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Lent—Why Bother? To Lead us to Christ
White Horse Inn Blog ^ | Feb.22, 2012 | Michael Horton

Posted on 02/22/2012 8:21:05 AM PST by Gamecock

While Israel’s 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 God’s 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 Lord’s Day is a celebration of Christ’s 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 Christ’s person and work.

Lent is a 40-day preparation for the observance of Christ’s 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 Adam’s trial and Israel’s 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 Satan’s temptation with God’s 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. Isn’t 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 Lord’s Day.


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: calvinismisdead; lent

1 posted on 02/22/2012 8:21:16 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...

2 posted on 02/22/2012 8:24:20 AM PST by Gamecock (I am so thankful for [the] active obedience of Christ. No hope without it. JGM)
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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.

Thoughts?


3 posted on 02/22/2012 8:27:44 AM PST by Gamecock (I am so thankful for [the] active obedience of Christ. No hope without it. JGM)
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To: Gamecock

Yeah, Lent is just chock full of superstitions and wacky rituals :eyeroll:


4 posted on 02/22/2012 8:29:30 AM PST by Carpe Cerevisi
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To: Gamecock

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.


5 posted on 02/22/2012 8:43:19 AM PST by albie
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To: Gamecock

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
Canon 1.
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,[110] without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.


6 posted on 02/22/2012 8:48:38 AM PST by Claud
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To: Gamecock

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.


7 posted on 02/22/2012 8:51:16 AM PST by Claud
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To: Gamecock

bump to see what develops on this thread


8 posted on 02/22/2012 8:54:36 AM PST by RightField (one of the obstreperous citizens insisting on incorrect thinking - C. Krauthamer)
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To: Gamecock
With catholics in my workplace Lent for them is all about whatever food or vice they're "giving up" and failures in how they cheat is basically brushed off as just being "human". From coffee, to chocolate to TV or others, it's centered on "succeeding" in refraining from these. I have not once heard Christ's name in their equation of what Lent means to them...it appears to be all about them and their vice.

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.

9 posted on 02/22/2012 9:01:21 AM PST by caww
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To: Gamecock

Where is the observance of lent instructed in the Bible.?

Ooops, it’s not.


10 posted on 02/22/2012 9:14:37 AM PST by Reagan69 (I supported Sarah Palin and all I got was a lousy DVD !)
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To: Gamecock

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.


11 posted on 02/22/2012 9:18:21 AM PST by lastchance ("Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis" St. Augustine)
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To: caww
I have not once heard Christ's name in their equation of what Lent means to them...

I work with two catholics and I hear them mention God's name about every 5 minutes.

Here's a recent example of one of the catholics who is also a KU graduate. I wish TCU wasn't joining the Big 12. Those G-Damn Christians. It just gives me another team to hate. And they wear purple too (in reference to K-State).

But they'll have ashes on their foreheads before the end of the day. And they'll be sure to eat fish on Fridays. They'd hate to go to hell for disobeying that.
12 posted on 02/22/2012 9:24:33 AM PST by crosshairs (Liberalism is to truth, what east is to west.)
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To: Reagan69

Where is Free Republic in the Bible? Oops.

I’ll keep an eye out for your opus.


13 posted on 02/22/2012 10:08:51 AM PST by Claud
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To: Gamecock

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.


14 posted on 02/22/2012 10:24:47 AM PST by irishtenor (Everything in moderation, however, too much whiskey is just enough... Mark Twain)
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To: irishtenor
"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."

"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.

15 posted on 02/22/2012 10:59:16 AM PST by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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To: Gamecock
Unlike the Old Testament, however, the New Testament does not prescribe a church calendar.

It would seem that those who would make a statement
like this do not believe in the Elohim of the Bible.

There is only ONE YHvH.

He did not authorize the Roman "church"
to create it's own god and religion.

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
16 posted on 02/22/2012 12:21:52 PM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: johngrace

Haha!
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.


17 posted on 02/22/2012 12:31:13 PM PST by irishtenor (Everything in moderation, however, too much whiskey is just enough... Mark Twain)
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To: irishtenor

Well! Thats Good to hear!


18 posted on 02/22/2012 12:40:37 PM PST by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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To: Reagan69

Well its start can be found in that Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days.


19 posted on 02/22/2012 1:03:13 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: crosshairs

After reading your post, it makes me appriciate Lent all the more.


20 posted on 02/22/2012 1:06:13 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Gamecock

I suggest that we should all give up superstitious Papist traditions for Lent. We should also remember to eat red meat on Fridays in honor of the season.


21 posted on 02/22/2012 4:56:56 PM PST by PAR35
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To: PAR35

Sounds like a winner to me!


22 posted on 02/22/2012 5:01:31 PM PST by Gamecock (I am so thankful for [the] active obedience of Christ. No hope without it. JGM)
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To: irishtenor; Gamecock; PAR35
I guess it is in me a remnant of growing up in a Lutheran home, but I have always loved the Lenten season. Not for giving anything up, which is not required, but for adding to. The midweek Lenten services and reflections on Jesus were somber and moving. In a time when religious services are bereft of emotion, I now like to sit with my old Missouri Synod Lutheran Hymnal and ponder what was done for me.
23 posted on 02/22/2012 5:20:06 PM PST by suzyjaruki (God is already in my tomorrow, waiting for me.)
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To: Gamecock
So what I’m getting from Dr. Horton is that Lent should be focused on Christ and leading us to Him,

I'm with the Scots on this one. I see no reason to do anything different during Lent as at any other time. To eat a fat jellyroll on Tuesday just so you can fast on Wednesday is so silly. Some people we know are "selectively" fasting; that is choosing particular things they will not eat. It's nothing more than mumbo-jumbo.

Our pastor gave out devotional guides for Lent. All I could think of is why aren't the people already doing devotionals.

24 posted on 02/22/2012 5:40:45 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: Gamecock

Lent gave us the debauchery that is Mardi Gras .
It isn’t biblical


25 posted on 02/23/2012 5:10:38 PM PST by Lera
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To: Gamecock

Lent is not Biblical and ashes on the forehead is a Romanist practice to show off how pious one is.

Resist the pull back to Rome.


26 posted on 02/24/2012 1:17:41 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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