Beware of Alcoholic Beverage
By Bro. J.T. Honeycutt
It is not my intention to offend anyone but to teach and learn of God's holy will concerning the use and/or nonuse of fermented wine and alcoholic beverage in the church and in our lives, as we try to set examples for the world as Christians.
Thirty years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I was traveling home from church with my family. We had just overseen and observed the Lord's Supper, and to our disbelief, fermented wine was used to represent the pure blood of Jesus Christ. My wife looked over to me and said, "I am thirty-four years old, and that was the first drop of alcohol that has ever went down my throat. I got it at church." With tear-filled eyes, she finished by saying, "I feel so ashamed of what I have done." Those words continuously weighed heavy on my heart to the point I began praying to the Lord, asking Him for wisdom and understanding, that I knew only came from Him, concerning alcoholic beverage. The question was whether or not it should ever be a part of our lives, as well as in the churches we would attend. At this point, I started studying God's Word as much as possible concerning wine and strong drink.
The word "wine" is a generic term. Webster defines generic as meaning, "Of, applied to, referring to, or characteristic of a whole kind, class, or group: inclusive or general." There are some people that want us as Christians to believe that anytime one hears or sees the word "wine" that it means it as fermented. This is simply not true; as in cider, there are different kinds, such as hard and sweet, meaning fermented and unfermented. New wine, also known as sweet wine, is the pure fruit of the vine. Sweet wine was made by preserving grape juice air tight in new bottles (Bible Laws or the Laws of Fermentation by William Patton), as stated by Christ in Matthew 9:17, "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottle perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." The same message is taught in Mark 2:22 and in Luke 5:37.
New wine is referring to grapes that are still on the vine, as stated in Haggai 1:11, "And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands." The vine never produces intoxicating drink. On the contrary, it is pure and is a beautiful emblem of the life and strength-giving grace of Jesus Christ.
Three of the component parts of the fruit of the vine are destroyed by fermentation: gluten, gum, and aroma. They are replaced with alcohol, glycerine, and other ingredients. Otherwise, without these replacements, there would be no alcohol in the "fruit of the vine." Hopefully, this explains the main difference in fermented and unfermented wine.
Before taking on the subject of what Jesus used, whether fermented wine or pure fruit of the vine, in the first Lord's Supper, we should next look to God's Word for what is said concerning alcoholic beverage. In Isaiah 28:7, we read, "But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment." Similarly, Isaiah 5:11 exclaims, "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflames them!" I Corinthians 5:6 states, "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?"
There are many circumstances and occurrences in the Bible in which temptation arose and God's people were faced with strong drink and the tribulations it brought forth. In Luke 1:13-15, "But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Another example is in Mark 15:23 in which the Roman soldiers offered Jesus himself wine: "And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not."
Many times, the Lord warned His people of the harm of wine and strong drink. In Leviticus 10:8-10, "And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, 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: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean..." Hosea 4:11 firmly states, "Whoredom and wine take away the heart."
God commanded His called and chosen people not to take of strong drink. In Numbers 6:2-3, the Nazarite vow was as the Lord asked of Moses: "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried." I Timothy 3:3 states the expectations of a bishop: "Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous..." Likewise, in I Timothy 2:9 women are told to "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety..."
Though many examples have previously been given from God's Word, perhaps the most stirring texts regarding wine, strong drink, and alcoholic beverage are these next following verses. I Corinthians 10:21 states, "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakes of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." Proverbs 20:1 warns, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Lastly, Proverbs 23:29-35 asks and answers the following questions and gives warning: "Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again."
Brothers and sisters, there are many more scriptures warning us as Christians of the harm of strong drink, but these should set as a solid foundation to let us know how the Lord feels about fermented wine and alcoholic beverage. My question is that if one believes the scriptures in God's Word, then why anyone would ever take the first drink of an alcoholic beverage, especially if they have been saved by the grace of God. Our church covenant states that we are to "abstain from the sale of, or use of, alcoholic beverage as a drink." I believe when the scriptures of God's Word tell us not to do something and we then do it, we have committed sin. The same sin is committed as when we are told to do a certain thing and do not. I have witnessed personally what alcohol can do to a home, as I was raised by an alcoholic father. I also have a brother who is now an alcoholic. Rest assured, the scriptures are true when they tell us the sorrows of an alcoholic, and not only to the alcoholic himself, but to the family, friends, and others associated with that person.
There are many who have experienced what alcohol can do to people and their families. We hear of stories of alcoholics from all across the world. This particular story was submitted in a past Sunday school literature book:
A young lady had just graduated from high school with honors and was headed for college on scholarship. Her family was so proud of her. The time then came for her high school senior prom. Her father received a call; there had been a car accident involving his very special daughter. When he arrived at the scene, the officer told him there were strong indications that alcohol had been involved. The father was irate, as any parent would be, and he wished he could only find the person that sold her the alcohol. As it turned out, the alcohol had come from the father’s own personal cabinet, where he had kept it for special occasions.
Is your house free of alcoholic beverages? I pray that none of us fall into this same category, in which we might have subjected our families to the tragic effects of alcohol.
In this day and age, some people will try to tell us that a social drink is alright if you do not get drunk, but I do not have that same feeling if I am looking to the Word of God. The truth is the opposite; as quoted before, Proverbs 20:1 warns, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 23:31-32 also cautions, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”
Questions have risen over the instance in the Bible in which Jesus attended the marriage at Cana as found in John 2:1-10. Many have suggested that Jesus turned the water into fermented wine. The same has been said about what Jesus used to represent his blood in the Lord’s Supper. I believe Jesus turned the water in those six water pots at the marriage in Cana into new wine (sweet grape juice). I ask you this question, would Jesus turn the water into fermented wine so that the people in attendance would drink and get drunk? If so, then all of the scriptures speaking against the usage of alcohol are in vain, and Jesus has taken part in a sinful activity. You and I both know that Jesus knew no sin, so we can be assured that the water was turned into unfermented, sweet wine.
Now, as for what was served in the Lord’s Supper, we will look into the scriptures. In Matthew 26:26-29, we read:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 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.
Other scriptures also give us the same idea: the fruit of the vine. Mark 14:22-25 and Luke 22:17-18 both state that the fruit of the vine was used. I Corinthians 11:25 states, “After the same manner also, he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” The word “wine” is not mentioned in any of these passages, and I believe, with good reason, that we must not be confused on what should be used to signify the Lord’s pure and holy blood. It should be the pure, unfermented fruit of the vine which represents the pure blood of Jesus Christ.
It is said that we get our blood line from our own fathers, and if this is true, I do not believe that Jesus would use any alcoholic beverage to represent the blood that he got from God the Father. God forbid that men could and would ever believe such a thing. My earnest prayer is that, in some way, this article will help someone or all of us to understand God’s will in the matter of alcohol in his church and in our lives, as we strive to set Christian examples for those who do not know the Lord.
Bro. J.T. Honeycutt
This site was last updated 07/11/06