The Season of Lent – A Time to Reflect and Celebrate

What is Lent? In the Christian calendar, it is a period commencing from Ash Wednesday and culminating on Easter Sunday. This is the solemn season in which Christians reflect on the suffering and death of Christ. Many churches practice the imposition of ash on the forehead of the believers as a reminder that “we are dust and to dust we return”. Some churches don’t practice the imposition but they encourage the faithful to observe the lent through meditation, prayers and bible reading. Palm Sunday is the Lord’s Day immediately before the Easter Sunday. It is the celebration of Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem and the beginning of the holy week. This event is described in all four books of the Gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Maundy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper in which Jesus had the last meal with His disciples following the washing of their feet. It was also at this time when Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ disciples, betrayed Him in exchange of thirty pieces of silver coins. Good Friday marks the crucifixion and death of Christ. Easter Sunday is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead – victory over death and sin. It is a signal for a new beginning.

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day…” Luke 24 vs. 26

Why was it necessary for Jesus to suffer and die? The fact of the matter is that we are sinners. It doesn’t matter how big or small our sin is. Sin is a sin. It harms us in many ways. It destroys our worth. It corrupts us even more. It harms our relationship with God who created us in His image. It offends our holy God. Because of our sins we are separated from God. Nothing, by our own power and ability, can restore that broken relationship with God. There is no amount of human kindness or goodness that can remove our guilt. And for one, we really didn’t care about being separated from God. That is how calloused we have become as a result of our sins. 

Image courtesy of CrossWalk

But our God is a loving God who does not want us to remain in this hopeless condition. He took the initiative to save us. While it is humanly impossible to be saved from sin and the penalty of it, God provided the only way, Jesus Christ. 
Jesus died on the cross fulfilling the righteous requirements of the Law to remove our sins, to appease God’s holy indignation, to satisfy God’s just requirements to release us from condemnation. It is the moment in which Jesus opened for us the way to God’s holy throne through his atoning death by willingly giving up his life and shedding His blood for us – a sufficient sacrifice once and for all. He declared on the cross “It is finished!”, meaning, the transaction to release us from the captivity from sin is done with. Who can match that show of love? Regardless of the gravity of our sins, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” John 3 :16
All that God requires us to do now is to acknowledge that we have sinned and ask for His forgiveness and trust Him for our salvation by opening our hearts to Him. There is no need to inflict pain on our body. No need to try hard to earn God’s favor by our own moral standards. God’s salvation is a free gift that we must receive. The meaning of Lent is God’s abundant grace made available to you and me.
This is why Lent always ends with celebration. It is a celebration of our new life and restored fellowship with our Creator.

assurance of salvation

How can I know I am saved?

We can know for sure that we are saved.  Jesus promised it. The Holy Spirit testifies about it. God’s word affirms it if you received and trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

  • If you believed (trusted) Jesus Christ and have been born again John 3:3, you have eternal life. John 3:16
  • Jesus promised that we became children of God when we received Him. John 1:12
  • The Holy Spirit assures us that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16
  • We crossed over from death to life when we believed Jesus as our Savior. John5:24
  • The Bible affirms that we have life when we have the Son of God (Jesus Christ). 1 John5:11-13
  • Our salvation does not depend on our ability to follow God but on God’s ability to keep us from falling Jude 24 and complete what God has started in us.  Philippians 1:6.

Does it need a “special feeling” or emotion to be sure about it? No, the basis of our assurance is the promise of God in His word and the testimony of the Holy Spirit in us, not our emotion. Our emotion, which changes depending on circumstances, is not a reliable gauge of our assurance of salvation. If one sincerely received Christ and trusted Him as Savior and Lord, regardless of emotional state, is saved.
Am I still saved after falling into sin? God word declares that “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth 1 John 1:6. Also, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”1 John 1:8-9. The first passage tells us that a person is not saved, in the first place, if he deliberately lives in sin. He is not a true believer. A person who genuinely received Jesus Christ does not continue in sin. But the next passage teaches us that we cannot claim to be sinless even if we are saved. Yes, Christians also make mistakes and, sometimes, commit grievous sin but because he has a seal of redemption which is the Holy Spirit Ephesians 1:13-14 which he received at the moment he received Christ, he is still saved. Nothing and no one could take us away from our Savior John 10:28-30. When we sin, God is not happy and we need to confess our sins (to God) to receive forgiveness and cleansing of our unrighteousness.
I backslid, do I need to received Christ again to be saved (again)? No. You do not need to receive Christ again to be “saved again”. There is no such thing as “saved again”. If a person received Christ, then he was born again, became a child of God and therefore saved eternally John 3:15-16. If he backslides, he will lose the joy of God’s salvation but not the salvation itself. He would lose the joy of Christian fellowship and the intimacy of his relationship with the Lord. His faith could become weak and his lifestyle could become like of those who do not know Christ. The Holy Spirit is grieved when a child of God lives this way but will continue to convict the backslider until he returns to God. The parable of the prodigal son Luke 15:11-24 is good biblical lesson that teaches that our God waits for the backsliding child to awaken, confess his sins and return.  God welcomes that child back to Himself.
Is the assurance my license to do anything I want (including sinning), since I will not lose my salvation? The assurance of salvation is not a license to sin. Rather, it is a great motivation to be like Jesus Christ in His character and righteousness. No true Christian will use his salvation to justify unrighteous and immoral life. Romans 6:1 1John 3:7-9.