About Tim Burt

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Bible and Wine-Drinking

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

I've been asked a number of times to re-publish this article by Norman Geisler. I hope this leads to individual inward reflection and prayer, not a debate on the subject. God will speak to the heart of anyone in undeniable ways for the person who is open to do what God shows them. That is between you and God. There is no judgment on my end.

A Christian Perspective on Wine-Drinking by Norman Geisler

The Bible says several things about the use of wine.

Is Wine Today Like New Testament Wine?

Many wine-drinking Christians today mistakenly assume that what the New Testament meant by wine is identical to wine used today. This, however, is false. In fact today's wine is by biblical definitions "strong drink," and hence is forbidden in the Bible! What the Bible frequently meant by wine was basically purified water.

Stein researched wine-drinking in the ancient world, in Jewish sources, and in the Bible.(7) He pointed out that wine in Homer's day was twenty parts water and one part wine (Odyssey 9.208-9). Pliny referred to wine as eight parts water and one part wine (Natural History 14.6-54). According to Aristophanes, it was stronger: three parts water and two parts wine. Other classical Greek writers spoke of other mixtures: Euenos -- three parts water, one part wine; Hesiod -- three to one, water to wine; Alexis -- four to one: Diocles and Anacreon -- two to one: and Ion -- three to one. The average was about three or four parts of water to one part of wine. Sometimes in the ancient world one part water would be mixed with one part wine; this was considered strong wine. And anyone who drank wine unmixed was looked on as a Scythian, a barbarian. That means the Greeks would say today, "You Americans are barbarians -- drinking straight wine." For example, Athenaeus quoted Mnesitheus of Athens as saying, "in daily intercourse, to those who drink it moderately it gives good cheer; but if you overstep the bounds it brings violence. Mix it half and half and you get madness; unmixed -- bodily collapse."(8) Here is a pagan saying, "Half and half is madness, and unmixed wine brings death."

Stein also observes that "in several instances in the Old Testament a distinction is made between 'wine' and 'strong drink'" (e.g., Lev. 10:8-9). Strong drink is one thing, wine is another thing. The same distinction is made in Deuteronomy 14:26; 29:6; Judges 13:4; and elsewhere. According to the Talmud the "wine" used in the Passover meal was three parts water and one part wine (cf. 2 Macc. 15:39).(9)

It may also be that the wine Jesus miraculously provided at the wedding in Cana (John 2: 1-11) was a similar drink, that is, wine mixed with water. The word oinos ("wine") refers sometimes to fermented grape juice (e.g., Eph. 5:18) and sometimes to fresh, not fully fermented grape juice (e.g., Rev. 19:15). Furthermore, in ancient times not many beverages were safe to drink. Stein indicates that in the ancient world water could be made safe in one of several ways. It could be boiled, but this was tedious and costly. Or it could be filtered, but this was not a safe method. Or some wine could be put in the water to kill the germs -- one part wine with three or four parts water.

Wine today has a much higher level of alcohol than wine in the New Testament. In fact in New Testament times one would need to drink twenty-two glasses of wine in order to consume the large amount of alcohol in two martinis today. Stein humorously notes, "In other words, it is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one's drinking would probably affect the bladder long before the mind."(10)

Though fermented wine was drunk in Bible times and though the Bible approved of wine-drinking, one needs to remember that the alcoholic content was much less than that of wine today. What is used today is not the wine of the New Testament! Therefore Christians ought not drink wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages for they are actually "strong drink" and are forbidden in Scripture. Even ancient pagans did not drink what some [so-called] "Christians" drink today! Thus it is wrong to argue that since people in Bible times drank wine, Christians today can do the same. Properly speaking, people then drank purified water. New Testament wine was basically a water-purification method. It was not an unsafe liquor; it was a safe liquid. But in America purifying water with wine is unnecessary, and plenty of nonaddictive beverages are available.

Drunkenness Is a Sin

Wine in the Bible was not to be used excessively, and one was not to become drunk with the fruit of the vine. In the Old Testament a drunkard was put to death (Deut. 21:20-21). Drunkenness was considered to be such an incorrigible sin that capital punishment was used for it as well as for murder, rape, blasphemy of parents, etc. According to 1 Corinthians 5:11, Christians are to separate themselves from a person who claims to be a Christian but who is a drunkard.

Drunkards "shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10), nor will homosexuals or other kinds of sinners. Practicing homosexuals and drunkards do not inherit the kingdom of God. Obviously God hates drunkenness. Paul also wrote in Ephesians 5:18, "be not drunk with wine." And drunkenness is listed in Galatians 5:19-21 among "the deeds of the flesh."

Strong Drink Is Deceptive and Sinful

The Bible says much about strong drink. For example, the priests were to avoid strong drink (Lev. 10:8-9). And Solomon wrote, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging:" (Prov. 20:1). God is opposed to someone using strong drink because it brings deception and turbulence into his life. Rulers should not take strong drink, for it distorts their ability to think clearly and to judge clearly. Strong drink is not for kings lest they pervert justice (Prov. 31:4-5). Isaiah wrote, "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink" (Isa. 5:11). This writer had an uncle who was drunk every day before noon his entire adult life. At about age forty he died of liver disease. He experienced the truth of Isaiah 24:9, "strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it." It may seem sweet to begin with, but it will be bitter in the end. It was the false prophet who said, "I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink" (Mic. 2:11). God is opposed to using strong drink as a beverage.(1) The Hebrew word for "strong drink" is shekar. It is used 23 times and refers to an intoxicating drink made from barley, pomegranates, dates, apples, or honey. The more common Old Testament word for "wine" is yayin, used 141 times. The word tirosh on the other hand, occasionally translated "new wine," means the freshly pressed juice of the grape, that is, grape juice that has not yet fully fermented.(2) It is used 38 times (e.g., Gen. 27:28: Joel 2:24: Mic. 6:5).

In addition, drinking results in a slowing of the thinking processes (Prov. 31:4-5; Isa. 28:7; Hos. 4:11); a stupor (Jer. 25:27; 51:39); sickness (Isa. 19:14; 28:7-8; Jer. 48:26); staggering (loss of balance and mental control) (Job 12:25; Isa. 28:7-8; 29:9); arrogance (Hab. 2:5); forgetfulness (Prov. 31:6-7); confusion and delirious dreams (Prov. 23:31, 33); sleepiness (Gen. 9:20-24; 19:33); lack of feeling (Prov. 23:31, 35); bloodshot eyes (Prov. 23:29-30); and poverty (Prov. 23:20-21).

Deciding About Wine-Drinking Today

How should one decide today whether or not to drink alcoholic beverages? Christians should carefully consider the following four questions.

What Are the Facts about Alcohol?

Before a person decides to drink or to continue drinking, he should be fully aware of the following facts about alcoholic beverages and their effects today.(11)

1 An estimated ten million problem drinkers or alcoholics are in the United States adult population.
2. Of adults who drink, 36 percent can be classed as problem drinkers.
3. In addition, an estimated 3.3 million young people ages 14-17 are problem drinkers.
4. Alcohol-related deaths may run as high as 200,000 per year. In two years' time there are as many alcoholic-related deaths as there were in the entire Vietnam War!
5. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cost the United States about $50 billion in 1975. That figure has risen considerably since then.
6. Between 1966 and 1975 the percent of high school students who said they had been drunk increased from 19 percent to 45 percent.
7. Alcohol is one cause of cancer.
8. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the third greatest cause of birth defects.
9. Evidence exists that social drinking impairs one's social and intellectual capacities. Rather than getting sharper, people who drink get duller.
10. Half of all traffic fatalities and one-third of all traffic injuries are alcohol-related. Whereas a person has the legal right to drink, he does not have the right to endanger the lives of others on the highway by his drinking.
11. A high percentage of child-abusing parents have drinking problems.
12. A relatively high correlation exists between alcohol consumption and robbery, rape, assault, homicide; and more than one-third of suicides involve alcohol.
13. Taxpayers pay $11 to offset each $1 paid in liquor revenue.(12)

II. Will Wine-Drinking Lead Anyone Else to Sin?

Christians are to be concerned not only about their own lives but also about others. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:4, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." And Christians should seriously consider Romans 14:21: "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth." A believer should ask himself, "Will my drinking cause anyone else to sin? Even if it would not be a problem to me, is it possible that it would cause someone else to stumble?" This writer knows of former alcoholics who have attended church communion services in which fermented wine has been served, and just the taste of a little bit of it drove them back into alcoholism.

III. Can Wine-Drinking Be Done to the Glory of God?

Paul wrote, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31). If a Christian cannot be praising God and glorifying Him while he is drinking, then it is not good for him, and it is not glorifying to God.

Several reasons may be offered as to why Christians ought to refrain from wine-drinking. First, people in the United States have plenty of wholesome, non-addictive beverages. The situation today is unlike biblical times when there were not many wholesome beverages. People often did not have good water available; it was often polluted. Travelers today know that in many foreign countries pure drinking water is difficult to obtain. In many foreign places, travelers become sick from drinking the water. This is similar to biblical times.

Thus it is wrong to argue that since people in Bible times drank wine, Christians today can do the same.

Properly speaking, people then drank purified water. New Testament wine was basically a water-purification method. It was not an unsafe liquor; it was a safe liquid. But in America purifying water with wine is unnecessary, and plenty of non-addictive beverages are available.

Second, America is an alcoholic culture, but the New Testament culture was not. Ten million Americans are alcoholics, with more than three million of them teenagers. In New Testament times, there were comparatively few drunks, and alcohol was not a problem in their culture to the extent it is in this nation.

Third, total abstinence is the safer policy. A person cannot abuse drinking if he does not drink. In Christianity Today a few years ago, a writer asked, "How many people would fly if they knew there was a chance of one in ten that the plane would crash?"(13) The chances of airplanes crashing are certainly not that high -- far from it; but if they were, undoubtedly many people would refuse ever to board another plane. And yet the chances of an occasional or moderate drinker becoming an alcoholic are in fact one in ten!

Fourth, total abstinence is the more consistent policy. A few years ago when the drug culture became so dominant and people became so concerned about young people's use of marijuana, heroin, and harder drugs, the government studied the problem of drug abuse. The results chagrined many adults: The number one problem in the United States is alcohol! It is not marijuana, nor heroin, nor LSD, but alcohol -- the "establishment" drug, the adults' drug, the legal drug. This in no way suggests that marijuana or other illegal drugs should be approved. But young people took at adults and say, "hypocrites! You approve of your drug, and it's the biggest one in the country, and you disapprove of our drugs." And therefore it is difficult to win young people from drugs; they see the sheer hypocrisy of many adults.

Since today's society is alcohol-polluted, this writer suggests that Christians take a strong stand against all alcoholic beverages. This writer would like to suggest that Christians, in a Nazarite like vow, should protest the destructive effects of alcoholism and should voluntarily abstain from all alcohol consumption. http://www.gospeljohn.com/ng_drinking.htm

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2014 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Ongoing Transformation

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

I’d like to share with you an important principle of life. That principle is this: How a person conducts their daily life; their attitudes, conduct of behavior, and diligence or lack of it, tells you much more about that person than what they would ever tell you about themself. People often speak higher of themselves than what they actually live out. You've already noticed those in your own life who are always late and make excuses for it, yet don’t believe they are habitually late. You've already noticed those who make promises or pledges they never keep. You've already noticed those who boast of great things but do little. I say this not to be critical of anyone. The opposite is true. We all have areas in our life where we esteem ourselves or view ourselves as more developed and mature than we truly are. Yet the truth is, we all have areas of needed growth and development and areas we need to mature in – and that especially holds true for spiritual growth and maturity.

We see the principle of what people say they’ll do vs. what they actually do play out in a parable Jesus told in Matthew 21:28-32. Jesus said, "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. "Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”

Nothing Jesus teaches is for the purpose of producing condemnation so don’t you let what I am writing produce that in you now. If what He teaches you produces conviction, or in other words – if it helps point out something within you that you need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you change in – that’s good! It means that your heart is sensitive enough to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and note that need for change.

Each and every one of us is in need of ongoing change to happen in our life. We all need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to help us become more like Jesus. To be honest, it’s an unattainable goal. We will never attain perfection or be perfectly like Jesus. That is why Jesus came and paid the penalty for the sins and imperfections in our life. Our faith in Jesus and in His sacrifice of taking the punishment for our sins is what makes us righteous before our Heavenly Father. Our faith in what Jesus did is what makes us spotless in God’s eyes. What a magnificent thing! But, we still see our own imperfections and flaws and areas of needed change. Jesus cares about them and desires transformation within us because they affect and work to hinder our blessing in this life. They also get in the way of our ability to influence others and for the Lord.

2 Cor. 3:18 speaks of the need for this ongoing transformation saying, “And we …all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." This verse reminds us of the need to experience life-long transformation that will come only with the help of the Holy Spirit within us. So, we don’t beat ourselves up but we do take honest assessments of the need for transformation as the Holy Spirit shows us.

For those who don’t adopt this attitude, Proverbs 26:12 will be their life. It says, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” This person may love Jesus but if he won’t let the Lord work change in him, he’ll experience very little transformation and hinder the blessing God wants for him.

God’s Word is powerful! Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes the very thoughts and attitudes of our heart.” God’s Word has the inherent ability to bring transformation to our lives if we will put faith in the promise of God’s Holy Spirit strengthening us to make those changes.

Just knowing about God and His Word can become a place of pride. 1 Cor. 8:1 “…Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Actions to what God instructs us in produces transformation. It’s about what we do, not just what we say. Is the fruit of the Spirit of God actually evident and an ongoing pattern of your day-to-day lifestyle?

The Apostle Paul closes out today’s Fresh Manna speaking of the need for spiritual development and maturity putting it in words I could never improve upon.

Galatians 5:22-26 “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another."

Let’s not just know about the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual maturity is developed in the person who has developed the fruit of the Spirit within their character. That only happens over time and through transformation! So keep on keeping on and keep changing with the help of the Holy Spirit within you.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns" 

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

If Fresh Manna is a blessing to you, let me know how. I’d love to hear from you!  Tell Pastor Tim here:

Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2014 All rights reserved


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Proving Jesus to Others!

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Romans 10:13 For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

How many times and in how many places have we heard people say the words or seen the sign that say “Jesus loves you.” These are more than quaint words to make someone feel better. These are more than colorful words to add an artistic touch to the background scene in a movie. These are the words – the most important words spoken in any day. As bread crumbs are to a bird, so were those words meant to be to those that don’t know Him. “Jesus loves you" and "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should believe on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life  John 3:16" are words that can alter the course of a human life.

Many years ago at an earlier time in my Christian walk I thought I had to prove, convince, and debate someone into the truth that God existed and that Jesus was His Son. Over time, the Lord showed me that this wasn't necessary. He showed me that honest people that are searching will listen and people with hard hearts won’t  at least at the moment you show up in their life to be a voice and laborer sent from God to them.

The Lord told me I didn't need to prove Him to anyone because He was fully capable of doing that Himself. I only had to ask them if they would honestly want to know if God existed. Would they honestly want to know that Jesus was His Son sent to save us from our sins and provide a way of eternal life with Him? My conversation with people that are open to discovering the truth of Jesus usually goes something like this.

If God was really real, would you want to know it and more about Him?

If God really existed and Jesus was His Son that came to die as a sacrifice for the sins you and I have committed, would you want to understand what the means for you? Would you want to know that Heaven would be your home as a gift from God? If that could be proven to you personally by God Himself beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you want to know that?

Well I can prove it to you IF you are an honest person and you’d really admit to this truth once you've seen and experienced it. Are you an honest person? Would you honestly admit it if you had proof you yourself wouldn't deny?

You would? Great! Here is the beauty of this. I could share some things with you and am willing to if you want to listen. But if you don’t, I can still prove it to you – again if you promise you will be honest.

Jesus is perfectly capable of proving Himself to you. He’ll reveal Himself to you – if you will be honest! You can’t con God. He knows your heart. But if you will open your heart and honestly say, “Okay God, if you are real and Jesus is your Son, I honestly want to know. If you show me that, I will believe.” If you can honestly say those words from your heart, then I can assure you that God will reveal Himself to you. Here is the deal though; there is no reason to be afraid. He is not here to condemn you. He is here to reveal His love to you. Jesus loves you. He’ll show you that too!

If you will say those words sincerely from your heart to God, it will all begin immediately. God will find ways to show up in your life to the point where if you are honest, you will say, “This cannot be coincidence. This is Jesus revealing Himself to me.”

You will find people coming out of the woodwork talking about Jesus. You will have people that you know, that love Jesus, suddenly show up in your life. You’ll pick up a magazine and there will be an article. You will turn on the television and you’ll hear someone talking about Jesus. As you start reading the New Testament in the Bible, God will begin to speak to your heart in ways you've never experienced. God will reveal Himself and He’ll prove Himself to you. He’ll do it in such a way that you are convinced – and because you are honest, you’ll admit it. 

When that happens, just lift your head toward Heaven and thank God for revealing Himself and ask Jesus to come into your heart to be your personal Lord and Savior. Then tell one of those Christians you know – and there will be one around somewhere – tell them you gave your life to Jesus. They will help you from there. And the beauty of all this? It won’t have been a man that convinced you but Almighty God Himself.

In my life, I have talked personally with thousands of people that wanted to know about Jesus. I was able to tell them about Him. But, I've also met many who were not ready to just accept everything I was telling them. They needed more. I've learned I don’t need to debate them. Debating erodes the love they so desperately need. I've just offered them proof  proof that God will reveal Himself to any honest person that really wants to know the truth. As today’s Fresh Manna says, For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Anyone who is willing to be that voice for God, trusting He will do His part, will bear great fruit and be rewarded. 1 Cor. 3:7-9 “The ones who do the planting or watering aren't important, but God is important because He is the one who makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. Yet they will be rewarded individually, according to their own hard work. We work together as partners who belong to God. You are God's field…”

Acts 4:12 "There is salvation in no one other than Jesus! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt 

If Fresh Manna is a blessing to you, let me know how. I’d love to hear from you!  Tell Pastor Tim here:

Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2014 All rights reserved