Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A side issue from Sunday's message:

This might be of interest to others of you, but I post it here as a supplement to Sunday's (2/23/14) message from John 2.

Sunday, February 23's, message is not about alcohol.  However the sermon does come from a passage that is very controversial in regard to the Christian and alcohol.  For that reason, I am reprinting some notes that I handed out as supplements to those messages.

Perhaps our tech team still has recordings of these messages.  It appears that they were preached before we started posting messages online.

The Christian Alcohol, Avoiding the Vortex
Part 1 of a 3 part series:
Over the past six months or so, together with some other leaders in CBC, I have identified some social/cultural problems that are highly problematic not only out there, but that have invaded the homes of people who claim to know the Lord as Savior.  Lord willing I’ll be addressing these concerns over the next year, or so.  I don’t, yet, know precisely how, but I want to respond to your questions.  Please give them to me in writing, or by email.
As is often the case, there is a great deal more information in this note sheet than we will consider this morning.  Some of it touches on the next two messages; the rest is for you to consider on your own, or in conversation with others.

Passages about alcohol:  Genesis 9:18-24, 19:30-38, 1 Kings 20:16 >>, Daniel 5, Proverbs 3:10, 4:17, 9:2, 9:5, 20:1, 21,17, 23:19-21&29-35, 31:4&6, Isaiah 5:11, 28:7-8, John 2:1-12, 
1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-23, 1 Timothy 5:23, 1 Peter 4:3 

What some other Christian leaders Bible scholars, and witnesses from history have said about alcohol that ought to be of interest to us:
John MacArthur:
We must be clear that drinking or not drinking is not in itself a mark, and certainly not a measure, of spirituality. Spirituality is determined by what we are inside, of which what we do on the outside is but a manifestation.
Many reasons are given for drinking, one of the most common of which is the desire to be happy, or at least to forget a sorrow or problem. The desire for genuine happiness is both God–given and God–fulfilled. In Ecclesiastes we are told there is “a time to laugh” (3:4) and in Proverbs that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (17:22). David proclaimed that in the Lord’s “presence is fulness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). Jesus began each beatitude with the promise of blessedness, or happiness, for those who come to the Lord in the Lord’s way (Matt. 5:3–11). The apostle John wrote his first letter not only to teach and admonish fellow believers but that his own joy might “be made complete” (1:4). Paul twice counseled the Philippian Christians to “rejoice in the Lord” (3:1; 4:4). At Jesus’ birth the angel announced to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold 1 bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). God wants all men to be happy and joyful, and one of the great blessings of the gospel is the unmatched joy that Christ brings to the heart of every person who trusts in Him.
The problem with drinking in order to be happy is not the motive but the means. It brings only artificial happiness at best and is counterproductive to spiritual sensitivity. It is a temporary escape that often leads to even worse problems than the ones that prompted the drinking in the first place. Intoxication is never a remedy for the cares of life, but it has few equals in its ability to multiply them.
After pointing out the part that drunkenness had in some of the popular pagan religions, MacArthur goes on to point out,
In Ephesians 5:18, Paul was therefore not simply making a moral but also a theological contrast. He was not only speaking of the moral and social evils of drunkenness, but of the spiritually perverted use of drunkenness as a means of worship. Christians are not to seek religious fulfillment through such pagan means as getting drunk with wine, but are to find their spiritual fulfillment and enjoyment by being “filled with the Spirit.” The believer has no need for the artificial, counterfeit, degrading, destructive, and idolatrous ways of the world. He has God’s own Spirit indwelling him, the Spirit whose great desire is to give believers the fullest benefits and enjoyment of their high position as children of God.
The InterVarsity Commentary adds:
Many people in the ancient world believed that drunkenness could produce a sort of inspiration or possession by Dionysus, god of wine. Dionysus’s most active worshipers yielded control of themselves to him and performed sexual acts or acts full of sexual symbolism (often to the distaste of conservative Romans). Here Paul may contrast this behavior with inspiration by God’s Spirit. People did not think of Dionysus every time someone became drunk, however; drunkenness was more commonly associated simply with loss of self-control. It was standard practice in both the late-night banquets of the rich and the taverns of the poor.

Mnesitheus of Athens, 4th c. BC 
The gods have revealed wine to mortals, to be the greatest blessing for those who use it aright, but for those who use it without measure, the reverse. For it gives food to them that take it and strength in mind and body. In medicine it is most beneficial; it can be mixed with liquid and drugs and it brings aid to the wounded. In daily intercourse, to those who mix and drink it moderately, it gives good cheer; but if you overstep the bounds, it brings violence. Mix it half and half, and you get madness; unmixed, bodily collapse.

MacArthur, J. (1996, c1986). Ephesians. Includes indexes. (230-234). Chicago: Moody Press. 
Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary : New Testament (Eph 5:18). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Avoiding the Vortex
Part 2 of a 3 part series:
Part of the message this morning will no doubt sound like I am working against myself.  I think, and actually hope, it is clear from last week’s message that if I had my druthers, when it comes to alcohol, I would just say no.  Part of what I will point out in this morning’s message is that the Bible does not give a prohibition against any consumption of alcohol. 
Other students of scripture that I respect greatly have come to a different conclusion.  They believe that the Bible teaches complete abstinence in relation to alcohol.  I confess, I am tempted to go along with them.  Why don’t I just say the Bible commands no alcohol consumption?

·         My goal is to be submissive to the word of God.  Just like you, I don’t have the prerogative of choosing what to submit to.  I need to be submissive not only in regard to my lifestyle choices, but in regard to my teaching and preaching.
·         While distorting the word of God to make it appear to say what I want it to (even for a good purpose) may appear to bring a good result for a time, but in the final analysis this dilution of the Word of God—mixing “Thus saith the Lord,” with “Howard says,” produces a bad result.
·         I am aware that God knows more than me.  Who am I to question the Lord’s standards?  (Look at the end of Romans 11.)

The following tables are used with the permission of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. They illustrate the effects of alcohol consumption on blood alcohol levels and driving skills. These data should be used only as a general reference for the effects of alcohol because body weight and other variables may influence the results. Also, some states define the limit of legal intoxication at a lower blood alcohol level (0.08%).

 (Neuroscience For Kids  Alcohol and the Brain ,

I. In the Old Testament
Among a considerable number of synonyms used in the OT the most common are yayin (usually translated ‘wine’) and šēār (usually translated ‘strong drink’). These terms are frequently used together, and they are employed irrespective of whether the writer is commending wine and strong drink as desirable or warning against its dangers. A third word, tı̂rôš, sometimes translated ‘new’ or ‘sweet wine’, has often been regarded as unfermented and therefore unintoxicating wine, but an example such as Ho. 4:11, together with the usage of the Talmud, makes clear that it is capable of being used in a bad sense equally with the others. Furthermore, while there are examples of the grapes being pressed into a cup and presumably used at once (Gn. 40:11), it is significant that the term ‘wine’ is never applied to the resultant juice.
The term ‘new wine’ does not indicate wine which has not fermented, for in fact the process of fermentation sets in very rapidly, and unfermented wine could not be available many months after the harvest (Acts 2:13). It represents rather wine made from the first drippings of the juice before the winepress was trodden. As such it would be particularly potent and would come immediately to mind as a probable explanation of what seemed to be a drunken state. Modern custom in Palestine, among a people who are traditionally conservative as far as religious feasts are concerned, also suggests that the wine used was fermented. It may be said, therefore, that the Bible in employing various synonyms makes no consistent distinction between them.
Wood, D. R. W., Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996, c1982, c1962). New Bible Dictionary. Includes index. (electronic ed. of 3rd ed.) (1242). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

We have already looked at the question:  Are the alcoholic beverages the Bible speaks of the same as those available today?
Here are 7 more questions for you to discuss and think about before next week’s message. 

1.       Is drinking necessary? 
2.       Is it the best choice?
3.       Is it habit forming?
4.       Is it potentially destructive?
5.       Is it possible that it will create difficulties for other Christians?
6.       Will it hinder my ability to be a clear witness for the Good News?
7.       Is it right?
(Don’t forget that I would like to hear, and attempt to answer your questions.  Get them to me in writing, or by email.)

The Christian and Alcohol, #3
This is the last in this series of messages. 
I have told you that I want to respond to your questions.  This is not only a means for us to learn more together, but a means of accountability for me.  With issues like the-use-of-alcohol the temptation to simply wax eloquent about my own conclusions is great.  My goal is to teach God’s word.  The knowledge that well intentioned, but pointed, questions might be coming helps keep me honest.  My intention right now is to answer these questions in writing, via handouts & my blog.
Teen Drinking:
Time has kept me from dealing with a great many points that I would have liked to have pursued.  One of those points has to do with underage drinking.  Here we are dealing not only with the issues I have raised in this series, but with developmental and legal matters as well.  Recent studies about brain development in teens and young adults, confirms what those who work with teens know intuitively.  Young minds are a work in progress.  We cannot assume that they are ready to make mature decisions.  Here is a summary of information about legality, teens & alcohol.
Virginia's Alcohol Beverage Control Act contains laws governing possession, use and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Pertinent laws are summarized below:
  • It is illegal for anyone under age 21 to purchase, posses, or consume any alcoholic beverage.
  • It is illegal for any person to sell alcoholic beverages to persons under the age of 21 years.
  • It is illegal for any persons to purchase or provide alcohol beverages for another when, at the time of the purchase, he/she knows or has reason to know that the person for whom the alcohol is purchased is under 21 years of age.
  • It is illegal for any underage person to use a forged or otherwise deceptive driver's license to obtain beer or other alcoholic beverage.
(The law in WV is essentially the same.)

As citizens of heaven and earthly jurisdictions we are commanded to obey the law of the land, Rom. 13.  
Give me Liberty and give me life!
A good bit of today’s message revolves around Christian Liberty.
Scriptures on C.L.:  Rom. 14, 1 Cor. 9-10, Gal. 5.