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This year our 'evangelical' church is celebrating Lent in the run up to Easter. I thought this was a Roman Catholic thing. At the least a religious tradition of man. Your view on Lent and whether we should be celebrating or following it, please?
Lent is a Catholic practice. Ash Wednesday starts the 40 days of Lent before Easter (46 days, but the 6 Sundays are subtracted). Lent is supposedly patterned after Jesus fasting and praying for 40 days in the wilderness, but Jesus did not fast and pray for 40 days before His crucifixion. His 40 days of fasting came before He started His public ministry.
Traditionally, the Lent observer has been asked to give up something during those 40 days. Originally, they were supposed to give up some vice or sin (now, it is giving up anything for those days like candy, or some other "enjoyable thing"). The Bible does not teach us to give up some wrong thing temporarily, but permanently. James 4:17 says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Giving up something that is wrong for 40 days does not impress God, because He wants us to truly repent and forsake wrong things. 1 John 2:1-2 says, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Lent is but another "Catholic work" or of trying to find favor with God. Their problem is that they cannot accept the completed work of Christ on the cross (hence, their continual sacraments, like Mass, where they believe it is an actual sacrifice of Christ's body and blood on the altar). Hebrews 10:10-12 says, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."
It is not our works or our suffering that causes us to find favor with God, but only the pure, precious, sinless blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that was shed for us on the cross. Titus 3:4-7 says, "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
What we are seeing is the fulfillment of prophecy of the "one world Church" gradually coming together. Many denominations of churches are beginning to practice Catholic sacramental's like Lent. They are beginning to "go home to the mother church," the one-world false church of the Tribulation Period (see Revelation 17).
In the life of a Christian, there are certainly times where we will be fasting and praying. Matthew 17:21 says, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." But we should be careful to not confuse these times with the practices of false churches and religions (Catholicism and Lent, or Islam and Ramadan, etc.).
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