Beloved brothers and sisters,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
A PRAYER TO THE LORD OF MERCY
O God in the highest heaven and Lord of mercy, We bless You, For You always do great and inscrutable things for us, Things that are glorious and extraordinary and beyond numbering. You provide sleep for us to give us rest from our infirmities And from the many labors of our toilsome life. We thank You for not destroying us together with our sins, For while we were lying in sinful desperation, You showed Your Loving-kindness as usual And raised us up to glorify Your Kingdom. For this reason we beseech Your unimaginable goodness: Illumine the eyes of our understanding And raise our minds from the heavy sleep of indolence. Open our mouth and fill it with praises for You, That we may be enabled without distraction to sing and chant and confess to You, Who are the God glorified in all and by all-the Unbegotten Father, together with the Only-Begotten Son And the All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, Now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
(A personal observation)
Saint Paul in his letter to Timothy reminds us to "be watchful in all things" (2 Timothy 4:5). Observing what is taking place all around us and throughout the world i.e., wars, violence, evil, injustice, corruption, immorality, heresy, false teachers and prophets, slavery, contentions, faithlessness, apostasy, cruelty, hatred, persecution of the Christian Church, faith and Christian followers, division, confusion, etc. etc. it would be a good thing for all of us to be vigilant at all times.
Evil leaders and governments that promote and force various evil lifestyles and practices on their people are spreading throughout the world. It is clear, therefore, why they pass laws to undermine and destroy Christianity.
The orthodoxy of the Christian faith was constantly challenged by various heretics that sought to bring division, destruction, confusion. In 2 Peter 2:10 we are reminded what God will do to the heretics: "He will divide the holy from the unholy in the life to come. We already have the example of the "angels who sinned" (v.4), imprisoned in the lowest part of "hell" while awaiting the final judgment. Verse 10 repeats two major sins of heretics: (1) immorality and (2) disdain for authority, especially that of Christ.
Jesus warns us, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (St. Matthew 7:15). Heretical Christians who claim "of spreading the 'gospel'" while in reality they are spreading heresy, confusion, distortion, division, immorality, perversion, arrogance, falsehood, etc., and therefore their aim is to destroy Christianity from within. The authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ is only one and it is found within the Holy Orthodox Christian Church. Please remember the words of Our God and Savior Jesus Christ who says, "Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (St. Matthew 7:17-20).
The heretics attack the Person of Christ by either targeting and questioning His Divinity or His perfect humanity. Because of that I have decided to bring you the Orthodox belief of Who Christ really is.
THE PERSON OF CHRIST THE SAVIOR
THE TWO NATURES IN CHRIST
by The Brotherhood of Theologians "O Sotir" ("The Savior") [source: Our Orthodox Christian Faith]
1. Christ the God-Man.
The Person of Christ the Savior, a Divine and Supernatural Person, is unique in the history of the world. Mankind has never seen, nor will it ever see, another Person like Christ. This is because in the Person of Christ the Savior two natures, the Divine and the human, were united without confusion or change. Thus, Jesus Christ is the Son of God but also equally the son of man; perfect God and perfect man, truly Godman (Theanthropos). As God, He was born of the Father "before all ages". As man, He was born "of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" in the last times, "without in the least suffering change, confusion or division, but preserving whole the qualities of each essence" (Doxastikon Theotokion, Third Tone). "For the Only-Begotten Son, Who shown forth from the Father eternally, the Same came forth from you, O Pure One, being ineffably incarnate; being God by nature, He became man by nature for our sake: not being severed into two persons but being recognize in two unconfounded natures" (Doxastikon, Plagal Second Tone). And then again the Doxastikon of the 4th Plagal Tone says: "There is one Son, dual in nature but not in person. Thus truly proclaiming Him perfect God and perfect man we confess Christ our God".
Holy Scripture frequently presents Christ as acting as God with absolute authority, wisdom and grace in His Divine teaching and His miracles. On the other hand, it frequently presents Him with the attributes of human nature, the so-called blameless passions: hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, suffering, death. He is our Lord Jesus Christ "the Word of God Incarnate".
2. Christ's Divinity.
Christ's Divinity is the foundation and the firm basis upon which the Christian faith and Christ's entire redeeming work is based. The Author of our salvation the Lord Jesus Christ, was not simply the perfect man, sinless, holy and incomparably superior morally and spiritually to those whom He came to save; Jesus was the "Only-Begotten Son of God Who is in the bosom of the Father". True God and perfect, consubstantial and of equal honor, co-enthroned and co-eternal with the Father. He is the Lord, "the brilliant radiance of the Father's Glory". No person, whether earthly or heavenly can be compared with the authority, grace, and perfection of the Lord Jesus. The whole world is His creation. As the divine Evangelist proclaims: "all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made" (St. John 1:3; Heb. 1:3). The Angels in heaven and all the heavenly powers are his servants and have as their task the execution of His Holy Will. They worship and glorify Him unceasingly. This can be seen from the command which the Father gives to the Angels: "let the Angels of God worship Him". This, the Father says to the Angels. To His Son, in order to demonstrate the letter's superiority to the former, He says: "Thy Throne, O god, is forever and ever" (i.e. it remains firm and unshakable; no dark power shall ever be able to move it). "A scepter of righteousness is the scepter and authority of Thy Kingdom", i.e. Your Royal power is a scepter and authority of righteousness and justice with which no other authority can be compared (Heb. 1:6, 8). The men on earth are also His servants, and as sinful servants they have need of His help and succor, both for their temporary life and for the Eternal Redemption of their souls. Christ thus stands above all, incomparable and transcendent. He is Lord and God, born of, and proceeding from the essence of the Father. He is the Creator of all things. Hence worshipful obeisance is to be offered to Him by all: by Angels and men. Precisely this is one and the same worship with that offered to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
2a. Scriptural Witness Concerning the Lord's Divinity.
In the New Testament there are many testimonies to the Lord Jesus' Divinity and in many and serious circumstances He is proclaimed Son of God, perfect God and True Christ.
At the Annunciation of the Virgin the Archangel tells the Virgin that the child which shall be born of her of the Holy Spirit "shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the kingdom of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (St. Luke 1:32-33). At His birth He is called by the Angel who appeared to the shepherds, "Christ the Lord", born in a cave and from a Virgin. At His Baptism and Transfiguration the Father Himself calls Him "My Beloved Son" in Whom He is well-pleased to save mankind, and all men are called to submit to Him: "hear ye Him" (St. Matt. 3:17 and 17:5). In very many places in their holy epistles the Apostles call Christ the Only-Begotten, Pre-Eternal Son of God.
Especially in the following passages is Christ called True God: St. John 1:1 "in the beginning was the Word [Logos] and the Word was with God and the Word was God". Similarly, St. John 20:28, where Thomas, who up to that moment had vehemently refused to believe, exclaims without reservation: "My Lord and my God".
In his First Catholic or General Epistle (5:20) the Evangelist St. John confirms that we Christians who preserve our faith in Christ pure and undefiled, "are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and Eternal Life". Saint Paul affirms us that Christ is yesterday and today the same and unto ages"' hence He is the Pre-Eternal and perpetual, unchangeable and unaltered God. He explicitly states that Christ "being in the form of God" was exalted by His Father even as man, after His passion and His Resurrection, as Lord and King of all things in heaven and on earth and beneath the earth. In the Acts of the Apostles (20:28) the Apostle Paul calls the Church "the Church of the Lord and God which He has purchased with His own blood". And in his epistle to Titus (2:13) he says that we the faithful "look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ". And in the epistle to the Romans (9:5) when St. Paul states that Christ is descended from the Jews according to the flesh, he stresses that Christ is not simply a man but also God. "Christ, Who is over all, God blessed forever". And in his First Epistle to St. Timothy (3:16) he says concerning Christ that "God appeared in the flesh".
(to be continued)
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God