What saith the word?
First, the word translated "wine" in English (οινου in Koiné Greek) can refer to either alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine. Today, the term "wine" is used exclusively for alcoholic wine, but let us never be guilty of interpretation based solely upon modern day definitions. We must remember every time one sees the word “wine”, the context determines whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic grape juice.
The immediate context of John 2:1-11 is quite clear. The guests at the marriage feast of Cana were able to discern between the quality of the drink that the Lord had made and that which had already been served. If intoxicating wine had been served, and people were "well drunk" then they would not have had such keen discernment. Being well drunk is like being well-fed, and simply means they have had plenty. Though the amount is not specified as to what they had previously drunk, if they consumed the six waterpots that Jesus had the servants fill with water and which contained "two or three firkins apiece" (verse 6), then they would have consumed somewhere between 106 to 162 gallons of alcohol before Jesus provided more! This is far more than enough to make the most casual drinker drunk.
If Jesus provided alcohol to those who had already consumed over 100 gallons of alcohol, he both aided and encouraged their drunkenness, which would make him a sinner. Consider what Habakkuk wrote by inspiration, Habakkuk 2:15 (KJV) 15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! The sin Habakkuk is rebuking is the sin of contributing to drunkenness. However, we know Jesus was without sin (1 Pet 2:22), so that he could be the propitiation (sin offering) for us (1 John 4:10). Jesus knew what was recorded by Solomon when he wrote by inspiration, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).
The common daily drink of grape juice (οινου) was often made from a concentrate (paste) which was preserved in wine skins to keep it from fermenting. This paste was mixed into the waterpots, much like we mix kool-aid to give the water flavoring. There was fermented wine also, which was produced for the purpose of intoxication. We have many verses condemning the drinking of this fermented alcohol. In Titus 2:3 and 1 Tim. 3:8 we see the phrase “not given to much wine”. The phrase “to much” can be translated “in any respect”, thus resulting in the understanding of “not given in any respect to wine”. This agrees with Eph 5:18 (KJV) 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;. The word “drunk” is “μεθυσκεσθε” which is describing the process of becoming intoxicated and not the end result of drunkenness. Thus, Jesus could not aid in the process of their becoming intoxicated by providing Alcoholic beverage. Why? Because science has confirmed what the Bible has continuously warned; one starts to become intoxicated with the very first drink of alcoholic beverage. With close examination, we must conclude that the Lord did not make intoxicating wine at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee.
Many churches today observe a tradition setting the children apart from the worship service so that the adults can engage and appreciate the music, and hear the message uninterrupted by children who, as they say, cannot understand anyway. Sometimes the children are placed in “kids worship”, while others simply place them in a room to tell bible stories or allow them to play. Why wouldn’t that be a fitting decision at Portage church of Christ today?
God commanded His people to teach His word to children. First, parents were given the commandment to ensure their children were taught about God and his requirements. God’s word was never meant to only be heard by, or learned by, adults. When God told the people to hear the Law read in full every seven years, He commanded that they gather “all Israel” and that included “the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates” and the purpose was so that “that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) This is in addition to all of the commands that God gave to the people to teach their children His laws in person. (Deuteronomy 4:9-10; 6:6-7; 11:18-19). Therefore, God’s will is to be publicily proclaimed to both young and old alike that they may grow in knowledge. Furthermore, we are not to divide the assembly (1 Cor. 14:26), and this is seen when Paul directly address the youth in the assembly (Eph 6:1, Col 3:20). It is evident from the New Testament that the children were always included in the assembly and worship of the 1st century church.
What we teach our children will impact their future. As soon as children are old enough to understand our words, we begin to teach them how to go “potty”, brush their teeth, and perform the basic functions to become self sufficient and care for themselves. Why is teaching our children the basics of caring for themselves in life more important that caring for themselves spiritually. If we do not train our children when they are young, they are that much more likely to depart from a godly way of living. We have so many good examples of faithful people who learned God’s will when they were young. Therefore, it seems obvious that we should try to invest in that same future. (II Timothy 3:14-17)
We have a dangerous enemy who will devour the ignorant. If you knew for a fact that there was a dangerous person why was actively seeking to kidnap and your children, what precautions would you take? Would you teach them how to be safe? Would you teach them how to avoid danger? How young would be too young to start giving them the tools they would need to survive an encounter with this type of enemy? We have such an enemy, and he is characterized as a “roaring lion seeking those whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8) Those who are fooled by His tricks are “taken captive by him at his will”(II Timothy 2:26). Let’s be honest and logical, if our children are taught the scriptures and know the will of God from an early age, they themselves would never send their own children to children’s worship when they are adults. So, how did this all start within the Lord’s church? It is not because one searched the scriptures, but rather because some wanted to be like the people around them, just as Israel desired in 1 Sam 8:20.
Certainly, Christians should have the goal to achieve a eternal home in heaven. So, since I am on a journey to reach this heavenly reward (2 Tim 4:7-8) how can I check myself to verify I am not a lukewarm Christian. Lets just take a short personal assement. I may be a luke-warm Christian if:
Proverbs 6:16-19, Jeremiah 44:3-4, Isaiah 61:8, Amos 5:21-23, Zechariah 8:17, Malachi 2:16, and Revelation 2:16 are the inspired words from God which describe the fact that there are indeed things which God hates.
To put it simply, God hates sin. We have to keep in mind that we as Christians are opposed to sin, yet we live in a society in which many people love to partake in sin. God hates “workers of iniquity” and “abhors…deceitful man” (Psalms 5:5-6). A righteous God and judge must hate those things which are contrary to His nature. Yet, we also know God desires that all would be saved (1 Tim 2:4) and has instructed us as Christians to reach out to all men in this sinful state (Matt 28:19-20).
Because God has a standard for all men, he hates anything which is contrary to that standard (Luke 6:46, John 12:48, etc.). The distinction between the sinful and the righteous can be seen in Psalms 11. Psalms 11:5-7 (KJV) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
Many people today are willing to overlook sin and a lifestyle which contradicts the manner in which the Bible instructs us to live. However, God’s word says He will not overlook these “sins” and “abominations” (Matt 25:46, 2 Cor. 5:10, 2 Thes 1:9, etc.). This is not a well-received teaching in today’s world, yet it is a Biblical teaching.
The good news is that everyone who is in this position with his deeds being hated by God, was given a method by God to rectify the situation. Such a person involved in sin which God hates can repent of their sins (Acts 17:30) and be baptized (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16), and their sins are removed when they are added to the church (Acts 2:47). Christians have then been further blessed in that we have a continual method of cleansing these “sins” which God hates by confessing our sins and remaining faithful (1 John 1:7-9).
Yes, God hates sin! Yet, he loves us enough to provide a solution to the problem of sin!
God tells us clearly that these "gifts of the Holy Spirit" were to cease. In I Cor. 12, the apostle Paul lists those gifts. Then in the next chapter, he wrote: 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (KJV) 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Notice that each gift was a "part", but when "the perfect" was come, the parts were to cease. The expression "the perfect" is from the Greek "to telion" which literally means: "complete, full-grown, fully developed." So, when the revelation of God's Word was completed, and confirmed, then the "parts" were done away. Note that Paul says, "For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even also I was fully known" (I Cor 13:12). This is explained by James, "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. For if any one is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing" (Jam 1:22-25). Some contend that these "gifts of the Spirit" were to continue until Christ comes, and we then see Him and the Father "face to face." Yet, look at the passage again: "Now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face" (I Cor 13:12). No one looks into a mirror to see God, or anyone else. We look into a mirror to see ourselves. To shave, to put on makeup, etc., we need to see "face to face." That is the purpose of the mirror. And the Word of God is "the perfect law of liberty" (Jam 1:25), a spiritual mirror, into which we look to see our spiritual condition as God reveals it in His Word. That is what Paul says in I Cor 13.
Because we have the revealed and written Word of God, confirmed (proved) by the miracles which the apostles did, we no longer need those "parts" which brought it into existence. So they have ceased and been done away. That includes all the miracles -- healing, raising the dead, etc. So, yes, the age and purpose of miracles have ended. We have the completed Word of God confirmed by these miracles and therefore there is no more need for such miracles.
Many today believe or teach that the Holy Spirit needs to directly do something to man for his coming to the faith, or his remaining in the faith. Below are some of the favorite verses used to prove this false position and a response to those positions.
Acts 16:14 (KJV) And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. This is a favorite passage by many who teach the Holy Spirit Directs man. The claim is that “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to heed the things of God”. Her heart was opened, but notice how. Paul spoke first. The opening was done through his preaching of the Word (Rom 10:17). Those who misuse this verse error additionally, in that “The LORD opened her heart”. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is never referred to as the Lord.
2Acts 11:21 (KJV) And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Some state this is the Holy Spirit leading the preacher. This verse deals with providence. The hand of the Lord was with them, not the preachers. Additionally, this is not even the hand of the Holy Spirit. Clearly they are trying to make a verse fit their doctrinal teaching.
John 6:44 (KJV) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. Their argument is that those that come must be drawn by the Holy Spirit. The problem is this leaves out the next verse. John 6:45 says they will be taught. Through teaching (Rom 10:17) there is a drawing. The indwelling teaching of the Holy Spirit also replaces the Father’s “drawing” with the Holy Spirit “drawing”.
Luke 24:45 (KJV) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, Many teach the Holy Spirit had to open their understanding. Jesus did this, not the Holy Spirit, by explaining the scriptures to them. They were taught, not directly operated on by the Holy Spirit.
A number of other verses could be viewed here, but the result is the same in every case. The direct operation theory of the Holy Spirit contradicts God’s impartiality. If He saves some and not others, He become partial (Acts 10:34). It violates the principle of the free-moral agency of a man. The person has no choice in a direct operation. It violates the principle of Divine Economy. Devine economy: God uses the most expedient and intelligent mode of operation in whatever He does. The direct operation theory of the Holy Spirit violates the necessity of the great commission (Man’s command to teach, baptize, and continuing to teach those believers).
In Hebrews 11:7, we see that Noah had the faith to follow through on God’s commands even though no one alive at that time had ever seen a flood. Notice his faith: Hebrews 11:7 (KJV) By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
In Matthew 24 Jesus is speaking to the Jewish religious leaders about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., but in verse 35 He begins speaking about the end of the world and warning them of events that had not yet been seen, just like God warned Noah in his day of a world-wide flood. Matthew 24:36-40 (KJV) “36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Jesus noted in Noah’s day that many people were occupied with the daily activities of eating, drinking and being married, but they were oblivious to the coming destruction of the flood. Jesus applies this fact of history to the Jewish leaders to point out the coming destruction of Jerusalem (24: 1-34-) as well as the end of the world (24:35-25:46) which will occur someday.
A lesson we can learn from this is that many are busy with life, but should be aware of the coming judgment day. Many today do not believe the historical account of Noah’s ark, but Jesus both knew it was true and used it to teach a lesson about the judgment day. Peter builds upon this lesson in 1 Peter 3:21 (KJV) “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Jesus taught there was a judgment day coming, and Peter emphasizes that obedience to God allowed water to save Noah and his family from the sinful world. In a similar fashion, obedience to God’s commands allows water to save us from this sinful world.
A local church is going to be about as strong and sound as the preaching it receives and is willing to endure and support. Paul's solemn charge to Timothy (2 Tim 4:1-4) had a sense of urgency about it. Preach the word now, while brethren will endure it, or face a time when they will not.
As of lately, I have been paying particular attention as brethren (preachers and otherwise) express their concerns about the churches of today. One dominant concern seems to be the caliber of preaching coming from our pulpits. A majority of pulpits are preaching soft feel good sermons and are no different than the other churches surrounding them. Strong congregations cannot be built and maintained on this type of teaching. The sad thing is that many churches had rather have watered down sermons than real spiritual food. As long as churches demand it, there will be those who are willing to be paid to NOT preach the Gospel.
Sermons and classes with real doctrine content are held in disfavor by many of today's churches. The demand is for more "relevant" matters. Topics that address so-called "real problems" and "real life concerns" of "today's Christian" are replacing those that deal with what the Book says about man's basic spiritual problem, sin; and his real basic needs of conviction of sin and the salvation of his soul. It seems often that ministers that entertain and make brethren feel good about themselves, rather than producing godly sorrow leading to repentance or any real depth of Scriptural knowledge, are given the most favored status among brethren. Sermons that really teach the Bible are considered "uninteresting," "too structured," and even "crude" by some. All too often preachers who resort to such are asked to find some place else to do their preaching.
A congregation constantly fed on milk (or less) will not develop an appetite for sound doctrine. Those who may have had an appetite will soon lose it and possibly leave. Without a desire for sound doctrine churches are vulnerable to all kinds of fables or doctrines Neither motivational hype nor emotional manipulation is gospel preaching. It may enhance the speaker's standing with brethren as a dynamic speaker. But, it will not produce a well-grounded faith based upon a "thus saith the Lord."
Brethren, our preaching must follow the pattern that Paul outlined to Timothy. In form, it must have a well-rounded combination of reproving, rebuking and exhorting. In substance, it must have doctrine as the base. It is not an accident that Paul, in the preceding chapter, shows the Scriptures to be profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). Book, chapter, and verse preaching and teaching that quotes or reads Scriptures and then makes clear applications of the reading is seldom the desire today, but it is what once made preachers and congregations great!
1 Corinthians 1:8 (KJV) Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The power to perform miracles was a gift present in the first century church of Christ. How long was this miraculous phenomenon to abide? We cannot know exactly. At the very least, miracles died with those who possessed them once there were no more apostle to bestow gifts “through the laying on of hands” (Acts 8:17-18). Some suggest they will last until Christ returns. One of the passages used in attempting to establish this idea is 1 Corinthians 1:8 where Paul, addressing the saints in Corinth, declared that God “shall confirm you unto the end, that you may be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here is the argument some make. Miracles were designed to confirm (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3,4), and since the confirmation was to continue to “the end” (1 Corinthians 1:8), it is obvious that miracles were continue to the end, i.e., until the coming of Christ.
The argument is flawed in several ways. The purpose of miracles was to confirm the truth of the gospel (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3,4) – not people per se; yet this passage speaks of confirming Christians. Obviously the confirmation here suggested is not the same as in these other contexts. The passage no more asserts that miracles will continue to the end of time than it argues the Corinthians themselves would continue to live unto the end of time.
The term “end” (telos) can mean “to the uttermost” (ex. John 13:1), and therefore is not confined to a reference of specific time. Later in this same book Paul contends that supernatural gifts will continue only until “the perfect thing,” i.e., the completion of New Testament revelation, comes (1 Corinthians 13:8ff). We know logically, that the apostle writing through inspiration does not contradict himself in 1 Corinthian 1:8 and 13:8ff.
Some of the Corinthians had miraculous gifts which could confirm the miraculous gifts given by the Apostles, and the authenticity of their faith. However, the point is that Christ would confirm them to the “uttermost” in the “day of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Christ’s confirmation of the faithful Christian is far superior to the earthly confirmation of Miraculous gifts which were available in the first century. Not only does this verse not teach the continuance of gifts, it teaches there is a greater confirmation by our Lord at the judgment of all men (John 12:48).
It is impossible for anyone to have predicted with accuracy all the things found in the New Testament. Yet, that is exactly what we find in the prophecies of the Old Testament which point to the events recorded in the New Testament.
Who could have predicted a child to be called "Mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6), who would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem (Isaiah 7:14), who would be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3), who would save only a remnant of Israel (Isaiah 37:31), who would be lead as a sheep to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), who would be resurrected keeping his body from seeing corruption (Isaiah 38:17)? Who could have predicted the rise and fall of kingdoms like Babylon, Nineveh, Tyre and Sidon, the fall of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24-27), the subjugation of the Medes and Persians to the Grecians, and a fourth kingdom mightier than those at which time God would set up His kingdom (Daniel2:44)? Who could have predicted the things surrounding Jesus' death, the lots cast for his garments (Isaiah 53:12), the pierced hands and feet (Psalm 22:16), while not a bone being broken in his body like the passover lamb (Psalm 34:20)? Who could have predicted that in three days He would be raised from the dead (Hosea 6:2)? What other book shows such a united theme and such divine wisdom in predictive prophecy? These features are missing from any other book claiming to be inspired.
Even if someone could have predicted these things, who could have made them happen just as prophesied? The odds of this occurring apart from inspiration is1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. An amazing feature found in the Old Testament is the many direct prophecies of Christ, which when combined with the miraculous events, confirm His Deity and his being part of the Godhead. This is only a small portion of the many reasons I know the Bible is inspired, accurate, truthful, and the only Guide for the follower of God today!