Skip to comments.Lent—Why Bother? To Lead us to Christ
Posted on 02/22/2012 8:21:05 AM PST by Gamecock
While Israels neighbors celebrated the cycle of seasons as shadows of the realm of the gods, Israel celebrated the interventions of God in historical events of judgment and deliverance. The major feasts include Passover, Firstfruits (Pentecost), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles (Sukkot). In commanding these feasts, God was incorporating them into his unfolding drama, anchored in his promises and their future fulfillment in Christ.
Unlike the Old Testament, however, the New Testament does not prescribe a church calendar. Furthermore, Lent became associated in the medieval church with all sorts of rules and superstitions. For the most part, the Protestant Reformers continued to celebrate Lent, but in a more evangelical way. They inveighed against the connection between fasting and penance as a work of merit or a form of divine worship, as Calvin put it. Lent is still celebrated today in Lutheran, Anglican, and many Reformed churches.
However, many of the English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians went further, arguing that such observances fostered superstition, constrained the conscience where God had left it free, and undermined the Christian Sabbath as Gods appointed holy day. (At the same time, the Puritans did call for special days of thanksgiving and fasting, by order of Parliament!)
In my view, these special days are valuable chiefly as a teaching opportunity. To be sure, every Lords Day is a celebration of Christs saving work. Paul seems to have allowed freedom to celebrate old covenant feasts, but upbraided those who bound Christian consciences on the matter, especially with fasts and abstinence.
I believe an evangelical celebration of Lent affords an opportunity to reinforce rather than undermine the significance of Christs person and work.
Lent is a 40-day preparation for the observance of Christs passion and Easter. It gives us an annual opportunity to trace the history of redemption. We learn that the number 40 is associated with a trial, a preparation, even an ordeal that leads either to blessing or curse in the stories of Noah, Moses, and Jonah. Recapitulating Adams trial and Israels 40 years of testing, Jesus was taken by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days, fasting instead of following Adam and the wilderness generation of Israelites in demanding the food they craved (Matt. 4:1-4). Resisting Satans temptation with Gods Word, Jesus was the Last Adam and Faithful Israel who fulfilled the trial not only for himself but also for us, as well as bearing the curse for our covenant-breaking.
New disciples in the ancient church were instructed daily in Christian doctrine and practice for the 40 days of Lent, leading to their baptism on Easter Eve. They realized that they were quite literally wrestling with demons from their pagan heritage. Isnt our culture just as toxic? Are we really making disciples, or just superficial converts?
When unburdened by superstitious rites, Lent still holds tremendous promise if we will recover its evangelical purpose; namely, leading us and our children to Christ by his Word. Hopefully we can all agree that this goal remains the central mission of the church every Lords Day.
So what I’m getting from Dr. Horton is that Lent should be focused on Christ and leading us to Him, just like every other day of the year. Not on superstitions and vain works.
Yeah, Lent is just chock full of superstitions and wacky rituals :eyeroll:
I may read portions of this at dinner tonight. My kids have been taught to partake in lent to acquiant themselves to suffering as Jesus did. They realize that going 40 days without chocolate isn’t exactly “suffering” but they get the point. It’s also a good exercise in will power.
Of course it should be focused on Christ. What superstitions and vain works exactly are you referring to? Penance? Almsgiving? Prayer? That’s what I have on the plate anyway.
I’ll post this now, since I have a feeling it may come in handy for future readers of this thread:
Council of Trent: Canons Concerning Justification
If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.
I am glad though that Mr. Horton has not followed the Puritans on the question of Lent. His position is eminently more sensible than theirs.
bump to see what develops on this thread
This has been my observation as they discuss Lent amongst themselves. It doesn't appear to have any "religious" meaning, rather it's the "doing" of what they've determined to give up for Lent and participating with the group think concerning that......and further failing that, going to Mass in order to be absolved of that failure...often followed with chuckling and humor when speaking about their failure.
I will also add the catholics in my workplace do believe a "woman has a right to do with her body what she wants to" in matters of abortion and contraceptives.
Where is the observance of lent instructed in the Bible.?
Ooops, it’s not.
As the hatred of the world grows more fervent, Lent is a good time to remember why we call Jesus “Lord” and reflect on His sacrifice. When we remember what He bore for our sakes the world’s hate becomes a badge of honor.
Where is Free Republic in the Bible? Oops.
I’ll keep an eye out for your opus.
Not that I would normally disagree with Dr. Horton, but I don’t feel that ANY act of ours will lead us to Christ, even something like Lent. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. If the HS wants you to withhold something because it would cause you to reflect more on Jesus and what he has done for you, the HS is not and should not be constrained to any limiting period of time, such as a 40 day Lent season. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to Christ and all his benefits. And speaking of benefits...
If your loving and compassionate spouse scrimped and saved to buy you that shiny new red sports car you’ve always wanted and presented it to you, do you look them in the eye and say “I love you and your gift so much, I am going to set it in the garage for forty days so I can enjoy it so much more later.”? No, you enjoy the car every day, and rejoice in such a wonderful gift of sacrifice.
Jesus sacrificed so you don’t have to. The Father gives you what you need, and much of what you want. I think it is idiotic to say to a loving Father that you want to leave the gifts he gave you alone, so you can appreciate him all the more, when actually you should be praising him every day for the wonderful things he has given and continues to give. If something has caused you to think more of it than of God (coffee, smokes, internet, whatever) that you think you should forgo it for 40 days, just get rid of it altogether, it has become an idol.
In other words, you don’t need a special season to do that which you should be doing every day, rejoicing in ALL that is good from God.
Gamey, sorry for the long post.
"Everything in moderation, however, too much whiskey is just enough... Mark Twain)"
So I guess No abstinence of Whiskey while You are too bleary eyed to praise Jesus in the right fashion? So I guess either on the floor or standing up would be the right way?
Wow! What a statement and with that tagline.
There is only ONE YHvH. He did not authorize the Roman "church"
It would seem that those who would make a statement shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
like this do not believe in the Elohim of the Bible.
to create it's own god and religion.
There is only ONE YHvH.
He did not authorize the Roman "church"
The tag line is just because I find it hilariously funny. My drinking falls into the “a drink a week” category.
I found the quote while searching for quotes on moderation, and loved it.
Not an idol for me at all.
Well! Thats Good to hear!
Well its start can be found in that Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days.
After reading your post, it makes me appriciate Lent all the more.