In the U.S, the Assemblies of God has traditionally adopted a position of total abstinence or “teetotalism” when it comes to the use of alcoholic beverages. Our church is no exception to that rule. But, in this age of moral permissiveness, how have we come to that position and how can we defend it? [A sermon preached by Dr. Arnold Lastinger. Published with permission.]
Read Proverbs 23:29-35; Ephesians 5:18
1. The need for this M
The obvious damages inflicted in our society by the use of alcohol. In the mid-1970s, alcohol was a factor in over 60% of traffic fatalities. Traffic crashes were the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths and two-thirds of traffic deaths among persons aged 16 to 20 involved alcohol.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism within a family are problems that can destroy a marriage or drive a wedge between members. That means people who drink can blow through the family budget, cause fights, ignore children, and otherwise impair the health and happiness of the people they love. It causes the loss of moral inhibitions also.
The growing number of membership applications where the issue arises. The use of alcoholic beverages in our own church family is a trend against the standard imposed upon candidates for leadership in our church.
2. From the Biblical Perspective
One would be hard-pressed to prove a position of total abstinence from the Bible. I have heard the arguments about “wine” Vs. “new wine”, (Fermented vs. Unfermented) but they are weak and futile attempts to support a position that the Bible does not support. The master of the wedding feast at Cana would certainly have been able to tell the difference if there had been one.
The Bible warns of the dangers of alcoholic drinks: Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” (NIV)
Isaiah 5:11 says woe be to the alcoholic. Proverbs 23:29-32 lists some of the undesirable consequences of alcohol and substance abuse. In Leviticus 10:9 God forbade Aaronic Priests from drinking wine. Nazarites were never to drink, (Numbers 6:2-3). We learn that John the Baptist was never to drink, (Luke 1:15).
3. Reasons for Total Abstinence
It is the standard agreed upon by God-ordained authority, (Romans 13:1-5). Whether you agree with the standard or not is irrelevant. There are 4-fold standards imposed on the Gentiles in Acts 15:20. That standard is irrelevant today.
The food offered to idols, sexual immorality (still valid), strangled food, and food prepared with blood, Yet it was right and imposed at that time. The Assemblies of God and our local church have agreed upon this standard. You have a scriptural responsibility to comply if you wish to be a member. Because otherwise, you may become a stumbling block to weaker Christians, (Romans 14:13-21).
Note: What you do may not be wrong, but the fact that you do it is very wrong! Your love for your brother should be more important to you than your own pleasure, (Romans 15:1,2). You may have discretion enough to stop with one social drink, but what about others who justify their abuse by your use?
1 Corinthians 8:8-13 teaches our liberty must never become a stumbling block to others. When we offend a weaker brother, we sin against Christ! (1 Corinthians 8:12)
This message does not lead to a traditional invitation. However, if you feel that you have sinned against this body and you need to repent to them, I invite you to come. If you need only to make a personal decision, then please do so today.
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