A few days ago I wrote a post about Why I left “The Reformed Pubcast” which in turn caused more of a response than I ever imagines. I blog in a corner, and usually only a few people ever read my posts. But, after this previous post I received heated responses from some of the current leaders and members of the Pubcast. It prompted a member of the Pubcast to write his own response to my original post, which you can find here. Also, close friends I still have in the Pubcast told me Les (Pubcast co-founder) found my post and put it on the group Facebook page, which caused a comment stir bringing over 250 comments that were by and large negative and or angry. Please take what follows as my response to all the comments made to me here on my blog as well as comments I received via phone and email.
It would seem (to me) that such a negative response to my original post means that I may have pointed out something those in the Pubcast really do struggle with. If beer or any alcohol were treated in the Pubcast as a side matter and not the central matter my post would not have received much attention at all. But, again, because the response was so fierce and emotional for so many, it tells me that I’ve hit on something real. I spoke of immaturity present in the Pubcast and some of you asked for examples. Look at the comments posted on my blog alone and you’ll have no need to go any further for evidence. Some of the comments made prove everything I stated true.
Someone commented and said, “How are we making alcohol a major focus of our lives? The Pub is not our life, it’s a place where we go to discuss…beer and theology. If you walk into a chess club, would you criticize them for spending so much time discussing and playing chess?” Good thought indeed, but if the “chess club” claimed to be a Christian Chess Club and I (after spending 4 months in the club) saw or felt that a love for chess seemed to be more prominent and important than a love for Jesus, I would leave the group and encourage them to stop playing chess so much and focus more on Christ. To me, the same principle applies to the Pub. Beer is not a sin, drinking it in moderation is perfectly in line with living a godly, holy life. But if beer, or any alcohol, becomes more of a central focus than Christ Himself, it becomes unhealthy and sinful. That is when it crosses the line of moving from enjoyment of Christian liberty to abusing Christian liberty.
We can only enjoy the gifts God gave us if we see them as just that – gifts from God to be enjoyed in line with His opinion of how we should enjoy them. We cannot use or enjoy His gifts in whatever manner we so desire. Paul said in view of knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection ALL OTHER THINGS HAVE BECOME AS LOSS to him (Phil. 3:1-14). Alcohol should be included in this group of things we count as loss or count as nothing compared to knowing Christ. Jesus is better. Who cares if we have alcohol or not. If we do, lets enjoy it while knowing Christ is better. If we can’t do that, let’s put it away and focus on Christ alone. Again, the fierce response shows that for some of the members of the Pubcast, alcohol is not seen as “loss.”
Someone also said, “It’s like he walked into a Pub, and was upset that everyone was drinking beer…” and “…It’s like he walked into youth group, and was upset that there were so many teenagers.” No, it didn’t surprise me members of the Pubcast drink at all, I was looking for a group that encouraged the proper use/enjoyment of our Christian liberty. I assumed members of the club drank beer just as I would assume members of a youth group would be teenagers. Here’s the rub: I think most members of the Pubcast don’t exercise a proper use of our liberty, but rather abuse it. There is a difference.
Second, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2). Question: when Jesus turned the water into the finest wine ever made, did Jesus do that to make much of the wine? No, Jesus did this to make much of Himself. This is what I think Jesus was up to in this. the first of His miracles.
In this wedding, there were six large jars filled with water for purification rites in-line with the OT Law. Jesus turns all that water to wine. In the Old Testament both the prophet Hosea and the prophet Amos speak of days when the Messiah will come and bring an abundance of wine with Him. Amos 9:13-14 says, “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD,”when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.”
An abundance of wine was thought of in Jewish thinking as a gift of the age to come. So when Jesus replaces the water with fine quality wine, do you see what He’s doing? The jars of water were meant for Law-keeping and Jesus fills them with wine, a blessing of the age to come. This shows us that the Old Testament Law is being fulfilled, and that with the coming of Jesus Christ comes a new age and a new rule. Jesus is bringing the kingdom into existence on earth through His ministry.
So, Jesus didn’t perform this miracle to make much of alcohol or to justify the Church’s use of alcohol. He didn’t perform any of His miracles to impress people or to show that the supernatural really did exist. He did all of them to show that He is the One who is bringing the blessings of the age to come into this world. Unlike the groom who failed to provide enough wine for his own wedding party, Jesus is the greater groom who provides abundantly for His own people. When all other wines run out, His wine never will. He is the fountain that never ends, as Psalm 36:8 says, “He lets us drink from the river of His delights…”
Third and lastly, to thanks 4 of you.
My very close friend 06dayz, Jerry Dobson, T.L. Arsenal, and Emmanuel. The three of you have made comments on my blog and all four of you did so graciously and with maturity. The rest of you did not. Learn from these men how you should interact with those you disagree with. These four men made statements I will be thinking about for a long time in and I am thankful for the time these men put into responding to me in a Biblical manner. May we all be found to treat one another with the same grace we’ve been shown by God through Christ.