“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 NKJV). It is this fact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the Apostle Paul was determined to preach. By following a man-made religious calendar, people have been turned away from that Cross. “Christmas” diverts attention to Jesus’ birth; “Lent” places the emphasis upon human denial; “Easter” skips the cross to Jesus’ resurrection; and “the thief on the cross” makes salvation from a thief rather than Jesus! Bible faith says: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14 NKJV).
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
Ash Wednesday and Lent are two days on the religious calendar that is not recognized by the Bible. In other words, the New Testament gives no sanction to either one of these days or periods of time observed by a good many people, both religious and not. Paul, in something of a similar context, wrote to the churches of Galatia about their own desires to observe days and months. He writes, “You are observing religious days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you that my work for you may have been in vain” (Galatians 4:10-11, NET). The context in which Paul wrote relates to a great many people who desired to continue observing the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses had all the markings of religious teaching, and certainly full of wisdom. In Paul’s time, there were some who promoted it as the acceptable way to please the Lord. Paul, writing by the authority of the Holy Spirit, would have none of it. Neither should we. Let us live holy all the time, and not just part of the time.
Roman Catholics may celebrate the three-day Carnival (which means lustful, fleshly, activity) which is followed by Mardi Gras (Tuesday of excess), a totally sinful “blowout” before the hypocritical 40-day Lent Fast Season. No Christian would observe any of this because Christians are told: “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14 NKJV). No Christian has God’s permission to celebrate Mardi Gras, and any church who gives sanction to such is not a church of Christ! Nor will any church of Christ follow a religious calendar that includes such as this. Giving up something for Lent is NOT penance for willful sin!
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
In the month of March there are six religious days of significance (St Patrick’s Day, Eastern Orthodox Lent, Psalm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, and Passover). I don’t normally pay that much attention to such things; the New Testament says either little to nothing about anyone of them. St Patrick’s Day has its origin in the recognition of a man who lived not until the 5th century in Ireland. The idea of lent is associated with fasting, and this is associated with Easter. Initially, for a period of but a few days, then to a period of about 40 days some observed a fast. Evidence for Psalm Sunday does not come into existence until the 4th century after Christ, and is supposedly related to the Lord triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21). As a religious day of significance the New Testament knows nothing of it. Church history books say that observance of Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) goes back to the early days of Christianity; the New Testament, however, does not recognize it as a day of religious significance. With regard to Easter, the most significant religious day on a Christian calendar (even more so than Christmas), there is this interesting entry: “The derivation of the name ‘Easter’ is uncertain. [According] to Bede [a religious historian who lived into the 8th century after Christ], it is connected with an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess ‘Eostre’. At any rate it seems clear that, as in the case of Christmas…, the Christian feast of Easter has superseded an old pagan festival” (Dictionary of Christian Church, p. 522).
The point of this is not to disparage those who are observing religious significant holidays as much as it is to illustrate that New Testament Christians don’t need to follow any religious holiday unless sanctioned by the Lord himself or any one of his apostles (cf. Romans 15:18). These six religious holidays in the month of March either have their origin in the Lord or they do not. If they do, then that day (or those days) are obligatory on the Christian today. If they do not have their origin in the New Testament, then why observe something that is later than Scripture—that which contains all the truth that Lord wants us to have (2 Peter 1:3; Jude 3)? RT
I’m no protestant, but has the “protestant” world all but completely forgotten what and who they originally protested??? It seems like more and more I see signs in churchyards and hear people talking about what they’re going to do (or not do) for “Lent.” Sadly, even members of the Lord’s church have gotten caught up in this outward display of religious ignorance!
The Bible doesn’t have much to say about “Lent” but it does say enough to be clear:
“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations – “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)
Do we get it? Outward restrictions don’t correct inward sins! “Lent” is the first thing I think of when I read Colossians 2:20-23 and then think of the religious world today. There is no biblical principle for this manmade doctrine. You don’t live it up on “Fat Tuesday” to give it up on “Ash Wednesday!” Sackcloth and ashes never changed a heart! Forty days of neglecting our self is not the same as forty days in the wilderness. Biblical prayer and fasting and “Lent” are not the same thing. One is about devotion to God and the other is about devotion to values that have no true value against wicked and sinful indulgences. It’s not what does or doesn’t go into the mouth that affects a person’s relationship with God – it’s what does or doesn’t come out of the heart that affects one’s relationship with God (Matthew 15:1-20). Depriving the body doesn’t equal feeding the soul! Never has, never will.
If something is not sinful it does not have to be given up to improve our relationship with God – but if something is sinful we best not wait for a time of self-imposed religion to correct something that needs to be addressed immediately. In other words, don’t wait for the “preparation of the Holy Week” to start living a Holy Life (1 Peter 1:13-16).
If you’re still looking for something to give up, my answer would be that the best thing to give up for “Lent” is “Lent” itself!
[any suggestions/corrections are welcome; I’ll be submitting this later today -SRB]
Dr. Weinberg addressed the subject of Lent in his column from April 13, 2012. I learned some things from his article and wanted to comment on a couple points that really caught my attention in his piece.
First, I noticed that Weinberg didn’t refer to a single Bible verse about Lent. He didn’t cite any commands from God regarding Lent or any exhortation from an apostle. Of course, one cannot blame Weinberg for this—the Bible is silent about Lent! That’s right, Lent is not mentioned in Scripture. Some may not be troubled by this fact, but this is a significant matter, however, for a true Bible believer (i.e., one who looks to the Scriptures for his authority and not man-made traditions that have evolved over centuries). All Scripture is given by God, and God has given us everything we need to be equipped to live righteous lives for Him (II Tim. 3:16,17; II Pet. 1:3). Furthermore, Jesus promised that the apostles would be guided into all the truth (John 16:13). I believe they were guided into all the truth and wrote down everything we need today religiously. Yet, they were silent about Lent and there is no evidence the apostles observed Lent. If the apostles didn’t observe Lent, why should anyone today do so? Paul stated a concern of his in Galatians 4:10,11 that is applicable here – “You observe days and months and seasons and years [in a religious sense, -SRB]. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored in vain.”
Second, I must disagree with one comment Weinberg affirmed: “Since the earliest times of the Church, there is evidence of some kind of Lenten preparation for Easter.” The Bible records that Jesus’ church came into existence in Acts 2 (note 2:47), which was approximately AD 30. There is no record of anyone keeping Lent until the second century. So, for about 100 years or more, no Christian observed Lent. The apostles certainly never did. Since several generation of Christians did not observe Lent, it is not the case that Lent has been observed “since the earliest times of the Church.” Lent is a man-made religious tradition.
Lest I be misunderstood, I am certainly not against an individual choosing to fast or examine his or her spiritual life in order to make changes for the better (Matt. 6:18; II Cor. 13:5). The problem comes when such is regulated and even mandated. To do such is wrong because it adds to God’s word (Rev. 22:18,19). If God wanted us to observe Lent, He would have instructed the apostles (who were guided into all truth) about the matter in the first century. Jesus warned about the error of vain worship. When one teaches “as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9), vain worship is the result. It would be my pleasure to discuss these matters in more detail with any interested party.
-Stephen R. Bradd, Clinton Church of Christ