Christ versus Religion, by Witness Lee

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If I were the prodigal son, after putting on the best robe, I would be a bit concerned. I may say, "O father, the best robe satisfies you, but it does not satisfy me; I am still hungry. My outward situation now fits yours—that is fine for you. But what about me; I am hungry. I decided to come back to you, not for the best robe, but for some better food. When I was in that far land, I did not have even so much as the husks which the swine fed upon; so I decided to return to your house, not for this robe, but for something to eat. This robe satisfies you, father, but I need to be satisfied." Immediately the father told the servant to kill the fatted calf and said, "Let us eat and be merry." The father’s provision is not just for something without, but also for something within.

Therefore, after the Lord spoke of the new garment, He immediately proceeded to speak also of new wine. The new wine is not a provision for the outward need, but for the inward need. We not only have an outward need, we also have an inward need. We need something to cover us, and we also need something to fill us. We are so poor outwardly, and we are so empty inwardly. We need the robe upon us for the Father’s sake, but we need the new wine within us for our sakes. We need not only the new garment, but also the new wine.

We know that in a wedding feast, the most essential thing is the wine. Of course, when we go to the wedding, we dress in a new garment to fit the occasion. But we do not come just to sit down and look around. I do not come to look at your new garment and you at mine, yet without anything to eat or drink. Neither do we come to display our good etiquette. Of what use is it to practice table manners, yet have nothing to eat? Praise the Lord, we do have table manners, but we also need a rich table, and the Lord has provided it. The Lord is the new garment to us, and the Lord is also the new wine. Have you seen this? He is our covering, and He is also our content. He not only qualifies us, but He satisfies us as well. He is our qualification, and He is also our satisfaction; He is the provision for our outward need, and He is also the full provision for all our inward hunger and thirst.

If the Lord was not so much to us, how could we be the children of the bridechamber, the proper guests at the wedding feast, the virgins going forth to meet the Bridegroom, and the bride herself? In order to enjoy Christ in these four ways we need something outwardly to qualify us and something inwardly to satisfy us. Now the Lord Jesus is not only the Bridegroom, but also the new garment to qualify us and the new wine to satisfy us. We do have something to cover us, and we do have something to satisfy us. We can leap and shout, Hallelujah! But do not think this is all.


The new wine requires the new wineskin. What good is the new wine if there is no proper vessel to contain it, to preserve it? In ancient times the wineskin was used as a vessel to contain the wine. Therefore, the new wineskin signifies something that contains Christ as the new wine. What is this? This is the proper church life. Christ is not only our new garment and new wine, but, being increased, He is also our new wineskin to contain the wine. He is our outward qualification, He is our inward satisfaction, and He is in a corporate way the church, the Body (I Cor. 12:12), capable of holding the wine. He is everything. He is the Bridegroom, the new garment, the new wine, and also the corporate vessel to contain what we enjoy of Him. Christ enlarged is the new wineskin. The meaning here is indeed profound.

(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)