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The Problem of Old Wineskins

Today’s Old Wineskins

Today, the Holy Spirit continues to be poured out with supernatural signs and wonders worldwide as Christianity continues to grow at accelerated rates.

Today, the Holy Spirit continues to be poured out with supernatural signs and wonders worldwide as Christianity continues to grow at accelerated rates. Even in some of the darkest corners of the world, Christianity is currently growing at unprecedented rates. But not all regions are experiencing growth.

Today’s “old wineskins” are, for the most part, the churches of Europe, North America and other westernized nations, many of which may outwardly appear to be new, modern, and contemporary, but inwardly are still “old wineskins” because they no longer preserve the work of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, neither can the work of the Spirit any longer preserve these churches. Thus, the dichotomy—Christianity continues to grow steadily worldwide, while in the West, it remains in a state of freefall.

Image: Filippo Andolfatto

Scholars and experts agree a major reason for this is because the Western church has forsaken a supernatural God. When people come to Christ in the emerging world, much like the apostle Paul, whose words came in demonstration of the Spirit and power, church leaders provoke their imaginations with something they can see, hear, and experience. While in the West, all we offer is talk, good morals and politics. Philosopher Peter Kreeft called this “the master heresy of our civilization…a loss of belief in the supernatural.” J.D. King, Director of World Revival Network, calls it “abandonment of the miraculous.” Call it what you will, the problem is old wineskins.

Why Westerners Reject the Supernatural

Western church leaders are, like Timothy, fearful of the spirit of power and the gift God has given to them. They’d rather not have to deal with fleshly manifestations, or like Paul, lovingly confront and correct spiritual abuses. They’d rather not have to perform public deliverances, or like Jesus, openly rebuke demons.

But not all Western church leaders reject the supernatural for the same reason. Some, like the Sadducees, cling to old powerless, cessationist doctrines. Others, influenced by a secular, scientific culture simply do not believe. Still others, believe Spirit manifestations actually hinder the work of evangelism. While still others live in abject fear of the supernatural. Jesus certainly encountered such in his own ministry. His miraculous works were severely limited in certain cities and regions because of their unbelief. He also addressed the doctrinal error of the Sadducees when he said, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” (Mk 12:24 NLT) Thankfully, many church leaders today are ditching old cessationist doctrines and, in light of scriptural and historical realities are adopting Pentecostal, charismatic and continualist beliefs. Unfortunately, many do so in name and theory only, not in practice.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2018

About the Author: Jeff Oliver is an inspirational speaker and author of Pentecost to the Present: The Holy Spirit's Enduring Work in the Church. This three-volume (Book 1: Early Prophetic And Spiritual Gifts Movements, Book 2: Reformations And Awakenings, Book 3: Worldwide Revivals And Renewals) series traces our Spirit-filled heritage to ancient times and gives documented historic evidence of signs, wonders and miracles continuing in the church to this present age. Jeff is also founder and president of Global Wakening, a ministry that is inspiring and equipping a new generation with a supernatural Christian worldview to help ignite a global wakening of God's church.

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