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Jenkins Establishes New Church in Fort Fairfield

New Wine In New Wine Skins

By:  Larry E. Jenkins

Fort Fairfield Journal, January 23, 2013

Jesus said no man pours new wine into old wine skins, if you do the skin will burst and the wine will be ruined. Jesus clearly evidenced this truth in his relating to Judaism and the Jewish leaders. I have always found it very interesting that Jesus made no attempt to appease the religion or the religious leaders of his day. He was creating something new. He was taking Jew and Gentile and breaking down the dividing wall between them through the power of the cross; making one man out of the two.

When we come to the 1500s, God was about to do something new again. The Protestant reformers made every effort to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Ultimately, however, they discovered the principle that Jesus had already proved, renewed wine requires new wine skins, and Protestantism was birthed. Unfortunately, Protestantism quickly fractured into a 1000 pieces of denominational-ism. And, so today there are literally hundreds of “Christian” denominations or churches. Every city, town and hamlet have multiple “churches,” all going by different names and practices and yet each one claiming to be a genuine church. Like the religion of Jesus' day and Martin Luther's day, the church has lost her way in our day.

However, as was true in Jesus’ day and as was true in the 1500s the existing religion, and religious leaders are entrenched in the traditions that, as Jesus told the Pharisees, “nullify the word of God.” The new sect that Jesus began was called, “the Way,” and its followers were harassed, persecuted, tortured and even kill by the religious establishment. Followers of the Reformation were treated likewise by the religious leaders of that day. So, today, those voices crying in the wilderness, exposing the Americanized Church of, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,” are greatly resisted as well. We professing Christians exalt Jesus and the Way and can't understand the Jewish people and their leaders for rejecting Christ. Those of us who are, “Protestants,” celebrate the Reformation and Martin Luther and can't understand the rejection of the truth brought to bear against the religion and religious authorities of his day. But now, it is US who are complacent and comfortable with our form of religion and ignore those who would again bring reformation to Christ's church.

I have tried to bring reformation to the evangelical church in America for over 20 years, knowing the principle of new wine and new wine skins, but somehow hoping against hope that it might be possible. But, I have found, and finally accepted, what God has always known, what Jesus knew and taught, and what the reformers came to understand, and that is, you cannot put new wine in old wine skins.

Therefore, I am beginning a new church here in Fort Fairfield. My druthers would be to have no distinctive name at all, simply, the Church. Not, THE church, But the Church. This is what the assembly of God's people was known as in the New Testament. The church at Rome, the church at Philippi, the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, and so now, the church@Fort Fairfield. Starting from scratch, no traditions, no denominational-ism, no building to have to buy or rent, insure and heat, while it remains empty 90% of the time, which is sinful stewardship.

I have not wanted to do this. A part of me says we don't need yet another church. In fact, we need fewer churches. We need unity in the body of Christ. And, that would be very true, if the existing churches would in fact confess, repent and return to the biblical purpose and nature of the church. But, that was not about to happen in Jesus' day, it was not about to happen in the days of the Protestant Reformation, and sadly, tearfully, it's not about to happen in the Americanized church.

Compounding the crisis is the fact that not every church that calls itself a church, IS a church. Many are simply religious institutions, religious clubs, and teaching doctrine from men and not from God or His Word. Our tendency is to see a building with a denominational name on the side with some “Pastors,” “Rev.'s,” “Priest's,” or some other “clergy's” name on the marquee, and think automatically it's a church. We live in a time when a true, united, vibrant representation of the nature, purpose and power of God, expressed through his body, the church, is almost non-existent. The church is represented in so many different brands, beliefs and practices that THE truth is totally obscured. Imagine a church with no fine buildings, hierarchy, theological seminaries, reverends, Sunday schools, pulpits, pews, layman, active and inactive membership lists, charismatic and non-charismatic camps, CEOs, boards, committees, or other purely human trappings. We have strayed so far from the biblical pattern of being the church, that our current church structure, as the church, would be unrecognizable to the Apostles and early church leaders. It would seem that every foundational institution in our Nation; government, school, and home have deteriorated and become ineffective, and the church is no exception, perhaps even the prime example.

Once again, it's time for reformation. As before, the old institutions will not recognize the times, but will continue on, business as usual, seeing no need to change. But, for those who know there is so much more to the kingdom of God than church as usual, I pray we may offer an alternative. Certainly this new endeavor will not be perfect. It will be as imperfect as those of us who make it up. But, by God's grace, and hearts committed to God, His Word and the Lord Jesus Christ, we will endeavor to BE the church, not just go to church.

If you would like to join us, we gather on Sundays at 10 AM, downstairs in the Fort Fairfield Health Center. We worship, pray and proclaim the Word until noon, followed by eating together, including the Lord's Supper, and then a time of ministry, fellowship and discipleship, usually ending by 3 PM.

I know there are “good” churches out there endeavoring to do the will of God. Perhaps they are called to work within “system.” I can no longer do so. I have been a part of many of those ministries. But, always there is a limit, always man-made structures, always power struggles, always traditions, always ultimately the fear of offending people and having them leave and take their resources with them. In addition, none have given proper understanding of how important the church really is. Christ died for the church and He calls the church to sacrificial living; to lay down our lives for Him and for one another; to live simply; to love not the world or anything in the world; to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; not to store up treasures here on earth, but in heaven; not to get entangled in the affairs of this world; to live our lives here as pilgrims, aliens and strangers; to obey EVERYTHING Jesus has commanded; to make disciples.

God has placed in the hearts of his children a vision for who the church really is. Let's be the church together.


Larry E. Jenkins 




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