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.
THE FRUITS OF DIVINE GRACE (Part II)
Another fruit, the third, of Divine Grace is man's rebirth. Man has his natural birth from his physical parents. This birth is that which brings him into life sinful, burdened with the ancestral ("original") sin. With this sinful root and inclination which he possesses, he goes on to evil and lives a sinful life, committing sinful acts. Now through his being called, through his repentance and faith, through Holy Baptism which he has received, he is born a second time, receiving a divine spiritual and heavenly birth, and then through his struggles and through the aid of Divine Grace, he is reborn into a new, divine and holy life. This is rebirth, which constitutes one of the greatest and wondrous gifts of Divine Grace. The rebirth in question is that inner divine rebirth about which our Lord spoke to Nicodemus and said: "Except a man be born from above (i.e., by God's grace), he cannot see the Kingdom of God" and "except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (St. John 3:3, 5).
It is of this birth that Saint Peter speaks when he says that Christians are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (I Peter 1:23). This is the rebirth that produces the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Next comes the precious and God-given gift of man's sanctification. And when we say sanctification we mean that complete and perfect cleansing of man of everything sinful and contrary to God, of everything secular. Sanctification is that blessed condition of man in which neither evil thoughts nor improper reflections nor guilty feelings nor improper words nor unworthy acts can enter his soul or soil his life. On the contrary, the sanctified man or woman possesses every virtue and perfection so as to have achieved the "likeness of God."
These are the fruits of Divine Grace and the stages of man's salvation. The call -- justification -- rebirth -- sanctification. And these are all interrelated and interdependent. The one proceeds from, and presupposes the other. All together they fulfill and complete the work of the salvation of sinful man.
Then there is glory, Divine Glory which crowns the work of man's redemption. And though this glory is of course the Glory and Majesty of Virtue here on this earth and in this present life, peace, joy, gladness and delight of the life in Christ, it is primarily the glory of the Kingdom of God in the future life and Kingdom of Heaven."
The New Testament is filled with words and proclamations of the God-inspired Apostles, that God calls us unto salvation, and that He justifies us, He gives us rebirth through the grace of the Spirit of His Son; God sanctifies us and leads us unto His Glory. This justification is also called in the Holy Scripture "reconciliation" with God, i.e., amelioration and peace with God. "We have peace with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ", and salvation and theosis (deification) in Christ because with Christ's Incarnation and sacrifice and our faith in Him, We mortal men "have become partakers of the Divine nature", says the Holy Apostle Peter. (Source: Our Orthodox Christian Faith by + Athanasios S. Frangopoulos, Theologian and Preacher)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God