These are Not Drunken – Acts 2:5-15

Last Wednesday, when we looked at the first part of this chapter, I pointed out that I don’t hold the Day of Pentecost with the same reverence that most of our Protestant neighbors do.

Acts 2 was not the day that the church of Christ originated.

Neither was the baptism of the Holy Spirit which we see in the first verses was the way that the disciples became a part of the Lord’s church.

I know that we haven’t dealt with that subject lately, but we will before we come to the end of this chapter.

No, the Day of Pentecost was not all that many people want it to be.

But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it was just another day either.

It was a fantastic day, perhaps with only two or three days in the history of man that came close to it.

It was the beginning of the fulfillment of one of the prophecies of Joel.

We’ve touched on that and we’ll deal with it in more detail when we get into Peter’s sermon.

Pentecost was the day that the Lord approved and authenticated His church in the eyes of the world.

It was therefore equivalent to the dedication of the Temple and the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

And it was perhaps the greatest day of evangelistic in-gathering and reaping in the history of man.

Pentecost was not just another day, howbeit it was not what most religious people claim it to be.

I want to go back and pick up a little scriptural nugget which most expositors just gloss over.

In my library I have a 23 volume set called “The Biblical Illustrator.”

This is an important reference work with which I will probably never willingly part.

It contains many thousands of sermon outlines and anecdotes from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

Often there are several dozen thoughts any given passage of scripture,

And many times they are just what I need to whet my imagination.

In fact I read about 20 pages of very small print in preparation for this morning’s message.

But the “Biblical Illustrator” doesn’t even hint that there is anything worth considering in my theme for this evening.

The non-drunkenness of the disciples is a non-issue to the editors of the “Biblical Illustrator,”

But I disagree.

Some of the visitors and citizens of Jerusalem accused the disciples of drunkenness as they excitedly left the house where they had been spiritually baptized.

And when a large crowd gathered, and Peter arose to speak, the first thing that he said was:

“These are not drunken, as ye suppose.”

“This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”

Let’s spend just a few minutes on the idea that these disciples were not drunken.

First, we need to ask what it was that made the people of Jerusalem think that they were drunk?

I am delighted that most of you have never been drunk and know nothing about it from personal experience.

Many of you didn’t grow up in homes with drunken parents – for which you should praise the Lord.

Few of you have ever spent time surrounded by drinking or drunken people.

Maybe you think that you have been deprived,

But I assure you that you have been tremendously blessed.

Some of you don’t even have televisions and have never attend movies, so you aren’t even conversant with Hollywood’s perverted impressions of drunkenness.

So let me give you a brief, non-professional synopsis of what I have seen and know about drunkenness.

When alcohol reaches the human blood system it quickly affects the brain.

And when it does, it immediately alters that brain’s pattern of activity.

For example, people’s speech changes under the corrupting power of alcohol.

Drunks slur their words, and they can’t think as well when they speak.

And as you have probably heard, after just a couple of drinks, most people begin to loose their ability to drive a car properly.

Their reaction time slows down, so they are less likely to stop as quickly in an emergency.

And they are less able to make other decisions wisely, like following directions & turning properly.

A huge portion of fatal car accidents involve people who are legally drunk.

Some people get mean and aggressive when they are drinking.

Most domestic violence involves alcohol by one or both parties.

And drinking plays a roll in most violent crime.

If alcohol was made permanently and completely illegal, the cost of car insurance and medical insurance would immediately drop.

If alcohol was eliminated in the United States the quality of life here would immediately improve.

The average worker and business would immediately become more productive.

And crime would take a nose-dive.

There would be less need for taxes for police and prisons, and the welfare rolls would drop.

The health of the nation would improve, and the need for health care would fall.

This world would be infinitely better off without alcohol.

In contrast to the angry and abusive drunks, there are some who get unusually happy – even giddy.

Many drunks behave silly, and in fact many become stupid.

And by the way, a great many drunks aren’t even aware of what sort of people they become.

In other words, alcohol reduces peoples’ inhibitions and temporarily changes the way they behave.

So why did some of the people of Jerusalem think that these 120 Christians were drunk?

With the Holy Spirit filling them and empowering them, their outward personalities were changed.

Whereas some of them had been timid and shy, they were outgoing and excited.

Whereas some of them had been cool, aloof and even mean-spirited people, they were warm, and excited about sharing the gospel with perfect strangers.

Whereas they had been spending weeks in hiding, now they were walking through the streets of Jerusalem without fear, freely witnessing of the resurrection of Christ and of the grace of God.

Something had changed them, and the people who knew them had no better explanation than alcohol.

I think that it is very interesting to hear Peter’s reply to these charges.

“Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.”

I would not want to be charged with being drunk.

If I was sick with a diabetic reaction, or some other medical condition that made me appear to be drunk,

It would bother me to be charged with any kind of intoxication.

And even though there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it, I refuse to spin the children around and around, letting them go just to watch them stagger around like tiny drunks.

I don’t take cold medications with alcohol in them, because I don’t want my speech any more blurred and confused than it already is.

It’s a shame to be charged with drunkenness, and Peter was right to deny the charge and to explain what was really happening.

But what was it that he said to defend the church?

He said that it was 9:00 in the morning – the third hour of the day.

Generally speaking, morning drunks are relatively rare.

Mornings are the time for hangovers – the painful leftovers from the previous night’s drunkenness.

Mornings are when drunks are retching their insides out.

Mornings are when the drunks from the previous night’s revellings are released from jail, assuming that there haven’t been other charges laid against them.

Generally speaking, drunks are trying to fill their bellies with some sort of food to make themselves feel respectable after their night of poisonous alcohol.

No, these disciples of Christ were not drunk; it was barely breakfast time.

All very true.

But think about some of the things that Peter DID NOT say.

Why didn’t he say, “These disciples aren’t drunk, because they are tea-total’ers”?

Why didn’t he say, “These aren’t drunk, because the grace of God has made new men of them”?

Why didn’t he say, “These men aren’t drunk, because since meeting Christ as their Lord and Saviour three years ago, they haven’t let a drop of wine pass over their lips”?

Could it be that he didn’t say these things, because they weren’t true?

I remember one evening about ten years ago: one of the members of the church came to me after a service.

I can’t remember what provoked it, but he came to me with an apology in his voice.

You might be thinking that he came to confess to me that he had been drinking, but that wasn’t the case.

He softly told me, “Pastor, I have been thinking about this for some time and searching the scriptures, but I have to confess that I find it hard to prove from the Bible that Christians must avoid all forms of alcohol”.

I don’t know if he was expecting a fight or a rebuke or just a cold shoulder,

But he was surprised when I told him that I have a hard time proving it as well.

I think it’s extremely tough to prohibit alcohol from the scriptures.

When Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 5:23:

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities,”

I find it hard to say that he was talking about non-fermented grape juice.

The Greek word “oinos” is translated only two ways in the Bible: “wine” and “winepress.”

And in many of the scriptures where it is used, it is clearly talking about fermented or alcoholic wine.

I know of no prominent commentary anywhere that says Paul was telling Timothy to drink grape juice.

In I Timothy 3 where the qualifications of a good pastor are outlined, the Bible says, “not given to wine.”

“Not given to wine” means not addicted to wine, or not known to be a heavy drinker.

And of the deacon, that passage says, “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre.”

Why doesn’t Paul sayabstaining from wine,” instead of saying “not given to much wine.”

And if he was talking about unfermented grape juice, there would be no point in bringing up the subject at all.

There shouldn’t be any problem or difficulty with drinking either a little grape juice or a lot of grape juice.

I have a hard time preaching prohibition from the scriptures.

But on the other hand, the Bible clearly and unmistakably condemns drunkenness.

So if you think that I am saying that we should all stop at the store,

And buy a bottle of Mogan David on our way home from church tonight, then you will be misquoting me.

I am a total tea-total’er,

And when I’ve had the opportunity to put a bottle to my lips I have refused.

By the grace of God I will refuse alcohol until the day that the Lord takes me home.

I grew up in the home of an alcoholic.

There were many, many times before I even started high school when I have been drunk on a variety of things from beer, to wine and even hard liquor.

My father encouraged it, so that I would be accustomed to alcohol when I left home.

I am convinced that if the Lord had not saved me during my teen years, that I would be an alcoholic today.

Perhaps you are unaware of these things.

If so, it’s because I am not particularly proud of that part of my past.

I am not boasting about it now.

But I mention it this evening to highlight this undeniable fact:

The teenager who never puts a beer bottle to his lips will never become a drunk.

The girl who never sips wine with her dinner will never embarrass herself with intoxication.

The man who never learns the taste of bourbon will never spend a night in the drunk tank at the county lock-up.

I hate alcohol, not only for what it would do to me if given half a chance;

And not only for what it is doing to our society and the people around us.

I hate it for what it potentially can do our children, grandchildren, our church and mission.

Despite the fact that I have a hard time proving total abstinence from the Bible,

The Bible is more than clear on the evils and dangers of alcohol.

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Proverbs 21:17 – “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine shall not be rich.”

Proverbs 23:29-32 – “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 colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Isaiah 5:11 – “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”

Habakkuk 2:15 – “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

Yes, I have heard the foolish argument that this only condemns making people drunk in order to look on their nakedness.

Oh, how low the sinner sinks in order to justify his wickedness.

This scripture condemns both the act of drunkenness and the reason behind it.

There are dozens of scriptures which should keep people from alcohol, whether they are children of God or children of Hell.

But there is one that is more frightening to me than all the rest: I Corinthians 6:9-11:

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

There is not a single person who puts a beer bottle to his lips who can guarantee that he isn’t a drunk or won’t become a drunk.

And that being true, that man cannot be sure that he is truly a child of God.

Kids, I implore you, NEVER experiment, NEVER taste, NEVER even smell a drop of any kind of alcohol.

It not only immediately destroys your testimony as a child of God.

But it could very easily eventually destroy your life.

And I do not have confidence that any drinker can claim to be a citizen of the kingdom of God.

One more thing: If the disciples weren’t drunk, then what was it?

As you already know, those disciples were filled with the Spirit of the Almighty God.

The Lord had removed some of the inhibitions which kept them indoors for a while.

The Lord had filled their hearts with the Lord’s love and their mouths with the gospel of Christ.

They were grinning from ear to ear as if they were filled with new wine.

They were bouncing off walls as if they were totally inebriated.

But it wasn’t alcohol which caused it, but the presence of the Holy Spirit of God.

They were filled with the joy of the Lord, and this was their strength.

And ideally this is the way that you and I should be.

Turn to Ephesians 5:15-20:

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Doesn’t verse 18 suggest that the wine to which Paul referred was capable of causing intoxication?

Doesn’t he neglect to forbid wine completely?

But at the same time, doesn’t this scripture condemn drunkenness?

In contrast to the drunkenness of wine, Paul exhorts us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

And this brings us right back to Acts 2

“These men are not drunken as ye suppose, rather they are filled with the Holy Spirit of God.”

They are not in sin, rather they are thrilled and animated by the presence of the Lord.

This beloved brethren, is the result of God-sent revival.