OUR DEAR CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS
WOULD YOU TRULY LIKE TO KNOW WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT FERMENTED WINE?
In our books, out of our loving concern, we have taught what God has to say about fermented wine...with much hope that all Christians will obey the Lord in this matter, and then be diligent witnesses to others concerning it. We also shared teachings and counseling procedures on how to overcome such addictions as alcoholism as well as a wide variety of other issues. Joe’s testimony of having once been an alcoholic and how the Lord got his attention, convicted him and set him free from the enemy’s stronghold is also in our books. We also know the sorrow, the heart-pain of having several loved ones who were alcoholic and the horrible grief and damage that it brought to their families. No one can deny that countless lives all over the world have been deeply hurt emotionally as well as physically as a result of the consumption of fermented drinks. Almost daily, we hear news of people being killed by drunk drivers...and domestic violence when one is "under the influence". We long for the lost souls as well as Christians to see what their loving Creator has to say in His Word about fermented wine, drinks that "moves, stirs from within"!(Proverbs 23:29-35)
"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine; those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?"
It has long grieved our hearts even more so that so many Christians treat this subject so lightly. Some say after a hard day’s work...or if they’re upset about something...they drink fermented wine to relax. Yet, the Lord would rather have them snuggle up to Him for He says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29) Some Christians choose to go their own way, as if to say, I’m going to "eat, and drink and be merry for tomorrow I may die". Their actions indicate that their own pleasure is a priority rather than their testimony, their example...and they continue nonchalantly on their pathway as stumbling blocks. Their actions prove that they unwisely allow fermented drink to put themselves at risk of their reasoning being hindered and quite possibly losing total control of their actions.
With this subject weighing so heavily on our hearts, we were pleased recently to receive a pamphlet with some biblically founded materials on what God has to say about the consumption of fermented wine. And we were grateful that we were given permission to share the pamphlet with others! So, we have printed it below and trust that it will be a blessing to your heart.
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ANCIENT WINE PRODUCTION AND THE BIBLE
Misperceptions abound about the Bible and wine. Many believe the wine of the Bible was the same as today and always alcoholic. But the biblical and ancient words for wine were generic; they referred to both alcoholic and nonalcoholic wine (much like the English words: drink, cider, liquor, punch, eggnog). For example, Jesus referred to unfermented wine as "wine" (Greek word, oinos; Matthew 9:17). The Old Testament referred to just pressed grapes as "wine" (Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 16:10; Joel 2:24). Just pressed grapes produce nonalcoholic wine or grape juice. It refers to grapes on the vine as "wine" (Isaiah 65:8). Scripture even speaks of infants crying for wine (lamentations 2:11-12); parents do not give alcoholic, but nonalcoholic wine to infants.
Ancient writers did not have a word for alcohol, but Aristotle, Plutarch, Hippocrates, Columella, Athenaeus and others recognized some wine would intoxicate and some would not. Aristotle said sweet wine (which had not fermented, thereby taking away it’s sweetness) would not inebriate. Plutarch gave a confused discussion of why sweet wine would not intoxicate, and other wine would.
Nonalcoholic wine was common and when the Bible refers to wine, it must be determined by the context whether it is referring to alcoholic or nonalcoholic wine. Some wine was dangerous (Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 28:7), some was not (Judges 9:13; Psalm 104:15; Zechariah 9:17). Scripture says Jesus turned water to wine (oinos); it does not say the sinless Christ turned water to beverage alcohol. Remember Jesus Himself called nonalcoholic wine "oinos."
Another misperception is that all ancient wine was fermented and alcoholic, except for a brief period between pressing the grapes and when fermentation set in. Many contend fermentation could not be prevented until the 1860s’ discovery of pasteurization (and Welch’s). Some authorities have said Passover wine had to be fermented since Passover was in the Spring, months after the grape harvest. History, ancient knowledge, and science disprove this assumption.
Actually, unfermented wine was easier for ancients to produce and preserve than alcoholic wine. Methods included boiling down fresh wine to a thick consistency that would not spoil or ferment. When ready to drink, they simply added water. This thick, strong wine (grape molasses, pekmez, vincotto) was also used for cooking.* The grape harvest lasted six months and certain type grapes would keep fresh for months. These grapes could be pressed into wine at any time of the year (Genesis 40:11). Dried grapes or raisins were re-hydrated and pressed into fresh un-intoxicating wine, a practice used by many Jews right up to modern times. Ancient warriors were issued cakes of dried grapes to make their own wine as needed. Nonalcoholic wine was also preserved with salt and lactic fermentation.
These and other methods were commonly used by ancients to produce and preserve nonalcoholic wine. Just because we do not know these ancient methods, in no way means they did not know. This unfermented wine was widespread and held in high esteem. In contrast, drinkable alcoholic wine did not magically happen; it was difficult to produce and preserve.
While most Baptists oppose alcohol, they still debate whether the Bible directly condemns it. I believe it does. Proverbs 20:1 directly calls wine a mocker. Proverbs 23:29-35 describes the effects of alcoholic wine and says not to even look at that kind of wine (23:31). I Thessalonians 5:6-8 and I Peter 5:8 command us to be sober. Sober (Greek, nepho) literally means "wineless." In addition a number of biblical principles teach against using alcohol (or any other mind-altering drug) for pleasure of recreation.
* I have some of this tick wine (grape molasses); made in Lebanon, purchased through amazon.com. While it says to refrigerate after opening, I opened it, then kept it at room temperature. It has kept in perfect condition, without spoiling or fermenting, for over two years. -by David R. Brumbelow, P. O. Box 300, Lake Jackson, TX 77566 USA. © AD 2013. David is a pastor and graduate of ETBU and SWBTS. He is author of Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence, freechurchpress.net; and The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow. He writes at gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com.
Permission is granted to reproduce this pamphlet.
RESOURCES ON WINE, ALCOHOL, AND THE BIBLE
Ancient Wine and the Bible: the Case For Abstinence by David R. Brumbelow. 304 pages; $21. Available at freechurchpress.net; LifeWay.com; or at address above. "Keen logic, a grasp of history, and thorough exegesis of biblical literature." -Foreword by Paige Patterson, SWBTS.
Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence by Peter Lumpkins. 172 pages; $14.95. Available at hannibalbooks.com; alcoholtoday.com "A thorough, thoughtful, scholarly presentation of the arguments for total abstinence." Forward by Jerry Vines
Libertinism: A Baptist and His Booze by Jerry Vines. Sermon on CD or DVD, under Baptist Battles; jerryvines.com Vines is an author, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL and SBC president.
The Battle for the Bottle; parts 1 & 2, by Adrian Rogers. Sermon available at lwf.org. Rogers was an author, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Corova, TN and SBC president.
American Council on Alcohol Problems; Mark H. Creech, president; sapacap.com
The Blight of Booze by Robert L. Sumner, biblicalevangelist.org
On Alcohol Use In America, 2006 SBC Resolution; sbc.net
Observe Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Sunday - 3rd Sunday in March. This gives a great opportunity to teach, preach, and distribute literature on these issues.
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:6)
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