My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
ORTHODOXY IS THE AUTHENTIC CHURCH OF CHRIST
"When the first Christian Community began, "THEY CONTINUED STEADFASTLY IN THE APOSTLES’ DOCTRINE AND FELLOWSHIP IN THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD AND IN PRAYERS" (Acts 2:42).
As we are taught by our Risen Lord Jesus Christ and is revealed through the Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit is to "guide" us "into all Truth" (Saint John 16:13). The holy Apostle Paul, ‘the Apostle to the Nations,’ the Church is "a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22). Our Holy Orthodox Church, the Authentic Church of Jesus Christ, "is a dynamic organism, the Living Body of Jesus Christ. She makes an indelible impact in the world, and those who live in her life and faith are personally transformed."
From the early years of Church history, the Holy Apostles lead the way and taught her to "STAND FAST AND HOLD THE TRADITIONS YOU WERE TAUGHT, WHETHER BY WORD OR OUR EPISTLE" (2 Corinthians 2:15). Saint Paul very prudently warns, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and NOT according to the tradition which he received from us" ((2 Thessalonians 3:6). The doctrines taught by our Lord Christ and His Apostles ARE TO BE SAFEGUARDED BY "THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH" (1 Timothy 3:15) AND ARE NOT OPEN FOR NEGOTIATION.
Our Holy Orthodox Church has faced over the centuries persecution both from without and from within. From without by the pagans and Jews, and from within from heretics. Both saught her total destruction and the spread of Christ’s Divine Gospel to the nations, the ‘Good Tidings’ of salvation. These dark powers have failed, but their sinister efforts continue by using different tactics and methods. We all know that our Adversary, Satan, is capable of taking different forms. Saint Paul says to the Corinthians, "For such are false apostles, DECEITFUL WORKERS, TRANSFORMING THEMSELVES INTO APOSTLES OF CHRIST. AND NO WONDER! FOR SATAN HIMSELF TRANSFORMS HIMSELF INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves INTO MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, whose end will be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
The Corinthian Christians thought they had the ability and knowledge in order to evaluate Church leadership. They had been deceived by false apostles who were using worldly methods, full of outward displays and crafty talk. As a result, they were controlled by them and became hostages to them. The holy Apostle Paul did everything he could to expose these false apostles and to show the Corinthians how foolish they were to believe and trust them.
We constantly hear "times have changed!" And we hear also, "that we need to change if our Orthodox Church is to survive." "Change is long overdue!" However, it is never clear what they mean with so-called "change?" We have seen ‘the change’ in other Christian traditions and the result is dreadful. They have compromised their beliefs, their identity, their theology, their unity, and their traditions. Many of their adherents have left them and joined other Christian bodies or they attend non-denominational congregations. Due to their ‘change’, the Person of Jesus Christ and His Gospel has been lost and replaced with entertainment and skits. Some want our Church to emulate the Episcopalians and become what they refered to as "all-inclusive." In other words, no one, whether they are Orthodox Christians or not, are to be treated any different than the Orthodox Christian members, having all the rights of the Faith, and not be turned away or refused the sacraments of the Church. This new policy of the Episcopalians divided them, some left completely, others joined other Christian groups,
Are we to follow their example? Are we so arrogant as to believe the authority or the right to change our Savior Jesus Christ? To change His commandments? To change His teachings and to compromise the Truth? Is He not the Head of the Church? Are we not the body of Christ? Is not God the Holy Spirit that guides the Church, is He not the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, the One that fillest all things, the Treasurer of good things, and Giver of life? What happen to the divine words of Saint Paul who says, "JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER?" (Hebrews 13:8). SINCE CHRIST IS GOD AND DOES NOT CHANGE, HIS GOSPEL DOES NOT CHANGE. If the early Christians attained the Eternal Kingdom of God through faith, so can we. Thus the Orthodox Church STRIVES ALWAYS KEEP HER DOCTRINE PURE AND WITHOUT CHANGE.
We, in the Orthodox Church preach the Divine teachings of our Lord, God, and Savior, of the Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers and the Holy Church guided by the Holy Spirit. At the same time, we must be ready to defend the Truth, to do everything possible to keep these teaching whole and inviolate and pure. In the Book of Deuteronomy we read, "You shall not add to the word which I am commending you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God…" (Deut. 4:2).
Our obedience is ONLY to our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We do not adhere to the so-called "blind-obedience" theory. As Orthodox Christians, we are obedient only to those who are also obedient to Him and to His Gospel. Since our Church believes that it is the Authentic Church of Christ and possess the fullness of the Truth, there is no need for us to emulate the heterodox and heretics. Why should we?
Be a vigilant and a practicing Orthodox Christian and always be ready to defend the truth! Our Lord and God Jesus Christ is not the one that should comform to the world, but the world must comform to Him! The change applies to us, his followers and disciples since we are sinners and unrighteous. Is that not what the Greek word for repentance, "METANOIA," means? Doesn’t it mean CHANGE? Change of life, change of mind, change of heart? Is this a surpise to anyone?
The evil one works stealthely and secretely. This is why we must be watchful and aware of what is happening around us and inside our Church. Those enemies of Orthodoxy work to change our Holy Faith incrementally and secretly. The days are evil and we must be on the alert. Don’t take anything for granted and don’t be gullible. "Beloved DO NOT believe every spirit, but TEST THE SPIRITS, WHETHER THEY ARE OF GOD, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George