30 December 2009

A Sobering Question

I would like to ask this nicely. David, why do preachers define "wine" as alcoholic thru-out the Bible. Yet when Jesus turned water into wine, it is defined as grape juice w/o fermented (alcholic effects).

Drunkenness has no appeal to me. Knocking down a brew while mowing the lawn certainly does not feel like a sin to me.

Received this comment in response to “What Are You Seeking?” It had nothing to do with the post, but I appreciate the question and the spirit in which it was posed. As long as we can agree that it doesn’t matter how we “feel” about the issue, then the Bible can guide and direct us in the way of truth (Psalm 119:105). Here we go.

The Definition of “Wine”

The term “wine” is used throughout the scripture to refer to grape juice in BOTH its pure (unfermented) and intoxicating (or fermented) forms. In most cases, the context and common sense are enough to determine which is being referred to (Genesis 9:21; see below). In others, it is neither clear nor terribly important (Deuteronomy 32:38). Admittedly, still others leave us scratching our heads and/or debating over which is in view (1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 5:23).

It is clear that every mention of “wine” does not refer to the intoxicating sort for several reasons. Let me give you just a few.

1. The Israelites drank of the PURE blood of the grape (Deuteronomy 32:14).

2. This “wine” is that which can be gathered in from the fields and vineyards (Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 16:13).

3. The Levites were instructed not to drink “wine” (Leviticus 10:9) but were given the best of the “wine” (Numbers 18:12) that the Israelites brought as part of their offerings/sacrifices (Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5, 7, 10; Numbers 28:7, 14; Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:23, 26; Deuteronomy 18:4; Nehemiah 10:39). Obviously, what the people brought to the temple was not off-limits and must have been something other than what was forbidden, though both are referred to as “wine.”

Some teach that “new wine” is used specifically to refer to this “fruit of the vine” (Genesis 40:9-11; Matthew 26:29), and that idea seems to fit well with the following passages – Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 65:8; Nehemiah 10:39; Joel 3:18. However, the distinction does not seem to hold up in places such as Hosea 4:11; Joel 1:5; Acts 2:13.

Jesus and Wine

It is wrong to assume that Jesus drank wine (as we commonly refer to it) or that he condoned doing so, much less accommodated it at a wedding party.

1. The scripture NEVER states that Jesus drank an intoxicating beverage. He did not drink the miracle water in John 2, and what He drank in the upper room was called “the fruit of the vine” (Mark 14:25).

2. The Bible does NOT state that anybody in John 2 drank wine. Watch what it actually says. There were six WATERpots of stone (v. 6). Jesus said, “Fill the WATERpots with WATER” (v. 7). The ruler of the feast tasted the WATER (v. 9). This is significant for at least a couple reasons. First, Jesus turned WATER into wine. He did not turn FRUIT into wine. When you turn FRUIT into wine, there is a fermentation process (think TIME), but WATER cannot ferment – especially not in the time that it takes for a servant to draw the cup and bare it to the governor of the feast (v. 8). Secondly, perhaps the miracle of John 2 was that the men were fully convinced that the WATER they were drinking was actually wine. Let me explain. God once put potable WATER in ditches that looked red as blood (2 Kings 3:15-24). So is it possible for God to give men water while they are fully convinced that it is blood? Yes. Likewise, is it not possible for Jesus to give men water in John 2, while they are fully convinced it is wine? Why not!

3. In fact, this would much more in line with His character. Jesus never sinned. Had he provided alcoholic beverages for the wedding party in John 2, He would have placed himself under the woe of Habakkuk 2:15. In addition to that, Proverbs 20:1 says wine is a mocker and strong drink is raging. It bites like a serpent and stings like an adder (Proverbs 23:32; Deuteronomy 32:33). It overcomes men (Jeremiah 23:9); inflames men (Isaiah 5:11); robs them of their senses; and leads them into immorality (Genesis 9:21-24; Genesis 19:32-35) and spiritual darkness (Isaiah 28:7-8). It is unholy and unclean (Leviticus 10:9-10). Would Jesus really pass it out? I’m not convinced that He would.

The Christian and Wine

In addition to the above, here’s why I believe that knocking down a brew while mowing the lawn is a sin:

1. Proverbs 23:31 says not to even look on the type of wine that “moveth itself aright” (the fermented stuff). How can I drink it if I’m not supposed to look at it?

2. Proverbs 31:4 says that it is not for kings to drink wine. Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 say that I am a king.

3. Proverbs 31:6 says that wine is for those who are ready to perish. If you’ve been saved by the grace of God, that’s not you (John 3:15-16; John 5:24; John 10:28).

4. Proverbs 20:1 says that whoever is deceived by wine is not wise. Ephesians 5:17 says that I am not to be unwise.

5. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it would cause some brother to stumble or be offended (Romans 14:21-23).

6. Even if it were lawful, I am not to be brought under the power of any (1 Corinthians 6:12). I must not partake of anything that would hinder my life from being under the full and complete control of God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

7. I’m not yet willing to give up on drinking water (1 Timothy 5:23 – see The Devil’s Bible, 9/23/08).

I understand that not everybody who drinks a beer becomes a drunk. Some say it’s genetic. Some say it’s a matter of will. Others contend it’s entirely a spiritual matter. But in any case, I am not willing to take a chance at becoming a statistic by taking that first drink. Nor am I willing to encourage anyone else to take that chance by taking a social drink every now and then – even if “I can handle it.”

So there it is. I appreciate your feedback, but I ask you to check every Bible reference before you decide to argue with me. If you’re concerned about what the Bible says, there’s plenty to consider. If you place more weight in how you “feel” about it, then nothing the Bible says is going to matter anyway.


Visit THE BIBLE Baptist Church website to order The Lost Cause Series, including a chapter on “Drinking in Moderation.”


  1. another great post Brother David! Thanks for bringing this into the light. I am sure there are other Christians besides myself that know drinking is wrong, but cannot really explain why. I say that to our shame! Thanks for your testimony and firm stand for the Truth!

  2. Thanks for throwing my question out there. Agreed, scripture obviously trumps feelings. I appreciate your biblical approach & respect your stance because you know why 'you believe what you believe'.

  3. This is incredible! A simple, clear, CIVIL question... and a simple, clear, civil answer. Thank you! :)