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LENT

Question:

What is Lent and of what significance is Lent to Christians?

Answer:

Lent is the 40 days period of fasting from Ash Wednesday to Easter, excluding Sundays, established in imitation of Christ's 40 fasting days in the desert. (Matthew 4:2). It cannot be of significance to Christians since we are not asked to fast or afflict ourselves every year in remembrance of Christ's sufferings or agony before his death and resurrection. He is now alive for evermore. (John 16:20-22; Revelation 1:18). The 40 days fast in the wilderness has nothing to do with the gap between the Last Supper and Christ's death on the tree.

Question:

The end of the Lent season is climaxed with an annual observance in Christendom known as "Good Friday". Mention at least 2 reasons why the day cannot be a good day.

Answer:

a. The day was good to the wicked Jews who killed Jesus Christ.

b. The apostles of Jesus Christ were in sorrow when he was killed. – John 16:19-22; Mark 16:9,10.

c. Christ himself said that his soul was exceedingly sorrowful. – Matthew 26:38.

Question:

How would you reply a neighbour who criticizes you for not observing Ash Wednesday?

Answer:

Among most Christians, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent (that is, the first day of Lent, occurring 6½ weeks before "Good Friday" or Easter and is symbolized by placing ashes on the heads of the entire congregation. There is no command for the observance of Ash Wednesday in the Bible. And if anyone wants to fast, Jesus Christ says he should not disfigure his face or make people to know he is so doing. That is personal righteousness. (Matthew 6:16-18). Christians are strictly warned to steer clear of the traditions or commandments of men which are not after Christ. – Mark 7:6-8,13; Colossians 2:8,23; Titus 1:14.

Question:

Some have cited instances of showing affliction with the use of ashes: Tamar did so (2 Samuel 13:19); so did Mordecai in Esther 4:1, Job rent his clothes and covered himself in ashes in Job 2:8; Daniel did same in Daniel 9:3; and in Matthew 11:21 Christ chastised Chorazin and Bethsaida, saying if the mighty works done in their midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Are these not convincing enough?

Answer:

They are not. In the Christian era, one can fast but it should be voluntary. It should not be a group thing and one should not show it. (Matthew 6:16-18). Jesus Christ chastised the religious leaders of his days for doing things to be seen of men (Matthew 23:1-5). He condemned the Pharisees for observing formalities or traditions of men which have nothing to do with the essence of the faith. – Mark 7:1-4.

Question:

Passages such as Revelation 7:3; 9:4; 14:1 and 22:4 where the forehead is given significance have been cited as reason for putting the ash on the forehead.

Answer:

Those passages are figurative (e.g. having the name of God on their foreheads) they give no support to anyone literally putting ash on the forehead and putting on sackcloth and ashes. The prophet Joel had been used by God to charge his people to rend their heart, not their garments. – Joel 2:13.

Question:

Can one fast for another?

Answer:

The answer to this question depends essentially on what is meant by "fasting on behalf of another". If by this is meant the practice in some Churches today in which some people volunteer to be paid to fast for another person, then the answer is a capital NO. In a number of Churches, people who go to the pastors because of one problem or another are sometimes asked to fast for a number of days, sometimes to the extent of not even taking water, which they call dry fasting. There are cases however where those so directed ask other people, known as prayer warriors to fast for them. This trend, in which people fast on others' behalf, is not based on the Holy Bible. Fasting is a voluntary act of self-denial or sacrifice by a troubled individual. The Bible says that everyman shall bear his own burden and that one person's righteousness cannot be used to bless another. Please see Philippians 2:12; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Galatians 6:4,5; Ezekiel 14:12-20 etc. It makes no meaning therefore for someone to engage in fasting on behalf of another.

The practice of fasting on behalf of another is akin to the custom among the Jews of hiring mourners to weep and lament for their dead. (See Jeremiah 9:17,18) That was why when Jesus Christ came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and when he told the tumult that wept and wailed greatly, "Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth" they had the presence of mind to "laugh him to scorn". – Mark 9:58-40

On the other hand, if any person dear to one – child, husband, friend, etc. - is in trouble, one can make prayers for him or her and even fast, voluntarily or involuntarily, as an adjunct to prayer. See 1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 5:16.

It should be noted that one who is faced with a crisis, cannot but be sober, reserved, quiet, studious and prayerful. He will lose his appetite and his concern will be only on how to come out of the crisis in hand. When word came to David and those with him that Saul and Jonathan were dead, the Bible says that "they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword". (2 Samuel 1:12.) Fasting is therefore not just abstinence from food for a fixed period of time but all acts of self-denial, and of abstinence from fleshly pleasures. It implies the taming of the passions such that one denies oneself things that give pleasure and comfort even if such are lawful. It means giving oneself to the do righteousness. See Isaiah 58:6-11

Concerning fasting on behalf of another, David the prophet stated: "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom". (Psalms 35:13) The Amplified Bible renders the text thus : "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting, and I prayed with head bowed on my breast. I behaved as if grieving for my friend or my brother; I bowed down in sorrow, as one who bewails his mother".

Also, when Daniel was cast into the Lion's den, King Darius, "went to his palace, and passed the night fasting.

Question:

The anointing of their members with ashes on Ash Wednesday, the Priest prints the symbol of the cross on the forehead of the worshipper. How appropriate is the use of the cross symbol in worship. Cite at least a Bible text to back your answer.

Answer:

The use of the cross symbol in worship is wrong. Christ was not killed on the cross in the sense of an upright stake with a cross bar, but on a tree. – Acts 5:30; 10:38-40; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:21-24, etc.

Question:

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