Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Faith In Christ Our Lord Brings Victory

November 28, 2009 Leave a comment

“Christ our Lord conquers the world, and the victory, is ours also. The Holy Apostles conquered the world, and that victory is ours also. Both the saints and the holy martyrs of our church have conquered the world, and the victory is again ours. There is nothing greater power in the world, then the Christian faith, the Holy Orthodox Faith we all love. The swords that cut off this faith are blunted and broken, but the Faith has remained. We know well from the history of our Church that many have tempted themselves to suffocate our Faith in Christ and His Church, however this Faith has again remained the victory is ours!

When the world rushes upon us, with illusions; especially with the temptations of its exterior beauty, the illusion of riches, of pleasure, and of transitory glory, with what shall we resist and by what shall we be victors but by this Faith? Truly, by nothing but this invincible Faith, which knows nothing better than any of the good things of this world?

We should be never spiritually interested in the face that the world offers us, but only to spiritually behold the face of our Lord God, and to behold Him, and in all His Glory, honor, and worship. Truly, nothing is so important for all Christians then to apply our Faith, which only teaches us endurance, and unchanging values in the Kingdom of God. What a great spiritual victory, as again this victory is ours!

We all can be victorious by faith in our Lord God! Do not ever be shameful about having faith, and being God loving Christians! We must spiritually resist that which is unholy, and see that which is truly holy, as we all know that our Gracious Lord Jesus Christ is the “Conqueror” of the world, who helps us also to conquer the world by faith in Him. Our purpose on this earth as Christians is to seek the Kingdom of our Lord God, therefore let us humbly, as well as piously seek it in faith and with faith. Our Lord God shall reward us, as we truly become victorious, as we have found the true Faith! The victory is ours!

Never for one moment believe that God does not hear you when you pray to Him. Pray with all your mind, heart, and soul, in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening, as well as when our loving Church calls us to pray. Go to Church to pray and in faith be victorious! Think about attending Church with your family and be victorious!

Our Church is waiting for you and loves you when you gather in prayer! Our faith in Christ our Lord brings victory; let our faith in Him begin

Peace to your soul!

Humbly in Christ our Lord,

+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Who prays for you and with you!”

Categories: Spirituality

About peace between the wolf and the lamb

August 18, 2009 Leave a comment

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid” (Isaiah 11:6).

Thus, the true prophet foretold the truth. And he further added: “The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; …and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:6-7). And the child will place his hand in the hole of a poisonous snake [asp] and the snake will not harm him. Brethren, when will this wonder occur? This has already occurred when Christ the wonder-worker appeared on earth. This is a reality of Paradise, which was restored among men with the coming of the Savior upon earth. The prophet speaks enigmatically but, nevertheless, clearly; enigmatically, for the prophet does not speak about wild beasts but of men; for his prophecy was clearly fulfilled in Christ’s Church.

Men, who by their habits, were as wolves, wildcats, lions, bears, oxen, lambs, kids and serpents all stand before the Child of Bethlehem equalized by faith, tamed by grace, illumined by hope and softened by love.

The prophet further fortells why this will take place. “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). When viewed physically, every man is earth. The man who believes in Christ and, in truth follows after Christ, becomes full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea, which is filled with water. Such were many individuals. Such were even entire companies of ascetics in Egypt, on the Holy Mountain [Athos], on Cyprus, in Russia, in Armenia and in other places. But this is not all. The knowledge of the Lord has spread today throughout the earth. Holy Scripture is distributed throughout all nations. There are few corners of the earth where the Gospel of Christ is not read, where the name of God is not known and where the Bloodless Sacrifice of the Lord is not offered. Some deny Christ, others embrace Him, some abandon the true Faith and others embrace the true Faith. And thus continues the one struggle throughout the entire world in the sign of the Lord Jesus. The overly filled waters pour out and flow into empty valleys; the empty valleys become filled and are made equal with the high waters. Everything is not glowing in the world as we Christians wish it to be, but the prophecy of the Prophet Isaiah was gloriously fulfilled most clearly and was accomplished. O how wonderful is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the true prophet. O, miracle-working Lord, tame the beastly nature of those men and people who are not tamed by the power of Your love. That we all may be fruitful from Your abundance. That we all may be glorious from Your Glory and alive Lord, alive from Your Immortal life.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Categories: Biblical Studies

The Salvation of the Heterodox and those of Other Faiths

August 16, 2009 1 comment

There are many people who ask themselves: “OK, we Christians have our faith -the true faith; we have our Church, we have our Lord’s Revelation, we are already inside the channel leading to salvation, towards the Kingdom of Heaven – PROVIDED of course that we are appropriately careful during our lifetime.

But what about all those people who belong to other faiths? What happens to Buddhists? What happens to Muslims? (Not to mention the other, Christian Confessions). But, let’s tackle the other religions for now: don’t those people go to Heaven?  What kind of judgment does God have in store for them? Are we the only ones that will be judged and accordingly be either “promoted” –so to speak- or ……”left out”? What happens to the others? Is there no salvation for them?

The answer is:  of course salvation can exist for them.  The status of this matter is as follows:  Someone who has become acquainted with Christianity and has been baptized will be judged on the law of the Gospel, the Law of Grace.  But someone living –for example- in Madagascar, Sumatra or Borneo, South America, the North Pole, wherever the Gospel has not been preached, will be judged according to the clarification cited by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to Romans; that is, he will be judged on the basis of the law of his conscience:  “..when the gentiles (=all those who do not have a written, moral code) instinctively uphold the stipulations of the law, to them –albeit having no written law- the law shall be their own self. They prove that they have the enforcement of the law written in their hearts”. (Romans 2: 14-15)

God has placed inside every single person, without exception, wherever they may be found on this earth, that unbiased tribunal – the inherent ethical law – based on which they will be judged. If they lived faithful to that innate moral code, they shall enter Paradise; if they don’t, they will not qualify to enter.

Of course there will be – according to the words in Corinthians I, 15:41 “a star differs to another star, in its glory” – a gradation in Paradise, just as there will be in Hell.  People of other faiths will, because of their good deeds during their lifetime, enter Paradise, but they will not enjoy the same pleasures that, say, Apostle Paul or Saint Makarios will enjoy there.

Some may think: “Isn’t that being “unfair” to those people?  No, it isn’t, because they will also be judged more leniently. Christianity is very strict, with the rules that it contains. To briefly deviate from the subject, we could underline that evidence of Christianity’s truth is also the multitude of its faithful. When seeking to attract followers, one doesn’t project negative aspects. On the contrary, the prospective followers are promised all sorts of benefits and conveniences; they are flattered and they are pampered. In the case of Christianity, however, Christ had stresses to His disciples that “You shall suffer tribulations in the world” (John 16: 33) and “If they persecuted me, they shall also persecute you” (John 15: 20); and many more such ‘promises’, which are totally deterrent if used to attract followers. But, when Christianity ‘promises’ such harsh conditions, and yet it attracts people to it, it only proves that Christianity is the truth.

Getting back to our subject, on the matter of other, non-Christian believers.  A Christian is not as ‘lucky’ a follower, given that Christ demands much more from Christians!  They will go to an even more INFERIOR place than the non-Christians, if they do not enforce those things that Christ requires of them.  The non-Christians will NOT be judged in accordance with the Gospel, but more leniently.

See the difference here:  A man who will be judged according to the innate moral law, will be held accountable to God, only for –let’s say-the actual act of adultery that he had committed. But a Christian will be judged much more severely: even for his one, single, lustful glance, for example. He will be judged “in his words, in his acts and in his thoughts”. The benefits may be more for a Christian, but the criteria will be more austere and his path will be far more difficult to walk.  Everything is fair.  God is meticulously just.  As father Paisios of the Holy Mountain had said, “God doesn’t have even two identical scales; He weighs every single person on separate, personal scales”. Depending on where the person is born, what kind of environment he was brought up in, the kinds of parents, the school, the country, the religion, the peculiarities of every single person. God makes no mistakes.

The late Christos Androutsos, professor of Dogmatics, used to say that Orthodoxy is the only sure path for salvation. It is not the only path for salvation, but it is the only safe road.

Fr.Joel Yannakopoulos gives us a visual example, in order to comprehend the words of Androutsos.  He says:  During the war, there was a safe path that joined the town of Kalamata to Athens: it was the one used by the armored convoy.  Of course there were other paths, which were used by people moving between the two cities, but they weren’t safe paths. This is exactly how things are with the Orthodox Church and the heterodox and other non-Christians.

We have to stress however, that if someone is baptized an Orthodox and then becomes a heretic, or, even worse, an infidel, that person will never be saved by remaining in that new faith, no matter how many good deeds he may perform.  There is a distinct difference between being a Buddhist or a Muslim and not knowing Christ, and a totally different thing to deny Christ for the sake of Buddha or Shiva or Allah.

So much for the salvation of others.  What is of chief concern is OUR OWN salvation.  The question “What about him?” that Peter asked, regarding John the Evangelist (John 21:21) – in other words, “What will become of him?” – was a “show of compassion”; it was an external display of his caring for John.  We, however, take This expression and use it simply informatively i.e.: “What will become with the heterodox or the non-Christians?”, without concerning ourselves with our own salvation!  Therefore, the proper thing to do is to attend to the salvation of our own soul, and at the same time show an interest in the salvation of other people who have entered the Orthodox Church (of their own free will), and not merely wonder in our minds what will become of them.

Source:  Fr. John Kostov: “Faith and Logic”, A publication by Manolis Melinos, Athens 2002, pg. 19-23

Categories: Spirituality