Matt 9:16-17 By Grace Alone Are We Children of the Kingdom 5/06/2018 ßà
#1. Do Not Repair Your Old Garment (Matt 9:16, Isa 64:6,8, Eph 2:10, Isa 61:10-11)
#2. Do Not Reuse Your Old Vessels (Matt 9:17, Rom 9:21-24,16, 2Cor 4:6-7)
#3. A New Creation (Rom 6:6-8, Psalm 50:16, 2Cor 5:17-20, Tit 3:4-7)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:10 (2X). For the past two and a half months we have been going steadily through the Gospel According to Matthew. The focus of our sermon for today will be on Matt 9. But before we turn to Matt 9, I want to emphasize a general principle. It is a principle concerning the interpretation of:
Many of you may have heard in previous churches that the Lord Jesus spoke in parables to make it easy for us to understand His doctrines. Actually, the opposite is true, and I will show it to you here in Matt 13. The Lord spoke in parables in order that those whom God never intended to save will be confused, and will not be able to understand the true Gospel, or else God is obligated to save them.
Mt 13:10-12 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Mt 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
Mt 13:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
The disciples came to Jesus with a complaint: Lord, why do you speak to the multitude in parables They have great difficulty understanding your parables. And Jesus answer to them was a surprise: “it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given”, and “because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand”. And “blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear”. That is why we have so many parables in the Bible. It is because God has predetermined to whom He will declare the Gospel, and from whom He wants to withhold the Gospel. Now, if you think there are many parables in the NT, you may be surprised to learn that there are ten times more parables in the OT. Please turn now to chapter 9 of this Gospel of Matthew, Matt 9:16 (2X). The theme that permeates throughout this entire chapter is, “By Grace Alone Are We Children of the Kingdom”. And this is also the title of the present sermon, “By Grace Alone Are We Children of the Kingdom”. We are going to look at two parables in this chapter, and we are going to see that this theme also applies to these two parables.
#1. Do Not Repair Your Old Garment (Matt 9:16, Isa 64:6,8, Eph 2:10, Isa 61:10-11)
Mt 9:16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
We need to be aware that it is not a hard and fast rule of life that we should never repair our old clothes. This one verse is a parable, which is an earthly story with a spiritual meaning, and it should not be interpreted as a piece of history or science. What is the focus of this parable? The focus is on a garment that is either old or new. And thus we must look in the Bible for the spiritual meaning of a garment. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 64:6 (2X). This is a chapter where the saints bemoan the apostate condition of the church near the end of time. Look at the context of this chapter, just before chapter 65, where God speaks of creating a NH&NE, like in Rev 21. Then we recognize that Isa 64 is speaking about the condition of the church as it is described in Rev 17 and 18. The saints are looking at their works; they see that all their works are tainted with sin. W Isa 64:6,
The saints are testifying that even their best works, even after they have been saved, are in God’s sight only as a clothing of filthy rags. All our works are imperfect, and therefore they are tainted with sin, for even our best works do not meet the standard of God’s righteousness. By themselves our best works are filthy, and need to be cleaned up by God the Holy Spirit before they are presented to God as “good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). And thus, here we see an example of a garment which symbolizes the righteousnesses, or the good works, that we have produced on our own. We humans are unable to do anything sinlessly as God requires. We have here a definition of sin that is not well known in most churches today. But praise God that He had mercy on us, who are the remnant chosen by grace, and that He has sent the Lord Jesus Christ to atone for even the smallest of our sins. For Isa 64:8 begins by saying, “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father”. Only if we are saved can we call God our Father. Only if we are saved shall God remove our filthy garments and replace them with clean garments. Please turn in this Prophecy of Isaiah to chapter 61, Isa 61:10 (2X). The Lord Jesus preached the beginning verses of Isa 61 in the synagogue of His hometown Nazareth. And thus we know that God in Isa 61 lays before us an outline of the Gospel, the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. In verse 3 God says that we are given “the garment of praise”. And when we read verses 10-11, we know that it is an integral part of the Gospel that we will see our “robe of righteousness”. We read in Isa 61:10-11,
Isa 61:10-11, I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
What do we see here? We see that the saints are greatly rejoicing for their salvation, for the Lord Jesus Christ has made them appear righteous before God by clothing them with the robe of His righteousness. And notice how verse 11 ends: “The Lord Jehovah will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations”. Righteousness and praise are mentioned, because “the garment of praise” and “the robe of righteousness” are mentioned in verse 3 and verse 10 of this chapter. This garment of praise is not something that we generate by praising the Lord God, but it is a gift from God. And the robe of righteousness is not something that we produce with our “good works”, but it is a covering of righteousness that is a gift from God, because Christ has covered all our sins. And also notice that these symbols of salvation are “to spring forth before all the nations”. It means that it was God’s plan all along to spread the Gospel of salvation to all the nations. And so, if you remember that we are unraveling the parable of the torn garment in Matt 9:16, we see the meaning of this parable. The torn old garment represents our “good works” before we became saved. In this parable, between the lines, the Lord Jesus says that salvation does not mean repairing our mistakes of the past, it does not mean doing the best we can in fixing our sordid life, it does not mean cleaning up our life by pointing out our sins and repenting from our sins, for all these done by our own efforts will not work. It only makes the torn garment look worse in the sight of God. No! If we want to be truly saved we must get a new garment, rather than fix-up our old garment. What then are the:
Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 19:7 (2X). The scene is the end of time. Christ is coming for the second time to rapture the last of His remnant up to be with Him, and to judge the whole earth and the apostate church that is called Babylon, all on the same day which is the Last Day. Those who preach that the rapture of the saints and the judgment of the wicked do not both occur on the Last Day are violating God’s own words in John 5:28, and John 6:39,40,44,54, and John 12:48. They engage in wishful thinking, but they do not proclaim what God has said. We read in:
As you know, the Bride of the Lamb is the eternal church, the body of truly saved individuals whose sins have been paid at the cross. On the Last Day that body of believers is complete, and the marriage of Christ and His Bride is at hand. And how is she clothed? She is clothed in fine linen, clean and bright. This is her robe of righteousness, since verse 8 says, “For the fine linen is the righteousness of saints”. This is the robe of Christ’s righteousness which every saint receives at the moment of our regeneration, when we are regenerated, or born from above, from deadness in our soul to having a soul that is alive to God. At that moment our soul is made clean and perfect; so perfect that the Triune God makes His abode within that soul. Therefore, since our soul is made perfect at the moment of our regeneration, there is no need for another spiritual garment to be given us at a later stage, for our soul does not enter into a second improved state. Our body does, but our soul does not. And thus, when we read in Rev 19:8, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen”, we must not assume that this refers to a new robe of righteousness for our soul, but rather that we have come with a glorified body and soul in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Please turn now to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 132:9 (2X). This is one of the Songs of Steps, also called Songs of Degrees, which the OT Israelites sung while they traveled to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord three times each year. This is a prayer for the house of David; a prayer that God will not forget that God will put someone of the line of David on the throne, and then verse 12 says, “for evermore”. In hindsight we understand now that this cannot refer to a literal king on the throne of David, for that period of the kings ended with king Zedekiah. Now we understand that God referred to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is of the line of David, and who reigns now supremely as King of kings and Lord of lords. But we are searching the Bible for the spiritual meaning of new garments.
Ps 132:9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
Here again clothing is symbolic for righteousness. But here in this Psalm we find also the contrast in verse 18, where God says in Psalm 132:18, “His enemies will I clothe with shame”. And from this we understand that God uses clothing as a symbol for the condition of a person. The saints are clothed with righteousness, and the wicked are clothed with shame. We do not have to imagine the appearance of their clothing, for God gives us word-pictures rather than visual pictures, for the words righteous and shame corresponds to the condition of their souls before God. Let us now return to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 9:16 (2X). We do not want to lose track of the fact that we were unraveling this parable of the torn old garment and the new garment. Now we understand that the parable refers to the salvation designed by God. In God’s salvation plan we must be born from above, and we cannot be saved by cleaning up our old life, for we cannot remove our past sins. Only Christ can remove our past sins, and our future sins, and Christ did that for those whom He decided to free them from their sins at Calvary. It is in this way that we are declared righteous, and are given a garment of righteousness, and are eligible to be the Bride of Christ and are adopted by the Father to be children of the Kingdom of God, for Christ purchased us out of the slave-market of sin. And thus it is only by grace that we can become children of the Kingdom, and are drafted into the army of Christ. “We must be born from above”, and the only ones who will be born from above are those whom the Father chose to be in Christ before the foundation of the world. Let us now turn to the next parable.
#2. Do Not Reuse Your Old Vessels (Matt 9:17, Rom 9:21-24,16, 2Cor 4:6-7)
Mt 9:17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
This second parable is much like the previous one. Instead of the word “bottles” the Greek text says
“wineskins”. It makes this earthly story a little more palatable in the historical sense, but the spiritual meaning is the same; both bottles and wineskins are in the category of “vessels”, and vessels are in view in this parable. When we say “vessels” we have liberated this earthly story from the bondage of its historical and cultural environment, and we have made it ready to be interpreted for its spiritual meaning. And thus the focus of this parable is on “new wine” and on “new vessels”. Do not use your old vessels for new wine, for new wine must be put in new vessels. What is the meaning of that? Let us first look for the spiritual meaning of the “vessels”. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 9:21 (2X). We find in several places in the Bible that vessels symbolize people. Just like wineskins look on the outside as skins, so people are covered on the outside with skins. We are vessels either for the Spirit of God, or we are vessels for the spirit of Satan. We are either fighting for God, or we are fighting for Satan. There is no territory in between. God says in Rom 9:21-24,
Ro 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
And so, we see that if we are vessels unto honor, it is not because we deserve to be so by birth, or by something we did, or by something we will do, but God “had afore prepared us unto glory”, according to verse 23. If we are found to be a vessel unto honor, if we are found to be a vessel of mercy, then God has determined that before we were born into this world, for God is the Potter who made us as a vessel unto honor before He conceived us in our mother’s womb. And even though we came into the world as sinners, and as enemies of God, He has determined that He will bestow His mercy upon us, and will regenerate us at some point in our life, because the Lord Jesus Christ has already suffered and died for us and has purchased us at Calvary. But in no way are we vessels of mercy as a response to something that we are going to do, or are going to believe on the Lord Jesus as our Savior, for God says in verse 16, Rom 9:16 (2X), “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”. This is not a popular doctrine, but this is what the Bible teaches as the true Gospel. For those who are chosen to be vessels unto honor are going to believe this Gospel, whereas those who are vessels unto dishonor are going to disbelieve this Gospel for their minds are under the control of their father the Devil. But notice verse 24, Rom 9:24, “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles”, which means that God planned from the beginning to save a people for Himself out of all the nations of the world. And that is why we are seeing throughout the Gospel According to Matthew that God’s program of salvation reaches to all the nations equally. No longer are the Jews God’s favorite people, but every nation in the world stands on an equal footing before the cross. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. If we are found to be children of the Kingdom, then that was the result of “By Grace Alone”. But let us keep in mind that we are searching for the spiritual meaning of “vessels”, so that we can interpret the parable of Matt 9:17. Please turn to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 4:6 (2X). In this letter to the church at Corinth God lays out the nature of the ministry we have in the preaching of the Gospel. God says in V. 3-4 that if our Gospel remains hidden, it is hidden to those whose minds have been blinded by the god of this world, Satan. And then we read in 2Cor 4:6-7,
2Co 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
This treasure, “the knowledge of the glory of God”, we have in earthen vessels, which means our bodies and our minds are just earthen vessels. We just read in Rom 9 that we are the clay. God is the Potter who molds us according to His good pleasure. This doctrine, which we just found in Rom 9, is the light that shined in our hearts by the command of God, for this Gospel of grace alone is the light in the face of Jesus Christ, and this light is altogether to the glory of God. God receives 100% of the glory of our salvation. He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. And so, we conclude that the vessels, or the bottles, in the parable of Matt 9:17 refer to human bodies. What then is the new wine?
Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 2:6 (2X). When we search the Bible for the meaning of “new wine”, the one event that stands out above all is the occasion when the Lord Jesus made much new wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The reason why God put this miracle in the Bible is to teach us about new wine and to teach us something of the wedding that we anticipate in the new creation, after all the wicked are removed from our sight. We read in John 2:6,
Joh 2:6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
Joh 2:7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
Joh 2:8-10 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
What do we see here? The Lord Jesus made here a great abundance of wine; about 150 gallons in total. What is wine good for in the Bible? God says in Psalm 104:15, “And wine that maketh glad the heart of man”. And so, it is true that the symbol of wine is to have joy, but especially to have joy in the Lord. Here were six empty stone vessels, representing people who are unsaved, empty, without God and without hope in this world. Why stone? It is because we come into this world with a stony heart, unwilling to listen to God’s Word. But when God saves us He will exchange our stony heart for a heart of flesh. The Lord Jesus commanded these waterpots to be filled with water. What does that water symbolize? Within this context water is a symbol for the words of the Gospel. It is the water of the Gospel, which is an endless stream of words. We see here the condition of the natural man before he is born again: He is like an empty waterpot of stone, cold, lifeless, useless, and filled with air from “the prince of the power of the air”. At the command of Christ they were filled with water, and water is the symbol of the Word which God uses in quickening dead souls into newness of life. Then the water produced wine, “good wine”, which is the symbol of Divine joy, filling the soul of the one who has been born of water and the Spirit. But consider also the second meaning of wine, which is the symbol of the shed blood of Christ. God is indicating hereby that in order for His people to be joyous, the precious blood of His Son must first be poured out. And that is the foundation of every blessing we enjoy, for that is the Good News. That is the Good News that we are delivered from our sins and that we are delivered from having to go to Hell. Therefore Christ began His supernatural works of mercy by producing as His first miracle the miracle which spoke of His sacrificial death. And so, coming back to the parable of Matt 9:17, we see that the “new wine” represents the true Gospel and the “vessels” represent the hearts of men. Now where should we put the new wine? In “New Vessels”, not in old vessels. Does this mean then, when the true Gospel takes hold of a man the old man must die and a new man should be in his stead? That is indeed what this parable tells us.
#3. A New Creation (Rom 6:6-8, Psalm 50:16, 2Cor 5:17-20, Tit 3:4-7)
Please turn in your Bibles again to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 6:6 (2X). The Bible tells us in many places that we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world. It was not that our souls preexisted in Christ, but our names were written in His mind from before the foundation of the world. It is in this sense that He could be our representative before the judgment throne of God. Then we read:
Ro 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Ro 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
In other words, when we have become born from above our old man died and a new man exists in his stead. It is true that in principle our old man was crucified with Christ, but that did not take effect until we became born from above, since until that point in time we did serve sin and Satan. Rom 6:6 says, “that henceforth we should not serve sin”, which means from the time that we became born from above we ceased to serve sin. This is the meaning of the parable, that new wine must be put in new vessels. The old vessel must be done away. The old man is not able to contain the new wine, for the true Gospel will break him. And when he comes broken before God he will be made into a new man. Please turn in your Bibles again to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 5:17 (2X). In this chapter God speaks about our motivation for proclaiming the Gospel to the unsaved. Our motivation from verse 11 is this: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”. But how can we preach the true Gospel if we ourselves have not been saved yet. Indeed, God says in Ps 50:16-17,
“But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee”.
Indeed, all the evangelism work of those who preach another gospel is abomination in the sight of God. And that is another reason why in the parable of Matt 9:17 the old vessel cannot contain the new wine, for the old vessel that is spilling the new wine is abomination in the sight of God. But when we are saved it is another matter. Then we must preach the Gospel. We read in 2Cor 5:17-20,
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
The words of Rom 6:6-8 are confirmed here in 2Cor 5. If any man discovers that he is in Christ, and that he was in Christ from before the foundation of the world, then he has discovered that he is a new creature, or better a new creation. Not only has God reconciled us to Himself so that we have peace with God, but He has now “committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation”. We must now proclaim to others what we have heard and have believed. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to Titus, Tit 3:4 (2X). Here in the letter to Titus we find that the pivotal moment in time is the moment of our regeneration. It is from that moment that we are saved and are made heirs to the hope of eternal life. It is from that moment that we recognize the love of God for us, not for the whole world, but for us
Tit 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Tit 3:6-7 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Notice that it is the love of God our Savior. Our Savior is God. The Lord Jesus Christ is God. And He saved us not because He looked down the corridors of time and He saw that we would turn from our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus as our Savior. None of that, for we were dead in trespasses and sins. But verse 5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done”. It was entirely by His mercy that He saved us. And when were we called “saved”? Verse 5 says, “by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”. It was at that time that the old man was done away, and we became a new man. This is also what we must conclude from the parable of Matt 9:17.
Please turn back to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 5:21 (2X). We did not finish this passage in 2Cor 5. We have read verses 17-20. But a crucial verse is verse 21, for there we are faced with the essence of the Substitution by the Lord Jesus Christ. What doctrines must we keep in mind when we speak of His substitutionary atonement? We read in 2Cor 5:21,
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him (to be) sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
God begins this verse with “For”, which ties in with the sentence going before. “We beseech you, on behalf of Christ, Be ye reconciled to God, For (and here the Greek text says) Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin, or a sin-offering, for us”. But what is meant by this? It cannot be that Christ became literally sin. This expression must be understood in a figurative sense. Also it cannot be that Christ became a sinner, for the context says “Him, who knew no sin”. Also it cannot mean that Christ became guilty, for no one is truly guilty who is not personally a transgressor of the Law. And if Christ was in the proper sense guilty, then He deserved to die and His death would have no merit for any one else, for He would no longer be the spotless Lamb of God. All those views that make our holy Redeemer a sinner, or guilty, or deserving of the sufferings which He endured are incorrect, and are abhorrent to the spirit essence of the Scriptures. But if the declaration that He was made “sin” does not mean that He was sin itself, or a sinner, or guilty, then it must mean that He was a “sin-offering”, an offering or a sacrifice for someone else’s sin. It means that He made an atonement; that His death was not just that of a martyr, but that it was designed to make reconciliation between man and God. In other words, “For God had made Him subject to suffering and death, the full punishment and con-sequence of sin, as if He had been a sinner, although He was guilty of no sin”. When we say that our sins were imputed on Him, we must understand thereby that God treated Him as if He was a sinner, as if He has been guilty, whereas in all senses He was perfectly innocent. Throughout His atonement Christ must remain the spotless Lamb of God. Moreover, 2Cor 5:21 says, “Who knew no sin”. He was not guilty. He was perfectly holy and pure. And the same truths are reflected in 1Pet 2:22, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth”. And in Heb 7:26, “He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”. If the Lord Jesus had not been holy and pure, He would not qualify to make an atonement. The phrase, “He knew no sin”, is an expression of great beauty and dignity. He had a mind and heart perfectly free from pollution. That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Look at the contrast: He was treated as if He was a sinner, although He was perfectly holy and pure, and we are treated as if we are righteous, although we were defiled and depraved. We who thus become righteous, are justified by a scheme which God has designed, in order that we, in and by Him, might be made righteous, by a righteousness imputed to us by God, which we receive in and through a Redeemer. This is the meaning of Substitution. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.