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A Disciple's Approach to Drinking

While we are free to enjoy God's blessings, including drink, this requires great responsibility—especially for leaders.

From the editor:

Few topics are more controversial than alcohol. Should a follower of Christ imbibe or abstain? In this sermon from regular contributor and PreachingToday.com editorial advisor Jeffrey Arthurs, assorted texts are used to pull together a disciple's approach to drinking (with a special note to those who serve in church leadership positions). One thing that might be interesting to note is that when Arthurs preached this sermon, he used PowerPoint to project the verses. At the top of each of the four main points, he used a traffic sign to symbolize the idea: A 75 mph speed limit sign to indicate freedom; a stop sign to indicate God's prohibition; a yield sign to indicate how leaders should, perhaps, give up their rights; and a "children crossing" sign to indicate how those who drink should not tempt weaker brothers and sisters. A great use of everyday, common images to strengthen a sermon's main points!


According to a November 26, 2007, article in Time magazine, 67 percent of men and 55 percent of women in America drink regularly. Americans spend $155 billion a year on alcohol. That is enough for each person to down 7 bottles of hard liquor, 12 bottles of wine, and 230 cans of beer. New Hampshire drinks the most hard liquor (about 18 bottles a year), Washington D.C. drinks the most wine (32 bottles a year), and North Dakota chugs the most beer (345 cans).

In a world swimming in alcohol, what is a disciple's approach to drinking? How can we be in the world, but not of the world with our use of alcohol? There are several biblical references to guide us:

  • The word "wine" (the Hebrew word yayin) is used 141 times in the Old Testament. The New Test equivalent—the Greek word oinos—is used dozens of times.

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Jeffrey Arthur is professor of preaching and communication at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

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Sermon Outline:


My goal for today is to categorize and read these select passages, giving brief comments to build a biblical theology of drinking.

I. God gives alcoholic beverages for sustenance, pleasure, medicine, and worship.

II. Drunkenness is a sin, associated with foolishness, selfishness, manipulation, and God's judgment.

III. Both Testaments seem to have a special message for priests/ministers/teachers/leaders.

IV. Do not cause a weaker brother/sister to stumble by your drinking.


Are you drinking like a disciple? If not, what do you need to change?