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It is never a good idea to justify our present actions using past figures, no matter how famous of a Christian--even if those actions are right/good/allowable. The reason being is because all men are imperfect. Can I justify smoking cigars because Spurgeon did so? Can I justify drinking because Calvin did so? Can I justify preaching a certain way because Finney did so? We CANNOT be pragmatists AND Christians. It'll never work. Our basis for everything we do must be found in the scriptures, as revealed by the Holy Spirit. Period.
That being said. Are these men doing wrong because they are drinking? I don't think so. The act of drinking alcohol is neither spiritual nor unspiritual. Drunkenness is definitely forbidden, but if you take scripture at face value it does not forbid drinking.
Do I think Christians have the freedom to drink alcohol? Yes. Do I think they should? No. Why do I think they have to freedom to drink? Because that is what the scripture shows. But if a person is a Christian, does not get drunk, and chooses to drink some here and some there, then they are not sinning and those who that condemn them ARE sinning.
Why do I think we should not?--because MOST unconverted people and MOST true-blue Christians and every single legalist in the USA thinks that it is incompatible with the Christianity. Therefore, it will get in the way of the Gospel. They are weak of conscience and a lost person will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS question drinking alcohol. It will most definitely get in the way.
And if I must give up something that is permissible for the sake of the Gospel, then I will indeed give it up. Those men that pastor is witnessing to need their consciences worked over FIRST before the Gospel is presented in order for them to accept the message of Jesus Christ from a man who is drinking alcohol--even if that man has the freedom to drink. But if that man presents the Gospel and does not use alcohol as a vehicle to present the Gospel, then we do not have to concern ourselves about whether or not we are violating his conscience.
Again, the issue here is not drinking. The issue is using other things--be it alcohol, food, money, comfort, medical care, etc, etc, etc or anything else that isn't even a sin--as the bait to hook a lost person. IT DOES NOT WORK. We present the Gospel--the unadulterated, explicit Gospel--and the Lord Himself catches them bait, hook, line, and all. We just tell them the truth.
| 2013/10/15 12:25||Profile|
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It is never a good idea to justify our present actions using past figures, no matter how famous of a Christian
Hmmm ... how about the Apostle Paul for example?
I wasn't actually trying to justify or condemn. Neither was I staking a position of pro or con alcohol consumption. I was simply making an observation about a few facts that seem amusing to me.
It is just simply a truth that Calvin and Luther, among many others that were well known reformers, often sat at a mug of beer or glass of wine with others and discussed theology. However, it only seems right that if a person wishes to condemn that action today then they must also condemn it in Calvin, Luther, and a great many other reformers and hero's of the historical faith.
Calvin called wine ,"A good gift from God". He evidently enjoyed wine a great deal and partook of it on virtually a daily basis.
I suspect you may find a good many posters that will most vociferously condemn the consumption of alcohol. However, not many of them will be willing to condemn and discredit Calvin for it. I for one find that extremely amusing.
| 2013/10/15 13:07||Profile|
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The apostle Paul would be scripture--therefore, of course we'd use him as an example.
But I all the time deal with people in my sunday school class that say "well I don't agree with you because so and so did that, and he is a Christian." My response is usually, "I don't care what so and so did--even if he was perfect--if it isn't in scripture we shouldn't be making a doctrine out of it!"
It doesn't always yield bad results, but it is a bad habit to get into--using others' actions to justify our own. Definitely worse than drinking, in my honest opinion.
| 2013/10/15 13:13||Profile|
Whittier CA USA
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havok20x, your first post caused me to rethink some things, especially in the area of evangelism. I am in agreement with you on the issue of drinking not being a sin in and of itself. But I would say that the context of a situation can make it a sin if it causes someone to stumble, and I believe that applies here in the US. Thanks for sharing.
| 2013/10/15 14:30||Profile|
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I believe it is generally true that a person cannot be "reasoned" into the Kingdom of God.
When pastors have Bible studies like this in a bar with persons to "make them feel comfortable" it is because they believe that a person can be reasoned or persuaded to become a believer.
Their thinking is this: "They won't listen to me otherwise." That is the whole thinking of seeker-sensitive ministry.
The dilemma is that they may be right-- storming into a bar pounding a Bible and preaching a fiery message probably won't work either.
But I agree that the danger of making people feel comfortable first makes it difficult to progress on to a true gospel presentation.
Of course these are general observations and may not be true in every case, i.e. people have become true believers through seeker sensitive ministries and through fiery preaching.
| 2013/10/16 6:38||Profile|
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May I humbly ask that folks would actually read what they have often been quoting?
13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you EAT, you are no longer walking in love. By what you EAT, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of EATING and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
20 Do not, for the sake of FOOD, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he EATS. 21 It is good not to EAT MEAT or drink wine or do anything that causes your BROTHER to stumble. Romans 14:13-21 ; CAPS mine for emphasis
Many posters pull a few words from this section in Romans 14 to indicate there should be no alcohol consumption so as to not offend a brother. A few important thoughts-
1. This has nothing to do with evangelism/outreach. It specifically states that it is the "brother" that may be offended. Same is true today. I have witnessed to people and led people to Christ at the bar several times. I was not drinking. A matter of personal conscience. However, I know for 100% fact that the lost folks I was speaking to could not have possibly cared less if I had consumed a beer with them. It would have in no way impeded my testimony with them. I chose not to ... but just like with Paul in Romans it wasn't because of the unsaved. It is the "brothers" who think they are mature, but are actually still infants and "weak in conscience", that was the cause for pause.
2. Did you notice that the EATING OF MEAT was listed as a potential stumbling block 6 times? Drinking was only mentioned once! The Holy Spirt through the Apostle Paul appears to have thought that the potential for food to be a stumbling block is 6 times greater than alcohol!
Where are the threads demanding that vegetarianism and veganism be practiced and the eating of meat be abandoned so as to not offend a brother? There is 6 times the scripture here saying that food is a potential to cause a brother to stumble than there is for alcohol causing a stumble!
Where are the threads calling gluttony the same sin as drunkenness. It surely is. Read the book of Proverbs and see. A brother or sister that lacks self discipline with food, and is overweight, should consider that before posting words about another brother that is drinking a beer studying scriptures with others. Gluttony and drunkenness are seen as the same sin.
Read those verses again.... the OVERWHELMING thought of causing a brother to stumble deals with food! According to the verses alcohol is a much smaller portion. It almost appears a small after thought.
I find it most amusing to see these threads waxing on and on in a way that is out of step with scripture and history.
The "don't offend your brother" position is valid. However, I challenge anyone to show anywhere in those scriptures where it offers even a glint of reference to it being a hindrance to evangelism! It just is not there.
It is weak conscienced brothers that must be carefully trodden around lest they be offended.
3. It is interesting that if you detail all the offerings God Himself institutes in the scriptures you find He demanded an offering of alcoholic wine to Himself under the Mosaic system. Do you see that? Is anyone actually suggesting that God caused people to stumble by the offerings He instituted Himself?
Well .... those are just a few things that readily jump out as interesting to me. Those are in addition to the clear historical truth that Calvin and Luther did exactly the same thing this pastor has been doing. In fact even Wesley sometimes had ministers paid in casks of rum. I could go on historically but that is another post outside the three distinct points of this one.
| 2013/10/16 8:12||Profile|
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There is a difference between what you have done and what is being done here. Going to a bar and preaching the Gospel is fine. Drinking is not a sin. Doing both at the same time is not a sin. Using alcohol for the sake of alcohol as a vehicle for the presentation of the Gospel is wrong. Change the word alcohol to something--anything, if you'd like. It'd be equally wrong.
As to the verses I was quoting, I was leaning more toward 1 Corinthians 8-10. Let's look at the specific principal to which I was referring:
1 Corinthians 10:23-33 says, " “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.
Eat everything that is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake, for the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it. If one of the unbelievers invites you over and you want to go, eat everything that is set before you, without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This is food offered to an idol,” do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake. I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person’s. For why is my freedom judged by another person’s conscience? If I partake with thanks, why am I slandered because of something I give thanks for?
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God, just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, so that they may be saved."
Lost people in your area might not care a hill of beans about whether a Christian drinks alcohol or not. Here, in the south, it matters a lot. There is one person in particular that I am witnessing to that always offers me a beer when I visit with him. But the Spirit has revealed to me that his goal is not a friendly gesture, but to prove that he is already just as moral as me--not that I am better than him, but because he does not understand grace, I willingly give up the freedom to drink alcohol so as not to hinder the Gospel. And to be honest, I don't drink at all. I just don't like it--I don't drink many sodas or milk for the same reason...lol.
A word about the # of references to meat opposed to the # of references to drinking in the passage from Romans--that isn't the point of any of those verses. The Holy Spirit did not designate the number of references to meat verses the # of references to drinking as a sign that food was far worse and drinking was minimal. Take the passage at face value--if it offends my weaker brother, I will give it up for his sake--so that he will not stumble.
| 2013/10/16 9:31||Profile|