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 FAITH INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (Part IV)
By Saint Innocent of Alaska
How Jesus Christ Helps Us
While walking the path of Christ, you should not rely only on yourself. If Jesus Christ, our Great Benefactor, had not given us help every step of the way, no one could have reached salvation. Even the Apostles, when left to themselves, were unable to follow Jesus and faintheartedly dispersed. But when on Pentecost they received help from above, they joyfully followed His path, and then neither danger nor difficulties nor death itself could discourage them.
What is this help given by Jesus Christ to Christians? This help is the Grace of the Holy Spirit. God's grace surrounds us, and with it the Lord draws us to Himself. All who wish can receive this help and become filled with it.
The Holy Spirit, being God, equal to the Father and the Son, is the source of life and strength. He gives to believers wisdom, inner peace and inspiration, not according to their merits but for Jesus Christ's sake. How the Holy Spirit helps us, what are His Gifts, and how one should attract His Grace will now be explained in accordance with the Holy Scripture.
- When descending upon a Christian, the Holy Spirit gives him faith and light. No one can have a true living faith without the Holy Spirit. Even a person most learned in Scripture is totally blind without His Enlightenment. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit can make even the lowest simpleton wise and disclose God's Mysteries to them.
- Descending upon a Christian, the Holy Spirit brings true love which warms his heat. This love inspires a person to do good deeds, so that for him there is nothing impossible or terrifying anymore. God's Commandments, which appeared to be difficult before, now become easy. Faith and love, gifts from the Holy Spirit, are such powerful means that the person possessing them can easily and joyfully follow the path of Jesus Christ.
- The Holy Spirit corrects a worldly outlook and attitude, so that a Christian is no longer overwhelmed by the temptations of this passing world. Gratefully using what God has bestowed, a True Christian does not become attached to anything temporary but considers himself a stranger in this world and wishes most of all to be in contact with God. On the other hand, a person without the grace of the Holy Spirit, despite all his learning and capabilities, always remains a worshipper of the world and a slave of the flesh.
- The Holy Spirit gives a Christian wisdom. This is illustrated very obviously in the case of the Holy Apostles. Because of their low social position, they were the most simple and unlearned of men. However, after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them on the day of Pentecost they received such wisdom and power of speech that even philosophers and orators could not stand up to them. The Holy Spirit always teaches Christians what they must do, and when and how they should act. Thus guided by the Holy Spirit, they will always find the time and the means for the salvation of their soul. Amid all the turmoil of the world and in spite of being busy, they will be able to collect their inner self to be with and pray to God. A non-spiritual person, on the other hand, cannot focus or pray sincerely, even in Church.
- The Holy Spirit gives Christians true joy and undisturbable peace. They feel this peace and joy even doing external difficulties and in times of trial. People, on the other hand, who do not have the Holy Spirit, can never truly rejoice or attain inner peace. When they enjoy themselves they find their joy is transient, frivolous and pitiful, and on occasion even sinful. After their revelry, a boredom greater than ever before fills their heart. Similarly, when a non-spiritual person feels tranquility, this is not a true spiritual peace but a sort of dozing or apathy. Woe to the people who do not awaken in time and do not start being concerned with the salvation of their soul! They will remain spiritually dead even while alive physically.
- The Holy Spirit gives true humility. Even the most intelligent people, if they do not possess the Holy Spirit, cannot know themselves well enough, because their internal illness and spiritual poverty are hidden from them. When they do something good or act honestly, they become haughty, look down on others, and even judge those who in their opinion are inferior to them. Through their own blindness, many self-satisfied falsely righteous ones did not ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and strengthening, and consequently, perished. The Holy Spirit always comes to those who ask for enlightenment and help. As a bright ray of sun penetrates the darkness, enhancing the smallest details found within, so does the Holy Spirit having descended upon people, disclose to them all the weakness and wretchedness of their soul. Enlightened by the Heavenly Light, Christians can no longer boast about their good works, because they realize their soul needs healing and complete renewal. This realization makes them more humble, and they begin to repent and decide to live more carefully. They stop relying on themselves and ask God for guidance and help.
- The Holy Spirit grants true fervent prayer. Until they receive the Holy Spirit, people cannot pray in a manner truly pleasing to God because they cannot control their scattered thoughts and feelings. Christians in whom the Holy Spirit resides, however, vividly feel the presence of God; their prayer flows evenly, and they know how and for what to ask God. In this inspired state, they can beseech God for anything, even the seemingly impossible.
This is a short list of the most needed gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In summary, it is impossible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven or even come close to it without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we, should implore the Holy Spirit with all earnestness to come dwell in us and help us, just as He helped the Holy Apostles. In order for the Holy Spirit to be kind toward us, to descend and reside within us, it is important to know what draws Him to us and what pushes Him away.
Jesus Christ said that the Holy Spirit "blows where it wills and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes" (St. John 3:8). This means that a person cannot force the Holy Spirit to come to him or predict the time when He may decide to do so. You can only feel His touch when this happens. Indeed, the book of Acts states that when the Holy Apostles and other Christians received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, it was always unexpectedly. He seldom descends immediately on those beseeching Him but does so when it suits Him, as god, to do so. No one should attempt to foretell when or what gifts, if any, he will receive or to consider himself worthy or His descent! The Grace of the Holy Spirit is a gift of His endless mercy. And gifts by definition are given when it suits the giver, and only those deemed suitable by the giver.
It is the Holy Spirit Himself Who established within the Church the means of distributing His Blessings to the faithful.
The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and other liturgical services. Non-Orthodox Christians are sadly mistaken when they assert that they can always, whenever it suits them, receive the Holy Spirit through well-known means (which are unfortunately also used during spiritual séances and pagan mysteries). These who dare to orchestrate these means will not only remain empty of the Divine Gifts but commit a terrible sin against the Holy Spirit (blasphemy).
Anyone who considers asking the Holy Spirit for beneficial gifts must know that these gifts are meant only for those who possess true faith. Indeed, the Lord first of all enlightened the Apostles with the true doctrine and then bestowed upon them the Holy Spirit. Similarly, the Apostles did not bestow beneficial gifts upon newly baptized Christians immediately, but only after a certain period of testing and affirmation in their faith. This is why the Lord called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth, and His Church, the beautified community of the faithful, is called in Scripture "the pillar and the ground of the Truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).
(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