I. The Definition of Lent.
Sundays are excluded because this is the day on which Christ arose from the dead, making it an inappropriate day to supposedly fast and mourn over sin. On Sunday we must celebrate Christ's resurrection for our salvation. It is Friday on which we commemorate His death for our sins. The Sundays of the year are days of celebration and the Fridays of the year are days of penance.
There are 40 days in Lent because 40 is the traditional number of discipline, devotion, and preparation in the Bible. Thus Moses stayed on the mount of God for 40 days, the spies were in the land for 40 days, Elijah travelled 40 days before he reached the cave where he had his vision, Nineveh was given 40 days to repent, and most importantly, prior to undertaking His ministry, Jesus Christ spent 40 days in wilderness praying and fasting, Matthew 4:2.
Since Lent is a period of prayer and fasting, it is supposedly fitting for Christians to imitate their Lord with a similar 40 day period of penance. Christ used this 40 day period of prayer and fasting to prepare for His ministry, which culminated in His death and resurrection, and thus it is supposedly fitting for Christians to imitate Him with a 40 day period of prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration of His ministry's climax, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple:
Roman Catholicism states that the reasons for celebrating her major feasts, when they do, are many and varied. However:
Where did the concept of Lent come from then? The 40 days abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess and her son. This is also where the 'mother and child' idea comes from.
Numerous examples have been found in history of the old pagans observing a period to mark the birth of spring. The Babylonians, Egyptians, and others among them. It was usually preceded by a feast called a 'carnival'.
In this text of Scripture we are simply taught the way of salvation. There is no great mystery about it, yet it is becomes the hardest thing for men and women to discover because of the pride of the human heart.
1. Salvation is not by human effort. Paul rules out works of righteousness which we have done as a means of obtaining salvation.
The same mentality is applied to the matter of salvation. Sinners want to play at least a part in their salvation. They are happy for God to do a part and they also want to do a part. Not so. It is not by works.
It is not even by works of righteousness. People in general have their own definition of good works. It varies from one person to another. In doing so these people are convinced that God will be pleased and His favour obtained. Not so according to this text of Scripture. Surely Lent falls into that category.
2. Salvation comes from God’s mercy. Man cannot merit or earn salvation. Neither does he deserve it.
Therefore we should stop trying and have done with all that is associated with this false way of salvation.
Salvation is by free grace. Salvation is the free gift of God. It flows from God’s infinite mercy, love and grace. We cannot earn it but we can receive it as a free gift. God out of the abundance of His mercy has provided salvation. He moved first towards fallen mankind. Man does not merit it, God freely bestows it.
Sinners need to fall upon God’s mercy and obtain salvation in this way, Micah 7:18.
3. Conversion is by the Holy Spirit. You do not grow into conversion as Rome claims.
Conversion is not a process but an act. Conversion takes place in an instant. A sinner is either dead or alive. He/she is not in between somewhere. He/she is not half alive or half dead.
Salvation is by the washing of regeneration. Regenerating grace is here meant. We need to be born of the grace and power of the Spirit. It is comparable to washing with water for its purity and cleansing virtue, hence all who are regenerated and sanctified, are said to be washed and cleansed, having their hearts purified by faith, and their consciences purged from sin by the blood of Christ.
It is the washing of regeneration we need to save us from our sins not the washing of water. It is only the blood of Jesus Christ that will cleanse from sin.