SALVATION ACCORDING TO THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

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

SALVATION ACCORDING TO THE
ORTHODOX CHURCH
By Father Anthony Alevizopoulos

After the Fall, we are told by Holy Scripture, was cast out of Paradise (Genesis 3:24). God, however, through this expulsion, did not lead man to despair, for He simultaneously sowed within him the hope of salvation.

The final outcome of his vicissitude would be accomplished with the coming of the offspring of the "woman", who would crush the "head" of the "serpent" (Genesis 3:15). Man had to prepare himself systematically for this advent, FOR HIS RESTORATION WAS NOT THE RESULT OF FORCE BUT THE FRUIT OF GOD’S LOVE WHICH MAN ACCEPTED. MAN HAD TO ACCEPT ONCE AGAIN IN FREEDOM THE SAVING ACTION OF GOD.

The Orthodox Church believes that God wanted to prepare mankind for His FOR HIS SAVING INTERVENTION THROUGH THE ELECTION OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL and the preaching of the Old Testament Prophets. The prophetical message had as its center the AWAITED OFFSPRING OF THE "WOMAN."

This Savior of mankind was Jesus Christ in Whom God UNITED HIMSELF WITH MAN AND IN THIS WAY MAN BECAME A PARTAKER OF GOD’S LIFE. Christ is NOT two persons, a human and a Divine, BUT ONE: A THEANDRIC PERSON. H E WAS ONE CHRIST, NOT TWO.

God’s UNION WITH MAN IN THE Person of Christ did not shatter the human nature, because THE UNION OF THE DIVINE AND THE HUMAN NATURE IN THE One Christ took place "WITHOUT CONFUSION, WITHOUT SEPARATION, WITHOUT CHANGE, WITHOUT DIVISION." The TWO NATURES ARE NOT CONFUSED BETWEEN THEMSELVES IN A MIXTURE, NOR THE ONE SEPARATES ITSELF FROM THE OTHER. Moreover, the human nature does nto change into the Divine nature nor does the Divine change into the human. In this way, the Son and Logos/Word of God TOOK ON HUMAN NATURE AND TO HIS UNIQUE PERSON HE LED HIM TO COMMUNION WITH GOD. One of the hymns of the Church states:

"You assumed my corrupt and mortal nature, You clothed me in incorruption, and you raised me up to eternal and blessed life, where, O compassionate Lord, do thou give rest to those whom you assumed."

The Orthodox Christian does not attempt to approach the God-manhood of Christ rationally; he accepts it with humility AS REVELATION FROM GOD, AS "GREAT MYSTERY" (I Timothy 3:16), which identified with man’s very salvation.

Salvation through Christ, then, is not to be found in the showing of some "way" outside His Person, or in the keeping of certain Commandments on man’s part. NO EFFORT WHATSOEVER ON THE PART OF THE CREATED COULD EVER LEAD TO THE UNCREATED, i.e. TO FREEDOM FROM THE BONDAGE TO CORRUPTION AND DEATH. The Uncreated and Eternal God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, TRANSCENDS THE ONTOLOGICAL ABYSS SEPARATING THE CREATED FROM THE UNCREATED. This accomplished, not that God might live the life of the created, but that He might RAISE CREATED MAN TO DIVINE LIFE BEYOND CORRUPTION AND DEATH. THIS COMMUNION OF MORTAL MAN WITH IMMORTAL AND ETERNAL GOD IS COMMUNION "ACCORDING TO ENERGY" AND NOT "ACCORDING TO ESSENCE"; THIS MEANS THA TMAN DOES NOT PARTAKE OF GOD’S ESSENCE, THAT HE IS TOUCHED BY GOD’S ENERGY, i.e. HIS GRACE. And because the Divine energy is from the essence of God, THE COMMUNION BETWEEN GOD AND MAN IS A REAL COMMUNION WHICH GRANTS LIFE TO MAN WITHOUT DOING AWAY WITH HIM; IT DOE NOT CONSTITUTE A CONFUSION OR MIXTURE OF HUMAN NATURE IN GOD’S GOD SAVES MAN WHILE RESPECTING HIS PERSON; HE ATTRIBUTES TO IT INESTIMABLE VALUE.

All that we have mentioned shows THAT FAITH IN CHRIST’S GOD-manhood CONSTITUTES MAN’S ONLY HOPE, BECAUSE HE FINDS IN THIS FAITH A DEEPER MEANING IN LIFE EVEN BEYOND THE GRAVE. Saint Paul calls salvation in Christ A GREAT MYSTERY OF PIETY: "Truly great is the mystery of our piety: God was revealed in the flesh, vindicated through Spirit, appeared to the Angels, proclaimed to the nations, believed in throughout the world, ascended in glory" (I Timothy 3:16).

Man’s salvation, therefore, IS IDENTIFIED WITH THE EVENT OF GOD’S INCARNATION/ GOD THROUGH THIS MANNER ASSUMES MAN AND SAVE HIM/ BELIEF THAT WE WILL MAKE THIS FACT, THIS EVENT, OF OUR SALVATION OUR OWN POSSESSION IS THE GREAT MYSTERY OF PIETY.

CHRIST IS NOW THE NEW HEAD OF THE HUMAN RACE. Holy Scripture underlines the fact that He is the Savior of God’s NEW PEOPLE: The Church, which constitutes "His Body", having Him as its very Head (Matthew 1:21; Ephesians 5:23). In speaking about the Church he describes her as the "Kingdom of God." For in the Body of Christ the heavenly and the earthly, i.e. ANGELS AND MEN, ARE TO BE "RECAPITULATED" (Ephesians 1:17), SO AS TO BE UNDER THE ONE HEAD AND TO BE RULED BY CHRIST.

(To be continued)

______________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Thongs!"

– Saint John Chrysotomos

+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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