

Today we are going to be talking again about a subject that you are going to get very familiar with this year; the difference between the Old covenant of the Law and the New Covenant of Grace.

Difference between Old and New Covenant is the difference between doing and simply being.

You don’t do sonship, you simply be a son.

I don’t do anything to be a son of God, through faith in Christ, every believer has been made by His grace, by His gift, a child of God

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.     John 1.v12.13.


The Old Covenant and the New Covenant are worlds apart.

Which world are you living in?

Biggest difference is the difference between Law and Grace.

This difference centres around the issue of performance.

. Whose performance are you relying on; ………………….Yours or Jesus’?


Believers like you and I have been robbed of the joy and the peace of our salvation, robbed of strength, because we have repeatedly attempted to try and hold the New Wine (the life of the Spirit in us) in an old wineskin called ‘My Performance.’ X2

What did Jesus say would happen when we try and put new wine in an old wineskin?



And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”


The New covenant of Grace does not fit into the Old Covenant of the Law.

You cannot mix Law and Grace, because like that fermenting new wine, Grace is too powerful to be held, to be ministered through the medium of your or my performance.

If you could earn grace by your obedience to commands it would not be grace, for grace is unmerited favour.


I think that most of us have no problem understanding grace in terms of our salvation experience, when we got born again.

We understand that as stated in Ephesians 2.v8

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.


We clearly understand that our justification in God’s sight, the forgiveness of all our sins, was an act of grace on God’s part that we did nothing to deserve.

It is a gift.


We all learned as children what you do with a gift, you simply receive it and we did that by believing.

For by grace you have been saved through faith…..it is the gift of God.


Gifts have the most wonderful effect on us…..they produce joy.

When we were children, receiving a gift was an occasion of great joy.

Now that many of us are parents, we have come to see that the giving of the gift, gives as much joy to the giver as to the receiver.

This holds true for the gift of grace.

The Lord spoke of the joy in heaven when one person receives the gift of the grace of salvation.

And so for many of us who have received this gift of grace, our most joyful experiences as believers were at the time of our salvation.


If we can see a connection between a believer’s joy and their experience of grace, then it comes as no surprise for us to hear so many talk of those days after they were first saved as a time of great joy and peace and indeed liberty.

Often the prayer of David can be heard on believer’s lips.

“Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.”


What I want us to ask ourselves is…..why do so many believers in the church have to pray that prayer, asking God to restore their joy of salvation?

What happened to the joy of our salvation?

The question I am asking is….

Who or what is robbing us of our joy? (and by implication our liberty)


Now that is an important question to ask, for when you rob an individual or a church of their joy, you rob them of their strength and their witness.

Ask yourself why is it that the ordinary person in the street, if they were thinking they would like to go somewhere to have a great experience of joy during this year of culture, how many of them would have visiting a church at the top of their list?

How many of them would put church at the bottom of their list?

The sad truth is that for most folk who go nowhere on a Sunday morning, a church would be the last place they would consider going to find joy.


Time for another question…


Where does the joy go?

How is it that subsequent to salvation, for so many folk, our joy appears to leak out of us and so out of the church?


The answer I want to present to you is very simple.


Burst wineskins always leak.

The reason why so many of us, as individuals and churches, cannot hold our joy, is that we keep trying to hold the new wine of the life of Grace in an old wineskin called Performance.


We embrace grace at the hour of our salvation and for grace read joy.

But then ever so subtly we buy into the belief that now that we have been saved by grace, we have to complete the job of salvation ourselves by all the works a good Christian is supposed to do.

After all everybody knows that good Christians

  • read their bible every day,
  • pray for hours,
  • go to all the church meetings they are free for,
  • give generously and generally live exemplary lives as a witness to others.


In other words for many of us, we have believed that our justification was by grace and faith, we just believed the truth of it and the Holy Spirit did the rest, but our lives since then, our sanctification, the setting aside of our lives unto God, living holy lives, we have come to believe is something that is down to our best efforts.


The moment we start to believe that; that somehow we can improve our standing with God by our own efforts, that we can wrestle out of Him more blessings through disciplining ourselves to pray harder or fast longer or give more, then we have stepped back from the New Covenant of grace and gone back to the Old covenant of the Law.


Now we are back in the waiting room of religion, waiting for God to relent and give us what we need, rather than standing in faith, rejoicing that we already have, in Christ, all we need , as Paul declared to the Ephesians,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

 We have been graced with what we need and it will manifest in God’s good time and in the meantime I am not going to grumble and complain but I going to sing and rejoice by faith, because by the grace of God it is my privilege to live a supernatural life and it is supernatural for an apparently barren person to sing.

It is the sweetest most powerful song in the world, the song of the Lord, the song of faith is a song of victory. It is the song of heaven and the devil must flee when he hears it, for He can’t stand the sound of heaven, the sound of the presence of the anointing…joy.


 listen again

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.


If we cannot boast about our justification, about Jesus dying for all our sins, then neither can we boast about our sanctification, about living the life of Christ, a life set apart unto God.

No man can boast in any part of His salvation.


The only way that boasting can be ruled out entirely then, is if our sanctification, our earthly lives being made holy, is also a work of grace that we receive by faith, that it too is not “of ourselves” but of the Spirit of God.

In other words that we don’t take the new way of being justified before God, by grace and faith and try and carry it in the old way of being sanctified before God, by the offering of the sacrifices of our hands. (our best efforts, our performance)


If we want to know why our experience has appeared at times so dry, where the leak is, that keeps draining away all our joy, then we only need to remember that the giving of the gift; (grace) and joy go together and so we need to ask ourselves, …..


Are we still receiving the gift, the grace of God, as much today as we were on the day of our salvation, or is the truth that after some time in church, we picked up the idea that God expects us to finish the job that He started, that we are expected to now make ourselves holy, by prayer/fasting and any other work that will discipline our flesh.


Is that what has happened?

Have we turned away from

  • simply receiving, back to earning.
  • simply being, back to doing.

Have we backed away from grace and so backed into the Law?


Well we have already mentioned two ways we can tell.

  1. Loss of joy.

To give a new believer the idea that God is judging them by their performance and so is withholding some blessing from them that they could receive by trying harder, is the surest way to burst their wineskin of joy. For the source of our joy is His flow of grace into our lives by His Spirit and to take our eyes of faith off His grace and fix them on our performance is to cut off our supply of joy.

Why do we need to keep receiving grace?

7. The Grace of God is the power of God to live the life of God.


  1. Boasting.

If you today are comparing yourself with other believers and considering that you are doing better than them in some area, then in that area you have come back under the Law, for you cannot avail of grace and boast at the same time.


The apostle Paul warned His churches repeatedly about falling back under the law, under the idea that we can earn some reward from God through bettering our Christian performance.

He called it “putting confidence in the flesh”.

We call this legalism and Paul had to keep warning them because often after he had left a place, some legalistic Christians, (Judaziers) would come in amongst his new converts and tell them that they weren’t complete Christians unless they did something more than simply continue to put their faith in the grace of God.

There was no end of things people were starting to do to add to their salvation, to try and complete by works of the flesh what had begun by a work of the Spirit; from

  • getting circumcised,
  • to avoiding certain foods,
  • to avoiding or keeping certain days or fasts or feasts.


Paul was absolutely unequivocal in his condemnation of any attempt by anyone to add any work to the grace that God continued to minister through His Holy Spirit, because He knew that the grace of God is the power of God to live the life of God.

·         To the Philippians He declared that they didn’t need to get circumcised because  “we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”

·         To the Galatians “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? ….

He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Present tense; Keeps on supplying. Why would we turn to our performance, when there is still today a constant supply by grace of God’s Holy Spirit.

But I want to finish by showing you what Paul declared to the Colossians, about how they were to carry, walk in the life of the Spirit

  • To the Colossians.

Turn to Col 2.

Paul describes himself as in conflict. He is in agony over them as in the pains of childbirth. He knows that as young believers they are vulnerable to false teaching.

What is he so concerned about?

He is concerned that someone would come in and burst their wineskin, and so rob them of their joy and strength by telling them that they were not complete as Christians unless they added to the work of the Spirit some work of their own.

 Col 2.


As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.


As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him

Your walking in Him, your sanctification, your life as a believer, must be lived on exactly the same basis/principle as how you were justified, how you first received Him; nothing of you, all of grace.

He gives you by His Spirit everything you need, to be who He has called you to be.

You receive it by faith, by believing that you already have what you need, that in Him you are complete, for in Him is an endless supply of grace, of power to live the life of God and we receive that enabling, that life today in the same way we did originally; …by faith, by simply believing that our Father in heaven is as good and generous as He says He is.


  • Here is the truth that protects you against anyone deceiving you and stealing your joy and your strength.
  • Here is the truth that sets you free Christian, if you have been lured back into believing that God is withholding something from you because there is something more you have to do;
    • some fast that you have not yet fasted,
    • some season of prayer that you have not yet prayed,
    •  some feast that you have not yet kept or not yet avoided.


The truth is that the grace of God is so generous, that you received everything of Him at your salvation. He has withheld nothing from you.

Don’t you know….You are always with me and everything I have is yours.

This is the truth that sets you free from performance, from the old mindset of the law, that if I obey more I will get more of a reward.


Last Important question.

Why do we do it?

Why do we slip back into thinking that we need to work harder as believers if we are to receive more blessing from God?

Answer: Because we have failed to understand that ..

 under the New Covenant, the blessings of God are no longer a reward, they are an inheritance.

You don’t earn an inheritance….you simply receive it.


During the week I heard a news report that an old lady had died in Dublin and left 500000 euros to an animal charity in Limerick.

I used to look after a lot of little old ladies cats.

Think how I would feel if I got a letter in the post this week that said that a little old lady whose cat I used to treat had died and left me 500,000 pounds in her will.

What would happen to my joy level?

Until I read some small print further down the letter….I inherit the money on my 99th birthday………. if I am still alive.

Now what has happened to my joy level?

Now all I can see before me is a lifetime of effort to be strong enough to win that reward.


That’s what has happened to many of us in the church.

We got saved and full of joy at the grace of God and then some well meaning brother or sister introduced us to some fine print about the need to complete what God had begun, fine print about doing your best if you really wanted to receive God’s best

And ever since then many of us have slipped out of the party/the joy of God’s grace and delight in us and gone back into the fields of religion to try and earn from Him what He has already freely given.

If you stay there, you are in for as miserable a time as the elder brother.

You will spend years expecting God to give you this or that in response to all your years of good service to Him, but your experience will be that you don’t get so much from Him as an old goat.

Because how can he give you again, what is already yours in Christ?

Let me declare to you again the words of the Spirit to River City Church in this hour.

Don’t you know Church, you are always with me and everything I have is yours!

Therefore River City Church, He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Is it by grace, through faith or by our works that the river of His Spirit flows?


Then let us rest from our religious works and let us go back into the party of our salvation, the grace of God, from which we slipped out the back door.

There is an endless supply of the grace of God to meet every need in this place and all we have to do to see the river flow is to start singing the song of faith, the song of victory and it is a song about the grace of God.


I fully believe in the laying on of hands for impartation and healing…..but to receive the truth that sets you free, you need only believe.