EXPERIENCES OF THE GRACE OF GOD

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

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

EXPERIENCES OF THE GRACE OF GOD

By Archimandrite George, Abbot of the Holy Monastery
of Saint Gregorios of Mt, Athos.

PREFACE

For man to struggle against his bad self, against his egoism, and against the desires of the world and the devil, he needs to taste the Grace of God, to be made sweet by the sweetness of the Holy Spirit. It is experience in Christ which supports Christians in their struggle to be pleasing to God.

It is possible, however, for our weakness and for the devil to lead us astray, so that false experiences rather than those of God become our guides along treacherous paths and into murky waters if we do not take heed. Our participation in the life of the Orthodox Church, the only true faith in Christ the Theanthope (God-Man), our heartfelt acceptance and espousal of its Holy Tradition and its everyday practices are a surety for those of us who aspire to see the face of its Bridegroom, to have a hope of eternal life to taste from the present age the true experience of God.

"Taste and see that upright is the Lord", on the terms and conditions, however, recognized by our Holy Church, who bear Saints IN THE COMMUNION OF GOD, WITH EXPERIENCE OF ETERNAL LIFE. The answer of the holy Apostle Philip, which he gave to his then still unbelieving friend, the Apostle Nathaniel is also the one espoused by the Holy Orthodox Church for all those who doubt the authenticity of the experience, "COME AND SEE."

Come and become A LIVING MEMBER OF THE CHURCH IN OBEDIENCE AND DISCIPLINE TO CHRIST, HUMBLE THE SPIRIT OF SELF-ESTEEM, FIGHT AGAINST THE SPIRITS OF EVIL AND THEN YOU WILL REJOICE, YOU WILL LEARN. YOU WILL TASTE THE AUTHENTIC PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WHICH GOD OUT OF HIS BOUNDLESS LOVE GIVES TO THOSE WHO SINCERELY AND DILIGENTLY SEEK Him.

Experience of the Grace of God

We all know that the purpose of our life is OUR UNION WITH GOD. As the Holy Scripture says, man was created ‘according to the image and likeness of God. He was created to be like God, that is to say, TO UNITE WITH Him. The LIKENESS of man to God IS CALLED DEIFICATION (THEOSIS) by the Holy Fathers.

Can you see how great the purpose of man’s life is? It is not to become simply better, more moral, more righteous, more noble but TO BECOME A god BY GRACE. If man unites with God, he too becomes a god by Grace. What difference is there between the Holy God and the deified man?

The difference is this: Our Maker and Creator is God by nature, by His nature, while we become gods by Grace because, although by our nature we remain men, yet by His Grace we are diefied.

When man unites with God by Grace, he also acquires an experience of God, HE FEELS GOD. Otherwise, how is it possible to unite with God without feeling His Grace?

Our Forefathers in Paradise, before they sinned, talked to God, felt the Divine Grace. God created man to be priest, prophet, and king. To be PRIEST, SO AS TO ACCEPT HIS OWN EXISTENCE AND THE WORLD AS GOD’S GIFT AND IN RETURN TO OFFER HIMSELF AND THE WORLD TO GOD, WITH THANKSGIVING AND WITH PRAISE. To be PROPHET, SO AS TO KNOW THE MYSTERIES OF GOD. In the Old Testament, Prophets were those who saw and spoke on God’s behalf about the mysteries and the will of God. To be KING, SO AS TO REIGN OVER THE MATERIAL CREATION AND OVER HIMSELF. Man is so utilize nature not as a tyrant, but with nobility and wisdom. He is not to abuse creation but to use it with thanksgiving (eucharistically). Today man does not utilize nature rationally, but acts selfishly and irrationally. As a result, he destroys his natural environment and since he is in it, HE DESTROYS HIMSELF AS WELL.

Had man not committed sin and not replaced love and obedience to God with SELFISHNESS, he would NOT have alienated himself from God. He would be king, priest, and prophet. However, Holy God out of compassion for His creature wants TO RESTORE MAN TO HIS OLD STATE OF TRUE PRIEST, PROPHET, AND KING IN ORDER FOR HIM TO RECEIVE AGAIN AN EXPERIENCE OF AND UNITE WITH Him. That is why in the history of the Old Testament we see how God, little by little, PREPARES MAN’S SALVATION WITH THE ADVENT OF His Only-Begotten Son. He endows gifts only to some just men of the Old Testament. Gifts, like those which man had before his fall, such as the gift of prophecy.

There are in the Old Testament men like Prophet Eliah, Prophet Isaiah, and Prophet Moses who received the gift of prophecy and saw the glory of God. However, this gift was not generally for all. Neither, but it was a partial gift that God gave them for a specific purpose and for specific cases. That is to say, whenever God wanted these just men to proclaim the advent of Christ in the world or to announce His will. He GAVE THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO RECEIVE SOME EXPERIENCE AND REVELATION.

However, Prophet Joel prophesied that a tie will come when the Grace of the Holy Spirit would be given by God not only to certain men and for a specific purpose, but TO ALL PEOPLE. Here is what the prophecy of Prophet Joel says, "I will pour out My Spirit ON ALL PEOPLE. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions" (Joel 2:27). In other words, ‘MY PEOPLE WILL SEE SPIRITUAL VISIONS, THEY WILL SEE GOD’S MYSTERIES.’

The INFUSION of the Holy Spirit took place on the day of the Holy Pentecost. Then the Grace of the Holy Spirit was given to the WHOLE Church. The Grace had not been given to everyone during the time of the Old Testament because Christ had NOT YET BECOME INCARNATE. The gap between men and God was unbridgeable. The communion of man with God had to be restored before God could give the Grace of the Holy Spirit TO ALL PEOPLE. This REUNION WAS ACCOMPLISHED BY OUR SAVIOR CHRIST WITH HIS INCARNATION.

The first UNION that God made with man in Paradise was not hypostatic (not in person) and therefore it broke up. This second union is hypostatic, PERSONAL. This means that in the hypostatic (person) of Christ the human and the Divine Nature were UNITED UNCONFUSEDLY AND ETERNALLY. As much as men may sin, human nature CAN NO LONGER BE SEPARATED FROM GOD, BECAUSE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE THEANTHROPIC (Godman), HUMAN NATURE IS ETERNALLY UNITED WITH THE DIVINE.

Therefore, to be able to receive the Holy Spirit, to be priest, king, and prophet, to know the mysteries of God, and to feel God, MAN MUST BECOME A MEMBER OF THE Body of Christ, of His Church. Jesus Christ is the only, the True and Perfect Priest, King, and Prophet. HE ACCOMPLISH WHAT ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED TO ACCOMPLISH BUT FAILED TO DO DUE TO SIN, AND EGOISM. Now, UNITED WITH CHRIST, we an all participate in the THREE OFFICES OF CHRIST, the kingly, the prophetic, and the priestly.

At this point, we must make clear that, with Holy Baptism, and Chrismation, the Christian, OBTAINS GENERAL PRIESTHOOD AND NOT SPECIFIC PRIESTHOOD. The latter is obtained with ORDINATION, THROUGH WHICH THE CLERGY OF THE CHURCH RECEIVE THE GRACE TO CELEBRATE THE MYSTERIA (SACRAMENTS) in the Church and to shepherd the laity.

And again, the layman is not only the non-priest but he who with Holy Baptism and Chrismation received the honor of being A MEMBER OF GOD’S PEOPLE AND OF THE Body of Christ and of participating in the Three Offices of Christ. The more healthy, conscious and active a member of the people of God and the Body of Christ the Christian is, THE MORE FULLY HE PARTAKES IN THE PRIESTLY, PROPHETIC, AND KINGLY OFFICES OF CHRIST AND RECEIVES A HIGHER EXPERIENCE AND FEELING OF His Grace as can be seen in the lives of the Saints and our Faith.

(To be continued)

_____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomoas

+ + +

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

+ Father George

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