My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
REDEMPTION ACCORDING TO ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY (Part II)
Jesus, the Perfect Image of Human Life
Christ is the incarnate Logos/Word of God. He is the Teacher and Master sent by God to the world. He is the embodiment of God Himself in human form. He is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15). In Him "the fullness of Divinity dwells bodily" (Col. 2:9). The person who sees Jesus sees God the Father (St. John 14:9). He is the "reflection of the glory of God and the express image of His person" (Heb. 1:3). He is the "Light of the world" Who "enlightens every man...coming into the world" (St. John 8:12, 1:9). To be saved by Jesus Christ is first of all to be enlightened by Him; to see Him as the Light, and to see all things in the light of Him. It is to know Him as "the Truth" (St. John 14:6); and to know the truth of Him.
"And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free" (St. John 8:31).
When one is saved by God in Christ one comes to the knowledge of the Truth, fulfilling God's desire for His creatures, for "God our Savior...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4). In saving God's world, Jesus Christ enlightens God's creatures by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God Who is the Spirit of Truth Who proceeds from the Father and is sent into the world through Christ.
"If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you" (St. John 14:15-17).
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you..." (St. John 15:26).
"When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth..." (St. John 16:13).
The first aspect of salvation in Christ, therefore, is to be enlightened by Him and to know the truth about God and man by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, which God gives through Him to those who believe. This is witnessed to in the Apostolic writings of Saints John and Paul:
"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit...For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:13-16).
"For [God] has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth...to me...this grace was given...to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be make known..." (Eph. 1:8-10:3-9).
"For I want...that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery in Christ, in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:1-3).
"But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you know all things I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and know that no lie is of the truth...but the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in Him...And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given to us" (1 John 2:20-27; 3:24).
The first aspect of man's salvation by God in Christ is, therefore, the ability and power to see, to know, to believe and to love the truth of God in Christ, Who is the Truth, by the Spirit of Truth. It is the gift of knowledge and wisdom, of illumination and enlightenment, it is the condition of being "taught by God" as foretold by the Prophets and fulfilled by Christ [Isaiah 54:13, 33-34; St. John 6:45). Thus, in the Orthodox Church, the entrance into the saving life of the Church through Baptism and Chrismation is called "holy illumination."
For it is God Who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," Who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).
(Next: Jesus, the Reconciler of Man with God)
FROM THE LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS
Prayer for the Catechumens
O God, our God, Author and Creator of all things, it is Your will that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth. Look upon Your servants the Catechumens, and free them of ancient error and from the wiles of the enemy. Call them to eternal life, illuminating their souls and bodies, and numbering them among Your reasoning flock, on which Your Holy Name is invoked.
That with us they too may glorify Your Most Noble and Majestic Name, of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God