The fruit of the vine: Christian liberty — Where are we going?

Why am I taking the time and space to reflect on the subject of Christian liberty?  It may be helpful to repeat what I pointed out at the beginning, that although the subject arose in the context of questions about the character of the fruit of the vine in the communion service, the session has not made a decisions on that matter (except to wait for a time before considering the subject).  However, in studying the issue, it appeared to me that as a congregation we would do well to give attention not only to the sacramental issue (what is the most appropriate and Biblical way to observe the Lord’s Supper), but also to the question of Christian liberty, which is a separate, but related issue.  I intend to preach on Romans 14 when we get to that point in our current Sunday morning series on Romans.  However, I also wanted to do some bite-sized reflections over a period of time (thus these blog entries, which also appear as bulletin inserts).  Responses, questions, and  disagreements are welcome!  Each post has a “Leave a Comment” option.

Several disclaimers may be in order.  My goal is not to encourage those who do not drink wine to begin the practice of moderate use of alcoholic beverages.  Nor is my goal to persuade those who may use wine moderately to abstain.  Both drinking wine and abstaining can be done to the glory of God.

Nor is it my purpose here to advocate for one side or the other in the question of whether the fruit of the vine in our communion service should be fermented or not.  The session is not yet ready to consider that question.

A Biblically healthy church of the Lord Jesus could well have within it those who conclude that, given the abuse of alcohol in our culture, they will abstain totally from its use.  That conviction does not make them second-class citizens of the kingdom.  The same church could also have within it those who use beverage alcohol in moderation.  Their practice does not make them sinners.

The more important issue, which is closer to what Paul deals with in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, is how do believers relate to their Lord and to one another in their practice.  Are we glorifying God and reflecting love to the saints?  That’s why Christian liberty is important.

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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