“BY GRACE ARE YOU SAVED…” (Ephesians 2:8)

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"BY GRACE ARE YOU SAVED…" (Ephesians 2:8)

The word "χάρις" ("grace") is used in Holy Scripture with different meanings. Sometimes is signifies the mercy of God: God "IS THE GOD OF ALL GRACE" (1 Peter 5:10). In the New Testament, we distinguish two fundamental meanings of this concept. First, by the grace of God, the grace of Christ, is to be understood the whole economy of our salvation by the coming of the Son of God to earth, by His earthly life, His death on the Cross, His Resurrection, and His Ascension into heaven: "FOR BY GRACE ARE YOU SAVED THROUGH FAITH, AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Secondly, GRACE IS THE NAME APPLIED TO THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT which have been set down and are being sent down to the Church of Christ FOR THE SANCTIFICATION BY THEM OF THE Kingdom of Heaven.

In this second New Testament meaning of the word, GRACE IS A POWER SEND DOWN FROM ON High, THE POWER OF GOD WHICH IS IN THE Church of Christ, which GIVES BIRTH, GIVES LIFE, PERFECTS, AND BRINGS THE BELIEVING AND VIRTUOUS Christian to the appreciation of the salvation which has been brought by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The distinction between these two meanings of the word "GRACE" and the predominant understanding of it in the Holy Scripture of the New Testament as a Divine Power, are important to keep in mind, because in Protestantism a teaching has become established about grace only in general significance of the great work of our Redemption from sin through the Savior’s exploit on the Cross, after which–as the Protestants think–a man (person) who has come to believe and has received the remission of sins is already among the saved. However, the Apostles teach us THAT A CHRISTIAN, HAVING JUSTIFICATION AS A GIFT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GENERAL GRACE OF REDEMPTION, IS IN THIS LIFE AS AN INDIVIDUAL ONLY "BEING SAVED" (1 Corinthians 1:18). (The King James Version translation of the verse, "unto us which are saved" IS IMPERCISE; the Greek text has the present participle: "WHO ARE BEING SAVED."), and needs the support OF GRACE-GIVEN POWERS. "WE HAVE ACCESS BY FAITH INTO THIS GRACE WHEREIN WE STAND" (Romans 5:2); "WE ARE SAVED BY HOPES" (Romans 8:24).

How then, does the saving grace of God act?

Both the SPIRITUAL BIRTH and the further SPIRITUAL GROWTH of a man (person) OCCUR THROUGH THE MUTUAL ACTION OF TWO PRINCIPLES. One of these IS THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, the other, MAN’S OPENING OF HIS HEART FOR THE RECEPTION OF IT, A THIRST FOR IT, THE DESIRE TO RECEIVE IT, AS THE THIRSTY, DRY EARTH RECEIVES THE MOISTURE OF RAIN–IN OHTER WORDS, PERSONAL EFFORT FOR THE RECEPTION, PRESERVATION, AND ACTIVITY OF THE SOUL OF THE Divine Gifts, (see 2 Peter 1:3-9). We read concerning the same thing in the holy Apostle Paul: "WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING: FOR IT IS GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE" (Philippians 2:12-13); that is, YOU YOURSELVES COOPERATE, BUT REMEMBER THAT EVERYTHING IS GIVEN TO YOU BY THE GRACE OF GOD. "Except the Lord build the house of virtues, WE LABOR IN VAIN" (Hymn of Degrees of Sunday Matins, Tone 3).

In accordance with this sacred teaching, the Council of Carthage in the 3rd century decreed: "WHOSOEVER SHOULD SAY THAT THE GRACE OF GOD, BY WHICH A MAN IS JUSTIFIED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, AVAILS ONLY FOR THE REMISSION OF PAST SINS, AND NOT FOR ASSISTANCE AGAINST COMMITTING SINS IN THE FUTURE, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA. For the grace of Christ gives not only the knowledge of our duty, but also inspires us with a desire that we may be able to accomplish what we know" (Canons 125, 126, and 127).

Saint Symeon the New Theologian (10th century) wrote the following: "If the thought comes to you, instilled by the devil, that your salvation is accomplished not by the power of God, but by your own wisdom and your own power, and if your soul agrees with such thought, GRACE DEPARTS FROM IT. The struggle against such a powerful and most difficult battle which arises in the soul must be undertaken by the soul until our last breath. The soul must, together with the blessed Apostle Paul, call out in a loud voice, in the hearing of Angels and men: "NOT I, BUT THE GRACE OF GOD WHICH IS WITH ME."

He who bears the name of Christian, says Saint Symeon the New Theologian, "if he DOES NOT BEAR IN HIS HEART THE CONVICTION THAT THE GRACE OF GOD, GIVEN FOR FAITH, IS THE MERCY OF GOD…IF HE DOES NOT LABOR WITH THE AIM OF RECEIVING THE GRACE OF GOD, FIRST OF ALL THROUGH BAPTISM, OR IF HE HAD IT AND IT DEPARTED BY REASON OF HIS SIN, TO CAUSE IT TO RETURN AGAIN THROUGH REPENTANCE, CONFESSION, AND A SELF-BELITTLING LIFE, AND IF, IN GIVING ALMS, FASTING, PERFORMING VIGILS, PRAYERS, AND THE REST, HE THINKS THAT HE IS PERFORMING GLORIOUS VIRTUES AND GOOD DEEDS VALUABLE THEMSELVES–THEN HE LABORS AND EXHAUSTS HIMSELF IN VAIN" (Homily 2).

What, then, is the significance OF ASCETIC STRUGGLE? It is A WEAPON AGAINST? It is A WEAPON AGAINST "The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" ( 1 John 2:15-16), IT IS THE CLEANING OF THE FIELD OF THE SOUL FROM STONES, OVERGROWN WEEDS, AND SWAMPY PLACES, IN PREPARATION FOR A SACRED SOWING, WHICH WILL BE MOISTEN FROM ABOVE BY THE GRACE OF GOD. (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)

_______________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

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