Is It a Sin to Drink Alcohol?

PK is asked about the Bible says about drinking for Christians and others.

There is a standard of Holiness (or Righteousness) that has been set by God. The Bible is a collection of these truths. Where the Bible has been clear about what is Holy, the Church can be clear. Where it’s not clear, then we can’t be clear.

What’s not clear is the topic of drinking alcohol. Scripture does not say drinking alcohol is a sin, but drunkenness is. Jesus drank wine and we know He didn’t sin! So the “bar” is set at drunkenness.

Now, for some people, God may call them to not socially drink at all. PK explores this thought in the video.

Christians: Don’t Judge, Do Discern

It’s important for believers to discern the truth about how to live righteously. But using that truth to judge others can do more harm than good in trying to lead others to Jesus.

Figure out what lost people can discern of God and only share information that will invite them to investigate matters of faith further.

Shining your light to the world means leading with love. What people need most is the love of God, not the laws of God.

An Overview of The Sermon On The Mount

The Sermon on the Mount is one the most intense points of scripture. It’s lengthy.

What is it? It is what life would look like if you had perfect faith in God. The standards laid out in the sermon are not attainable by anyone on their own. However, anyone can, with the help of God. It describes the kind of people reborn Christians are, or should be.

The context of the Sermon on the Mount is to describe the saved, not declare a path to salvation.

It’s broken into 3 sections:

  • True Righteousness – Matthew 5:1-20
  • True Intentions – Matthew 5:22; 6
  • Hinderances To Righteousness – Matthew 7

Jesus is trying to move us from religion to relationship. He moves us from law to love and from behavior to belief.

Blind to Yourself, Deaf to God

A critical spirit will kill any relationship. When you judge others, it’s likely because you’ve become blind to yourself and deaf to God. This means you dismiss what you’re doing wrong and then you magnify the faults of others.

Pray and ask God to help you see things more clearly and tell Him you long to hear from Him. Then, silence the critical spirit inside you.

 

Does Jesus Raise the Bar?

The Pharisees raised the bar God set for righteousness, and the world removes the bar completely. The world removes the bar by allowing everyone to simply decide for themselves how they should live; there’s no right and wrong.

Jesus came to lift us over the bar. He didn’t come to condemn the world. He came to save it! But if you dismiss Jesus, you condemn yourself.

Man-Made Rules Are Religion

The Pharisees raised the bar for holiness, which was set by God, and added their own set of man-made rules. Then, they condemned the people who couldn’t measure up.

The Pharisees sought to be more righteous, but they only became more religious. And in doing so, they lowered the standard of God’s love.

 

Jesus Wants Us to Unlearn Religion

Often, people who were raised in the church may have a great deal of knowledge about religion, but no real understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

That’s because what was intended to be a relationship with God became a religion about God. Many people go to church out of religious duty, but never know the power of a life transformed by Jesus.

It’s time to unlearn religion and learn more about Jesus.

 

What is Sin?

Our sin nature dates all the way back to Adam and the original sin. To make things even tougher, each of us may have a spiritual “Signature” sin that keeps recurring throughout our lives. Examples of these sins are insecurity and jealousy; hate and anger, lust, addiction – the list goes on (Galatians 5:19-21).

The good news is we do have hope! Examining your life, turning away from your sin, and living under the grace that comes through Jesus’ death on the cross will set you free.

What is Theology, Anyway?

This weekend, we kicked off a new series called “30-Minute Theology.” PK invited Dr. Wayne Schmidt, the General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church (the denomination to which 12Stone belongs), to come and unpack what the church believes about sin.

Before we look at this specific topic discussed in this 30 minute session, many of us need to back up to see a little more of the big picture. We need to start with the question, “What is theology, anyway?”

Break It Down for Me

In its simplest form, theology comes from the Greek words “theos” (meaning god) and ology (meaning study of). So, theology means “the study of God.” In most modern academic contexts, theology is the study of gods and religion, with a heavy emphasis on the religion part.

But theology isn’t just an academic field of study. For every person who takes their religious faith seriously, theology is how we think and how we live. It’s the foundation of our lives.

No religious system operates without a set of beliefs. Those beliefs comprise the essence of that religion’s teaching. Whether a person follows Muhammad, Buddha, or Jesus Christ, each religion has a set of claims that it makes about life and how it works. Those claims are what make up a religion’s theology.

When 12Stone talks about theology, we are referring specifically to Christian theology, or the study of the Christian religion and the Triune God (triune being a fancy way of saying God is one God expressed in three persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Christian theology is rooted in the Bible and in the historical evidence for the faith.

As a Wesleyan church, 12Stone believes and adheres to the Wesleyan Articles of Religion. These are the core beliefs of our church and they guide how we live out our faith in real life. But there are other Christian statements of belief beyond our own; each denomination will have its own theological statements of belief. In many cases, our beliefs and theirs align, but there are distinctions, some major and some minor.

How Do I Do Theology?

Now that we’ve set a very basic understanding of what theology is, the next question is how do we, as regular people, do theology? It’s one thing for trained professors and professionals to tackle heavy topics, but it’s another thing altogether for someone like us to give it a try.

To begin with, our first understanding of theology should come from the Bible. We need to read the Bible for ourselves, and learn to wrestle it through. No book of Christian theology will make a lick of sense to us until we at least understand the source of it all.

Once we have an understanding of what the Bible teaches, we can begin to move outward and look for other resources to help aid our comprehension. Now, before you flip over to Amazon and start searching away, a quick word of warning: very few books on theology are “consumer friendly.” In fact, most books of theology are academic and therefore difficult to tackle.

If you’re going to read a theological work, keep the following in mind:

  • Theology by its nature is precise and dense. Every word in a theological writing is specifically chosen and packed with meaning, which means you’ll have to take time to unpack them for full understanding.
  • Theology is often broken into specific areas of study. You will find theological books on everything from prayer to the Second Coming of Jesus, each written as if it were the definitive book on the subject.
  • Theology requires careful reading. If you’re going to read a theological work, go ahead and purchase it outright. You will need to read with your eyes, highlighter, and pen if you want to get the most out of the work. Don’t be afraid to underline, highlight, and flat out Google things that stand out to you or don’t make sense. Digging in and engaging with the text is the best way to develop a genuine understanding.
  • Theology is addictive. Few things in the Christian faith are as satisfying and rewarding as wrestling with a key concept and unlocking a deeper, more intimate knowledge.
  • Theology has rock stars, too. Believe it or not, even among nerdy academic writers, some folks have a popular style. You will find that some authors have more titles to their credit than others, but don’t mistake frequency of publication with greater authority.

Some Books You Should Read

Now that you have a general understanding of what theology is and how you can best begin exploring the subject, here are four basic theology books that offer a scaled-back version of systematic theology (a study of how theology ties together across all its subjects).

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Lewis is best known for his Narnia books, but the Oxford University don was also a popular theologian during his time. After being converted to Christianity out of atheism, Lewis became a public theologian who wrote and spoke about the faith in ways the average person could easily understand. Mere Christianity is a collection of radio addresses that Lewis gave over BBC radio during World War II, and it summarizes what Lewis called the essential (or “mere”) beliefs all Christians share. Though the book is intended for a popular audience, it still requires a careful reading, as Lewis packs a lot into its pages.

Theology: The Basics by Alister E. McGrath. Like C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath is an Oxford University don with a deft British wit and a keen insight into making theology accessible to the average reader. Theology: The Basics takes McGrath’s substantive academic work, Christian Theology: An Introduction and condenses it into a smaller, more popular book. McGrath is a renowned speaker and thinker who brings his intelligence and insight to the page to make the subject matter accessible.

Basic Christianity by John Stott. A classic work by well-known pastor John Stott, Basic Christianity is a primer on the basic claims of the Christian faith. With insight and wisdom, Stott explains the person and work of Jesus, the need of all humanity to be saved from sin, and how Christ’s death and resurrection deals with that need.

Practicing Christian Doctrine by Beth Felker Jones. This introductory book walks readers through the concept and practice of Christian theology. Focusing on ten essential doctrines of the faith, including how to know God and the hope of the Resurrection, the book offers a straightforward look into the historical Christian faith.

What’s the Problem With Sin?

What’s the problem with sin? (Original, Willful, and Involuntary)

We believe that through the disobedience of Adam and Eve sin entered the world and all creation suffers its consequences.

Conclusion: Crucifixion -> Resurrection -> Synchronization

Reflection & Action:

  • Out of step: What passions or desires may trip me?
  • In step: Where am I experiencing God’s guidance and energy?

Don’t Just Care, Connect

God created us to connect in community, and through Christ’s work on the cross, we are one church family united as brothers and sisters with one Heavenly Father.

Practice the values of living in community and serving others. Connect with God and one another – because real heroes restore relationships.

 

You Can’t Be a Hero if You Only Care About Yourself.

Romans 12 teaches us to “be devoted to one another in love and honor one another above ourselves…” because we all make up the body of Christ, and each person is equally important.

Do you serve your church, family, and community – or do you wait to see whether they’re serving you? Resist the urge to compare your contribution against everyone else’s and invest yourself in others.

 

Life Doesn’t Work When You Work Alone!

When you’ve been hurt by others, it’s tempting to withdraw as a means of protecting yourself. But there’s no real safety in solitude. It’s only through authentic relationships that we prosper through life’s difficulties.

God didn’t intend for you to live emotionally isolated and disconnected from others. Be courageous and dive into community!

 

Guarding the Interests of Others

Under pressure, half-selfish always defaults to selfish. Instead of being half-selfish, guard the interests of others. Do as the Bible instructs and put other’s interests before your own. Serve people selflessly and lovingly. Find inspiration from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3-11.

To become selfless, seek God’s help and tap into the power of the Holy Spirit. Walk the path of “dying to self.”

The Risk of Not Praying

Prayer moves things in heaven to move things on earth. When you don’t pray, you risk missing out on the fullness of all God wants to do.  That’s because you can’t have the full engagement of God unless you’re fully engaged in prayer.

If you’re struggling to pray, ask yourself where else you’re struggling in your faith. Is your belief or your obedience faltering?