Over the weekend, I spoke at two churches on Christian worldview issues. Friday and Saturday Andrew Sandlin and I spoke at Church of the King on the topic “Kingdom Culture: Far as the Curse is Found.” On Sunday morning I spoke at Christian Fellowship Church on what I have titled “Exposing Grape Juice Christianity.”

The title of Sunday’s message came to me after celebrating the Lord’s Supper with a thimble-sized cup of grape juice and a small cracker. During my talk that morning, after describing how Christians might teach on Paul’s actions after he was beaten and imprisoned by the Roman government in Acts 16 as “Grape Juice Christianity” that grape juice does not burst old wineskins. Too many Christians believe that their lot in life is to be persecuted for Jesus. Persecution is good while triumphalism is bad. The sole goal is to lead people to Jesus, something that Paul did with a wonderful result (Acts 16:31–34).

Restoring the Foundation of Civilization

Restoring the Foundation of Civilization

There are many Christians who will not participate in civilization-building efforts that include economics, journalism, politics, education, and science because they believe (or have been taught to believe) these areas of thought are outside the realm of what constitutes a Christian worldview. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Here’s what followed when it was learned that Paul was a Roman citizen who had been beaten by government officials:

Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their officers, saying, “Release those men.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word that you be released. So come out now and go in peace.”

I can hear a preacher saying, “Praise God! God worked a miracle here because of Paul’s attitude, and the Roman government let them ‘go in peace.’” Many Christians might argue that this is the way Christians should handle disputes with the government. Good things come from such dealings with tyrants. But notice what followed:

But Paul said to them, “After beating us in public without due process—men who are Romans—they threw us into prison, and now they are releasing us secretly? No indeed! On the contrary, let them come in person and lead us out.” The officers reported these words to the chief magistrates. And they became fearful when they heard that they were Romans, and they came and pleaded with them, and when they had led them out, they repeatedly asked them to leave the city. They left the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brothers and sisters, they encouraged them and departed.

This is when I brought up the point that using grape juice is indicative of how Christians view their role in society in the face of tyranny. I was not attacking the church for using grape juice during the Lord’s Supper. The church where my wife and I attend also uses grape juice instead of wine. The pastor loved the analogy! Wine is the biblical way for a reason.

I’m not offering a defense for drinking alcohol. If you are interested in the subject, there’s enough online to satisfy your interest. Here are some books you can check out: Wine in the Bible and the Church by G.I. Williamson, What Would Jesus Drink? A Spirit-Filled Study by Joel McDurmon, and The Christian and Alcoholic Beverages: A Biblical Perspective.

The point I was making is that grape juice does not burst old wineskins. Putting new wine in old wineskins will burst the wineskins. The New Covenant is new wine designed to burst old wineskins. Is it coincidental that Jesus’ first miracle was making a whole lot of new wine (John 2:1–12)? The New Covenant was about to do some bursting!

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins” (Mark 2:21–22).

The New Covenant bursts the old wineskins of the power structures of the day. Jesus was relentless in doing this. The book of Acts is a history of burst wineskins.

Many Christians today are afraid of new wine theology because it often bursts their traditional, and I dare say, unbiblical passive and pietist theology. They like the first part of what Paul did in Acts 16 but not what followed. That is way too controversial and confrontational.

Paul was not satisfied with “Go in peace.” He boldly confronted the magistrates.

Worldview 101: A Biblical View of the World

Worldview 101: A Biblical View of the World

Worldview 101 is an in-depth course utilizing audio, video, and printed material. Worldview 101 will equip the student with the tools necessary to 'think God's thoughts' about the world and the created order. It will reveal and re-direct the humanistic thought patterns that exist in each of us. The Enlightenment promised freedom, but brought slavery to man's ideas instead. Worldview 101 points the way forward to true freedom of thought in Christ.

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There are many Christians who believe that a personal, private faith is all the gospel requires. Os Guinness described this as “The Private-Zoo Factor,”[1] a religion that is caged so that it loses its wildness. When true Christianity is applied to any part of the world, it blossoms far more fully and colorfully than we ever could have imagined. Everything seemed possible within the boundaries of God’s Providence and law.

Over time, Christianity ceased to be a comprehensive, world-changing religion. “[W]here religion still survives in the modern world, no matter how passionate or ‘committed’ the individual may be, it amounts to little more than a private preference, a spare-time hobby, a leisure pursuit.”[2] Theodore Roszak used an apt phrase to describe much of modern-day Christendom: “Socially irrelevant, even if privately engaging.”[3] It wasn’t always this way:

The Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, comes out of the background of a Hebrew mindset. The basic idea behind the Hebrew mindset is that God and accompanying spiritual principles permeate all of life here on earth…. I believe one of the causes of [cultural disengagement is a Greek mindset], which tells us Christians should be concerned about saving souls and going to heaven rather than paying much attention to material things like transforming our societies.

[James Davidson] Hunter, to the contrary says, “Most Christians in history have interpreted the creation mandate in Genesis as a mandate to change the world.”[4]

If Christianity remains nearly exclusively “privately engaging,” the secularists had no interest in disturbing the sleeping giant.

Secularists and atheists aren’t threatened by people who believe that when they die they are going to heaven. What frightens them is their belief that the Bible applies to every area of life and threatens their power structures in the here and now.

[1]Guinness, The Gravedigger File, 79.

[2]Guinness, The Gravedigger File, 72.

[3]Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends (New York: Doubleday, 1973), 449.

[4]C. Peter Wagner, Dominion! How Kingdom Action Can Change the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen, 2008), 40, 41.