One-Minute Answers by Stephen R. Gibson

Contents of One-Minute Answers

Why Use Water For the Sacrament?

Question: Why do Latter-day Saints use water instead of wine for communion?
The Bible doesn't designate specific emblems for the sacrament. The Lord, as recorded in John 6:54, said, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

Matthew, on the other hand, records only that the Lord "took the cup," adding that the Lord said he would not "drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matt. 26:29). Perhaps that is why the Lord refused the wine and myrrh the guard offered him while he hung on the cross. Both the New Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants tell of a time when the Savior will sit down with prophets of Bible and Book of Mormon times to partake of the fruit of the vine together in Our Father's Kingdom (Matt. 26:29; D & C 27:5). Only Moroni, writing for the benefit of the Lamanites, refers to wine in the sacramental prayer (Moroni 5:2).

For the first four months following the Restored Church's organization, wine was used as the emblem to remember the blood Christ shed. Then, early in August 1830, while Joseph Smith was on his way to purchase some wine for the Sacrament, he received what became the 27th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. In that revelation, the heavenly messenger warned him of the danger of purchasing sacramental wine from enemies of the Saints. He told him that

it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory . ..
Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine neither strong drink of your enemies;
Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made new among you (D & C 27:2-4).

Although new wine of the Church's own making was used, even in Utah for a time, water is now used throughout most of the Church.

Detractors may be surprised to know that many other Christians beside Latter-day Saints have chosen to not use wine for communion or the sacrament. Grape juice is used by most Baptists and Disciples of Christ congregations. United Methodists used grape juice for their communion for most of this century, a custom said to have been started by the founder of the Welch's grape juice enterprise who was a strong Methodist.

As the Lord said so plainly in 1830, it really doesn't matter what is used for the emblems, as long as they are taken with an eye single to the glory of the Lord.