Monday, October 27, 2008

Drinking Alcohol as a Christian

This past week I had a good Bible study with a brother at another congregation who wanted to study alcohol and the Christian. A couple of years ago as a new Christian, he had been offered a drink at a church member's house. He questioned whether it was right and was told it's no problem by his Christian host.

What does the Bible say about alcohol and our intake of it? I can't completely outline the arguments against a Christian's use of alcohol in this blog but will offer a few things to think about. Let me begin by recommending an article that thoroughly addresses this issue: Alcohol and the Christian by Matt Miller. He shows in great detail the scriptures and arguments for avoiding fermented drink. His five basic approaches to this subject include:

1. the wine of the Bible is not the same as modern wine
2. the Bible contains two distinct evaluations of the word wine
3. specific passages which condemn the intake of fermented beverages are examined
4. some biblical principles which forbid the intake of fermented beverages are examined
5. the most common arguments in support of social drinking shall be critically examined

Let's look at a few scriptures and we'll see what God and his inspired writers have to say.

Proverbs 23:29 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. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34 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. 35 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.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

We can see from these passages what God's view is of strong drink or fermented alcohol. We are to be sober and vigilant at all times as Christians. We must view drunkenness as a process not an end result. As soon as we take that first drink, we have begun that process of drunkenness and set a bad example to our children, our peers, and fellow members of the church.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Generic and Specific Authority

I began to wonder if anyone was reading this blog and then we had visitors at our church from Alaska and was encouraged to hear that they had seen this. I don't get a lot of hits on it but hopefully it will teach or influence someone out there that is searching for God's authority. I hope that this blog may, at least, steer someone in the right direction and provide things to consider.

At our last authority class, we examined the classifications of authority -- generic and specific. Generic is broad and general commands and specific is something that is particular and specified in detail. God is often generic in His commands to us but when specific, we must obey Him as commanded.

As I have discussed in prior sessions, Noah was a good example of one following God's commands. God was very specific in how Noah was to build the ark to save him and his family. In Genesis 6:14, Noah was told to build the ark of gopher wood. When commanding him to use gopher wood, this necessarily implied that all other woods were excluded. When God specifies an action, we must exclude other methods.

For example, see Ephesians 5:19:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

This verse and those relating to music in the New Testament specify for us to sing and speak to one another. This excludes other forms of music such as instrumental, clapping, humming, whistling, etc. When Jesus told His disciples to partake of the Lord's supper as in Matthew 26: 26 -28:

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. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

...he was very specific on what to partake to remember Him--unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. We see in Acts 20:7 that we can infer that this was done on the 1st day of the week...every week when the brethren gathered together.

When God is general in his commands, such as in Matthew 28:18-20 (the great commission), we have leeway in how we can carry out His desires. For example, he said to "go ye therefore and teach all nations." The command "to go" means we can carry it out by walking, driving, train, plane, etc. However, in verses such as Mark 16:15 specify that we are "to teach" the gospel of Christ.

Mr 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Even though we may often not understand why God specifies certain actions such as immersion, acapella singing, raising church funds only through offering on the 1st day of the week, etc., we must trust His infinite wisdom and keep it as simple as He meant it to be.

In our next class, we will discuss expediencies and how they play into our quest to only do what is pleasing to God. Thank you for reading.