The Old and the New

Matthew

The Old and the New

December 13th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM

Matthew 9:14-17

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 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. 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.
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THE OLD AND THE NEW

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 9:14-17

12-13-64    7:30 p.m.

 

 

On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled The Old and the New.  And if you turn in your Bible to the ninth chapter of Matthew, Matthew chapter 9, we are going to read a short passage together.  Matthew chapter 9, reading verses 14 through 17, Matthew chapter 9, verses 14 through 17.  We all got it, we all have it, everybody sharing his Bible with somebody who does not have a Bible, like my bass violin friends – don’t some of you down there have a Bible you can give those two boys there?  They look like warts on a dill pickle, just a’sittin’ over there.  Now, that is better, that is better; everybody reading it out loud together.  Man, I got a whole heathen orchestra here, there’s nobody got a Bible except Monk Harris.  God wrote it to be read out loud, so let’s read it out loud together, verses 14 through 17, just the text, now together:

 

Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but Thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

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.

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.

[Matthew 9:14-17]

 

Following the text, "Then came to Him the disciples of John," John the Baptist, "Then came to Him the disciples of John the Baptist, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Thy disciples fast not?" [Matthew 9:14].  You would never believe had you not read it here before your very eyes that the disciples of John the Baptist are including themselves with the Pharisees.  Look at that.  "Why do we, the disciples of John the Baptist, and the Pharisees" – what an astonishing come to pass; what a long and a far journey the disciples of John have gone from the days of their illustrious and noble master, for it was John who looked at that same crowd and called them "a generation of vipers" [Matthew 3:7], a barrel of snakes.

Yet these disciples of John have joined themselves with the Pharisees and are presenting a case in common before the Lord Christ [Matthew 9:14].  Now the basis of their complaint lies in an abstentious life, "Why do we fast, and afflict ourselves, and live in mourning, and sit in an ash heap, and dress ourselves in sackcloth, and Your disciples are happy and gay, and every day is more glorious than the day before?" 

Now, we ought not to despise a religion of abstinence.  "Thou shalt not this, and thou shalt not that, and thou shalt not the other."  There is a place, there is a place in our teaching ministry, in the spiritual growth of our souls, there is a place for the interdiction and "thou shalt nots."  The Ten Commandments are like that.  "Thou shalt not this, and thou shalt not that, and thou shalt not the other" [Exodus 20:1-17].  We are in a pilgrimage in this life, and we have to take it and learn it a step at a time.  We’re climbing upward to glory with our Lord, and we ought not to cut out the rungs on which we climb.  So there is a place in the Christian life and development for a negative, "thou shalt not" religion, an abstentious religion.

But it’s not the highest and it’s not the ultimate to which our Lord Christ would lead us.  For the religion of Jesus is not only a "thou shalt not," but it is also a "thou shalt gloriously, and triumphantly, and marvelously, and heavenly, and celestially"; it is a positive religion.  There is virtue in not doing some things, but there is infinite more triumph and victory in the things of Christ when He says "Thou shalt," and the disciple of Jesus gloriously follows after.

You know we Baptists, you know we’ve got a religion, we’ve got a faith that we’ve taken out of the Book that says we are saved forever, and we can never be lost [John 3:16, 10:27-28], and once God writes our name in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27], God doesn’t ever blot it out [Revelation 3:5]; but God’s grace that saves us [Ephesians 2:8], saves us forever [John 10:27-30].  And that’s what we mean by being saved, and "I’ll see you in heaven someday." 

And some of these who don’t quite read the Bible as we do, and don’t quite accept the promises that we do, why they say, "You know if I believed that doctrine and if I were a Baptist and believed I could never be lost, you know what I’d do?  Well, I’d go out here and I’d sin this way, and I’d sin that way, and I’d sin the other way, and I’d sin still another way, and I’d have me the biggest best ball of a time you ever heard of in your life."

Well, I agree, I agree.  That’s good doctrine, that’s good doctrine.  All of us who’ve been saved, and all of us who’ve been regenerated, we don’t have any interdictions at all; there are no "thou shalt nots" to us, not at all because God has saved us and forever.  Why man, I rob all the banks I want to, every one of them.  And I shoot all the policemen I want to, every one of them.  And I cuss all I want to.  And I blaspheme all I want to.  And I get drunk all I want to.  And I just live out there in the world riotously all I want to.

The only trouble is, since the Lord God saved me, or being saved, I don’t want to, I’m just not interested.  I’m just not interested.  You don’t have to come up to me and say, "Thou shalt not cuss."  I’m not interested in cussing.  You don’t have to come up to me and say, "Thou shalt not drink."  I’m not interested in drinking.  "Thou shalt not get drunk"; I’m not interested in getting drunk.   "Thou shalt not desecrate the Lord’s Day"; not interested in desecrating the Lord’s Day.  "Thou shalt not blaspheme"; not interested in blaspheming.

That’s what it is to live in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.  There’s no such a thing in the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ as the "Thou shalt not, and thou shalt not"; for the emphasis of the religion of our blessed Savior is always, "Thou shalt" [1 Corinthians 10:23, 2 Corinthians 1:20]  And we have found life and liberty and glory in the liberty and the glory that God hath bestowed upon us when He set us free, and let us loose, and turned us in the world to praise His glorious name [Romans 8:21].

Well, when they came to Jesus with these "thou shalt nots," and a religion of interdiction and negation and abstention, why, the next verse says, "And Jesus said unto them," [Matthew 9:15].  Did you ever notice as you look at the Lord’s life and His words, He never hesitated?  Not one time will you find in the story and ministry of our Lord Christ that He said when they came up to Him with a proposition, or when they asked Him a question, not one time did the Lord God ever say, "Now you wait a minute, I have to go out here and consider this thing; and I will return an answer to you tomorrow after I have had time to meditate upon it."

No, the infinitude of the Almighty lived in the very mind and brain of the Son of God; and He got His answers out of eternity, and they were ready any moment and any time.  The Lord answered extemporaneously, impromptu, on the spur of the moment.  No sooner was the question asked than the answer was ready.

The fullness of the life of our Lord is seen in no small way, in the marvelous way that He answered when people spoke to Him, or asked Him a question, or brought a proposition before Him.  "And Jesus said," and immediately said it, "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, the bridegroom is with them?" [Matthew 9:15].  And that’s glory, and gladness, and ecstasy, and incomparable celestial and heavenly gladness.  Why man, did you know that’s our religion?  It’s a religion of a wedding day.  It’s a religion of a feast day.  It’s a religion and a faith when everything is vibrant and alive.  The bridegroom, the bridechamber, the feast, and the wedding bells ringing; that’s the religion of Jesus, and that’s the faith of the New Testament.

Young people, when somebody comes up to you and they start putting in your mind that for you to be a Christian is to give up all the joys of life, and to enter the doldrums, and the despairs, and the crape, and the black, and all everything good and glad and happy you’re leaving out when you become a Christian, man he’s missed it a thousand miles.  He’s not even near the truth.  He’s not breathing the same atmosphere.  He’s not in the same world.  Nothing could be farther from the faith.

Our Father’s house is a bridal chamber; the assembly of God’s saints is at the banquet at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:6-10]; and everything is like an invitation to a wedding feast itself.  There is gladness, and glory, and ecstasy, and joy beyond description in all of the things that pertain to the Christian faith; the things now, and the things tomorrow, and the things that are in the world that is yet to come.  But somebody will say, "Yeah, but preacher remember that church is where we have funerals.  And these things are,some of the songs we sing are songs of sadness and of death."

But man, there never was a true Christian message preached at any funeral service since Jesus was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7] that didn’t have in it an ultimate and a final triumphant note!  Like apostle Paul said, "We are not to sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and was raised from the dead, even so them who die in the Lord will God bring with Him when He comes again"  [1 Thessalonians 4:13-14].

And the incomparable, triumphant chapter, the fifteenth of 1 Corinthians, is a chapter about death.  And it ends, "Wherefore, my brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, in God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" [1 Corinthians 15:57-58].  God hasn’t called us to the ash heap, and God hasn’t called us to sit in sackcloth, and God hasn’t called us to bow our heads in despair; but God has called us to life, and to light, and to liberty, and to ecstasy, and to incomparable and celestial joy.  That’s what it is to be a Christian.

 

On Monday I am happy, on Tuesday, full of joy

On Wednesday I have peace within that nothing can destroy

On Thursday and on Friday I’m walking in the light

Oh Saturday is a heavenly day, and Sunday’s always bright

Oh, glory, glory, glory, oh glory to the Lamb

Hallelujah, I am saved and I’m so glad I am

 

Don’t you wish you could sing like me?

Oh, glory, glory, glory, oh glory to the Lamb

Hallelujah, I am saved and I’m bound for the Promised Land.

 

["Glory to the Lamb"; W. T. Giffe]

 

That’s what it is to be a Christian!  I don’t know how to sing Handel’s "Messiah," but I sure got those choruses down pat I used to sing with my kids.  Remember it?

Isn’t it grand to be a Christian, isn’t it grand?  Amen.

Isn’t it grand to be a Christian, isn’t it grand?  Amen.

Isn’t it grand to be a Christian, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and all day Saturday,

Isn’t it grand?  Amen.

 

Choir, could you say "Amen"?  Could you?  When I point to you say "Amen."

Isn’t it grand to be a Christian, isn’t it grand?  Amen.

Isn’t it grand to be a Christian, isn’t it grand?  Amen.

Isn’t it grand to be a Christian, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and all day Saturday,

Isn’t it grand?  Amen.

 

Man, that’s right.  That’s right.  God’s people ought to be children of the shining face; "They looked unto Him, and were radiant" [Psalm 34:5].

Now, we don’t ever misinterpret our Lord.  He was a realist, and He faced the harsh, crude, rude, jutting, sharp cutting issues of life.  He says, "The days will come, the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away, and then they will know what it is to fast" [Matthew 9:15].   But I want to show you something about that.  That cuts at the roots, it atomizes ritualistic religion, as though a man had to get a prayer book to see whether or not this is a fast day or not; as though a man had to look at a man-made, man-written manual to know just how this day is; my brother, when the dark, stark grief overwhelms your soul, and when you’re bowed into the dust of the ground, you don’t need a man-made book to tell you that its fast time has come.  You’ll know, your heart will tell you.

But in the meantime, the religion of the Christian faith is this.  "If any among you be glad, be merry, let him praise God; if any among you be sad, let him make it a matter of prayer" [James 5:13-14].  Our spirits dictate our faith.  And a dead, dry, decadent, worn out, threadbare, ritualistic religion is absolutely without avail and without pertinency and without power in the actual life and souls of men.  "Now today I fast, like the Pharisees said, twice a week I fast, Monday and Thursday,today is my fast day," oh, oh.  Or, "Today I do this according to the ritual"; or, "At this moment we do this according to the ritual."  Oh no.

There are times when we want to shout all over God’s heaven; and there are times when we want to hide our faces and cry unto the Lord.  There are times when in the house of God we want to praise His name world without end; and there are times when our people ought to be called to prayer, on their faces, on their knees pleading to the great God of glory.  But it’s the Spirit that dictates how His children approach the glorious throne of grace and not by some man-made manual, not by some book that a man has published and copyrighted and distributed among his brethren.  That’s what our Lord says: this is a time of rejoicing and glory, and then He says there will come times when we bow on our faces and fast; not by a ritual, not by a book, but because of the tears in our souls.

Then He closed His answer with a marvelous and beautiful parabolic lesson.  My faith and my religion and my life is not something we’re patching on to an old tradition; but it’s a new glory, it’s a new life, it’s a new victory, it’s a new triumph.  "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, all things," look, "all things, behold, are become new" [2 Corinthians 5:17].  "No man putteth a piece of new cloth into a old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse" [Matthew 9:16].

In the way that Matthew writes that, he speaks of it as though a man took an old garment and it was rent, had a hole in it; and he took a new piece of cloth, and he put the new piece in the old garment.  Then when it was washed, the new piece shrunk, shriveled up, it shrunk and the rent was made worse.  When you turn to that same answer as Luke records it, he says, "No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise the new garment is rent" [Luke 5:36].

That is, you wouldn’t buy a new coat and then cut the new coat in order to patch an old coat you already had.  The new garment has to be new all over, and not an old garment patched up with the new that is bought.  The same way with those wineskins; the wineskins, when they’re brittle and old, they couldn’t expand as the fruit of the vine fermented.  But the new wine has to be placed in a supple, soft and pliable goatskin; and then as it expanded, the pliable goatskin would expand with it.

That’s what he said is parabolic of my new faith.  It’s not an old life patched up.  It’s not a reformation, "Now I’m going to quit this, and I’m going to quit that, and I’m going to stop doing this, and I’m going to stop doing the other."  The Christian faith is not a reformation; but the Christian faith is a regeneration [Titus 3:5].  It’s a new glory.  It’s a new life.  It’s a new creation.  It’s starting all over again.  Not living in the dead past, but in the glorious present and the more equally triumphant future.  It’s a new beginning again in the Lord.

Yesterday there was a man called me long distance, from another faith, from another state.  He had, he was the head of a big to-do over there, and he wanted me to come and speak to their annual banquet.  I love to visit with him and I talked to him a while on the phone.  I couldn’t go.  I can’t begin to put those things in a calendar already crowded, but I enjoyed talking to that glorious Christian layman.  And when I put the phone down, and put the receiver on the hook, I lived all over again, and it encouraged my soul to bring it back to my mind, how it come me to know that glorious Christian businessman. 

I was on my way to preach through an evangelistic conference in another state, in another city.  And when I walked to the airplane, why, the plane having stopped in a city before going on to the city where I was to preach, when I walked to the airplane there was a man who got in step with me and walked by my side.  And when we entered the plane I sat down and he sat down by my side.

So I began to talk to him.  I said, "Where you going?"  And he said the name of a city.  Well, I said, "Well, I’m going there too.  I’m going to preach through an evangelistic conference there." 

And he said, "Yes, I know that."  He says, "That’s why I’m going.  I’m going down there to hear you preach."

Well, I said, "That is marvelous."

"Oh," he said, "whenever you are in our part of the country I always go to hear you preach." 

Well, I said, "Now that is just one of the most encouraging things I ever stumbled into in my life, but why is it you say wherever I appear in your part of the world you always go to hear me preach, why?"

 "Well," he said, "It’s a long story, it’s a long story."

He said, "You know, I owned a chain of stores and had a beautiful home with my wife and my family.  But I wasn’t a Christian."  And he said, "I began to gamble.  And I began to drink, and finally, I became an alcoholic.  And I lost my stores; and I lost my home; and I was living in a cheap boarding house."  And he said, "In those days, when I was in despair and misery unspeakable, you came to our city and preached, and I went to hear you; and I was saved.  And God came into my soul."

He said, "I went to my home and asked my wife if she’d open the door and let me in, that God had done something to my life.  And she opened the door and I came back home."  And he said, "The days have passed," then he put his hand on my knee and he said, "Preacher, you know what?"

I said, "What?"

He said, "Now I’m a deacon in my church."  Put his hand on my knee again and he said, "You know what?"

I said, "What?"

He said, "Now I’m the treasurer in my church."  He put his hand on my knee again, he said, "You know what?"

I said, "What?"

He said, "I’m the head usher in my church."  Put his hand on my knee again, he said, "You know what?"

I said, "What?"

He said, "I got more stores now in my chain than I ever had before."  And he said, "That’s the reason that, whenever you appear in my part of the world, I always get on the plane to go hear you preach." 

Ah man alive!  Just the glory of living in a world like that!

It’s a new life.  It’s not a patched up old garment.  It’s not an old worn out, unpliable, hard, brittle goatskin.  It’s a new day.  It’s the new wine, like we’re going to drink in the kingdom of God at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:6-10].  Not like that manufactured by the distiller and dispensed in these liquor stores up and down these streets; but it’s a new creation, it’s a celestial ambrosia, it’s a nectar that Jesus shall drink with His children around the banquet table of the Lord.

That’s what it is to be a Christian, a new day, a new life, a new creation, a new hope, a new song, a new glory, walking in the light.  No wonder Isaiah, looking forward to the coming of our Savior said, "Arise, shine; for the day of thy light and glory has come" [Isaiah 60:1].  "Awake, O Jerusalem, and put on thy beautiful garments" [Isaiah 52:1].  That’s what it is to be a Christian; the glory of God shining in our souls.

Before we go off the air and the time is done, could I invite you who have listened on the radio to the most glorious life any man could ever know?  Not in the hog pen, not in the gutter, not in the world of the flesh and of Satan; but in the house of the Lord God, in the fellowship of Christ’s saints, the glory of worshipping Jesus here and adoring Him world without end in the world to come.  And you who fill this great auditorium, somebody you, give your heart in trust to that living Lord, or put your life in the fellowship of this glorious church, to sing, and to pray, and to praise God with us, would you do it tonight?  Would you do it tonight?  I’ll be down there at the front of this platform, and in the balcony round and on the lower floor, down a stairway, into the aisle, there’s time and to spare; come, come, make it tonight.  "Preacher, I give my heart in trust to Jesus, and here I am, here I come."  "Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children, all of us are coming tonight, here we are."  As the Spirit shall make the appeal to your soul, decide for Jesus tonight.  Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.

THE OLD AND THE NEW

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 9:14-17, Luke 5:33-38

12-13-64

 

I.          "We and the Pharisees" (Matthew 9:14)

A.  Bad day for John’s followers that they include themselves with the Pharisees (Matthew 3:7)

B.  They are presenting a case in common before Jesus

      1.  The abstentious life

C.  We ought not to despise a religion of abstinence (Exodus 20:1-17)

      1.  Religion of Jesus not only "thou shalt not", but also "thou shalt"

D.  Doctrine of being saved forever (John 10:27-30)

      1.  Living in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free

 

II.         The reply

A.  Christ never hesitated before a proposition, question

B.  Fullness of the life of our Lord seen in the way He answered

 

III.        Religion of a wedding day

A.  The bridegroom, bride chamber, the feast

B.  Gladness, glory, joy beyond description in all things pertaining to Christian faith (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

 

IV.        Jesus did not forget the harsh realities of life

A. "They will know what it is to fast" (Matthew 9:15)

      1.  Our spirits dictate our faith (James 5:13-14)

 

V.         A beautiful parabolic lesson

A.  My faith, religion is not something we patch onto an old tradition (2 Corinthians 5:17, Matthew 9:16, Luke 5:36)

B.  Christian faith not a reformation, but a regeneration

1.  New wine to drink at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-10)

2.  The glory of God shining in our souls (Isaiah 60:1-2)