Have you ever noticed that when most Christians get together, the subject of Jesus hardly, if ever, comes up? They might talk about church activities, and sometimes they might even pray over a meal, but talking about Jesus, and the teachings of the bible, is almost never mentioned?
Of course, talking about Jesus and the teachings of the bible is always controversial, and people don’t want to ruffle feathers. I understand that, but it is still refreshing when someone wants to talk about Jesus.
So last night I was at my nephew’s wedding, and I was seated with an uncle who loves to talk about the things of God. So I was happy, but also had my feathers ruffled a bit.
For most of the things we talked about we were in almost complete agreement, but then he broached the subject of wine and the Christan. Well, he repeated many of the points I grew up with in Baptist churches, and it got me thinking;
So many verses are taken out of context, on the subject of wine and the Christian, that it is hard to know where to start. Maybe we should start with the basics?
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15
First of all, there are over 600 passages in Scripture which mention wine. Some are negative and some are positive. We simply cannot understand the whole biblical teaching on this subject by reading only a handful of verses, especially if we take them out of context.
So Uncle J. quoted a few verses to me like this;
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thes. 5:22
“Drinking alcohol looks evil”
“And be not drunk with wine…” Eph. 5:18
“The best way to avoid getting drunk is to abstain from consuming alcohol”
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. Prov.23:31
On his first point, I note that drinking wine looks no different from drinking cranberry juice, or grape juice. How does this look evil? Staggering around, or acting beligerent like a drunk, does indeed look evil, but putting a glass to your lips is something that every person on the planet does daily, unless they are on an IV drip.
No I am sorry, but drinking anything does not look evil. It just looks like a person drinking something.
About the second point; Clearly Christians are commanded to avoid drunkenness, but does the bible teach that all Christians should abstain from alcohol and wine? Does it teach that Jesus abstained from drinking and serving wine?
Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Have you ever been to a wedding that didn’t have children there? I was at one last night and the youngest person there was less than a year old. Jesus didn’t have a problem with serving alcohol to children! That is another subject on which our society thinks it knows more than God!
Here is the account of what the governor of the feast said to the bridegroom;
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. John 2:9-10
The idea is that once people’s judgment is slightly impaired by alcohol, the normal practice was to bring out the inferior wine, but this man saved the best for the last. Jesus made sure we know what is meant by “better wine” in His statement recorded by Luke;
No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better. Luke 5:39
In Scripture the better wine is older, fermented, wine. Wine that has aged and mellowed. The governor of the feast in Cana was clearly echoing these sentiments!
I have never heard a Baptist pastor put these two passages together, but it is a legitimate comparison since they are on the same subject. Could it be that it conflicts with their agenda? Absolutely! A great many pastors think the purpose of the Church is to make the world a better place to live, and they believe it is their job to clean-up the place!
The actual job of the Church, and individual Christians, is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The third point is that the passage has been taken out of context. Lets read the whole thing;
29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. Proverbs 23:29-31
It is so easy to simply read the whole passage in context, and when you do that you can see that it is about drinking to excess. It has nothing to do with simply looking at wine, or even having a glass, but is about trying out different combinations of drinks, without restraint!
Pastors, especially Baptist pastors, like to do this. To isolate one verse, or a portion of one verse, and take it out of the immediate context, and make it say something that it does not really say.
Maybe they think wine is a small thing, and doing this in order to keep people from getting drunk is for a good cause. And, isn’t it OK to twist Scripture if it is in the interest of making people, and society, better?
This is what I like to call “The Good Cause Syndrome”. It may seem a small thing on a relatively minor matter like this, but if this is how you treat Scripture on one subject you will ultimately end up supporting the Antichrist, in the interest of supporting a “good cause”!
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
We have a natural tendency to want to simplify things, but there are no short-cuts with the Word of God. We have to study it, and we have to do it over and over again. When we think we know everything there is to know about it, that is a sign that we need to start at the beginning again, and go over it once more, without our pre-conceived blinders on! Don’t read Scripture looking for what you want to see, but look for what is really there.
When a man grows up in the home of an alcoholic, and sees the sin and abuse associated with this abuse, he has a natural tendency to look for verses he could use to get people to reject this substance. This may be natural, but we are called to be spiritual and not natural!
God knew science before He created the world. Human Scientists have been playing catch-up since the beginning, and though we know a lot more now than we did 5 years ago, we are far from knowing everything.
God, however, made His laws knowing the Science involved, from the very beginning. The symbolism made sense to the Greatest mind ever, long before we started to catch-on. This is why He commanded that the drink offerings were to be “strong wine”.
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
The drink offering was to be offered in the Temple of God.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? I Corinthians 6:19
In the anaerobic fermentation process yeast changes sugar molecules into alcohol molecules by removing part of the molecule, and obtaining energy for itself in the process. Unfortunately for the yeast, alcohol is a poison that eventually kills the yeast that created it. This usually occurs when the concentration of alcohol reaches a point of between 10-12% by volume. When fermentation stops the wine is either filtered, or the yeast allowed to settle, and the wine is decanted from off of it, without disturbing the sediment.
Thus, in the final analysis, properly made alcoholic wine has no active yeast in it.
This is important because yeast has the biblical symbolism of sin, but wine has the “sin” removed!
The passover feast has the elements of unleavened bread, and wine. The unleavened bread represents the body of Jesus Christ, who was without sin, and yet striped (with a whip) for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). The wine represents the blood of Christ. The alcohol actually represents judgment against sin. The judgment is created by the sin itself, and destroys that sin. Jesus took our judgment on Himself, and was punished for our sins, so that we could become the righteousness of God!
Thus the alcoholic component of wine is an essential component of the Christian Communion service!
When you have a bottle of grape juice, which has been sterilized by some industrial process; as soon as you open the bottle, you are allowing yeast spores to enter the juice and fermentation immediately begins! Every cubic meter of air has yeast spores in it. Our planet is covered in yeast! (Our planet is covered in sin!)
So, what happens when churches use fresh grape juice in their communion services? They are always serving a live yeast culture in every cup! Thinking themselves wise, these men have completely destroyed the picture of judgment that God set-up in the communion service! Drinking the fresh grape-juice during the communion service of these churches is kind of like drinking a cup of sin, and pretending that it is the cup of the Lord!
Oh, I know that you can’t see the fermentation process taking place in these communion cups. They are prepared shortly before the service begins, and it has not had enough time to become fully active, but make no mistake it is actually there, working to corrupt the juice at the very time we take it thinking we are honouring the Lord!
For 1850 years Christian Churches of all denominations used alcoholic wine in their communion services. It is no coincidence that the time that Christians began to reject the bible’s commands regarding communion occurred at the same time that Evolution, and Communism began to be popular. It is the same mentality that powers all of these ideas; a rejection of God’s clear commands, and a belief that man’s own understanding is greater than the God of the bible!
It is time for true Christians to get back to the bible!