Jesus and the joy of drinking - part 1 - John Van Sloten

September 13, 2009

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Media @ New Hope CalgaryGod’s gift of alcohol.
What does the bible teach us about the wise way to imbibe?
What does it mean to drink in a Christ-like way?

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
Jesus speaking about himself in Luke 7:34, NIV

Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the
cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink;
but you have saved the best till now.
The master of a wedding banquet commenting on the 120 gallons of wine Jesus made out of water for the already loaded wedding guests, in John 2:10

If you could stay in one place and cultivate fairly stable crops of peaches, rice, apples berries, grapes, honey, potatoes, barley, wheat, milk, cactus, corn, sugar cane, coconuts, or practically any other organic substance, even if you didn’t understand the science involved, it would presently ferment into a drink that made you forget your troubles and feel better about life.
Barbara Holland, Page 2, The Joy of Drinking

He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
Psalm 104:14,NIV

My happiest hours are often spent with three or four friends old friends in old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms, talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer, tea, and pipes. There is no sound that I like better than adult male laughter.
C. S. Lewis

A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, It's done . . . complete.
Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.”
The last thing Jesus drank on the cross, in John 19:29-30, MSG

Images from

Pastor John's Introduction to the series.

Full version via ""

Short version via "You Tube"

John's interview with the Calgary Sun (click to read)


submitreply/new comment

March 27, 2014
Benares Ali
If there was no alcohol, tell me truthfully, would people go out to nightclubs, and come out staggering in the early hours, in someone elses bed, pukking up on the floor, beating up one another, ending up in hospital, depressing themselves to a point of suicide...tell me would the absence of alcohol take away the above.????

Benares Ali (via YouTube)
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March 05, 2013
I really wish Christians would be as passionate for things like justice, angry about the things that break Jesus's heart and not these "hot Button" Issues. It was WIne and not Grape juice. If you have issues with alcohol I can respect that but this is why people do not connect with the church as we argue about such dumb issues. I'm going to have a glass of wine and think of the whiners. New Hope is a church that talks about the wonders of creation and John is an amazing man with an enormous heart and knowledge of the bible. I would love to hear what people think of paul or some of the disciples if they were here on earth now. They were a wild bunch. Cheers.
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February 28, 2013
Do some research before you start making blind assumptions and calling names in an effort to reinforce the fairy-tale that you want to believe. The opening statement of my comment began with "The Bible makes it clear". If you weren't too lazy to look, you'd see it for yourself. Surely, great pride and arrogance is in the heart of one who is more willing to make a theological statement out of ignorance than to take 5 min. to see what God says about it.
Tom Betterton (via youtube)
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February 27, 2013
You are a moron.
Trying to change scripture to fit what you want to believe is dangerous. First chapter of Gal speaks of this , maybe. Take care.

John Gould (via youtube)
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June 13, 2012
Sorry, you non drinkers are all wet. Jesus was invited to the wedding. They were already tanked up on wine. Not grape juice. The wedding party was out of wine. Jesus brewed up a better batch. Search for the health benefits of beer. Even better than wine. Moderation...
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April 09, 2012
Righteousness is the landscape and the cultivation is a mustard seed at home in a place called church but nurtured in the mess of the neighbourhood and meet the stranger in their nesting place, trusting a heritage of grace and a quiet wind to stand in the fray with more than conquers in the city square
jake bosch
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March 27, 2012
The Bible makes it clear what God thinks of alcohol. As for the story of Jesus
turning water into wine, the word "wine" was used, in the KJV, atleast, to
describe fermented and non-fermented juice. Therefore you find out what root
word it came from in the passage at hand. In the water to wine story, it was
non-fermented, which only makes sense, as the Bible condemns alcohol. We live
in a world where most ppl die and go to Hell. Your messages dilute the power
of God in the minds of your audience.

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March 26, 2012
Absurd,what ever happened to "transformed,not conformed"? Stop trying to
please your tithes payers and do what god leads you to! The bible you says
will have "new wine"-the holy ghost,not wine.

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March 15, 2012
Jesus made and drank real wine...not grape juice. We have the ability to stop or control fermentation with modern technology. Back in those days any fruit juice had to be consumed right away or else the naturally occurring yeast on the fruit starts the fermentation process almost immediately - especially in a warm climate. Jesus didn't speak about bursting wineskins for nothing...grape juice would never do that, only fermenting wine. One of the reasons why ancient people made wine was because it was a way of preserving fruit juice.

God gives us all these gifts along with food, plants with pharmaceutical properties....all of which can also be abused in the most horrific of ways.

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March 12, 2012
About time the truth is reveled. I am a Follower of Christ and a home brewer
of wine and beer. I do all of my experience at home. Once in awhile at a local brew house. Not a tavern watering hole.

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January 29, 2011
In John 1 say that in the beggining was the word...(Jesus) So jesus is not only the word he is the law. He also say that he came to fullfill the law. Now if this is true why would he teach that strong drink is a mocker and cursed is he that gives his neighbor strong drink. Their is a conflict here. So if he says that you should not give strong drink to your neighbor yet he gives strong drink to people at cana then he would be a liar and the truth would not be in him.
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January 29, 2011
Bible says we cannot serve God and mammon (self-world) at same time......besides why would a Christian want to become a stumbling block to other Christians and to the lost. When we are saved....we are no longer OF THIS WORLD...BUT IN THE WORLD....we become missionaries for Christ.
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January 27, 2011
i pray that god takes your ministry from u if you teach that drinking is ok. To make a claim that Jesus used alcohol as a token of his blood is insane. If jesus made real alcohol at canan then he would have contribute to someone drunkiness, in return sending them to hell. The bible is very clear about looking on the wine once it moves in its cup(ferments) Big no no.
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May 27, 2010
Pastor John:
Just a huge thanks and "big props" for your two sermons on alcohol. I think they are terrific.

I stumbled upon them yesterday. I am a 44 year old married man (20 years) with 4 beautiful daughters (two of which are going to prom tonight - so your prayers would be most welcome) ….. successful in business … nice home in southern California …. Lifelong follower of Jesus …..all good stuff. But I also struggle with booze and if I enjoy drinking too much. The AA crowd will of course tell you that if you even question it - you have a problem - which may be true …. But I have not heard the perspective you gave in the sermons until yesterday.

Now I know you didn't mean to come across as saying "so go ahead and get drunk with Jesus!!!" But your perspective on what alcohol can do when you are enjoying with family / friends seems to me to be a healthy way to look at it. I married into an awesome family where my wife is one of 11 kids. Our gatherings with good food and good wine and laughter and love (usually following a baptism, confirmation, or other church activity) I believe really are foretastes of heaven. And yes, I believe that the wine is a contributor to those events in a (mostly) good way.

For the record - I'm always up for a good "Catholic Christian - non-Catholic Christian" discussion … but I'll just say that there was a lot of "Catholicity" in your talks. And don't just limit the quotes to Calvin and other reformers (Luther has some great ones)

From the great Catholic St. Thomas Aquinas:
"Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine. "
Or from one of my favorite Catholic converts G.K. Chesterton:
"Man is always something worse or something better than an animal; and a mere argument from animal perfection never touches him at all. Thus, in sex no animal is either chivalrous or obscene. And thus no animal invented anything so bad as drunkenness - or so good as drink."
Thanks again and "cheers"

P.S. I will be downloading more of your talks.

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November 24, 2009
Jesus was a drinkin' man, and that's a good joyous kind of man.

Alcoholism on the other hand is a true vice.

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September 19, 2009
I think John is right that it's not a sin to drink. I think that by drinking himself He was setting an example for us. However the Bible makes it clear (Rom 13:13; Gal 5:21) that getting drunk is a sin. So when John said that we should drink in moderation I agree with the other comment that that needs to be defined more clearly because some people might think that to get drunk once in awhile is drinking in moderation. Also my understanding is that Jewish wine which would be what Jesus drank is 1/10 as strong as our wine.
Glen Moore

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September 18, 2009
dear john,
i grew up seventh day adventist in one of those churches of can't eat or drink anything good. i have since enjoyed studying judiasm (note i am and will always be christian.) and the jewish perspective is completely different than the conservative christian view. we are all too enjoy life, and the gifts given to us in life. i applaud you in teaching the enjoyment of living. life is wonderful, and so is your message.
thank you, jon

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September 08, 2009
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 08 2009 @ 08:00 PM PDT
I have to be honest, I have never really made the connection between God and alcohol or really considered it as a gift from Him. Appreciate it as I do at times, I often have a bit of an internal conflict when it comes to alcohol. I have seen too clearly the damage it can cause…like any good thing I suppose, we (people in general) have a capacity to grant it this unwarranted power in our lives.
There is this wonderful aspect to alcohol…a beautiful wine that can be just so perfect with a wonderful meal…with its ability to warm your soul a bit and bring this calm, or an ice cold beer after a day of yard work under the sun, or a perfectly blended margarita overlooking an ocean sunset. There is something about not only the flavours, but that little bit of a buzz that you can just kind of melt in to. I sometimes try to imagine, when I’m drinking a perfect wine, what it would feel like to break bread and sip a dark red wine, or even a bubbly white wine with my friend Jesus and it always kind of makes me smile. And for that, I have this rather holy appreciation for alcohol.

But…I’ve also walked close to that place of really needing it, using it as a crutch to see me through a stressful day or to numb me to something that I don’t feel like facing. I’ve seen people I love and care about unable to control how much they drink…and I’ve seen how ugly it can be. I’ve walked in on people passed out in the middle of the day because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) stop drinking. I’ve watched grown men make fools of themselves, and young men almost kill themselves…(and actually, at times successfully kill others. ) I’ve seen love turn to hate, wisdom turn to folly, brilliance become obscured. I’ve seen young women lose their dignity, their security and their innocence because of it. And for that, I have this very holy loathing towards alcohol.
It is a conundrum.

As for what it reveals to me about God…well...I haven’t arrived there yet, but I look forward to hearing other perspectives.

Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 07:55 AM PDT
(I just previewed my comment and don't know why it shows I wrote this on Dec 31/69 ... technology)

I have just read Pastor John's article in the newspaper and would just like to comment as I have wrestled with the question whether it was wise to drink as a Christ follower. Let me tell you my conclusions:
- Having a glass of wine is not a sin unless we've been convicted by the Holy Spirit to not drink.
- The problem is though when someone sees me with my glass of wine they have no way of knowing whether it's my first or fifth and my goal is to be a testimony and not possibly cause someone to stumble.
- Drinking in the privacy of my home ... my kids see me and think it's okay ... kids copy us and there is no way a teenager can drink responsibly.
- I want to be available, be obedient and serve my Lord 24/7 and after having alcohol I have found that my mind is not as sharp. If I have opportunity to be used by God ... I'm not available.
- Yes, I believe Jesus drank, but, our precious Lord was sinless and I do not know where that line is when I drink. Do I sin after 1 glass, 1 1/2, 2? This is one sin that I can totally avoid by abstinence. I, of course, have other areas that I struggle but I can totally shut the door on this one.
- You say in your article to drink in moderation but what is moderation? It actually is the point of sin and for each persons body that is different. I cannot count the number of get together/parties of all Christians where alcohol was served and seldom did people drink as Jesus and his followers did. People had many drinks, got louder, laughed more, did silly things ... sounds like the world. We're to be in the world not of the world.
- Really, what good comes from drinking? The buzz? I believe that Satan has put a big red bow on drinking and that we as believers think we can handle it but often times fail miserably. We open a door that allows the Devil a foothold that can be the beginning of all sorts of heartache.
- My conclusion, abstinence is a wise way to live.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 12 2009 @ 07:02 PM PDT
I just got this email from another commentator...

Hey John,
How negligent of me! I meant to comment on your blog earlier this week, but then the week happened. Anyway, it will take too long to get an account to comment on your blog.
I didn't drink until I was 29. Grew up in the SDA church where drinking was abstained from, though I had had beer and wine before, but like once a year or less. I think I was old enough to have decided on a balance and what could be consumed so that it wouldn't be detrimental to my health or anyone else's.
Now, I am between ambivalent and excited about alcohol. I don't NEED a beer when I get home from work, but I do enjoy a couple a week. I don't NEED a glass of wine at every meal, but I do enjoy a few a month when it's special. Usually, when AMber offers me a beer, I reconsider and take water instead. I like the taste, the feeling, but it's not the best taste nor the best feeling.
What I am excited about is being able to share a drink with a friend.
The knowledge that both parties are going to let down their guard a bit and enter a more intimate conversation is very appealing to me. I met a Bulgarian guy who wanted to introduce me to a friend of his. I went over to his friend's house and before we could visit we each had to take a shot of some Bulgarian liquor - kind of a trust thing I think, but it was multipurposed - they offered me some of their best, a pinnacle of Bulgarian culture and they showed that they weren't going to hide anything and neither was I. We didn't get drunk, but we were open. Again this past summer, I was at a stag/staggette party which was really just a drinking party a couple days before a wedding.
Most people's intention was to connect with others and alcohol helped that happen - some really memorable conversations about Chile, the education system, Obama, music, travel and purpose.

One of the comments on your blog and several of my friends bring up the "stumbling block" issue. I prefer setting an example to my children or my students or my friends as to how alcohol can be enjoyed in a God honouring way. I hope that my son or daughter will never find me like Noah's sons found him. Instead I hope that when they partake, they will follow their parents' lead and drink in moderation (or even a little more when it's safe) with good intentions and a desire for relationship.

... And I think people can easily tell if it's your first of second glass or your seventh or eighth glass of wine.
I look forward to hearing your talk. Should stir the pot a bit.

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 01:14 PM PDT
i grew up seventh day adventist in one of those churches of can't eat or drink anything good. i have since enjoyed studying judiasm (note i am and will always be christian.) and the jewish perspective is completely different than the conservative christian view. we are all too enjoy life, and the gifts given to us in life. i applaud you in teaching the enjoyment of living. life is wonderful, and so is your message.
(originally sent at an email to NHC)

Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 19 2009 @ 12:12 PM PDT
After reading the article that ran in the Calgary Sun today entitled "In the name of the father, son, holy spirits," I found myself both surprised and annoyed by the issues presented within the article. I understand the need to make a church "relevant" and accessible, however, I do not believe that we do this by means of watering down the word of God or twisting it to suit our own needs. Alcohol was not meant, in my opinion, as a gift from God in order to help us relax or cover pain. Far too many people have fallen into the trap of self medicating their own pain as opposed to going to God with it, and knowing that God is not far off from us when we are in pain and emotional distress. My fear is that people who are young and impressionable, ones who look to you for your guidance and leadership, will now find themselves with an excuse to use alcohol in a way that is damaging to their own well- being. God never meant for us to cover our pain, by means of anything, but to go to Him with our pain and know that He is our healer, and "ever present help in time of need."

You stated that " No drinking and driving, and we want to avoid the debauchery." Yet you also stated within the article that alcohol is a gift in which it "lubricates communities and allows us to drop our walls and inhibitions." The fact of the matter is that when our inhibitations are lowered by means of alcohol, the brain and body do not function they way that they do sober, and you will end up with people who drink and drive, people who fall much easier onto paths that they should not go down, and end up with regrets. You will also have individuals who find themselves addicted to the easy, fast and cheap way to cover their pain, and not know when to stop.

I believe that you need to consider these factors, your audience and the rationale before such a message is delievered. Without a doubt, there will be people in your audience who are wear and vulnerable, and do not know when to put down the bottle. There will also be people who do not yet know that one night of drinking may be too much and find themselves struggling...their struggle beginning in the roots of your message.

I do not think that a drink here and there is necessarily wrong. What I do strongly believe, however, is alcohol is NOT a gift in covering pain, as you say. It simply draws out the healing process and instead of going to a bottle, people should know how they can go to God and close friends to help them heal from their pain.

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, September 23 2009 @ 11:01 AM PDT

As someone who was present for Part 1 and Part 2 of the Sunday messages that Pastor John gave I can tell you that the Sun article does not give a good representation of what he is actually saying. The tone is completely different. It looks like they just picked out pieces that they thought would make an interesting article. I suggest you listen to the messages online. I do believe, however, that alcohol IS a gift from God, just like sex is or food. It almost seems like the greater the gift, the greater the possibility for abuse is. God gives us these gifts and its up to us to practice self control. As a society we tend to over-indulge on just about everything and then we blame the product instead of our own lack of self control.

via John's blog
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alcohol,Luke 7:34,culture,John 2:10,Barbara Holland,Psalm 104:14,pub,wine,beer,John 19:29-30

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