PART 1 DRINKING ALCOHOL

PART 1 DRINKING ALCOHOL

A Chapter by rondo
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Was a person who believed in God during the Age of the Gentiles allowed to abstain?

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Introduction

Is a Christian allowed to drink alcohol, albeit in moderation?

When I mentioned to some of my fellow believers that I would be doing a study on this topic, they thought for what purpose. Why would you waste your time on this? I don’t believe doing a study on any topic is a waste of time. Why, because we as believers need to know the “why” behind what we are being taught from the pulpit. You might disagree and respond by saying who are we to know what to believe, we didn’t go to bible school. Let the pastor teach on what he wants, and as far as we go, just believe and obey. With all due respect, I don’t believe that the assembly should just agree with everything that is being taught. We should study these topics on our own and make up our own mind. By believing everything we hear from the pulpit this could lead to an abuse of power by those in authority who might believe that everything they say is from God. Before you know it they can’t be questioned on anything. I don’t believe this is how the interaction between those in authority and those who are not is to work.

As this study unfolds one major issue will be unveiled, and that is, how is this topic being presented? You might respond by saying, what are you talking about? Here is what I mean. Some church goers probably don’t have any idea about what the scriptural basis is for a view that their church espouses. And if they do, they are probably not aware that there are two ways to formulate a view on any topic. Did you know that there are two ways to formulate a view on any topic? How could this be, you ask?

One view is called non-dispensationalism. This view will take a verse or verses on a biblical topic from the Old Testament, and these will form the basis for the perspective on this topic. Another word, when verses are looked at from the New Testament they will be interpreted according to the verse or verses that were looked at from the Old Testament.

A second view is called dispensationalism. This view says that God addresses various topics as they would relate to a particular group of people within a certain period of time. For instance, the manner in which God dealt with the Jews in certain matters is different from the way he would address the same issue as relating to New Testament believers.

This study will provide for you what the perspective on this topic of “drinking alcohol” would be if it was taught dispensationally and also if it was taught non-dispensationally. 

Some of the questions that we will attempt to answer are:

   - Is a Christian obligated to follow the Mosaic Law’s instructions concerning alcoholic regulations?

   - Are those in church leadership, church members, etc. allowed to drink alcohol, albeit in moderation?

   - If a fellow believer is involved with habitual drunkenness, how should this be addressed?

Before we proceed, I would like to tell you a story. In the early years of my Christian walk, I was involved with a church that had a worldwide ministry. There were not only many affiliate branch ministries located throughout the USA, but there were also many missionary teams stationed around the world. At this time, I was working on staff in a Christian day school for an affiliate branch ministry which was located in New England. One of the doctrines, which was espoused, was that a Christian should not drink alcohol for any reason. I never quite understood where this view came from although it seemed that whenever it was brought forth as a reminder to abstain a verse would be taken from the Old Testament in order to justify the prohibition.

One evening after worship service, the head pastor and the assistant pastors went out to dinner. Apparently, some of the church members got together and decided they would also go out to dinner at the same restaurant. When they arrived, a hostess guided them to a table. While on their way, they passed by the pastors who were eating and uh hum drinking alcohol. The church members didn’t say anything about the alcohol, but said hello and went on their way.

On the following day, it seemed like everyone who was a member of this branch ministry found out about this. When I heard about it from many sources, I had to admit I was quite surprised. On the one hand the members were told that alcohol consumption is off limits and on the other hand those who are presenting this prohibition didn’t abide by it.

As time went on, I understood that the president of the ministry whose headquarters was located in a different state was a non-dispensationalist. Another thing that I realized was, if you were the pastor of an affiliate branch ministry, it appeared that you had to teach on doctrinal views that lined up with the president’s view even if your own perspective on a topic differed. I have heard of many stories where a pastor from a branch ministry had a different view on a biblical topic and decided to teach as such from the pulpit. Soon word would get back to the president of the ministry and this usually resulted in some kind of conversation with this pastor either by phone or in person in regards to this change of view. In some cases, depending on the doctrine in question a pastor might be asked to leave the ministry if they didn’t change their mind.

Hopefully, when this study is over, you will have a better idea as to why some churches believe that drinking should be prohibited and why some churches believe that its members can drink, albeit in moderation. In the chapter, which follows, we will take a more in depth look at how to recognize whether a pastor is teaching on a topic from a dispensational or non-dispensational approach.

 

CHAPTER 1

      Before we attempt to read about these two views, we are going to take a look at a very important word, which is called dispensations. Let’s define it and take a look at where it is found in scripture.

Dispensation: A dispensation is a period of human history defined in terms of divine revelation1. The doctrine of dispensations is the vehicle by which believers living at a specific time can orient to God’s will, plan, and purpose for their lives2.

     There are two words which we will take a look at from Acts 1:6-7 one of which is where the word dispensations comes from.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

     The background of these verses is that just before Christ ascended into heaven his disciples asked him about when he would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus responded by saying it was not for them to know the times or the seasons. The word “times” is from the Greek word chronous and it refers to time as a succession of events, one following the other in chronological order3. The other word is “seasons” which is from the Greek word kairous, which denotes an era, a system, or order of chronology4. This noun is frequently used for the organization of historical events in their dispensational categories5. So, there you have it. The word “dispensations” comes from the word “seasons”.

1.   Dispensational:

This idea states that time is divided into eras or dispensations. A dispensation is a period of time in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different biblical covenants.                                                                                      

A dispensationalist believes that human history is divided into seven dispensations.

a.   The Age of the Gentiles: a period of time from Adam and Eve to the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses.

b.   The Age of Israel: from the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses to the birth of Jesus Christ.

c.   The Age of the Hypostatic Union: from the birth of Christ to the day of Pentecost.

d.   The Church Age: From the day of Pentecost to the rapture of the church.

e.   The Age of Tribulation: from the rapture of the church to Christ’s Second Coming (return to earth).

f.   The Millennial Age: from Christ’s return to earth to the end of his 1000 year reign.

g.   The Eternal State: eternity.

According to the dispensationalist, the view on any biblical topic is to be derived from the scriptures that relate to that particular period of time. Some examples of a dispensational view on various biblical topics are:

Example 1: Tithing (a mandate to give a tenth of; a way to give of one’s sustenance). During the Age of Israel, tithing and free will offerings were the protocol for giving under the institution of the Mosaic Law. However, during the Church Age, the age in which we currently live, tithing is no longer the protocol for giving. Giving is based on one’s free will while operating under the leading, guiding, and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Example 2:  Addressing sin which is committed by those in leadership.   

During the Age of Israel, King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had her husband, Uriah, killed. God dealt with David personally by sending the prophet Nathan to disclose to him the consequences for his sins. Under the Mosaic Law, the penalty was the same for committing adultery or murder, which was death. David was responsible to God alone concerning the addressing of and the consequences for his sin.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou might be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:4)                               

During the Church Age, the age that we currently live in, if a person in leadership (e.g. apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor-teacher) commits adultery, then Matthew18:15-17 is to be followed.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The witness (eye or ear) to the sin of someone in leadership should approach them alone in order to address the matter. If an admission of guilt is made, the issue is resolved. If the person in leadership refuses to admit guilt, then the person, who originally met with him/her, should go back and meet with him/her again this time bringing another eye or ear witness with them. If an admission of guilt is made, the issue is resolved. If the person in leadership still refuses to admit guilt again, then the issue is to be brought before those of the church who have been assigned to handle these kinds of issues. If it is determined that the person in leadership has committed such sin and still refuses to admit guilt, then he/she is to be removed from the assembly indefinitely. If he/she does admit guilt, then a church censure could be imposed, which would set forth the amount of time that he/she is to be removed from participating in any aspect of the assembly.

Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19)

2.   Non-Dispensational:

Principles, policies, traditions or particular emphasis are continued to be promulgated or promoted throughout history. Under this approach those in leadership can use any verse of scripture as the basis to formulate a view on any topic. Whatever view is derived should serve as the basis for interpreting any other verses which pertain to the same topic. Some examples of a non-dispensational view on various topics are:

Example 1: Tithing as instituted during the Age of Israel is still operative today. After the tithe is given, the believer may follow this up by giving a free will offering. Any verse which relates to giving will be interpreted as referring to tithing unless it is specified otherwise.

Example 2: Addressing sin which is committed by those in leadership.                                    

Addressing someone in leadership, who has committed an egregious sin, is to be looked at in light of how God dealt with David, the king of Israel. David said unto the Lord, “Against thee and thee only have I sinned in Psalms 51:4. Any of the verses, which are contained in the New Testament epistles that relate to the issue of addressing the sin of someone in leadership, are to be interpreted according as to how God dealt with those, who were in the leadership positions of the Old Testament. When someone in leadership (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers) commits a sin, such as adultery, he/she is accountable only to God and God alone.

     The verses that follow in this study will be looked at from both a dispensational and non-dispensational perspective. However, the scriptures will be grouped in a dispensational manner.

     There are four dispensations that this topic will be looked at from:

a.   The Age of the Gentiles: a period of time from Adam and Eve to the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses.

b.   The Age of Israel: from the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses to the birth of Jesus Christ.

c.   The Age of the Hypostatic Union: from the birth of Christ to the Day of Pentecost.

d.   The Church Age: From the day of Pentecost to the rapture of the church.

      For a non-dispensationalist, the sections that are grouped dispensationally should not interfere in his/her approach as to their choosing of a particular verse or verses from anywhere in the bible to support their perspective. At the end of each dispensational section, I will provide a summary. Along with this will be included a brief outlook of the topic at hand from the perspective of a dispensationalist and a non-dispensationalist as to how each of them would view the topic based on the scriptures, which had previously been covered.

 

CHAPTER 2

The Age of the Gentiles

From the Creation of Adam and Eve to the Exodus:  

This period of time encompasses the creation of man and the fall of man. Evil ran rampant after the fall. God decided to destroy all of the inhabitants of the human race by means of a flood, except for a God-fearing man named Noah and his family. Following the flood, the human race repopulated, and was of one language. God confused mankind’s language at the Tower of Babel, effectively separating the human race into groups.

God called a man named Abram, a Gentile, to be the father of the Jewish race. He had a son named Isaac, who had a son named Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons, who were the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. At some point in time, Jacob and his family lived in the land of Canaan when a great famine arose. One of Jacob’s sons named Joseph, who Jacob thought had died years earlier, became food commissioner of Pharaoh in Egypt. When Jacob and his sons came before him for food sustenance Joseph recognized them and made himself known to them.

Eventually, his family left Canaan and dwelt in Egypt. As the years passed, a new Pharaoh ruled over the land and the Jews became his slaves. This captivity lasted for 430 years. God determined that it was time to free his people from this bondage, so he raised up a man named Moses to bring them out from their captivity.

Remember:

non-dispensationalist will look at the instances, in which “Drinking Alcohol” was mentioned throughout the bible, and will choose those ideas that support the perpetuation of this practice of abstinence.

dispensationalist will look at the instances, in which “Drinking Alcohol” was mentioned, and will confine the conditions of this practice to the dispensation in which it occurred. If abstinence is suggested, then fine. If abstinence is not suggested, then fine.

We are now going to look at two scripture sections which relate to this topic of “Drinking Alcohol”.

Excessive drinking can bring about family disgrace.

A.   Noah … drank of the wine, and was drunken:

Suggested Reading: Genesis 9:20-27

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. (Genesis 9:22-25)

Noah planted a vineyard and kept on drinking of the wine in his tent. He was apparently naked (with no garment on). One of his sons named Ham became aware of his state. Some commentators allege that not only did he choose to not put a garment over his father to cover him up, but the scriptures infer that it’s possible that some kind of distortion of sex took place. Ham finds his two brothers and tells them about his father’s condition. They decide to grab a garment, walk toward their father while walking backwards so as not to see him in his impaired state, and cover him. When Noah sobered up and found out what his younger son had done to him, he cursed his name.

By continually drinking, and thus becoming drunk, Noah put himself in a place of opportunity for someone else to take advantage of him. Drunkenness puts us in a place, where others can take advantage of us with the possible consequences of being subjected to sexual perversion, physical abuse, or even death.

Taking a drink is not forbidden in these passages, but continually participating in alcoholic consumption, as in this case, resulted in family disgrace, and a curse on the ancestors of Canaan, who was Ham’s son.

Was wine somehow involved with Isaac’s blessing upon his son Jacob?                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

B.    God give thee … plenty of corn and wine:

Suggested Reading: Genesis 27:1-45

Isaac, the son of Abraham, has two sons, one named Esau and the other named Jacob. It was customary for the father to pronounce a blessing on the eldest son before he died. This blessing consisted of prayers and predictions relating to the covenant promises some of which he might have received from the Lord.

Esau, a hunter, being the eldest son was asked by his father to go out and bring him back some venison meat so that he might eat of this savory dish before he pronounced a blessing upon him. However, his brother Isaac and his mother being privy of this event that was to come devised a plan to trick Isaac so that he would pronounce the blessing on Jacob the younger instead of Esau the elder. The plan worked. Jacob was tricked into pronouncing a blessing on his younger son.

What did this blessing consist of? This blessing was a pronouncement that God would give Jacob:

Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee. (Genesis 27:28-29)

~ The night dew on the ground on hot summer nights for supplying moisture for the plants.

~ Rich, fertile, productive lands.  

~ Plenty of different varieties of grain and wine.

~ And that other peoples and nations would obey and serve him.

The one thing that I wanted you to notice was the blessing for wine. It appears that wine or the vine that produced grapes, which is turned into wine, wasn’t prohibited as a beverage to drink.

So, with these scriptural sections in mind how would the dispensationalist and the non-dispensationalist use them to support their view on alcohol consumption? Before this is presented let’s take a look at a brief summary.                                                                       

A Brief Summary

-By continually drinking, and thus becoming drunk, Noah put himself in a place of opportunity for someone else to take advantage of him. Drunkenness puts us in a confused state of mind, where others can take advantage of us, with the possible consequences being that of sexual perversion, physical abuse, or even physical death. Taking a drink is not forbidden in these passages, but continually taking a drink, as in this case, resulted in family disgrace and a curse on the ancestors of Canaan.           Genesis 9:20-27

-Isaac, being tricked by his wife and younger son, pronounced a blessing on his son Jacob before he died. This blessing was a pronouncement that God would give Jacob: the night dew on the ground on hot summer nights for supplying moisture for the plants; rich, fertile, productive lands; plenty of different varieties of grain and wine; obedience and servitude from other peoples and nations. The production of wine was mentioned as part of this blessing. Genesis 27:1-45

If your leader is a dispensationalist, they would not use any of the ideas from these scriptural sections concerning this biblical topic of “Drinking Alcohol” as a basis for supporting or not supporting this practice in the Church Age (dispensation), which is the age in which we currently live, because the idea as to whether an individual or a group of people are allowed to drink alcohol should only be determined according to the dispensation at hand. The dispensationalist would profess that an excessive use of drinking alcohol could cause a person to be subjected to abuse by others. However, they would further mention that the production of wine was not prohibited in this age, which would suggest that the drinking of it in moderation during this time would be considered acceptable. 

If your leader is a non-dispensationalist, they would deduce and thus profess that drinking alcohol in excess distorts a person’s perception of their surroundings with the result being that it could possibly serve as an opening for inappropriate sexual engagements. Therefore, in order to avoid this from happening to anyone else drinking alcohol should be prohibited, period end of story. Drinking in moderation opens the door for the possibility of an excessive amount of consumption to take place in the future.

As you can see, the verses that are used to support a topic will determine the view that is taught by those, who are in the leadership positions in the church. I hope that what has been taught so far has enlightened you in regards to answering the question, are Christians commanded to abstain from drinking alcohol? Let’s keep on reading and learn more about this topic as we look at scriptural sections which are taken from the dispensation known as the Age of Israel.

Endnotes

          1R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and  Publications, 1989).

          2R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and  Publications, 1989).

          3R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and  Publications, 1989).

          4R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and  Publications, 1989).

          5R.B. Thieme Jr., The Divine Outline of History (Houston, Texas: Berachah Tapes and  Publications, 1989).

 

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© 2017 rondo



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Author

rondo
rondo

BLOCK ISLAND, RI



About
My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader. I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life. I attended bible college having completed a.. more..

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