Category: Guest Author

Ancient Wine Production and the Bible

By David R. Brumbelow, Highlands, Texas.

David Brumbelow is a pastor, and a graduate of East Texas Baptist Uuniversity and Southwestern Seminary. He is author of “Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence,” (freechurchpress.com); foreword by Paige Patterson. He blogs at gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com.


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.  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, Pliny, Hippocrates, Colum Ella, Athenaeums 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.

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Do You Believe In Sin?
– Thoughts from Obama, David, and Augustine

by Ron Hale

He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, and Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.


Cathleen Falsani, a religion reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, got an hour of Barack Obama’s time at a quaint little coffee shop called Café Baci.  It was Saturday, March 27, 2004. The interview took place just a few days after Mr. Obama clinched the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. This would be the first story in a series of articles called The God Factor by Falsani.

Deep into the dialogue, the reporter asked Mr. Obama about sin; I will share from the transcript:

Falsani: Do you believe in sin?
OBAMA: ?Yes.
Falsani: What is sin?
OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.
Falsani: What happens if you have sin in your life?
OBAMA: I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

Thankfully, our current President believes in sin; but …

President Obama’s definition of sin resembles the answer given by a New Age Guru sitting at the top of a lofty mountain peak after mystical meditation.

“Being out of alignment with my values”… falls short of any sort of biblical definition of sin that I have ever read or heard.  Prior to this statement, Mr. Obama had declared his deep faith as a Christian to the reporter, but the “out-of-alignment” answer reveals the shallowness of his biblical studies.

Through the years, many have sought to answer the reporter’s question concerning sin and a good number have missed the mark.

For the serious Christian basing his or her beliefs on the Old and New Testaments, a definition of sin can only be understood in one’s relationship to God.  Sin is an affront and assault on the very person of God. It is against God and His laws; it’s not against one’s personal values or their inner moral compass acquired by reading books on the philosophy of religion at Barnes & Noble while sipping frothy Caffé Lattes.

Like a flailing man stuck in a tar pit, King David in the Old Testament came to see his murderous adultery as a slap to the face of God. Sinking in the depths of sin, David’s desperate cry of confession is both pointed and pleading, as he shamefully admits first and foremost his personal sin was against a holy God.

 

Be gracious to me, God

According to Your faithful love;

According to Your abundant compassion,

Blot out my rebellion,

Wash away my guilt,

And cleanse me from my sin.

For I am conscious of my rebellion,

And my sin is always before me.

Against You – You alone – I have sinned

and done this evil in Your sight.

Psalm 51:1-4 HCSB

 

David did not seek to define sin independent of God and those who do only sound silly.

Dr. W.T. Conner once said, “Sin is against God.  In a godless world the idea of sin would have no meaning.  As men lose the consciousness of God, the sense of sin also goes out of their minds and hearts.” [i]

David (the Psalmist) uses the Hebrew word ra’ in Ps. 51:4 for his sin.  The word connects the wicked deed to its dreadful consequences.  This evil brings about hurt and harm to the sinner and ongoing torture and turmoil to those near him.  We see the affects of David’s sin on himself and his family as his sin brings misery on many!

Sin is something that we should never grow accustomed to or take lightly.  Like an unwelcomed parasite, it must be removed.   Sin is not normal and never natural to our lives; we must be extricated from the tar pit of our transgression.

Ironically, church history has been dominated by the theology of a man once deeply stuck in sin.  Augustine of Hippo, influenced by Neo-Platonism, Skepticism, and Manichaeism, developed the doctrine of original sin after becoming a follower of Christ.  Ambrose played a key role in Augustine’s conversion.

Augustine writes of the concubine that he took for himself as he traveled to Carthage as a young man, he recalls, “It was a sweet thing to be loved, and more sweet still when I was able to enjoy the body of a woman” (Confessions 3, 51).[ii] Later he says, “In those days I lived with a woman, not my lawful wife but a woman whom I had chosen for no special reason but that my restless passions had alighted on her” (Confessions 4, 4).[iii]

Augustine was born a Roman citizen and would have been restricted in marrying a lower caste woman, especially a slave.  Soon their son, Adeodatus was born when Augustine was only eighteen years old. Augustine’s concubinage lasted fourteen years.

In 385, Monica, the mother of Augustine, arranged for him to marry a woman of his social standing. This would mean that his concubine would be sent away to North Africa and she forever remains a “nameless” person in all his years of writing.  His son Adeodatus tragically died at the age of eighteen.

In summer of 386, Augustine was converted after reading these words in the New Testament, “Not in carousing and drunkenness, not is sexual excess and lust, not in quarrelling and jealousy, Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:13-14). Immediately, all his doubts were dispelled and light flooded his heart.

Along with King David, who also had a son outside of marriage, Augustine could identify with (PS.51:5) as the Psalm says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

 

©Ron F. Hale, September 4, 2012


[i] W.T. Conner, The Gospel of Redemption (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1945), 1.

 

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

Psalm 142:1-7


Introduction

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen / Nobody knows but Jesus.”  Do you remember this rendition of the first two lines of the old Spiritual?

David expresses a similar sentiment in this Maschil which means “a psalm of instruction”.  Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) explains, “This Maschil is written for our instruction.  It teaches us principally by example how to order our prayer in times of distress.  Such instruction is among the most needful, practical, and effectual parts of our spiritual education.  He who has learned how to pray has been taught the most useful of the arts and sciences.  The disciples said unto the Son of David, ‘Lord, teach, us to pray’; and here David gives us a valuable lesson by recording his own experience as to supplication from beneath a cloud.”[1] In Psalm 142:1-7, we read, “I cry out to the Lord with my voice; / With my voice to the Lord I make my supplication.  I pour out my complaint before Him; / I declare before Him my trouble.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, / Then You knew my path.  In the way in which I walk / They have secretly set a snare for me.  Look on my right hand and see, / For there is no one who acknowledges me; / Refuge has failed me; / No one cares for my soul.  I cried out to You, O Lord:  I said, ‘You are my refuge, / My portion in the land of the living.  Attend to my cry, / For I am brought very low; / Deliver me from my persecutors, / For they are stronger than I.  Bring my soul out of prison, / That I may praise Your name; / The righteous shall surround me, / For You shall deal bountifully with me.”

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The Last Squeeze

“It is amazing how God worked in a country where we were not allowed to openly share the gospel. Our mouths may have been shut but God worked through our actions. He provided everything we needed including the time, place, and the means with which we were able to present the gospel. The enemy did not want us there but God triumphed over all.”

Those words are Luke’s, a student who traveled with AweStar Ministries to North Africa. The author of today’s post is Walker Moore, founder of AweStar Ministries.

The Last Squeeze
By Walker Moore


I’m not sure how it started. Have you ever been holding hands in a prayer circle and when the last amen is said, the person next to you has a spontaneous hand spasm? This unusual phenomenon seems to happen worldwide. I’ve experienced the “Amen spasm” in Germany, China, Russia, Hungary, Mexico and a host of other countries where I’ve served. Somewhere in the Bible, it must explain that when you say “Amen,” you should squeeze the hand next to you to let the other person know the prayer meeting is over. I guess my Bible is missing that page.

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The Heart Cry of One Harassed by Cruel Hate

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

Psalm 141:1-10


Introduction

Dr. Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) comments on this psalm, “It is a prayer of a harassed soul, tempted to slacken its hold on God, and therefore betaking itself to Him.”[1] Listen to the heart cry of one harassed by cruel hate, as we read in Psalm 141, “Lord, I cry out to You; / Make haste to me!  Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.  Let my prayer be set before You as incense, / The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.  Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; / Keep watch over the door of my lips.  Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, / To practice wicked works / With men who work iniquity; / And do not let me eat of their delicacies.  Let the righteous strike me; / It shall be a kindness.  And let him rebuke me; / It shall be as excellent oil; / Let my head not refuse it.  For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.  Their judges are overthrown by the sides of the cliff, / And they hear my words, for they are sweet.  Our bones are scattered at the mouth of the grave, / As when one plows and breaks up the earth.  But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord; / In You I take refuge; / Do not leave my soul destitute.  Keep me from the snares they have laid for me, / And from the traps of the workers of iniquity.  Let the wicked fall into their own nets, / While I escape safely.”

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