My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
THE GOAL OF THE CHRISTIAN IS TO AIM FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: The Way Into the Kingdom of Heaven
By Saint Innocent of Alaska
We were created to live on earth unlike animals who die and disappear with time, but with the high purpose to live with God--not for a hundred years or so--but for eternity!
Every individual instinctively strives for happiness. This desire has been implanted in our nature by the Creator Himself, and therefore it is not sinful. But it is important to understand that in this temporary life it is impossible to find full happiness, because that comes from God and cannot be attained without Him. Only He, Who is the ultimate Good and the source of all good, can quench our thirst for happiness.
Material things can never wholly satisfy us. Indeed, we know from experience that every item we have desired has pleased us only for a short while. Then it became boring, and we started to desire something else. This process of satisfaction and boredom then repeated itself many times. The most striking example of unquenchable thirst for happiness was Solomon, the famous king of Israel, who lived around 1000 BC. He was so rich that all the household utensils in his palace were made of pure gold. He was so wise that kings and famous people from faraway lands came to hear him. He was so famous that his foes trembled at the mere mention of his name. He could easily satisfy any of his wishes, and it seemed that there was no pleasure that he did not possess or could not obtain. But with all of this, Solomon could not find total happiness to the end of his life. He described his many years of searching for happiness and his continual disappointments in the book of Ecclesiastes, which he began with the following phrase: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Ecc. 1:2).
Innumerable other wise people who were also successful in life came to the same conclusion. It seems that in the depth of our subconscious something reminds us that we are just wanderers on this earth and that our true happiness is not here but there, in that other and better world known as Paradise or the Heavenly Kingdom. Let man own the whole world and everything that is in it, yet all this will interest him for no more than a short period, while the immortal soul, thirsting for personal communication with God, will remain unsatisfied.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth in order to return to us our lost capacity to spend eternity in the blissful presence of God. He revealed to people that all their evil lies in sin and that no one through their own efforts can overcome the evil within themselves and attain communion with God. Sin, ingrained in our nature since the fall, stands between us and God like a high wall. If the Son of God has not descended to us through His mercy for us, had not taken on our human nature, and had not by His death conquered sin, all mankind would have perished forever? Now, thanks to Him, those who wish to cleanse themselves from evil can do so and return to God and obtain eternal bliss in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now we will discuss in detail how you can achieve this aim. We will examine:
Which benefits were granted to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ?
How Jesus Christ lived on earth and suffered for us?
How Jesus Christ helps us to walk along the path of salvation?
The Benefits the Lord Jesus Christ has Granted Us
In order to evaluate the benefits given us by our Lord Jesus Christ, let us first remember what blessing the first man Adam had while he was sinless, and what sorrows befell him and all of mankind after his fall into sin.
The first man, having been created in the image and likeness of his Creator, had the most vital and close relationship with Him and therefore enjoyed total happiness. God, having created Adam in His image and likeness, endowed him with many of His qualities. The most important of these was immortality. God, being All-Just, created Adam sinless and pure. Being All-Blessed. He created Adam blessed also, and this blessedness or beatitude was meant to increase in him day by day...
If Adam had not sinned, he would have remained forever blessed, and all his descendants would have enjoyed blessedness. It was for this very purpose that God had created man. But Adam, having succumbed to the tempter-devil, transgressed against the law of the Maker and took pleasure in the taste of the forbidden fruit. When God appeared to Adam right after he had sinned, Adam, instead of repenting and promising obedience henceforth, began to justify himself and to blame his wife. Eve in turn blamed the serpent for everything. And so it was that sin became a part of human nature, deeply injuring it because of the lack of repentance of Adam and Eve. The existing communion with the Maker was cut and the blessedness lost. Having lost Paradise within himself, Adam became unworthy of the external Paradise and was therefore banished from it.
After the fall into sin, Adam's soul darkened: his thoughts and desires became muddled, and his imagination and memory began to cloud. Instead of peace and joy he met sorrow, agitation, ruination, misery, and woe. He experienced hard labor, poverty, hunger, and thirst. And after years of unsurpassed sorrows, sickly old age began to oppress him, and death neared. Worst of all, the devil, the perpetrator of every evil, obtained through sin the ability to influence Adam and to further alienate him from God...
No man, even the most talented and powerful, nor all of mankind in unison, could ever restore what Adam had lost when he sinned in Eden. What would have happened to us and to all of mankind if Jesus Christ in His mercy had not come to redeem us?
But we should all thank our Heavenly Father for taking pity on us. He loves us far more than we are capable of loving ourselves. And because of Him infinite love, He has sent His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to ride us from our sins and form the snare of the devil and to lead us into the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
Through His teachings Jesus Christ scattered the darkness of ignorance and all possible error and enlightened the world with the Light of the True faith. Now anyone who desires it can come to know the will of God and attain eternal life.
By His way of life Christ showed us how to live to attain salvation. And He also assists us constantly in everything good. By His Most Precious Blood Jesus Christ washed away our sins and made of us children of God, who were slaves to passions and the Devil. Those torments we, as trangressors of the will of God, would have had to suffer, He bore for us. By His death He crushed the power of the devil, destroyed the power of hell, and delivered us from death. By His Resurrection He gave us life and opened the gates of Paradise to all. Therefore, death is no longer an irreversible tragedy but a passage from this temporary world of vanity and sorrows to the world of bright and joyous life. By His ascension into heaven Christ glorified our nature, enabling us to share eternal bliss with the Angels and all the heavenly creatures.
It is impossible fully to comprehend and to describe all the benefits that the Lord has prepared for us. Let us just say that all who choose to believe in Him and to live a Christian life will become sons of God, will attain Paradise, where the Angels and the just reside, and will see God face to face. They will rejoice with a pure and eternal joy, knowing no weariness, sadness, or troubles.
It is so wonderful that Jesus Christ gives these benefits not to a chosen few but to each and every person who desires to receive them! The path to salvation has been shown and arranged; it has been made as smooth and level as possible. Besides this, Jesus Himself constantly helps us along the way, so to speak, leading us the hand. It only remains for us not to oppose Him, not to be obstinate, but to surrender ourselves to His will. So you can see how much Jesus Christ loves us and what great blessings He is bestowing upon us!
Let us consider for a moment what would happen if Jesus were to appear before us now and ask: "My children! Do you love Me for all that I have done for you and do you value those blessings that I bestow upon you?" Who among us would not answer Him: "Yes, Lord! I love You and am grateful to You!"
If, then, we truly love Jesus Christ with our hearts and not just with our words, and if we are grateful to Him, are we then not bound to carry out what He wills for us to do? When a person truly loves his benefactor, he expresses his gratitude by doing what pleases his benefactor.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God