The Communion service is one of the sacraments of the New Testament church. In it we fulfil Christ’s command to eat his flesh and drink his blood by partaking of the symbolic elements of unleavened bread (which represents the sinless body of Christ) and the fruit of the vine (which represents the sinless blood of Christ). Among Apostolics, there is virtually universal agreement that the element used to represent the body of Christ must be unleavened bread. But there is much debate and division over the element used to represent the blood of Christ—wine or grape juice, even though it is universally agreed that the element used must be unleavened (because that which is leavened is generally recognized to represent that which is sinful in nature).
Since the process by which an element is leavened is known in the scientific community as “fermentation” (be it bread or wine), it seems to make the most sense to use grape juice as the element to represent the blood as opposed to wine, since wine is grape juice that has been leavened or fermented. However, there are some very good and noble men—some that are recognized to be spiritual giants—who use wine for Communion. (Of course, the opposite is also true: some of the greatest men in our movement use grape juice for Communion.) Therefore, it is very unwise to suggest that those who happen to disagree with my beliefs on this subject are not saved (because “they aren’t taking Communion if they aren’t using what I use”). I believe that if a preacher sincerely believes that wine is unleavened and uses it in the Communion because he believes that, then he is taking Communion and will be saved just as much as those who are taking grape juice for Communion.
My problem with using wine for Communion is this: the natural state of the fruit of the vine is unfermented. To argue otherwise is logically irresponsible. When flour and water are mixed with other ingredients of bread, this mixture is unleavened, because it has not had time to ferment. Left alone for a few days, the dough sours (or spoils) due to the very natural process of fermentation; when it is baked after it has fermented, it is leavened bread. The same set of events transpires in grape juice to produce wine, which, I maintain, is leavened, because it has undergone the process of fermentation—the same process which produced leavened bread from the unleavened lump of dough. Hence, unleavened bread is bread baked from unfermented dough, and unleavened fruit of the vine is unfermented grape juice.
However, for the sake of my precious brethren who do not agree with me, but who vigorously maintain that alchoholic wine must be used as the symbol of the blood in the Communion service, I have spent many hours laboring in and studying the Word of God to discover any possible way that my reasoning could be flawed, or my logic fallacious. And for the sake of this discussion, I will ignore the inconsistency between insisting upon unleavened bread while using what I consider to be leavened wine for the Communion. I have come to realize that those who use wine for Communion do not deny that it is fermented; but they deny that fermentation is the process of leavening.
With this in mind, and remembering that the fruit of the vine represents the shed blood of Jesus Christ, my question is this: What happened to the blood of Jesus after it was shed that produced in it the effect that fermentation produces in grape juice? It is a matter of scientific fact that unfermented grape juice contains no alcohol; but those who use wine for the Communion make much of the fact of the power of wine (implying the intoxicating effects of the alcohol in it) and how it best represents the power of the blood of Jesus. Was the blood somehow different a few days after it was shed than it was immediately when it was shed? Was it not efficacious immediately? Or did it “see corruption”? We are told by the Scripture that his flesh saw no corruption (another word for leavening). Does this only apply to his body, or does it not also apply to his blood?
If unfermented grape juice is unfit to represent the blood of Jesus, then something in the spiritual realm had to have happened to the blood of Jesus after it was shed to correspond to the process of fermentation, by which unfermented grape juice is transformed into wine. This “event” is foreign to Scripture, and has no place in Apostolic theology; nor does it have a typical counterpart in the tabernacle ritual of the Old Testament. There is nothing in the Word to suggest that the blood of Jesus was not “precious” the instant it was shed—or even before it was shed, while it still flowed in our Savior’s veins. Indeed, the sinless life our Savior lived is what gave to his blood power to cleanse us from our sins. And though corruption and evil were all around him, yet he knew no sin; in the same manner, the elements of corruption may be all around the grape, but as long as it remains inviolate and the corruption does not penetrate the skin, the juice remains pure—uncontaminated and unleavened—and fit to be squeezed for use as the fruit of the vine, symbolic of the blood of Jesus.
To assert that freshly squeezed grape juice has no power (as a symbol of the blood) is the equivalent of asserting that the blood of Jesus had no power when it was shed. This is totally bizarre to my way of thinking. What power was in the water that was used to mix with the ashes of a red heifer? Or should the question not be, what made the water efficacious? You see, efficacy is a result of complicity with the commandments of God, not merely what something is made of. God’s ordinance, when administered by the high priest, empowered the water and ashes of the heifer to sanctify to the cleansing of the flesh. The same power is vested in grape juice when it is taken as the symbol of the blood of Jesus in the Communion. We don’t need to find the most potent alcoholic wine when administering the sacrament of communion in order to “force” the power to be in the blood any more than we need to find the cleanest, purest water in which to administer the sacrament of baptism in order to ensure the most effective cleansing from sin!
Rev Tim D. Cormier
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