There is a lot of talk these days, of the apostasy plaguing modern Christendom.
Christians like Rick Warren, Beth Moore, and Chuck Swindoll, are promoting contemplative prayer; a pagan, New Age practice of divination. The Emergent Church has abandoned the bible altogether, and some of Rome’s daughters are heading back to their mother.
The question I have is “Did this all just happen out of the blue, in the last twenty-or-so years?”
I don’t think so. I think the roots of the modern apostasy came from way back. They go back at least to the reformation. When the reformers left the Roman church, they took things that didn’t belong to them.
When I say “reformers” I don’t merely mean Anglicans, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Methodists. Baptists themselves also trace their roots to the reformation. While Baptists would repudiate some of Rome’s errors, like infant baptism, Transubstantiation, and works salvation, there were numerous errors that they held on to.
One error that is bigger than it would appear on the surface is the authority of the Baptist pastor. Many Baptist pastors, especially independent ones, have actually more authority in their church, than Catholic priests!
In my post “The Pastor vs. The Elder” I documented how the biblical church was to be organized according to Scripture.
One philosophy that came along with the lifting up of the pastor, was the idea that the pastor was to be the interpreter of Scripture for the congregation. This is contrary to many Scriptures, and has led to a great many abuses.
Here is how God wants you to behave, even if an apostle comes to you.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:10-11
Even if someone like an apostle of God, or your pastor, tells you some doctrine or other, you are to check it out in the Scriptures. Don’t ever take something they, or I say, without checking it out in the bible. All fallen men are fallible, even your pastor.
One thing that came along with the lifting up of the pastor is a spiritual pride, and the idea that “we know so much more than those who came before us”.
Years ago I wrote David Cloud, of the Way of Life website, regarding one of his articles about the use of wine. I told him that until the mid 1800s all churches, the world over, had used wine in their communion services. He agreed that they had, but said that they were disobedient!
Amazing! What he was saying is that all the Christian churches, for some 1800 years, were disobedient, including the Waldenses, and Albigenses, and all those fifty million Christians martyred by the Catholic church during the middle ages, and the inquisition!
No doubt Mr. Cloud would claim that many of those martyrs had a similar faith to his own, and yet, he would choose to dishonor them rather than admit he had made a mistake!
His attitude comes from an idea originating in the mid-1800s, that says “wine” in the bible really means “grape juice”, or that “wine in the bible could be wine or grape juice, depending on how it is used”. This allows them to say that any time wine is used in a good context, as in a blessing, it must mean “grape juice”.
This argument is a new innovation (circa 1850s), and is incredibly arrogant, and yet ignorant at the same time. There actually was a word available to the writers of the New Testament, in the Greek, that meant “must” or “grape juice” – trux/τρύξ. This word does not appear in the pages of the New Testament for the simple reason that this was not what they were drinking.
The condemnations found in the Scriptures, regarding wine, always refer to excessive use, never to normal, ordinary use.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18
People who say that drinking wine, or alcohol, is a sin, then have to do all kinds of mental gymnastics to prove that Jesus didn’t drink, or serve wine. These people, who often claim to believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture, then have to follow the esoteric methods of the liberals to prove their point! “Ah! But it’s for a good cause”, I can hear them say.
What does the Scripture actually say?
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. 34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! 35 But wisdom is justified of all her children. Luke 7:33-34
Jesus is providing a contrast here. John did not drink wine, and Jesus did. They were doing the opposite of each other, and both were condemned by the Pharisees. This is the plain-sense meaning of this passage. And by the way, the word for wine used here is “oinos” the word for fermented grape juice.
Jesus was also heard to say:
There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. Mark 7:15
One man told me that I was taking this out of context. The problem he has is that the word “nothing” is an all-inclusive word. Nothing is left out. The objective truth of this statement is that there is nothing you can eat or drink that will defile you. Not wine, nor milk, nor even gasoline can defile you. Gasoline might kill you, but it still will not defile you, rather it is the sin that comes from your heart that defiles you.
Man often focuses on the external, and neglects the internal relationship with God!
As I noted in a recent post, Jesus stated that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). So, what does the law say about wine and alcohol?
24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, Deuteronomy 14:24-26
Here the Israelites were commanded to bring a tithe (tenth) of their crops to Jerusalem. If the distance was too far to carry such a large load, they were to sell the tithe and bring the money instead. When they got to Jerusalem they were to buy what ever they wanted and have a feast there. Just in case you might have thought that “wine” was really grape juice, God made sure you would understand that he was talking about alcoholic wine, by the use of the words “strong drink”. Notice also that this “tithe” was for their own use, it did not go to the priests or Levites!
Remember, Jesus is the fulfilment of the law. Deuteronomy is the law. This passage is about Jesus in some way. He is the fulfilment of this passage!
Here is another one;
And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering. Numbers 28:7
Leroy Pennel, one of my former pastors, who is a fanatical opponent of alcohol, told me that “I have no problem with alcoholic wine being poured on the altar”, and yet, he would tell you that drinking alcohol is a sin. He would also say that alcoholic wine is an unclean substance. He did tell me that in so many words. This would be like saying “I don’t eat pork, but it is fine to sacrifice a pig on the altar”!
No. God did not want anything unclean on the Jewish altar. He would not want pigs, or honey, or horses, to be sacrificed, but he did command alcoholic wine to be poured on the altar as a “drink offering”! You can’t call something a “drink” if no one drinks it!
As Jesus said, He is the fulfilment of the law, and that means that He fulfilled Numbers 28:7 just as much as the rest of the Law! There are forty references to “drink offerings” in the law of Moses. It seems every time an animal was sacrificed, there was also to be a drink offering provided.
Numerous times the drink offering was referred to as a “sweet savour” for the Lord.
And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD. Numbers 15:7
Yes, Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law! Jesus did drink alcoholic wine, and He did serve it to His disciples. The last supper was the last time He drank wine before He went to the cross. This is what He said about it;
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29
He was then beginning to fulfill the law of the priest;
Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: Leviticus 10:9
The priest was not to drink wine when he performed his priestly duty. Jesus has become our High Priest, and does not drink wine at this point in His ministry. As He said in Matthew 6:19, He will drink it at the Marriage supper of the Lamb! I’m afraid there may be a few Baptists, or evangelicals, there who will say to Him when He serves them “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean”(Acts 10:14)! Yes! I’m afraid we have a lot to learn about our Lord! It would have been easier if we had just believed the bible to begin with!
Jesus, however, did drink vinegar while on the cross, which tells us that wine vinegar is no longer considered “fruit of the vine”.
And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. Matthew 27:48
This and the previous attempt to give him vinegar mixed with “gall” were fulfilments of Psalms 69:21;
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
So, if it is so clear that Jesus drank and served alcoholic wine, what is this idea all about? Why would they say that wine doesn’t mean wine?
It is about the authority of a man to change the Word of God to suit his own ideas. The above mentioned pastor grew up in the home of an alcoholic. Because of this experience he interprets the bible with a great hatred for alcohol in mind. Rather than admit that his father’s alcoholism was the result of a depraved heart, he blames a substance that is neither good nor bad.
Like the Pope, these pastors have such a low view of Scripture, that they think they need to “help God out a little”! Like the Pope, they think God has given them this authority!
The ancient Baptists had enough respect for the Word of God that they would not change it to suit their own ideas. That changed in the mid-nineteenth century, during the time when men began to think they knew more than God. This was the same time that Darwin published his work on evolution, and it was the same time that “higher criticism” was making inroads. It was also the same time that Baptists, and other evangelicals, began to celebrate Christmas.
This was not a coincidence, it was all a part of the same mindset. This was when Christians began to lift up men instead of Jesus Christ!
The truth is that while the reformation was only a partial return to the truth, those who left Catholicism then, have been making their way back for some time now. It didn’t start with Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen, but with our ancestors some two hundred years ago!
It is my opinion that this idea that “wine” really meant “grape juice” was an experiment to see how much pastors could get away with. I’m not sure just who was behind this experiment, but I think it could be Satan. Once he saw that Christians were no longer checking into the Scriptures to see if these things were true, then he was able to introduce other, more serious heresies, until we find ourselves in the mess we are in today.
Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and Brian McLaren are the end result of Christians thinking that it was OK to change the Word of God for a “good cause”! Christians have been adding to, and taking away from, the Word of God for so long that most don’t even notice they are doing it!
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-19
Does your salvation depend on a correct understanding of wine in the bible? No. But those who change the plain teaching of Scripture, to suit their own ideas, are indicating that they have a heart problem. Those who say Jesus couldn’t drink or serve alcoholic wine, have created another Jesus, a Jesus not found in Scripture, and I am not certain that that Jesus can save anyone! I want the Jesus of the bible, and none other!
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:14
Wonderful post, Dan and a hearty AMEN!
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