Wine or Water
February 18th, 1968 @ 10:50 AM
WINE OR WATER?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-18-68 10:50 a.m.
On the radio and on television, you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message once again, as so many times in these Sundays past, and as so many times in God’s grace in the Sundays future. I am preaching from the Book of Daniel, through the Book of Daniel. The sermon next Sunday will be from the second chapter of the prophecy in Daniel. This is the one of the great, tremendous, meaningful, significant chapters in all literature, and certainly in the Word of God. It describes the sweep of history until the consummation of the age. And next Sunday morning at this time the sermon will be on the second chapter of the Book of Daniel. Now the message today is taken out of the first chapter of the Book of Daniel, and it is entitled Wine or Water?
Reading in the Book of Daniel beginning at the third verse, where the king of Babylon said to the prince of his eunuchs that he was to bring of the king’s seed, of the royal household of Judah, gifted, talented, well-formed, beautiful, handsome young men. And they are to be taught the wisdom, and the lore, and the learning of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily portion of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank [Daniel 1:3-5]. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” [Daniel 1:8]. And he said, “Let them give us pulse to eat and water to drink” [Daniel 1:12].
Wine or Water? I am not speaking from God’s Word on moderation. I don’t invent this message; I am but a voice, but an echo. I just preach what I read in the Bible, that’s all. I am not preaching on moderation. I am delivering God’s message from this Book, and it is one of abstention. It is not wine and water—it is wine or water. Daniel did not purpose in his heart that, “I will be very moderate in my eating of the king’s meat; I will not eat so much. I will not be such a glutton as to make myself sick.” Daniel did not purpose in his heart that he would be moderate in his drinking, that he would not drink so much of the king’s wine as to make himself unable to walk straight. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with … the wine which the king drank” [Daniel 1:8]. And he asked that he might have pulse to eat, and water to drink [Daniel 1:12].
Wine or water? We’re not talking about moderation. That’s not in the Book, and I preach what is in the Book. We’re talking about abstention, total abstinence. “And Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with … the wine which the king drank” [Daniel 1:8]. And he asked that he might have pulse to eat and water to drink [Daniel 1:12] . Wine or water?
There sat two glasses filled to the brim,
On an old man’s table, rim to rim.
One was wine and red as blood,
One was water from the crystal flood.
Said the glass of wine to the paler brother
As they told their tales the one to the other—
The glass of wine speaks—
I can tell of banquets, revel and mirth
And the proudest and grandest souls on earth
That fell under my touch as though struck by blight
Where I am monarch and rule in might.
From the heads of kings I have torn the crown,
From the height of fame I have hurled men down.
I have blasted many an honored name
I have taken virtue and given shame.
I have made the arm of the driver fail
And sent the train from the iron rail.
I have made good ships go down at sea
And the cries of the lost were sweet to me.
Ho, Ho! Pale brother, laughed the glass of wine
Can you boast of deeds as great as mine?
Said the water glass, I cannot boast
Of a king dethroned or a murdered host.
But I can tell of a heart once sad
By my crystal drops made bright and glad.
Of thirst I’ve quenched and brows I’ve laved
Of hands I’ve cooled and souls I’ve saved.
I have slept in the sunshine and dropped from the sky
And everywhere gladdened the landscape and I.
I have eased the hot forehead of fever and pain
I have made parched meadows grow fertile with grain.
I can tell of a powerful wheel of the mill
That ground out the flour and turned at my will.
I can tell of manhood debased by you
That I have lifted and crowned anew.
I cheer, I heal, I strengthen and aid,
I gladden the heart of man and maid.
I set the chained wine captive free,
And all are better for knowing me.
These are the tales they told each other
The glass of wine and his paler brother
As they sat together filled to the brim
On the old man’s table rim to rim.
[“The Two Glasses,” from Kingdom of Love and How Salvator Won; Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1902]
Wine or water? I am not speaking of moderation. That’s not in my Book. I’m speaking of total abstinence. First, these young men—Daniel and Hananiah and Mishael and Azariah—these young men were away from home. They were in a strange land. They were away from father and mother, family and friends. Would not that have been in itself at least an inducement to take the cup? Again, they were courtiers. They were in the palace of the king, and why be strange, or peculiar? Why not enter into the customs of the land and of the people? They all drank like Americans! When I am seated on a plane, I will look up and down. There are many times when I’m the only one that doesn’t drink. It is a custom, it belongs. You’re a courtier in the king’s palace, and in Babylon, as in America, you’re supposed to drink. Why shouldn’t you?
Again, their political preferment, their success, their advancement, their career depended on their drinking. The prince of the eunuchs said to the young men himself, “If you do not drink the king’s wine, I will lose my head. It is the acceptable thing, you are to drink” [Daniel 1:10]. And of course, it was offered by the hand of the king. Who could refuse? There is many a man who would refuse a glass of liquor from the hand of an inferior. There is many a man who would refuse a glass of liquor pushed out to him by some beefy, stupid, dull bartender over the bar. But when that liquor is offered by the hand of a successful executive, and especially his superior, or when that glass is proffered by the dimpled, jeweled hand of a social queen, you are supposed to drink. And Daniel, and Hananiah, and Mishael, and Azariah; they were courtiers to the king, they were supposed to drink.
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with… the wine which the king drank” [Daniel 1:8]. And he said: “Give us pulse to eat, and water to drink” [Daniel 1:12]. That is the Word of the Lord. I did not invent this passage. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the wine which the king drank, and asked for water. Now that’s an unusual thing. Daniel looked upon his body as the temple of the Holy Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 6:19] and he was not to defile it with wine offered by the hand of the king. Now that’s very unusual; it is unusually unusual. I refuse to drink because it harms my body, is that reasonable? I’m not speaking of inspiration now. Is that reasonable?
At the turn of this century, there came to America one of the great doctors of all time. His name was Dr. Adolph Lorenz, of Vienna, Austria. Phillip Armour—of the great packing house fame in Chicago—Phillip Armour, who headed that family, in his home had a little boy that was born maimed, crippled. And he gave to Dr. Lorenz the unheard fee of $30,000–that would be like about $200,000 today. He gave to Dr. Lorenz $30,000 to come over to America to see if he could help his little crippled boy. Dr. Lorenz came, and his coming was heralded from one side of this nation to the other. The American Medical Association was meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. And some of the fine doctors of the city of Dallas, attending that medical association meeting in New Orleans, persuaded Dr. Lorenz to come to Dallas. On the twentieth day of May in 1903, the city of Dallas had a resplendent banquet for Dr. Lorenz, and the one who made the chief address at that banquet was the pastor of this First Baptist Church, Dr. George W. Truett. And out of the address of Dr. Truett, and out of the meeting that night, was born the Baptist Memorial Sanatorium here in Dallas, which now is called the Baylor University Medical Center.
Upon a day, not that night, but upon a day in America, Dr. Lorenz was seated at a banquet, and he pushed his wine glass away. When he did so, his companion at his side asked him, “Are you a teetotaler? Are you one of those funny people who doesn’t drink at all?” And Dr. Lorenz replied, “Yes, I am a teetotaler, though I am not a temperance agitator. I am a surgeon. My success depends upon my brains being clear, my muscles firm, and my nerves steady. No one can take alcoholic liquor without blunting these physical powers, which must be kept on edge. As a physician I must not drink.”
I am a pastor, and I visit all the time people who are sick. I have seen my members ruined, and destroyed, and forever by drunken doctors. If I had a physician who drank, he would never in a thousand years be invited to minister to me or mine. I have seen that with my own eyes. And the physician who drinks does disservice to mankind and is unworthy of his profession. He needs a steady hand. He needs a clear mind when he is diagnosing his patients in a question of life or death. No physician who drinks—who drinks —is worthy of the name. I would not have him, never! At the time you think that he is sober and well, at that very moment he may have just come from his cups. You don’t know; you don’t know.
It’s like a pilot with one of these great planes, one of these great Continental planes, I used to see him often. And just as often as we saw each other, we got in a discussion over drinking. And of course, he’s like all Americans, he believed in moderation. I said to him one week, I said, “You know, you believe in moderation, and I am sure that when you get in that plane”—and I’ve ridden those things at that company he’s with many, many times—I said, “I’d feel a little better back there in the cabin if I knew you didn’t drink.”
“Oh,” he scoffed at me, “I never drink on the job.”
“I know you don’t drink on the job, but I don’t know but you’d drunk just before you got on the job. I just feel better sitting in that cabin if you didn’t drink and didn’t believe in it.” Did you know within a week when we had our last conversation, he took his plane into the airport at Chicago and hit a sign and killed himself and all of his passengers.
I would just feel a little better if the physician who ministers to me didn’t drink. And I would feel a little better if the man who is in the pilot seat didn’t drink. There is no time, nowhere, as Dr. Lorenz says, when the professional man does not need his finest acumen and his most splendidly integrated nerves and muscles. Frances Willard—Mrs. Frances Willard, one time asked Edison, Thomas Alvin Edison, “Why don’t you drink liquor?” And the great scientist said, “I have a better use for my brains.” Liquor affects the nervous system; it affects the brain; it affects the body.
“And Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s wine” [Daniel 1:8], and said: “Give us pulse to eat, and water to drink” [Daniel 1:12]. This is according to the Word of God. In the twentieth chapter of the Book of Proverbs and the first verse, it begins like this:
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging:
And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise—
and I turn the page—
Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions?
Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause?
Who hath redness of eyes?
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red,
when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself.
At the end it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
This is corroborated in all history. In the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel, we shall read of the disintegration of the great, brilliant Babylonian Empire in the drunken debauchery of Belshazzar [Daniel 5:1-31]. In reading the life of Alexander the Great, he died when he was thirty-three years of age; having conquered the entire civilized world, he lost his life in a drunken debauchery. The “Iron” Duke of England, the Duke of Wellington, stopped his army one time marching across the peninsula and sent his sappers ahead to blow up a vast store of Spanish wine. And it was that same “Iron” Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo who delivered France from a would-be dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte. And some historians I’ve read have said; the reason Napoleon lost the battle at Waterloo was because Marshal Ney—the night before, drank too much of his favorite wine and when he arose the next morning and when the battle was joined—Marshal Ney’s mind was clouded with wine.
When the French government fell in this last World War II, Marshal Petain said, “France lost the war because her army was drunk.” And in 1940, the Vichy government officially said the cause for the moral disintegration of the army of France was alcohol! And it is the greatest of the four problems that face France. Yet France—and I’ve heard this from a thousand tourists—yet France is supposed to be pointed out to us as an ideal paragon nation that has learned to use alcohol moderately. My friend, eighty percent of all the criminals in France are delivered from their rank of alcoholics. There is more alcoholism in a nation like France, as it is getting to be in the United States, than any other nation in the world.
John L. Sullivan was the champion heavyweight boxer of the world—could whip any man alive, he was born with a tremendous physique, and he developed it. And he was a mighty puncher and fighter and all the rest that goes with some of those inhumane things that we love to watch. Well, he was one of those pugilists, and a mighty one; John L. Sullivan. Well, in his generation, there was a little frail consumptive looking kid by the name of Jim Corbett, and Jim Corbett watched his food, and his diet, and exercised, and took care of his body and grew up to manhood. John L. Sullivan was a tremendous specimen from birth! He had one weakness: liquor. Jim Corbett was a frail, consumptive lad from birth, but he followed those rules of health and life. And upon a day, Jim Corbett—think of it, Jim Corbett—challenged John L. Lewis to a match, a fight for the championship of the world. And John L. Sullivan—did I say Lewis? Well, he was a great fighter. Jim Corbett challenged John L. Sullivan to a real match for the championship of the world, and John L. Sullivan was insulted. And he said, “With one blow, I’ll mash him flat. I’ll knock him out.” The fight came off and it raged for an hour. That was before they padded their gloves. And when the fight was over, John L. Sullivan was on the floor and the championship passed to Jim Corbett. And John L. Sullivan laid the blame where it belonged, on liquor, and thereafter went up and down the land speaking to these kids and teenagers against drinking liquor.
Upon a day, the nation’s number one football team was playing in the Cotton Bowl, was playing in the Sugar Bowl. And Baylor University football team, which was down the line; I don’t know how far down the line, I’m so accustomed to them being down the line, I can’t remember which down the line this was. But Baylor University’s football team was going to the Sugar Bowl to play this great-famed world-state university which was number one in the nation. And both teams hit New Orleans.
Well, Dr. White and his spouse were there and told those boys from a Baptist school, getting ready to play with all their hearts and might, but this university team from a state school, they came and hit town to have a swing at it. And they were up and down Bourbon Street—Bourbon Street, whatever street that thing is—drinking and carrying on and taking in the sights. And the next day, that great state university would take that little Baptist school down there in Waco and mash their noses in the mud, that’s what they said. It’s amazing what liquor will do. And the next day, when the game was played, Baylor University pinned their ears to the wall and swept them off of the field. They didn’t know what hit them and don’t know today.
Liquor: I could not but be intrigued by a letter that a doctor at Parkland Hospital here in Dallas wrote to the Dallas News. I cut it out, and glued it on this white piece of paper. Here’s what he writes, the editor of the Dallas News:
Recently, we saw another preview of hell in the Parkland Hospital emergency room. A woman struck down by a drunken driver, a college student lying semi-conscious following a head-on collision with another drunken driver who himself was critically injured. The drunk’s companion was dead; four other drunks with lacerations and stab wounds waiting to be treated. Night after night, year after year, the same bloody trail of horror, major automobile accidents, stabbings, rapes, wife-beatings, the nightly emergencies treated and released or admitted to the hospital or pronounced dead on arrival; and almost always the bloody trail is lead by that honored man of distinction, the weekend drinker—almost always the moderation drinker—not the alcoholic.
I wonder if there is that much joy to be gained from the total consumption of all the beers and whiskies ever made, ever to equal even a small fraction of the innocent suffering, the damaged bodies, the broken marriages, the discarded children, the total brutalities and crimes that will inevitably accompany its use. What a quiet place our emergency room would be if beverage alcohol were ever abolished from our city!
Signed by the medical doctor, Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Texas.
I’m not talking about some strange, inspirational thing known but to God, a musterion hid in the secret of the Lord and revealed in some time. I am talking about what God says that can be verified on every page of history, that can be verified down every highway and street, that can be verified in every hospital in the land. “Well, preacher”—and we must hasten—”Are there no good uses for alcohol?” Yes. Yes. The Word of God says yes—there are fine uses for alcohol; one, the thirty-first chapter of the Book of Proverbs, the words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him:
What, my son? And what, the son of my womb?
And what, the son of my vows? . . .
It is not for kings, O Lemuel . . . it is not
for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Lest they drink, and forget the law,
and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish . . .
[Proverbs 31:2, 4-6]
If a man is a condemned criminal, this mother of Lemuel said it is an act of kindness and charity, before he is hanged, or impaled, or to be electrocuted, or placed in the gas chamber—this mother of King Lemuel taught her boy, saying if a man is a condemned criminal it is a matter of palliation, of help, if liquor can be used as a sedative and given to him. Evidently, that mother had a compassionate heart and a compassionate spirit. And seeing condemned men executed, she may have been like one of those who saw Jesus die, who put on a pole some wine that He might be stupefied in His suffering, and Jesus refused it [Matthew 27:34]. But that’s the spirit of this dear mother, teaching her boy [Proverbs 31:6]. For a condemned criminal who faces death, give him strong drink, that he might somehow be sedated, not have the full possession of his faculties, as he faces that awful condemnation and execution. “But, my son,” she said, “wine is not for you, it is not for a king; it is not for a prince. For a king and a prince must have all of his finest faculties if he would be judge among God’s people” [Proverbs 31:4-5]. Well, that’s one use for wine: if you are going to be executed and face the electric chair, this mother felt that it would be nice for them to give it to them. That’s what the Book says.
Well, there’s another use for wine in the Book. In the fifth chapter of 1 Timothy: “Drink a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” [1 Timothy 5:23]. Timothy was a teetotaler. He was an abstemious preacher and he would not touch it—and in that I’m pretty much like him—he wouldn’t touch it. He would rather get sick, and he would rather suffer every day. “Thine often infirmities,” he was just sick all the time. He would rather suffer and be sick than to take liquor. And Paul, writing to his son Timothy, said, “Timothy, that is an exaggeration beyond all thought or reason. Take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” [1 Timothy 5:23].
So there’s a second use for wine. There is a medicinal use of liquor or alcohol. And any pharmacist, any pharmaceutical company, any physician, any doctor, any anybody who knows anything about medicine will tell you that one of the basic ingredients of all medicine is alcohol. It’s the solution in which so many of the healing properties of chemical formulae are dissolved and carried. And all of us are most familiar with that. Alcohol has a great place in medicine—but alcohol in itself poisons the body; the nerves, the brain, the muscle, the fiber—and there is a medicinal use for alcohol, and all of us recognize it.
“Well, one other thing, preacher; what about the use of alcohol for merriment and for mirth? Did not Jesus turn water into wine? Did He not, for a festive occasion?” [John 2:1-10]. Well, the purpose of that, of course, John calls that a sēmeion, it’s a sign [John 2:11]. Filling up the old law, those Jewish foot tubs in which they bathed their feet when they walked in the house, filling up the old law and now bearing to the governor the joy and the gladness of this beautiful and festive occasion [John 2:8]. What was that? What was that? You don’t have to wonder. The Book says, God always says, He never leaves us unknowing. He reveals to us. When the governor of the feast took that water that had been turned into wine by the Savior and tasted it, he said: “It is a new drink. I never tasted anything like this in my life. It is different. It is different” [John 2:10]. That’s correct. It was different.
What kind of drink was that—the fruit of the vine that the governor of the feast drank that day, in the marriage supper in Cana of Galilee? It was this. In the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Matthew, the Lord said to His apostles, “I will no longer drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [Matthew 26:29]. And in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation is revealed to us the story of the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:7-9]. What was that that the Lord made in Cana of Galilee? It was the celestial drink that we shall share together when we sit down at the table of the Lord at the marriage supper of the Lamb, some glorious and final day.
“Ah, but preacher, you don’t understand. They’ll be reeling around up there in heaven! They’ll be drinking under the table; they’ll be sot!” Do you think that? Do you think God made in that cup what it is that makes men stagger? That makes men beasts? That makes men drunk? It is unthinkable! It is unimaginable. What Jesus made that day is what He referred to when He said: “Until I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [Matthew 26:29]—it is that cup that we shall drink at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:7-9]. That’s what that was, and I don’t care anything else about it. It is a far cry, what the Lord made, from the liquor industry that waits for your youngster and mine. How else will they exist? How will they keep those breweries churning? And how will they keep those distilleries going, if they do not teach our children to drink? They have to, to exist.
So they’re out there, deployed over this nation, waiting for our little boy to come along so they can teach him to drink. And they’re out there, deployed over the states of the Union, waiting for your little boy and your little girl that they might teach them to drink. Otherwise, they don’t exist. Otherwise, they lose money. They have to do it. Every generation of children, they must take them and teach them to drink. And when you go out into the world—and you’ll be forced out into the world—when you do, you’re going to see it everywhere. It will be on the airplane, it will be in the restaurant, it will be in the home, it will be at the festive board, it will be everywhere:
You’re starting, my boy, on life’s journey.
Along the grand highway of life,
You’ll meet with a thousand temptations,
Each city with evil it’s rife.
This world is a stage of excitement,
There’s danger wherever you go.
But if you’re tempted in weakness,
Have courage, my boy, to say no.
Be careful in choosing companions.
Seek only the brave and the true.
Stand by your friends when in trial,
Never changing the old for the new.
But when by false friends you are tempted
To taste of the wine cup to know,
With firmness, with patience and kindness,
Have courage, my boy, to say no.
[“Courage to say No”; hymn, author unknown]
Do it! Do it, “Have courage, my boy, to say no.”
“And Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself . . . with the king’s wine which he drank [Daniel 1:8], and he said: Give me pulse to eat, and water to drink” [Daniel 1:12].
You have to go a long way back in history to find a man like that, I know. Through the centuries and the thousands of years, back all the way to the Babylonian Empire, but it was worth it. Just to know that a man like that once lived is a crowning tribute to mankind and manhood.
Now I want to close, but let me take one other thing: young fellow, the world and the devil persuade you that you have to do this, that’s a lie and a vicious one. At the 8:15 o’clock service this morning, as I was closing, there came to me a man who belongs to this church, and said, “Pastor, I want to just reconsecrate and recommit my life to the Lord God.”
And I said, “Who is this woman standing right there?”
He turned around, he didn’t know she was there. He said, “This is my wife.”
Well, I said, “Why have you come?”
And he said, “I am the manager of a great, large theater chain in Texas.”
And he said, “I had given myself over to moderate drinking; I had just decided that it was all right to be a moderate drinker.”
“But,” he said, “After listening to you this morning, I just want to recommit my life to the Lord. I will not do it.”
And his dear wife said, and by his side, “I commit my life to the Lord, we will not do it.”
And as we knelt, you know what that man said to me?
He said, “You know, my boss is a drinker. But he said to me one day, ‘I drink, I know, but I am glad to have a man who runs my business who doesn’t drink.’”
And we got down on our knees there this morning and asked God to give us victories in the business and whatever lies ahead.
The whole world, I think, underneath is like that. On the surface, “Let’s drink! Let’s be merry! Let’s raise our glasses! Let’s host and toast all of the happy, merry, good things in life.” But way down underneath—God made us that way—way down underneath, there’s not a business executive in the world that doesn’t somehow feel gladder in heart, and happier in spirit, if he knows that the man who’s running his shop, and heads his departments, and keeps these wheels rolling, is a man who doesn’t drink.
My brother, it will bless your family, it will bless your home, it will bless your children, it will bless your business, it will bless your life, if you will not drink. You are free; you can do as you please. There is no power in my hands of excommunication; there is no inclination on the part of the churches to hurt or to destroy. You are free to do as you please. I just pray you will please to do a wonderful thing; by your house, by your family, by your children, by your work, by the Lord, choose not to drink. “And Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself . . . with the King’s wine which he drank [Daniel 1:8], and said, ‘Give us pulse to eat, and water to drink’” [Daniel 1:12]. God will bless you as He blessed Daniel, as He will bless any man who gives himself like that to the dear Lord.
Now we are going to stand to sing our hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, a couple you, a family you, one somebody you, to give himself to Jesus [Romans 10:8-13], come and stand by me. To put your life in the fellowship and circle of this dear church [Hebrews 10:24-25], come and stand by me. “Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children, all of us are coming today,” or just you, in the balcony round, on this lower floor, as God shall say the word, shall make appeal, do it now, do it this morning. Decide now, and on this first note of this first stanza, when you stand up, stand up coming; down one of these stairwells, front and back; into the aisle, to the front. Make it now, do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
WINE OR WATER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Daniel 1: 8-16
Inducements to drink
A. In a strange land,
away from home, family
B. In a heathen palace, customs
of the people, only me refusing
C. Political preferment,
D. Appointed by the king
His body the temple of God and he refused to defile it
A. Scripture reference
B. Verification of
A use of alcohol
A. Merciful sedation