Friday, March 09, 2007

John MacArthur's Wine List

I came across a written outline of a sermon John MacArthur preached a number of years ago about alcohol in the life of the Christian. I heard this sermon on his radio program. In this sermon, he asks eight questions of his listeners in order for them to examine their own lives in light of the bible's teachings about alcohol. I've decided to answer these questions here.

Question #1: Is drinking wine today the same as in Bible times?

I don't know, I wasn't alive then. But if they enjoyed it as much as I do, then praise God.

Question #2: Is drinking wine necessary?

No, but it sure can be a blessing.

Question #3: Is drinking wine the best choice?

No, beer is.

Question #4: Is drinking wine habit forming?

It can be - for some people. It is for me. I have a habit of drinking one beer per day, plus or minus. A little wine (always red) here and there, too.

Question #5: Is drinking wine potentially destructive?

Yes, but so is reading the bible.

Question #6: Is my drinking wine offensive to other Christians?

I don't know, I've never been confronted by somebody who claimed to be offended. I'd hate to think that there are Christians out there who are harboring secret grudges against me for enjoying God's creation, which He pronounced "good," by the way.

Question #7: Will drinking wine harm my Christian testimony?

No, actually it has helped it fairly well.

Question #8: Am I absolutely certain drinking wine is right?

Yes. Hey, "absolutely" is a good word for this question!

Any more questions?


  1. Cheers!
    Well... I hardly ever drink, but I remember a time when I dropped by a bar (since I happened to be walking past it on the way home) that I knew a friend of mine went to regularly to see if he was there.
    Unbelievably, nobody was in there at all! Only the owner. It was a small bar, as many bars in Tokyo are, perhaps with a capacity of 12. Anyway... I decided to give the owner some company and chat for a bit until he got some customers. It was a Friday and he was usually pretty busy, but that night God had different plans! I spent the next 2-3 hours explaining the gospel and all sorts of other facets of Christianity to him. He was full of questions as we enjoyed our conversation over a bottle of wine that he broke out to treat me. I'll never forget that day. If my drinking in that situation offended anyone, Christian or not, I would have to say that their offense was self inflicted. As I think are most perceived offenses, mine included.
    Bottom's up! ;-)

  2. Steve,

    You probably don't know Graham Cooke. He's fairly well known among underground maverick pentecostals. Old line holiness folks don't "Get" him.

    His view on all this is exactly the same as mine. If you read the first couple pages of his book (which is accessable here) in Google Books for free I promise you will resonate with his fresh perspective.

    It is still not accepted among those of charismatic bent to embrace the fruit of the vine or barley in it's natural fermented state. But some do.

    I would suspect you will find this very refreshing. I think that's why I enjoy what you write. You are as much a spiritial maverick as am I. Or Graham Cooke. Or Martin Luther. The Church NEEDS spriritual mavericks to keep the rest on their toes.

  3. OOOPS

    The link to Graham Cooke's book was all screwed up.

    I got the right stuff here Read two pages.

    Graham Cooke is from England. Has planted many churches. Most of them in Bars. Then the bar becomes a Church. He is as unorthadox as you will ever find.

    He goes into a Bar, sits and reads his Bible. Drinks a few beers. Conversation ensues. And a year later the bar is a Church. Over and over again.

    I have thought about it. I wonder what Jesus would do???

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Jesus said it best:It is not what goes into our mouth that defiles us but rather what comes out. From men's hearts come drunkenness,fornication,etc. I have known Christians who never had a sip of wine but sure are ungracious,gossips, judgmental and mean spirited.( The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things) Praise Jesus

  6. "9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall."

    The above text from 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 [NIV] is saying, as applied to the discussion about wine, that if you drink wine and have no condemnation of sin in doing so, it can still be a sin if it causes a Christian, who knows that you do so, to follow your example and start drinking to excess.

    In the Commentary found at:
    The apostle cautions them against abusing their liberty to eat and drink. They must be cautious how they use that liberty because it might be a stumbling block to the weak.

    Romans 14:13-23 [NASB] presents the same argument.

    "13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this -— not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin."

  7. lol! You made my day. Not to be insensitive to those who struggle with addiction, but quite happy to take a stand against humanistic religious reasoning. Romans 14 is taken way out of context most times it is presented. Was it not Paul who also said a little wine is good for the stomach's sake? Should we then be closet drinkers to avoid offending others? It's best to take the scriptures as and compare with scriptures than to take a small portion out of context and building an entire religion or doctrine around it. Yes, I'm in ministry, and yes, I have wine with dinner. Unashamedly so. If Jesus was called a glutton and winebibber--and he was--because he admittedly came 'eating and drinking' then why should I hide? Why should I pretend it is wrong. And, no, it wasn't grape juice. Thanks for the chuckle and for tackling a taboo topic.

  8. They called Jesus a drunkard and a glutton. His 1st miracle was to make between 160 and 180 gallons of the best wine they had ever tasted.

    John MacArthur is a biblicist...pure and simple. I heard him the other morning on my way to work and he was robbing people of any assurance they might have had in Christ, by sending people back into themselves and what 'they do' to tell if they are "real Christians" or not.

    People who listen to him will either become prideful, or despairing. And that's it.


    1. You are very wrong, and treading dangerous waters. You obviously have not seen all the videos or you would have a different opinion.

    2. Anonymous, could you be more specific? How is he treading dangerous waters, and to what videos do you refer?

  9. Steve,

    What did Paul say about giving up eating meat? And why did he take that point of view? Do you not see your own pride in your answers. Why give up "my blessing" just because I might offend somebody's conscience. It isn't about grudges, but rather that you help somebody to sin against their own conscience. You and your followers may not get this, but there are plenty of weaker brethren out there who think that drinking is sinful. Do they need better teaching? Yes. Does that excuse us from causing offense to their conscience? No. Just like Paul wrote that all things are lawful for him, but not all things are profitable. Just remember that the weaker brethren are also part of the body of Christ and if you do something to harm them, you are doing that to Jesus.

    It is amazing how you and your commenters talk so much about pride, but that is the one thing I see the most of in all of the comments you all write.

  10. Welcome, Robert, and thanks for the comment.

    It seems we have differing views on what it means to offend somebody. There's a difference between giving offense and taking offense. The mere thinking that drinking is sinful on the part of another doesn't mean that I have offended him if I drink. Taking a position of moral indignation is not the same as having been offended. In the context of Romans 14, causing somebody to stumble means that you cause somebody to drink against their conscience. Somebody who believes strongly that drinking is wrong and does not drink is not *weak*, rather they are strong. They prove their conviction against drinking alcohol by not drinking.

    Merely doing something somebody else believes is wrong is not necessarily wrong. They have to be persuaded against their conscience to do that thing. People who hold your view tend to pick on alcohol, but there needs to be consistency. Allow me, for example, to apply your thinking to your own profile picture. I see what I assume is your family. Nice family you have there, Robert. Except of course for the pants your wife is wearing. Don't you know how many Christians are offended by women wearing pants? Or your shorts. Or the nice home you have. Many Christians would be offended by the amount of money somebody spent to buy it. (I'm not offended by any of these things, of course. I'm trying to take an argument to its logical conclusion.)

    And if you care to be really consistent here, there is nothing in the world that won't offend some Christians. Have you ever been in a position where Christians around you hold to mutually exclusive ideas on what is offensive? I have. Like in what to wear to church. To some people, anything less than wearing a suit to church means that you aren't giving God your best, while at the same time to some people wearing a suit is a waste of money spent on the vanity of fashion. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    The reason Paul says what he did about eating meat is that all meat available in the market in that culture was sacrificed to idols. Newly converted Gentiles sincerely, but wrongly, associated the meat directly with idolatry. To eat meat necessarily meant, to them, the worship of idols. Paul knew that an idol was nothing. But what happened was that there were those who ate meat in spite of their brothers, and that caused them to doubt in their conscience, and they ate meat with doubt. Paul calls this sin.

    But things in modern America, where I live, are quite a bit different. I've never known anybody to use alcohol in worshipping false gods. And, unlike with meat in the culture in Rome, I've seriously never known anybody who was offended by my having a beer, much less known about anybody being persuaded against their conscience to drink one because of me. In their culture, the source of doubt from eating meat was because of conversion from idolaty. In our culture, the source of teaching aginst use of alcohol by Christians comes from legalists who don't have their doctrine straight, no matter how strong they are in their convictions to not drink themselves.

    So, what I think has really happened here is that bad teaching has caused you to drop into my comments section and accuse me and my friends of pridefulness when it really isn't warranted. Your view has caused you to stumble, so you should give it up, biblically speaking.

    1. Steve,

      I appreciate you taking the time to respond. While the clothing issue is not one I struggle with (outside of focusing on modesty), I actually do find myself struggling at times with the money that I make and how best to use it. I certainly think that it is worthwhile to examine ourselves and see where we are.

      I think that the issue I am taking with you here is that you don't want to seriously engage any of the questions you list above. And as far as our modern-day culture is concerned, alcohol has become a huge idol. So you can certainly connect the dots and see the parallel to what Paul was sayign about meat. Especially with regards to Christians who have come out of a lifestyle that made alcohol an idol.

      Now, let me say what I am not saying. I'm not saying that drinking alcohol is sin. I'm not saying that YOU need to stop drinking. I'm just saying that if our speech is to be for edification (Ephesians 4:29), then it would be more helpful to actually address the list of questions above in a thoughtful manner. Or you can just display a quick wit for whatever reasons you may have.

      I also don't see MacArthur saying here that people who drink are evil and caught up in sin. I think he is calling people to self-examination in light of Scripture. Which is something that Scripture actually calls us to do in our lives anyway. As to how we each address this in our own lives, it is all a matter of what each Christian is convicted of.

    2. Robert,

      Thanks for the additional comment. First, I do agree with your view of self-assessment. Next, I know it may not seem to be this way to you, but I actually do seriously engage all the questions above. My post can come across as quick witted and sarcastic (and I don't deny a bit of sarcasm at all), but my answer to each of MacArthur's questions is quite sincere. I came to each answer through a long process of examining scripture and other people's beliefs over a number of years. I have been exposed to legalists and libertines alike. Each of my answers is truthful and honest.

      One of the reasons I answer each question as I did was that I had serious reservations that MacArthur would have intended for them to be answered that way. Would MacArthur have any problems with my answers? If so, why? I've spent much time in the MacArthur camp and I've never received any impression at all that he could affirm a Christian's lifestyle that matched my answers. More later...

  11. Please see John MacArthur's actual sermons on wine at these links:

    1. Anon,

      Thanks for the links. I've listened to these before, once as part of his GTY radio series, and also online. Maybe I'll listen to them again. Blessings.

  12. but I remember a time when I dropped by a bar (since I happened to be walking past it on the way home) that I knew a friend of mine went to regularly to see if he was there.