The Chelmian’s Beard

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, it will spill, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine should be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, 'The old is better.'" – Luke 5:37-39 HCSB

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, it will spill, and the skins will be ruined.  But new wine should be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, 'The old is better.'" – Luke 5:37-39 HCSB

An old biblical scholar had an odd habit. His students, being curious, asked him, “Why is the first page number missing in all your works? Why does each begin with the second?”

He answered, “No matter how much I may learn, I need to always remember that I have not even gotten to the first page.”

The Pharisees forgot that simple truth. After hundreds of years of studying the Scriptures, they concluded that they had it all figured out. Think about that – they thought they had omniscient, eternal, infinite God figured out.

It’s troubling when you hear theologians categorically state, “That part of the Bible doesn’t fit my notion of how God would act. It must not be inspired.”

How silly. We are like the inhabitants of the town of Chelm, a Jewish mythological place filled with fools. One day a young confused Chelmian went to the Chief Sage and asked, “Why can I not grow hair on my chin? Is it hereditary? I don’t see how – my father has a beautiful, thick beard.”

The Chief Sage meditated on this world-shaking problem for a while and finally he snapped his fingers. “Perhaps you take after your mother!”

“That must be it!” The young man crowed with glee. “My mother doesn’t have a beard! How wise you are!”

He asked a decent question. He got an answer that seemed to fit the facts. But he missed a very fundamental point. Females (at least most) don’t have beards!

The people of Romans chapter one also thought they were wise. They also thought they had God all figured out. The problem was that they were making gods in their own images, worshipping the created rather than the Creator. This act blinded them spiritually and turned them – POOF! – into fools.

The Pharisees liked the old wine just fine, thank you very much. They didn’t want any of this new-fangled, life-changing, head-buzzing wine. They had God figured out and He was an old, comfortable grandfather figure who loved them just as they were. The problem was that the old wine of legalism was powerless to make fundamental changes.

To accept the new wine of salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ requires humility and a reception of Christ’s easy yoke. It requires change – growth. To learn the whole Bible is a great accomplishment. But to learn one virtue through its study is even better.

Don’t try to put God, whom all of creation cannot contain, in your little mental box. As Philo said, “The final aim of knowledge is to hold that we know nothing.”

For a fully referenced and hyperlinked version of this article search the archives at http://pastorpauley.blogspot.com/