Alcohol (Part 1)Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, December 10, 2014.
I. Two extremes. 1. There are people who profess to be Christians who take the position that the consumption of ANY alcohol is a sin. 2. There are people who profess to be Christians who are worldly and permit the excessive use of alcohol to the point of drunkenness. 3. Both groups are wrong. II. There are NOT two types of wine in the Bible (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). 1. There are those who say that there are two types of wine in the Bible: fermented grape juice (alcoholic wine), and non-fermented grape juice. A. This is a LIE and a denial of the meaning of words. B. Wine n. - 1. a. The fermented juice of the grape used as a beverage. It is essentially a dilute solution of alcohol, on the proportion of which in its composition depend its stimulating and intoxicating properties. Wines are classed as red or white, dry or sweet, still or sparkling. 1535 Coverdale Ps. ciii[i]. 15 Wyne to make glad ye herte of man. 2. In wider use, usually with qualifying word: A fermented liquor made from the juice of other fruits, or from grain, flowers, the sap of various trees (e.g. birch and palm), etc.: sometimes called made wine 3. Pharmacy. A solution of a medicinal substance (denoted by a qualifying word) in wine; a medicated wine. 4. A wine-party, esp. of undergraduates. 5. spirit(s) of wine, alcohol, rectified spirit; oil of wine, œnanthic ester; also, a heavy oily liquid (heavy oil of wine) consisting of etherin, etherol, and ethyl sulphate, called also ethereal oil. 6. A wine-glass. 7. Passing into adj. A dark red colour. C. The preceding definitions of wine includes EVERY definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary and NOT one of them even mentions or hints at wine being unfermented grape juice. D. "Nonalcoholic wine" is an oxymoron like a square circle or a two story ranch style house. E. To say that some of the wine in Biblical times was merely grape juice is to show a gross ignorance of what happens to the juice of grapes when they are crushed without refrigeration or pasteurization (it immediately begins turning into wine). i. This is the basis of Jesus' teaching in Luk 5:37-38. ii. Bottle v. - 1. a. A vessel with a narrow neck for holding liquids, now usually made of glass; originally of leather. iii. "Bottles, in Eastern nations, were made, and are still made, of skins of beasts. Generally the skin was taken entire from a sheep or a goat, and, properly prepared, was filled with wine or water..... By long usage, however, bottles of skins became tender and would be easily ruptured. New wine put into them would ferment, and swell and burst them open. New skins or bottles would yield to the fermenting wine, and be strong enough to hold it from bursting." (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible - Mat 9:17) iv. Not only was Jesus clearly referring to alcoholic wine (the only kind there is); He was also speaking of it in positive light (Luk 5:39). F. Even "new wine" contains alcohol (Act 2:13-15). III. The Bible does NOT condemn the moderate consumption of alcohol. 1. Wine is a blessing that God has given to men (Joe 2:23-24). A. When we give our firstfruits to God, he rewards us by making our presses burst out with new wine (Pro 3:9-10). B. Wine is said to cheer God and man (Jdg 9:13). C. Wine makes glad the heart of man (Psa 104:15). D. The Bible tells us to drink our wine with a merry heart (Ecc 9:7). 2. Jesus Christ Himself drank wine. A. Jesus was called a winebibber by His enemies (Luk 7:33-34). i. This was in contrast to John the Baptist who did not drink wine (Luk 7:33 c/w Luk 1:15). ii. The drinking that Jesus did (Luk 7:34) was said in comparison to John the Baptist not drinking wine (Luk 7:33). iii. It is clear that what Jesus was drinking was wine, else they would not have accused Him of being a drunk. iv. Winebibber - 1. A tippler, a drunkard. v. This was obviously an exaggerated and false charge since drunkenness is a sin (Gal 5:21) and Jesus never sinned (1Pe 2:22). B. Jesus drank wine (fruit of the vine) at the Passover feast (Luk 22:15-18). i. Wine represents blood (Gen 49:11; Deu 32:14; Isa 49:26). ii. Being an intoxicant, wine is symbolic of blood which is symbolic of an intoxicant (Eze 39:19; Rev 17:6). iii. This is why Jesus used wine to represent His blood (Luk 22:20). iv. The Corinthians clearly used wine for the Lord's supper, in that they were made drunken from it (1Co 11:20-21). a. Paul didn't rebuke them for what they were eating and drinking, but for how much they were eating and drinking (1Co 11:22,33-34). b. If it were a sin to drink wine, Paul would have chided them for what they were drinking. 3. Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee (Joh 2:1-10). A. The clear implication is that the custom of the day was to give out the good tasting wine early in the feast when people are completely sober and then give out the poorer tasting wine later when their senses are dulled and they wouldn't know the difference (Joh 2:10). B. If it was a sin to drink any alcohol, then Jesus would not have made them wine. 4. Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine instead of water (1Ti 5:23). A. Timothy was told to do this for the sake of his health. B. Clean water was likely scarce in the first century and was probably not healthy to drink as is the case in many developing countries yet today. C. Due to its alcohol content, wine remains safe to drink for long periods of time without refrigeration. D. This, along with its other health benefits, made it advantageous for Timothy to drink it. E. Since a minister is not to be given to wine (1Ti 3:3), Timothy was exhorted to drink a little wine. 5. Under the law of Moses, the Israelites could turn their tithe into wine or strong drink and enjoy it as a means of worshipping God when it was too far for them to carry their tithes to Jerusalem (Deu 14:22-26). A. God would hardly give men instructions which would cause them to sin. B. Therefore, it's obvious that it is not a sin to drink wine and strong drink. C. Strong drink - Intoxicating liquor, alcoholic liquors generally. Also, drink of more than ordinary alcoholic strength. 1526 Tindale Luke i. 15 He+shall nether drynke wyne ner stronge drynke. 6. The various specific prohibitions on drinking wine in the Bible prove that drinking wine in moderation is generally permissible in the scripture. Exceptions to a rule (the rule is that it is permissible to drink wine in moderation) don't nullify the rule, they establish it. A. Nazarites could not drink wine, strong drink, or liquor of grapes while they were under the vow of a Nazarite (Num 6:2-3). i. Liquor - 3. a. Liquid for drinking; beverage, drink. Now almost exclusively spec., a drink produced by fermentation or distillation. malt liquor, liquor brewed from malt; ale, beer, porter, etc. spirituous liquor, liquor produced by distillation; spirits. vinous liquor, liquor made from grapes; wine. 1611 Bible Num. vi. 3 Neither shal he drinke any liquor of grapes. ii. The Nazarite was also to keep himself from vinegar of wine, vinegar of strong drink, grapes, raisins (Num 6:3), anything made of the vine tree (Num 6:4), nor was he to cut his hair (Num 6:5), nor come at a dead body (Num 6:6). iii. All these things were to be kept during the days of his vow of Nazarite (Num 6:2-6). a. All these things were permissible for normal people under normal circumstances. b. It would make no sense for God to specifically command the person under a vow of a Nazarite to abstain from things that were sins for everyone at all times. c. Notice that God didn't tell the Nazarite that during the days of his vow of separation he couldn't commit murder, rape, adultery, fornication, sodomy, theft, idolatry, and lying. d. The point of the vow of separation was to separate himself from otherwise lawful things to set him apart from the rest. iv. This obvious fact is proven beyond question by the fact that when his vow was over, he could once again cut his hair (Num 6:18) and drink wine (Num 6:20). v. This also means that once his vow was accomplished he could also once again drink strong drink, liquor of grapes, vinegar of wine, and vinegar of strong drink, and that he could once again eat grapes and raisins and come at a dead body.