Why I Would Abstain From Grape Juice in the Eucharist

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I was recently asked, Why I would abstain from Grape Juice if it was given in the Eucharistic Meal. I started to write up a response and it turned out it was too long to post in a Facebook Comment so I decided to turn it into a Blog Article. The Following is my reponse.

Fruit of the Vine

Fruit of the Vines does not mean grape juice. It was a specific Jewish Liturgical phrase that only ever meant Fermented Wine.

With regards to the “Fruit of the Vine” I am going to quote from “Given for You” by Keith Mathison and foreworded by R.C. Sproul…..

“Having examined what scripture teaches about wine in general, we must next examine what it says about the use of wine in the Lord’s Supper. As we have already seen, the institution of the Lord’s Supper is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels. In each of these accounts, Jesus identifies the contents of the cup as the “fruit of the vine”. Because the Lord’s Supper was instituted during a Passover Meal, it can hardly be denied that this “fruit of the vine” was the same wine that was used at the Passover. And, as Joachim Jeremias notes, “to genema tes ampelou (‘the fruit of the vine’) for ‘wine’ is in the Judaism of the time of Jesus a set liturgical formula at the blessing of the cup, both before and after the meal.” In other words, when the historical and grammatical context is taken into account, there are simply no grounds to conclude that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper with anything other than the same wine that was used in the Passover meal.”

It is entirely irrelevant to point out that grape juice comes from the fruit of the vine and is therefore also permissible. Many fruits and berries grow on vines. Why limit ourselves to the juice of grapes?

I believed that Christ did tell us to use fermented wine by the phrase “Fruit of the Vine”. Because the phrase Fruit of the Vine was a special Jewish liturgical usage of the phrase fruit of the vine. The Jews only knew that term for fermented wine and nothing else. It was only used for fermented wine… So that is our key passage of Christ telling us directly… When Christ instituted the Holy Supper everyone present knew exactly what fruit of the vine meant… It meant fermented wine…

Fermentation Changes the Nature of the Beast

Fermentation changes the entire product of grape juice. It is a completely different beast. It is no longer chemically Grape Juice but Wine.

Grape and Yeast: Wine is not just grapes but it is grapes and yeast. it is 2 products. The yeast is naturally on the outside of the grape. thus when you smash it it immediately starts to become wine which gives a gladdening effect that is suppose to be part of the supper. Pasteurization is the process to remove yeast and make sure it is only one produce. Thus grape juice is never wine. Therefore grape juice was never given for communion.

The following process is a description that is taken from a Winery…

“After the harvest, the grapes are crushed and allowed to ferment. Red wine is made from the must (pulp) of red or black grapes that undergo fermentation together with the grape skins, while white wine is usually made by fermenting juice pressed from white grapes, but can also be made from must extracted from red grapes with minimal contact with the grapes’ skins. Rosé wines are made from red grapes where the juice is allowed to stay in contact with the dark skins long enough to pick up a pinkish color, but little of the tannins contained in the skins.

During this primary fermentation, which often takes between one and two weeks, yeast converts most of the sugars in the grape juice into ethanol (alcohol). After the primary fermentation, the liquid is transferred to vessels for the secondary fermentation. Here, the remaining sugars are slowly converted into alcohol and the wine becomes clear. Some wine is then allowed to age in oak barrels before bottling, which add extra aromas to the wine, while others are bottled directly. The time from harvest to drinking can vary from a few months for Beaujolais nouveau wines to over twenty years for top wines. However, only about 10% of all red and 5% of white wine will taste better after 5 years, compared to after one year.”

The juice is no longer Grape Juice but a Fermented Wine which has added a molecular composition of CnH2n+1OH

Grapes have the unique quality of having a natural yeast fungi on their skin, which is a leaven that causes the grape juice to ferment. Natural. grape juice, be it fresh or cooked, has this leaven in it. The only way to totally free grape juice of it’s leaven, is to allow it to completely ferment. In the process of fermentation, the leaven or other impurities of grape juice, are separated, as wine is produced. Impurities settle to the bottom, and the wine (pure) can be drawn off.

Pasteurization removes the yeast from the juice thereby preventing the fermentation of the product into Wine. Thereby Grape Juice is Grape Juice and Wine is Wine and are two completely different beasts.

Gladdening the Heart

I believe that the gladdening effect of Wine is suppose to be and required to be part of the Cup of the Lord and of the Eucharist.

John Gill wrote,

“the Cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? 1 Cor iv. 6 and it is a symbol of it, not as in his veins, but as shed from the various parts of his body, particularly his hands, feet, and side, when pierced; and as wine is squeezed out of the grape in the wine-press, so the blood of Christ was pressed from him, when it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and when he trod the wine-press of divine wrath; and as wine cheers the heart of man, so the blood of Christ, applied by the Spirit, speaks peace and pardon to guilty minds, and puts joy and gladness into broken hearts and wounded spirits”

So first we see the squeezing of the grape which represents the squeezing of his blood from His body. But we also see a gladdening an as wine cheers the heart of man so the blood of Christ and it puts joy and gladness into our hearts.

It is the perfect way to understand wine, as how it affects the human body, and relating that to the same affects of the blood of Christ. You just can’t make that association with other beverages, especially since the sacraments are meant to be sensory, so that we can see them, touch them, and in the case of wine in the Supper, taste it, and sense the warming, nourishment, the refreshment, etal. With little thimbles of grape juice, you can taste it, but there is no warmth, no nourishment, no gladdening of the heart. You just wet your whistle and taste the sweet.

The Psalmist states, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that God gave wine to men as a gift to make their hearts glad (Ps. 104:15). Why leave the “gladdening” element of alcohol out of wine if it is a divinely given gift and part of the gladdening aspect of the Supper of the Lord?

Marion Lovett wrote,

“What better analogies and illustrations could the Lord have used for His own blood than wine? Wine has the color of blood. By the virtue of the alcohol in it, wine has power in it. The blood of Jesus which cleanses His people from our sins has power in it (Romans 1:16). Wine gladdens the hearts of man. For this reason, wine is used for feasting and joyous occasions. His blood gladdens the hearts of His people, and is the occasion for our feasting and celebration. Such an occasion is observed at every communion.

When the Lord instituted baptism, He did so with water. Water is the essential element in a biblical baptism. It symbolizes washing and cleansing from sin. The Scripture says, “ . . . arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16). The sign must be correct in order to accurately signify the grace which is communicated. Therefore, it is not biblical to baptize with any substance other than water.

The same principle is held forth in the Lord’s Supper. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper with bread and wine. Therefore, the symbols must be biblical in order to accurately signify the grace which is communicated. When Christ observed the Lord’s Supper in the upper room with His disciples at Passover time, he used real fermented wine, not grape juice or de-alcoholized wine. ”

Means of Grace

Within the Sacrament like other elements there is a means of grace.

“The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” Shorter Catechism answer 88

How in the world are we suppose to receive the Means of Grace by Grape Juice if what Christ instituted as the Means of Grace was Fermented Wine?

If you just drink Grape Juice then you really are NOT receiving the Means of Grace. Only the proper elements that Christ instituted convey the Means of Grace. Drinking Grape Juice is nothing more then drinking Grape Juice and conveys nothing. Fermented Wine is what conveys the Means of Grace. In addition drinking Grape Juice at the Supper is a break in the Regulative Principle of Worship and therefore an act of disobedience. That is reason enough to abstain from drinking Grape Juice and Crackers for the Eucharistic meal. So not only do you not receive the Means of Grace, you are also acting in disobedience to the Second Commandment.

The Bread and the Fermented Wine are the Substance of the Elements of the Eucharist. These are extremely vital to the Element itself and the lack of these will change the Eucharist Element to nothing.

Now some people will ask? What about the Common Cup? What about the Common Table? These are breaks in the Regulative Principle, so should we abstain from the Eucharist if the Congregation does not have these things?

I totally agree it is a break in the Regulative Principle of Worship. But these are Forms of the Eucharist and does not alter or change the Element or Substance of the Eucharist. So it is still the Eucharistic Meal but done in bad Form. It is my belief that though these are breaks in the Regulative Principle and need to be corrected and Reformed it does not invalidate the Eucharistic Meal as if the Substance of the Elements were changed.

So I cannot agree to take Grape Juice in the Eucharistic Meal and I would abstain from the Eucharist if I was placed in such a circumstance.

Martin Luther said,

“When somebody inquired whether, when a sick person wished to have the sacrament but could not tolerate wine on account of nausea, something else should be given in place of the wine, the doctor [Martin Luther] replied, “This question has often been put to me and I have always given this answer: One shouldn’t use anything else than wine. If a person can’t tolerate wine, omit it [the sacrament] altogether in order that no innovation may be made or introduced.” Luther, M. (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther’s works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (54:438). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

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