20 July 2007

Christ and Wine

The Rev. Jim West has written:
Wine should be enjoyed as a gift from God. Why did Jesus turn the water into wine? Because the drinking water was bad-was that the main reason? This is the thinking of many. …We may also turn the speculation about bad water around. If the water was bad, and if the governor of the feast thought that only the worse wine remained, why did not Christ turn the bad water into good water? Instead, our Lord created wine.
Jesus created wine so that the attendees at the wedding might have a good time! He did it so that they might be refreshed and rejoice in the gift of God! According to the writer in Christianity Today [pg. 26, June 18, 1990], only a sick person would want someone to drink. Jesus Himself wanted His disciples to drink, to enjoy wine as God’s gift.
Beer and wine are enjoyable gifts of God. This is the teaching of Psalm 104 which is a praise psalm. The Psalmist writes:
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earthand wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. [vss.14-15].
Wine makes us glad. Wine refreshes. Both wine and beer are given by God as creation gifts. If we despise wine, we are snubbing the Lord’s gifts. In Jotham’s Parable of the Trees the vine says to the trees, “Should I lave my wine, which cheers God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?” (Judges 9”13). Wine cheers the heart of man, but it especially chhers the heart of God Himself! When Christ made the wine, He rejoiced in His creation. But when Christ drank the wine, He Himself was cheered by it. - From Drinking with Calvin and Luther, pages 40-41.

There are so many small blessings in life that we enjoy or can enjoy if we open ourselves up to them. Wine and beer (good beer) are just such a blessing. We are told not to be drunk, but there are numerous scriptural citings of enjoying wine or being permitted to enjoy wine.

Ken Gentry sums up his article, Does Scripture Permit us to Drink Alcoholic Beverages this way, When all is said and done, we must distinguish the use of wine from its abuse. Sometimes in Scripture gluttonous partaking of food is paralleled with immoderate drinking of wine (Deut. 21:20 ; Prov. 23:21). But food is not universally prohibited! Sometimes in Scripture sexual perversion is paralleled with drunkenness (Rom. 13:13 ; 1 Pet. 4:3). But all sexual activity is not condemned! Wealth often becomes a snare to the sinner (1 Tim. 6:9–11), but the Scripture does not universally decry its acquisition (Job 42:10–17)! Each of these factors in life is intended by God to be a blessing for man, when used according to His righteous Law.
It would seem abundantly clear, then, that the Scriptures do allow the moderate partaking of alcoholic beverages. There is no hesitancy in Scripture in commending wine, or embarrassment in portraying its consumption among the righteous of Biblical days. Wine is set before the saints as blessing and gladness (Deut. 14:26; Ps. 104:14–15), even though it may be to the immoderate and wicked a mocker and curse (Prov. 20:1; 23:29–35).

We need to stop calling alcohol consumption sinful. This in itself is sinful. I believe this misconception is part of the larger question of just what does it mean to live a holy life?

Take some time to read West's book. Think through the issue and let Scripture, not what you've been told, not what you've heard in sermons and not you're presuppositions, be your guide.

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