Day 2

An Apology for Lent

from the Lent 2016 reading plan


Psalm 78:1-7, Habakkuk 2:3, Galatians 4:4-5, Colossians 2:6-17

BY Guest Writer

Editor’s note: The word “apology” is used here not to imply guilt or regret, but rather to communicate a desire to make clear the grounds of a course, belief, or position. In this piece, the the word “apology” is a noun meaning “words offered in explanation.” 

____

Text: Psalm 78:1-7, Habakkuk 2:3, Galatians 4:4-5, Colossians 2:6-17

The grand narrative of God’s Word through history is more than a tall tale. It is a historical record of real events with real people in real places and in real time. Indeed, as Paul makes plain in his letter to the church at Corinth, if Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection did not actually take place in time and space, then all is lost. We of all people are most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19).

God not only authored the Bible’s true story, He’s its lead actor. Behind the flood, the call of Abraham, the Exodus, the rise of King David, the exile and return of Israel, and every other redemptive act—God is present and the prime mover. On every page of the Bible, God is the hero of the story. As the author and hero of redemption, God calls His people to remember the great things He has done (Deuteronomy 8:1-3).

One of the means God used to stir the mind and imaginations of His people to remembrance was a calendar. From the Day of Atonement to the weekly Sabbath, to the annual feasts and festivals, God calendared salvation history in order to help the prone-to-forgetfulness Israelites relive their redemption each year (Leviticus 23).

Rightfully so, the shadow of the Old Testament calendar faded in the bright light of Christ’s fulfillment (Colossians 2:16-17). Although God issued no new calendar requirement for the New Testament church, He gave His people the freedom to order their days while maintaining the commitment to remember the redemption of Jesus Christ (Romans 15:4-9, Galatians 3:1-4, Romans 6:5-11, 2 Peter 1:3-11).

Not as a biblical requirement but as a discipleship tool, the early church began marking the days by the life and ministry of Jesus (Advent to Ascension) and the life and ministry of His church (Pentecost to Ordinary Time). Many Christians throughout the centuries have kept the practice, finding it a helpful means of remembering and connecting to both the life of Christ and the reality of His church, reaching around the world and across generations.

In that spirit, we invite you to join us for the forty days of Lent, as we read Scripture and prayerfully prepare for the heartbreaking and heart-mending climax of the Christian year—the crucifixion and resurrection of our Savior.

Pastor Nate Shurden is one of the local pastors who serves She Reads Truth & He Reads Truth by providing theological oversight and pastoral counsel. Nate holds a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. In 2010, he helped plant Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN, where he still serves as the senior pastor. He is married to Christy, and they have four young children.

SRT-Lent-Instagram2s

Post Comments (183)

183 thoughts on "An Apology for Lent"

  1. Kenzie says:

    This is so helpful to me! I’d consider myself a mature believer but I was raised in the Lutheran church and we have been in the Baptist church for the last 10+ years. This is such a great explanation and the freedom we have in Christ– but also the urging to remember throughout the year all that Christ has done for us!

  2. Alyssa Cunningham says:

    I’m just beginning my journey in Christ and the Gospel. I’m trying to not be overwhelmed with all this new information and I’m hoping during Lent, I can find myself truly with Jesus.

    1. Mara Jacobson says:

      Praying for you, for your heart, and for peace for your soul, sister. Know that you are incredibly loved and deeply known by the King of the Universe. And that he is overjoyed that you have started this journey with him. I pray that you find joy in not having all the answers just yet. To give you some peace, I often find myself overwhelmed with new information about Jesus. (And I’ve been on this journey for 22 years. ) Because he is so vast. Praise God we serve a King that has no end. Praying for your journey, Alyssa!

    2. Shelly Threatt says:

      What an awesome thing! One of my favorite things about our Lord is just how simple His message is. Blessings to you in your journey!

    3. Chloe says:

      Praying for you! Stick to the gospel if you feel overwhelmed. I listened to many sermons in the car and testimony of new friends early on to help me

  3. Jolie says:

    I’m so happy we are having an open discussion regarding the gender of the authors. Ive appreciated this app because it has given a place to the truth that women are also theologians and should use their gifts accordingly. Women, like men, will have a unique & important contribution to make in this beautiful body. I can read many,many voices of brothers if I choose too. It’s much harder to find the female teacher.

  4. Ashlyn says:

    “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses”

    I will be going through my first reconciliation in a few weeks, and have been a nervous wreck about it. It’s so so hard to face how awful you can be…knowing better and still failing. It’s extremely humbling, and thank God for his mercy. This passage lifted my spirit and it was just what I needed to hear today. Thank you!

    1. Jennifer says:

      Forgive my ignorance, but what is this reconciliation that you’re referring to?

      1. Marriah Cummins says:

        Sacrament of reconciliation, also known as confession. The Catholic, Orthdox, and some mainline Protestant churches practice this.

      2. SBT7 says:

        We are being made new by the power of Christ Jesus to forgive- the ministry of reconciliation. As

    2. Marriah Cummins says:

      Ill being going through my first reconciliation as well! I will pray for you! I’m nervous too, but He traded beauty for ashes and I’m excited for healing

      1. Lisa says:

        Thankfully, all who are followers of Jesus have been reconciled through His shed blood on the cross, the price paid in full and an end to religious systems. An awesome gift of freedom that means we are worthy to call Him our Father!

        1. Marriah says:

          Yes, we have been reconciled through His blood and we are able to call Him Father. Praise Him! But the assertion that Christ put “an end to religeous systems” is an unfortunate and unbiblical myth.
          First, we see that Jesus never condemns religion. Indeed He does not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. (Matt 5:17) And when dealing with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus explicitly says to follow their teaching, just not their example:
          “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” Matt 23:3
          As far as the Sacrament of Reconciliation goes, we have strong biblical support for it, as well as 1500 years of church history. But let’s start with the Bible:
          To the disciples Jesus gives the authority to forgive sins:
          “Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:21-23
          “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:19
          Here we have Scriptures telling us to confess our sins. They nowhere say, “only to God.”
          “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
          ” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 Jn 1:9
          And I could go on. Couple this biblical support with the testimony of the earliest christian writing we have-people who were martyred for the faith- and you have a very strong case for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
          Didache 4:14; 14:1
          As early as 70 AD
          Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life…. On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure.
          Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians 3
          A.D. 110
          “For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ”
          Tertullian of Carthage
          200 AD
          On Repentance 10:1,6
          [Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness.
          St. Athanasius of Alexandria
          295 – 373 AD
          On the Gospel of Luke 19
          Just as a man is enlightened by the Holy Spirit when he is baptized by a priest, so he who confesses his sins with a repentant heart obtains their remission from the priest.
          St. Basil the Great
          330 – 379 AD
          Rules Briefly Treated 288
          It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries [i.e. the Sacraments] is entrusted [i.e. priests]. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt 3:6]; but in Acts they confessed to the Apostles, by whom also all were baptized [Acts 19:18].
          I say this all in a spirit “to inform and not to convince” and in an attempt to clear up misconceptions about the Catholic Church (and other sacramental churches).

          1. Amber says:

            Thank you so much for sharing. I learned a lot, and it was very helpful!

          2. Jennifer says:

            The concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in Scripture. First, the New Testament does not teach that there are to be priests in the New Covenant. Instead, the New Testament teaches that all believers are priests. First Peter 2:5-9 describes believers as a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood.” Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 both describe believers as “a kingdom of priests.” In the Old Covenant, the faithful had to approach God through the priests. The priests were mediators between the people and God. The priests offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. That is no longer necessary. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can now approach God’s throne with boldness (Hebrews 4:16). The temple veil tearing in two at Jesus’ death was symbolic of the dividing wall between God and humanity being destroyed. We can approach God directly, ourselves, without the use of a human mediator. Why? Because Jesus Christ is our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15; 10:21) and the only mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:5). The New Testament teaches that there are to be elders (1 Timothy 3), deacons (1 Timothy 3), bishops (Titus 1:6-9), and pastors (Ephesians 4:11) – but not priests.

            When it comes to confession of sin, believers are told in 1 John 1:9 to confess their sins to God. God is faithful and just to forgive our sins as we confess them to Him. James 5:16 speaks of confessing our trespasses “to one another,” but this is not the same as confessing sins to a priest as the Roman Catholic Church teaches. Priests / church leaders are nowhere mentioned in the context of James 5:16. Further, James 5:16 does not link forgiveness of sins with the confession of sins “to one another.”

            The Roman Catholic Church bases their practice of confession to a priest primarily on Catholic tradition. Catholics do point to John 20:23, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” From this verse, Catholics claim that God gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins and that authority was passed on to the successors of the apostles, i.e., the bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church. There are several problems with this interpretation. (1) John 20:23 nowhere mentions confession of sin. (2) John 20:23 nowhere promises or even hints that apostolic authority of any kind would be passed on to the successors of the apostles. (3) The apostles never once in the New Testament acted as if they had the authority to forgive a person’s sin. Similarly, Catholics point to Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 (binding and loosing) as evidence for the Catholic Church’s authority to forgive sins. The same three above points apply equally to these Scriptures.

      2. Jennifer says:

        At the end of the day, is your religion going to save you? No. Is Christ going to save you? Yes.

        1. Marriah Cummins says:

          You have used the same scriptures I used in my original reply, which demonstrates that you and I have different interpretations of the same scripture. If the Holy Spirit illuminates each of us to find the truth in scripture, then why do we have these different interpretations? What makes you right, and me wrong? This is why I included teachings from the early church fathers. Why would your interpretation, 2000 years removed from the writings, using a translation, living in a different culture than these men (some who were as early as 70 AD and read the letters in the original language) be more trustworthy than theirs?

          Another point you brought up, the words in the NT that are translated into “elder” and “pastor” can be translated into “priest” and “bishop”. Once again, it comes down to a matter of interpretation and translation. Just because you want to call them different names, doesn’t negate the office and fact there is a hierarchy in the NT. Furthermore, to address your comments that we don’t need priests, why do we need pastors then, or churches? Yes we are a priesthood of believers, Jesus is the one mediator between God and man, but just like you have a pastor, elder, etc to help guide you (I assuming, maybe you don’t belong to a church), Catholics have priests and bishops. Is your interpretation better, just because you use the words pastor and elder, instead of bishop and priest?

          Finally, I never said “religion saves you”. My above defense was based on your comment of reconciliation, not salvation. I agree with you, Christ does save us, and the Roman Catholic Church agrees, and teaches this, as well.

          1. Jennifer says:

            I don’t appreciate your tone inferring that I am right and you are wrong, nor do I appreciate your implication that “my” interpretation is “more trustworthy” than ancient church elders. I never once implied or stated that, so there’s no need to take that tone or be rude.

            I never negated or denied the fact that there is a hierarchy in place and frankly, I don’t care what the pastor is called (priest, bishop, vicar, etc.), so that argument is null and void.

            I simply don’t see why you need to go to a pastor/priest/vicar/etc to confess your sins, when the veil was torn and we have full access to approach the throne of grace boldly to confess our own sins.

        2. Marriah says:

          Also, in regards to Jn 20:23 and Matt 16:19, 18:18, what does it mean when Jesus gave the Apostles authority to forgive sins and to bind and loose? Do you have a viable interpretation for these passages?

          And we do have an example of apostolic succession in the NT. Judas was replaced by Matthias:
          “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
          “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’
          Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:20-26

          1. Jennifer says:

            While Matthias did indeed “succeed” Judas as an apostle, this is in no sense an argument for continuing apostolic succession. Matthias being chosen to replace Judas is only an argument for the church replacing ungodly and unfaithful leaders (such as Judas) with godly and faithful leaders (such as Matthias). Nowhere in the New Testament are any of the twelve apostles recorded as passing on their apostolic authority to successors. Nowhere do any of the apostles predict that they will pass on their apostolic authority. If Scripture is studied in its entirety and in its proper context, the truth can be easily determined. Apostolic authority was passed on through the writings of the apostles, not through apostolic succession.

          2. Marriah says:

            I’m sorry that you took my tone to be rude, that was not my intention.

            As to your second point, you were the one who said, “The New Testament teaches that there are to be elders (1 Timothy 3), deacons (1 Timothy 3), bishops (Titus 1:6-9), and pastors (Ephesians 4:11) – but not priests.” I was just responding that the NT authors were talking about the same office, regardless of the name, which you seem to agree with.

            Finally, I want to offer another piece of the puzzle that may shed light on why we confess our sins to a priest.

            First, the Catholic Church teaches, and all Christians would agree, that an individual Christian is a member of the body of Christ. Rom 12:5

            Second, I think we would all agree that our sin does three things. It severs our relationship with God, it damages our relationships with others and it darkens our own minds.

            This being understood, the Catholic would say that when we deliberately commit sin, we not only sin against God, and ourselves, but we actually sin against the Body of Christ, and cut ourselves off from communion with the Body.

            The Catholic also believes that to partake of the Eucharist, one needs to be in full communion with the body of Christ. 1 Cor 11:23-29

            This is why we confess our sins to God, we also try to make amends with others, and we reunite ourselves to the body of Christ by confessing our sins to the Church. Our sin affects each of these relationships and we take that into account.

            Obviously this is just scratching the surface, but hopefully it sheds more light on this practice for you.

          3. Jennifer says:

            I can agree with that.

    3. Rexshell says:

      I’m not catholic so I don’t know much about your religion, so I have many questions. In relation to the Reconciliation event mentioned, why are people going to a man to confess there sins when you can go to the High Priest Himself and receive forgiveness. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, ““For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,”. This scripture doesn’t add in a earthly priest as a mediator, it only mentions Christ as being the only mediator between God and man.

      1. Marriah Cummins says:

        That’s a good question, and it seems that 1 Timothy 2:5 is used often as an argument against the sacrament of confession. Here is the verse in context.

        1 Timothy 2:1-8
        First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

        In this passage, Jesus is the one mediator between God and man in a salvific sense. Paul is writing about salvation, not confession in this passage. Furthermore, Paul does actually ask us to interceded for others in verse 1. I’ve already given a fairly lengthy explanation on the sacrament of confession above so I don’t want to re-hash any more on the comment section, but I would direct you to Catholic (dot) com (the website – I can’t post any links or this comment will not be posted). They give an excellent explanation relating directly to 1 Timothy 2:5.

        Also if you are interested in what the Catholic Church actually teaches, Catholic Answers is a great podcast and many of the theologians on there are former Protestants. They also have a weekly section devoted to the differences between Catholics and Protestants called “Why are you Protestant”. Protestants from all denominations call in and ask really challenging questions and its an excellent resource for both.

      2. Tina says:

        Here is another good post on the Catholic view of the priesthood and mediation:

        shamelesspopery .com/the-old-and-new-testament-priesthood/

  5. Jennie Harclerode says:

    Loved these passages!! Does anyone have any creative ways that you use to “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord”? I have a 2 year old little girl. My husband and I have started to really be intentional with telling her about how God answered specific prayers, or tell her about the goodness of God in her birth story.

    1. Jessica Johnson says:

      Hi Jennie! My son is almost two and a friend just sent me a link to these memory card verses. I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I’m joining him in an attempt to memorize more scripture and thought these would be perfect and something we could continue to do together as he gets older! https://www.etsy.com/listing/112442404/abc-scriptures-for-kids-childrens

    2. Marissa says:

      You can check out the ebook Sense of the Resurrection on ohamanda.com. I haven’t done that with my son (2.5) yet but we did her Truth in the Tinsel advent series and loved it! There was a daily reading, craft, and questions that we went through and it was a great way to open up Scriptures with him in a way he could relate to.

    3. Amy Mick says:

      We have used The Muffin Family Picture Bible with our kids when they were little. They are very old and you would have to find on eBay. They have a Bible story with pictures and questions. Then a story about the Muffin Family to help kids understand, which also has questions at the end. They were printed by Moody in the 70’s. I still use them with my preschoolers.

    4. Danica says:

      Hi there! Since most kids love music you could consider the “Rain for Roots” cd’s or the Slugs and Bugs “Sing the Bible” cd’s! Both are both excellent! “Sing the Bible” is word for word scripture and features the African Children’s choir. Rain for roots is more bible story/Gods nature/parable oriented. All great stuff an great for all ages!

      1. Ashley says:

        We use the “Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd Jones. It has been such a blessing to our family. It goes through some of the major stories in the Bible, but shows how the whole Bible is a love story that points to Jesus. Our three year old loves it, but we started using it when he was just a year old. We use it during Advent to count down to Christmas (from the beginning to the birth of Christ is exactly 24 separate stories) and have decided this year to do a count down to Easter (16 stories from the birth to the resurrection). I can’t say enough good things about this beautiful adaptation of the Bible. If you are interested in our Advent tradition, you can see more here: http://livingsweetlee.blogspot.com/2014_01_01_archive.html
        I truly feel there is no more important “momma job” than to point the way to Jesus.

    5. Lisa says:

      Jennie, check out the Jesus Storybook Bible, perfect for little ones.

    6. McCall says:

      Hi Jennie! Im a high schooler and my parents really helped shape my faith as a child by putting me in Sunday school. My mom helped in the room too and I has the best time. It wasn’t like school at all and since the age of 2 I have loved going to Church. If you have the time I loved having my mom as a volunteer so that could be really fun. It was a great way to have her share her faith with me. If you have a church you love I recommend this!

  6. Cindy says:

    I have been a participant /reader of this study for approximately 2 years. There have been many days that it and those who offer comments have been more than a blessing. One of things I liked most about it was that it was a forum by women for women. Women who have walked in shoes almost identical to mine. I have welcomed new insights and prayed for those who were in need of it. I know that there have been prayers sent my way as well. I have nothing against men, after all my Lord is man in whose image men are designed.
    So if some of us are a little disappointed in the fact that there appears to be a change in direction of how this site is put together, please don’t consider it gender bias. It is not. It just appears that it is no longer women teaching women. Women who know what a busy woman’s day is like and are able to put it together with the teachings of Christ.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Cindy! Thanks for posting today. We are so grateful for your place in our community!

      We absolutely hear you and just want to jump in to say don’t worry! This Lent reading plan will be full of words from our writing team. Nate and Russ are part of our SRT pastoral counsel, and we reached out to them to help with a theological foundation for these first two days to set us up for the rest of the plan. May the Lord refresh you during this season of Lent as you spend time in His Word. Love to you!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

      1. jessiechatchat says:

        Thanks for explaining! I was wondering, too

      2. Ashley Besser says:

        Thanks for the info, that’s great to know

      3. Cindy says:

        Thanks so much for answering. Much appreciated.

  7. Beanchanged says:

    I Loved the pairing of the Psalms and Colossians passages. As a mom to a toddler and almost newborn in a few months speaking truth to my kids and ensuring they have a clear understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for us is so important to my heart. However when we repeat and remember for them it will also remind me of what he has done for me. I appreciate a good calendar, God knows I need one to keep my schedule on track, but how much more important it is to keep our minds and hearts on track of Christ and His work in our lives. I may just have to start a “heart” calendar!

    1. Susie says:

      I love the idea of a heart calendar!

      1. Christa says:

        I was just praying this for my toddler and 5month old. That they might KNOW Him! And I am commanded to teach them, wow. Lord give us grace! Write your calendar on our hearts so that we can daily impress upon them your truth and love. (Even during the meltdowns and sleepless nights). Praying this today with you sister.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *