After a careful—but not exhaustive—examination of the evidence, we must conclude the following.
1. The Holy Scriptures, our only infallible rule of faith and practice, must regulate the public worship of God in all its parts. This would include the giving and the receiving of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Neither the traditions of men nor the consciences of Christians can be our rule.
2. The Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, and we ought to observe it as He appointed it. We are not free to alter or change it in any way. No power on earth has the right to take from it, or add to it. Every unbiblical innovation must be rejected.
3. When the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, He called the content of the communion cup, “the fruit of the vine” or “this fruit of the vine.” Since these words were spoken in the context of a Passover meal, the language and traditions surrounding the Passover meal must be examined to determine the meaning of these terms. At the time of Jesus, the Jews used wine in the Passover meal, and used “the fruit of the vine” to mean wine. Therefore, faithful interpreters of the word of God must understand that the words "fruit of the vine" mean wine, the fermented juice of grapes. In context, Jesus's words, "the fruit of the vine," cannot and do not mean unfermented grape juice. Interpreters of the word of God must not import or impose modern notions into the biblical texts.
4. The Apostle Paul, declaring he was passing on to others what he had received from the Lord Jesus, used the terms “cup” and “the cup of blessing, which we bless” to describe the communion cup. However, these terms also have their roots in the Passover meal; when we examine these words in their historical context, we discover they simply mean wine.
5. Since the Corinthians became drunk, we know that they used wine, not grape juice. However, while Paul criticizes the Corinthians for drinking wine to excess, he does not criticize them for using wine in the Lord’s Supper.
6. At the time of Jesus and His disciples, the modern technology needed to preserve grape juice in an unfermented state (e.g. pasteurization) did not exist. Without such technology, grape juice begins to ferment within a few hours or days. But since the grape harvest in first century Palestine occurred in the fall, and the Last Supper occurred in the spring, the disciples, while preparing the meal, could not have procured unfermented grape juice. Jesus did not reference something that could not and did not exist, when He said, “prepare the Passover” and “this fruit of the vine.” “This fruit of the vine” was a reference to what was a common object in the culture and religion of His time. Jesus and His disciples used wine, the fermented juice of grapes, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.
7. Drinking wine in moderation is not a sin, so we must not object to wine in the Lord’s Supper on the ground that it is a sin.
8. Since Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper using wine, wine must be used in the Lord’s Supper.
9. The practice of using unfermented grape juice in the Lord's Supper is unbiblical, and a sin.
10. The current and wide-spread use of unfermented grape juice in the Lord's Supper originated in the nineteenth century, as a consequence of new attitudes about wine and temperance, not because of fresh insights about the use of wine that were learned from Holy Scripture.
11. Since the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:16), since ministers are to preach "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), and since the duties required in the Ninth Commandment include "preserving and promoting the truth between man and man" and "appearing and standing for the truth" (Westminster Larger Catechism 144), the truth that wine must be used in the Lord's Supper ought not to be suppressed. Instead, this truth should be forthrightly taught, proclaimed and believed, as the Lord of the church gives opportunity, by every Synod, Presbytery, Session, elder, and individual Christian.
© 2019 Wine in the Lord's Supper, by Jeff Yelton