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.
FAITH IN CHRIST
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2).
According to the Orthodox Church "salvation comes through faith in Christ, Who fulfills, the law. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us, leading us to the knowledge of God the Father. Rather than justification as a legal acquittal before God, Orthodox believers see justification by faith as a covenant relationship with Him, centered in union with Christ" (Romans 6:1-6).
Orthodox Christianity emphasizes it is first God' mercy--not our faith--that saves us. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1,2). It is God Who initiates or makes the new covenant with us.
For Orthodox Christians, faith is living, dynamic, continuous--never static or merely a point-in-time. Faith is not something a Christian exercises only at one critical moment, expecting it to cover all the rest of his life. True faith is not a decision, it's a way of life. Thus, the Orthodox Christian sees salvation in at least three aspects: (a) I have been saved, being joined to Christ in Holy Baptism; (b) I am being saved, growing in Christ through the Sacramental life of the Church; and (c) I will be saved, by the mercy of God at the Last Judgment.
Through God's mercy, we are justified by faith and empowered by God for good works (works of mercy) or deeds of righteousness that bring glory to Him.
Faith in Christ ensures eternal life, following the bodily death of man. "Jesus said to her 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (St. John 11:25-26).
Saint Paul wrote, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). "This is not so much a definition of faith as it is a description of how faith works, especially during hard times."
"By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain...By faith, Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death...But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He Is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him...By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen moved with godly fear prepared an ark for the saving of his household...By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance...By faith, Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child..." (Hebrews 11:4-11).
As an example, "he who comes to God must believe that He Is..." There are those unbelievers who ridicule the belief that there is a God. "Why do you believe in God who you cannot see?" they say. Our faith in God is not simply something which is believable nor blind faith. Saint Paul writes, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:20-21).
Therefore, our faith must always progress and should never remain a 'simple faith' in God if we wish to be of benefit to us. The true faith that saves is a complete faith, not just the mind and the tongue but the whole man trusting in the Living God. Our faith grows and affects our actions, or it dies. "Faith alone" static faith, does not save. We must nurture our faith in God and love for Him through our works. "Do not say you are the temple of the Lord, writes Prophet Jeremiah (Jer 7:3) nor should you say that faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ can save you, for this is impossible unless you acquire love for Him through your works. As for faith by itself, "the devils also believe, and tremble" (Saint Maximus the Confessor).
The holy Apostle James writes: "What does it profit, my brethren if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works" (St. James 2:14-18).
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God