Should evangelicals observe Lent? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, I'm Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. This is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. We'd love to hear from you, and you can call us right now with your question at 833-THE-CORE. For the next 25 minutes or so. So jump on the phone right now.
Give us a buzz. 833-843-2673. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites. You can join Adriel live in the studio right now through our YouTube channel. And of course, you can always email us your question at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to David calling in from Albuquerque, New Mexico. David, what's your question for Adriel?
Hi, Adriel. Yeah, my question was related to something that I hear some Christians ask, believe it or not. Some friends have asked, or whenever I talk about defending the Bible and saying what the Bible says about certain things, some of them will respond that, well, the Bible is just written by men, and it's outdated. How can you trust it? You know, and so, you know, first of all, that surprises me, it's from them. But then I just kind of wonder how you might respond to something like that.
Yeah, thank you for that question. I mean, it sounds like there are two things there, right? The claim that it's simply written by men, therefore it cannot be inspired by God. And then number two, just that it's irrelevant that the Bible is outdated. With regard to the first piece there, it is true that the Bible was written by men, that God used men to write the Word. But these individuals were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that they are communicating to us God's authoritative revelation. And this is something that Peter said in 2 Peter 1. I'm just going to read this portion of scripture beginning in verse 16. He says, So you see the distinction there. Yes, men were communicating to us the truth of God, giving us scripture, but they did so as those who were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
This is just something that they came up with. Just like what Peter is saying here, we didn't follow these just, you know, cleverly devised tales that someone invented. This is the very revelation of God himself. And so it's a false dichotomy to say that because, you know, men were involved in the process of, you know, giving us the scriptures that God can't use them.
No, he did. And we have the Word of God as a result of that. And then with regard to the second part of the question there, you know, well, isn't it just irrelevant? It was written thousands of years ago. How can the Bible be applicable to me today? I would just encourage people open up the scriptures, read them, ask for the Spirit of God to guide you. I think what you find as you open up the Word of God is just how powerful it is today, how much it speaks, how God uses his word to transform our lives. And, you know, even though there is a difference in terms of, you know, context and history and background is important for us to understand those things as we're rightly interpreting the scriptures. You know, once we understand what the text of scripture is saying, there are so many applications that we can draw out from it for ourselves today. And so it's just simply not true at all that the Bible doesn't speak to today and to the issues of today and to our ultimate need, our need of forgiveness, our need of, you know, experiencing the presence and goodness of God. The Word of God speaks and the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to communicate truth to our hearts. And so, David, I would just say, you know, continuing to point people to the scriptures, maybe that passage in 2 Peter 1 would be helpful. With regard to the prophetic word, you know, Isaiah, God speaking through Isaiah, in Isaiah 46 said, I'm God, there's no other.
I'm God and there's none like me. I declare the end from the beginning and from ancient times, things that are not yet done. And this is one of the ways that we know that God's Word is inspired because it reveals to us the things that are going to happen, the things that are yet to come, especially the stuff that pertained to the coming of Jesus Christ. And so all of that, you know, those are things that we look at and they testify to the reality of the fact that this is more than just an ordinary human book. This is a book, you know, the scriptures are inspired by God and relevant for today. And so I appreciate your question and may the Lord bless you. David, thanks so much for your call and for listening to Core Christianity and great response there, Adriel, as we look at the world around us, the Bible, the gospel is the only explanation that I can come up with that fits. So thank you for that. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and we get a lot of calls on this program about the topic of repentance. And we've actually come up with a free resource for you that will answer a lot of your questions on that issue.
Yeah. I mean, I know as a pastor that this is just a question that a lot of people have. What does it mean to truly repent, to turn from my sin and to cling to Christ? How do I get rid of the sin in my life? You know, can I say that I'm truly a Christian if I still struggle with repeated sins? That's why we created this resource, Seven Things Everyone Should Know About Repentance. It's a free download at corechristianity.com, and it describes what it actually means to repent, how it is a grace in our life and how it really is an ongoing part of the Christian life. We're going to be repenting until the day that we die as we as we seek to honor the Lord and to walk with him. And so if you're struggling with doubts or insecurities about repentance and sin, this is a perfect resource to help ground your faith in the work and love of Christ. We'd love to get this in your hands, and you can get it for free by going to our website corechristianity.com forward slash offers again corechristianity.com forward slash offers and look for Seven Things Everyone Should Know About Repentance.
Well, our phone lines are open. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you can call us right now for the next 15 minutes or so. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. We also get emails here, and we received one from a gentleman that wrote in this week.
His name is Oscar. And Adriel, here's his question. With Ash Wednesday coming up, I'm wondering why it becomes a sort of debate and topic of discussion among evangelicals. Catholics seem to have always observed Ash Wednesday in Lent, and some evangelicals see observing it as cool and hip, while others think it's entirely unbiblical. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the merits of observing or refusing to observe Lent.
What do you think? Well, just maybe some historical background I think would be helpful because people hear about these things, Ash Wednesday and Lent, and they wonder where did that come from? Is this something that Jesus instituted, that the apostles themselves did?
And the answer to that question is simple. No, Jesus did not institute Lent for the church to observe or Ash Wednesday. Lent probably evolved out of a very ancient practice in the church. In the ancient church, there was this period oftentimes that would be observed, a period of fasting that would be observed by people who were going to be baptized. So as they were preparing for baptism, they would devote time to solemn prayer and fasting. And especially around the third and fourth century, many people would be baptized on Easter.
And so you had this season leading up to Easter where potential candidates for baptism would be fasting in preparation to be baptized, and others even who were being readmitted into the life of the church would also fast during that time. So the thought is, and what historians will say, is probably Lent evolved out of that, and then over time, in the fourth century and later, it became something that not just these candidates for baptism, but a lot of people in the church would do. This was a tradition. This was an extra biblical tradition. And then the idea of Ash Wednesday, which again is sort of a later development, you don't really see that until I think around the tenth century, eleventh century. This tradition of putting ashes on people as a sign of their mortality, as a sign of death, the reality of death in light of the coming of Easter. So this entire tradition was a journey toward Easter and the celebration of Christ's resurrection. Now there's a lot that could be said about this, right? In one sense, we believe that every Sunday is an Easter Sunday.
At least I would say that, right? Because why do we gather together on Sunday as Christians? It's because that's the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Every time we gather, we're proclaiming that Christ died and that He's risen from the dead. But again, you had these traditions that developed in the church, and now are they necessarily a bad thing?
Well, they don't have to be a bad thing. I think it is important that the church does not impose extra biblical rules on people. So churches that say, you have to do this, and it has to look like this, otherwise you're not really following Jesus, I think that's an issue. That would be abusing her authority, the church abusing her authority.
I do have an issue with that, but if the question is, is it okay for Christians to fast or to choose to fast during this period? Of course, there's freedom in Christ. I think about what the apostle Paul said in Romans chapter 14 verse 5. One person esteems one day is better than another, while another esteems all days alike.
Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end, Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother?
Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. My point in reading that text there is just especially what Paul says at the very beginning there in terms of passing judgment on one another. We need to look down on Christians who do things differently than we do, but I think there does need to be a healthy concern about churches imposing, as I said, extra biblical rules on their members. And because this isn't something that Jesus himself commanded or instituted for the church to observe in terms of a holy day or a holy season, and because it's certainly something that we didn't see the apostles doing, that's not something you see coming out of the New Testament, this is sort of later tradition in terms of practice and piety, I think we have to recognize that we have freedom in Christ to fast or to not fast. And we also have to be careful. One other concern that I have is just the sort of invention of worship practices.
God really cares about how he's worshiped, and then with regard to things like Ash Wednesday and some of these other traditions that developed, those aren't things that you're going to find in scripture. I get the symbolism behind it, and I actually appreciate the emphasis on mortality. I think that's something that people today really need to understand. We're always trying to run away from the fact that we're mortals, that we're going to die.
We don't want to deal with that truth. And so I think it is important for us to talk about those things, but we want to make sure that we're doing it in a way that's honoring to the Lord and in line with what his word says. And so that's what I'll say about Lent and Ash Wednesday. I pray that the Lord blesses you in this season. If you're someone who's choosing to say, you know what, I want to focus on prayer, maybe fast in preparation for Easter, I'll say go for it.
Fix your eyes on Jesus and seek to honor him in all that you do. And I appreciate so much your little lesson on church history there, too, Adriel. You often talk about the importance of Christians understanding church history, and I think, unfortunately, a lot of us don't know a lot about the history of the Christian church, and it would benefit us to do a little bit of reading and understand some of the context of these things, right?
Yeah. I know not everyone is a nerd like me. I mean, I just love geeking out on church history. And for me, it's fascinating. I love thinking about how Christians have done things in ages past. And so there is a lot to learn, and especially when we're talking about some of these traditions, it's important that we see kind of how they developed, and that gives us some insight into whether or not they're rooted in the Scriptures. By the way, we have a core question for anyone who's wondering about Christian traditions or how to live the Christian life. Maybe you're new to the faith. You can find this on our website, corechristianity.com, forward slash, free downloads. It's called How Do I Live the Christian Life?
Really helpful resource, and it's free. Let's go back to the phone. Steve is on the line from Memphis, Tennessee. Steve, what's your question for Pastor Adriel?
Yes, sir. The Bible speaks all through Scripture about God and His sovereignty and controlling the outcome of His creation, and it also includes the salvation of men. And I was saved 20 years ago, and the idea that Christ sovereignly saved me, it's never bothered me. In fact, I was glad He did, because I knew, according to Scripture, I would never have done it on my own. But today, the church, mostly as a whole, leans toward free will and lays their entire belief system on the fact that they chose Christ and not the other way around.
The Scripture plainly states that Christ shows up, and they stand primarily on one passage of the Spirit, whose wherever will may come. Can you help us better understand the difference between these two schools of thought, and really primarily which is right? Steve, you're getting us into the deep waters of the doctrine of God's sovereignty and human responsibility. And of course, this is one of those things that's been debated in the Christian church for many years, and will continue to be debated. I am of the opinion, the conviction on the basis of Scripture, that we want to give God all the glory that we can, and emphasize, I think, and this is what Scripture emphasizes, our inability to save ourselves. As you said, Steve, I couldn't have done it.
I couldn't have saved myself. It really is all of grace. And I think the more and more we open up the Word of God, the more we see that, the more we recognize, Lord, you didn't save me because I was righteous, because I had a lot of good things going for me. In fact, Paul says in Romans 5, it was that while we were still sinners, that Christ died for us, that God demonstrated his love for us. And I think just culturally, we have a very high view of ourselves, of the individual, of our power, of our autonomy, of our sovereignty.
And so when you open up the Bible and the Word of God says, you actually are not the center of the universe, and you're not the sovereign one, a lot of people have a hard time with that. I think it was Charles Spurgeon, the preacher, who said that mankind loves God anywhere except on his throne. We love him when he's in his workshop making the stars and the heavens and forming the beautiful mountains and sunsets. We think, oh, that's so wonderful.
That's great. But the moment God sits on his throne, our hearts begin to rage against him because we want that seat. We want to be in control.
We want all the power. And the Bible reveals to us that we don't have that position, that we are servants of Almighty God desperately in need of his grace, that God himself is king. And this is what's repeated throughout the scriptures.
I think of the Psalms, Psalm 93. The Lord reigns. He is robed in majesty. The Lord is robed.
He is put on strength as his belt. God is the great king over all the earth. And so that's, I think, in terms of why people have a hard time with this, Steve, this is the issue. We want to be the center. We want to be the ones who reign and are in control, and the Word of God humbles us.
And so I think that's a huge thing. The scriptures confront us in this area. And then, again, when it comes to the doctrine of salvation, whether we're looking at places like Romans 9 or Ephesians 1, the Word of God makes it absolutely clear that it's all of grace. Ephesians 1, verse 4, Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace. And this should humble us and cause us to say, Lord, it's all you.
And, you know, again, we have a difficult time with this. But, Steve, I appreciate the fact that you're thinking through these things, that you have a high view of God and the work of grace that he's done in your life. And may the Lord continue to bless you as you study the scriptures and seek to honor him in all that you do. God bless.
Thanks, Steve. I appreciate you listening to Core Christianity. By the way, just a reminder, we have that great free resource available to you, Seven Things Everyone Should Know About Repentance. And it really kind of fits in with Adriel's response just now to Steve's question. You can find that by going to our website, corechristianity.com forward slash offers. That's corechristianity.com forward slash offers.
Look for Seven Things Everyone Should Know About Repentance. We do get voicemails here. And if you've got a question, you call us outside of the time this program is airing. We do try to listen to our voicemails once a day. So you can call us 24 hours a day. Here's the number. It's 833-843-2673. That's 833, the core.
Here's one we received from one of our listeners named Tony. My question is about the unclean animals that are in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 12 that were claimed to be unclean. And then apparently in Mark 7, 19, Jesus made all things clean or made all animals clean. I'm just kind of having a problem understanding what that all entailed. And then if the animals were made clean, then in Revelation 18, apparently during the time of tribulation, they're supposed to be unclean animals that come.
And I don't know if that means it's a new animal or what. If I could have clarification on that, I'd appreciate it. Thank you. Okay. Tony, thank you so much for your question. Just to answer really quickly the latter part of your question, well, what about in Revelation where it talks about unclean animals, does that mean that the unclean dietary laws are going to be reinstituted later on in redemptive history?
Well, the answer is no. I mean, when we're looking at the book of Revelation, we're looking at apocalyptic visionary prophecy and just this language of clean or unclean. Paul uses it also in 1 Corinthians 7, by the way. It's this picture of being near to God or far from God, separated from the Lord. That which is unclean was separated from God under the old covenant in the Old Testament.
And so John is just picking up on that imagery in the book of Revelation, that language. So we don't have to take that to mean, especially when you consider the genre of Revelation, that now later on there's going to be these reinstitution of the clean and unclean dietary laws. Really in the Old Testament, in places like the book of Leviticus, the clean-unclean thing, it was a picture of life and death. That which was unclean was closer to death, if you will, closer to the ground, separated from the Lord. It would put an individual who touched that which was unclean in this state of death, if you will, of lifelessness. And that's why they had to be separated for a period of time from the presence of Almighty God in the worship of the temple and in the tabernacle.
And so that's some of the imagery that we have. But of course, as you said, in Mark chapter 7 and in other places like in the book of Acts and in the book of Galatians, it's very clear that under the New Covenant, that clean-unclean distinction, especially with regard to these dietary restrictions, has been abolished. In Mark chapter 7, speaking about what really defiles a person, Jesus made it absolutely clear. He said, it's not whatever goes into a person, but what comes out of the person that can defile him, since it enters not his heart, that is the food that we eat, but his stomach and is expelled.
Thus, Mark says in Mark 7, he declared all foods clean. This is an interesting text to think about. We got that question earlier about Lent and fasting and, boy, if I do this, is it going to help me in my spiritual walk.
Well, these kinds of practices can be helpful, but here's what you need to recognize. It's not what you eat, what goes into your mouth that defiles you or makes you clean. It's what comes out of your heart.
I wonder, this is something we should all think about in light of this season, if you will. There are a lot of people who go through these traditions or motions thinking, if I do this, if I fast for this period of time, then maybe I'll be right with God. But it isn't what goes into our mouth that makes us clean or unclean, right with God.
It's the state of our heart. What we need more than anything is God's grace, the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. Essentially, that's one of the things that we're reminded of there in Mark chapter 7. When it comes to these dietary restrictions, the clean and the unclean, we don't have that anymore under the new covenant, which I'm quite thankful for. Bill, I know that you are as well.
We have bacon shrimp tacos. I know, absolutely, yes. Really, some good stuff for us to think about there. I just want to encourage all of you, as we do every single day, to be rooted in the Scriptures.
That's where we want to get our beliefs from, is what the Bible teaches. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar, or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
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