Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A PRAYER TO OUR GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
"Heavenly King and Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who are everywhere and fill all things, come and abide in us and cleanse us from every stain and save, O Good One, our souls." Relieve every man of sorrowful incurable non-repentance and the denial of Your sanctifying and saving action. Make us aware of our shortcomings and sins. Grant us faith in the Trinitarian God, sincere repentance, a returning to You. Grant us the salvation of our Souls and that of all the world.
Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church believes the Holy Spirit is God. He is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. He is equal to the other two persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son. This belief of our Church is based on both the Holy Scriptures and on Holy Tradition.
In the Old Testament it is mentioned that the Prophet Isaiah talked with the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 6:1-10). This is confirmed when Saint Paul says, "Well spoke the Holy Spirit by Isaiah the Prophet to our Fathers" (Acts 28:25). A similar passage is found in the Prophet Jeremiah. And again we have the witness of Saint Paul, who confirms that "the Holy Spirit" speaks (Hebrews 10:15-17). There are many more similar passages in the Old Testament that bear witness that the Holy Spirit is God.
In the New Testament many passages bear witness. When Christ was Resurrected, He said to His Disciples, "Go you and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit " (St. Mark 16:15). Here the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son. There is no doubt that He is God. Saint Peter categorically calls the Holy Spirit, "God" (Acts 5:4). And Saint Paul characteristically says, "Now the Lord is that Spirit" (II Corinthians 3:17). In very many other places in the New Testament the Divinity of the Holy Spirit is revealed. It is not necessary, however, to mention them all here.
In opposing the heresy of Macedonios against the Holy Spirit, the Second Ecumenical Council, which took place at Constantinople in the year 381 A.D., produced the Eight Articles of the Creed, which states, "...and [I believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, and is worshipped and glorified together with the Father and the Son, Who spoke through the Prophets." This is a teaching that is absolutely based on the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition. Let us pay attention to these words: "worshipped and glorified together with the Father and the Son." Who is worshipped and glorified? God. God alone. and so, since the Holy Spirit is worshipped and glorified together with the Father and the Son, He is also true God.
Many opposed this Orthodox Christian belief. In the 4th century, it was Macedonios and his followers. They said that the Holy Spirit is not uncreated God, as is the Father and the Son. They said that He is a creation, and therefore no different from all other created beings; no created being is God, and so the Holy Spirit cannot be God. This arbitrary and heretical opinion cannot be supported by Holy Scriptures or Holy Tradition.
In our times there are others who are worse than the followers of Macedonios. The Jehovah's Witnesses deny the existence of the Holy Spirit. The worst is that they call themselves students of the Holy Scriptures. Even a brief glimpse at the Holy Scriptures would show them not only the existence of the Holy Spirit but also His Divinity.
With the use of the word spirit, the Holy Scripture frequently refers to the other Two Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son. Why? As Theodoritos the Compiler says, "To show us that the divine nature of the Three Persons is one and the same, spiritual and immaterial, unembodied and indescribable." And he adds, "Nevertheless, the Spirit is Holy, and only the Third Person is called the Holy Spirit."
There is much to be said in interpreting the many passages of the Holy Scripture that refer to the Holy Spirit. However, it is important to concentrate to look at a particular passage that is often misunderstood. Saint Mark the holy Evangelist writes: "All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme. But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit has never forgiveness but is in danger of eternal damnation" (St. Mark 3:28-29). Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin. The problem is that this passage seems to forgive blasphemy against the Son but not against the Holy Spirit. The passage can be very easily misunderstood to mean that the Holy Spirit is superior to the Son. The correct interpretation, as it is given to us by the Church Fathers, is this: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the denial by man out of hatred of God's power to save him. Even more simply, the man who does not believe that the grace of God--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--can save him, closes his heart to the actions of the Holy Spirit; he does not accept grace. He does not proceed to repentance. He fights against the sanctifying and saving act of God. He creates within himself a sorrowful and incurable condition.
Saint Basil the Great speaking on the work of the Holy Spirit says, the titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and makes him realize that they speak of nothing less than the Supreme Being. Is He not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth Who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the Guiding Spirit? But His principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.
To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek Him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.
The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and He offers His own light to every mind to help it in its search for the truth. By nature the spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know Him by His goodness. The power of the spirit fills the whole universe, but He gives Himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.
Simple in Himself, the Spirit is manifold in His Mighty works. The whole of His Being is present to each individual; the whole of His being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, He remains unchanged, His self-giving is no loss to Himself.
Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth His grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive Him. To all creatures that share in Him He gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.
The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with Himself.
As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit shines become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God, through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God, indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations.
According to Protopresbyter Fr. George D. Metallinos (Professor Emeritus of the Athens University): "The theology of the Baptism is extensively expounded by the holy Fathers, from the so-called Apostolic ones to the Major Fathers of the 4th and 5th and pursuant to them, up to Saint Nicholas Kavasilas and Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki (+1429). This teaching was summarized by Saint Basil the Great, who defined the two basic purposes and the dynamics of the Baptism: a) to abolish "the body of sin, so that it may never again bear fruits of death' and b) provide for the baptized to "live in the Spirit and bear fruits in sanctification" (Galatians 5:22). This is the spiritual birth or rebirth of man, which takes place according to the word of Christ to Nicodemus, "by water and spirit" (St. John 3:5). According to the same Father, "The water provides a representation of death, receiving the body into it as though in burial, while the Spirit inserts life-giving force into it, thus renovating souls, from the deadness of sin to the commencement of life from the beginning."
Baptism, with the grace provided by the Holy Spirit, sets in motion the Christian's entire spiritual course towards salvation. "If you do not become joined to the simulation of His Death, how can you become a communicant of the Resurrection?" And according to Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki, the baptized "comes forth to cast off the pollution of sin and faithlessness (the absence of spiritual relations with God), and to become new in whole, and to take the form of the new Adam. Rebirth is when man becomes "of the same form" as Christ (see Romans 8:29), by donning the "image of the celestial" (I Cor. 15:49).
Christianity means a way of life different to the worldly one (St. John 17:9-19). "Faithful means to be crucified along with one's passions and desires" and having become "of Christ" (Galatians 5:24). He lives "in the Spirit" and therefore "is aligned (behaves accordingly) to the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). The "fruit for the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25) is the Spirit's presence being revealed in the heart that has been cleansed of its passions. Catharsis is what one strives for in his spiritual struggle, so that man may remain open to divine grace.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God