My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"UNLESS ONE IS BORN AGAIN, HE CANNOT ENTER
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN" (Saint John 3:5).
"Nicodemus came to the Savior during the night and spoke with Him, and He said, "Unless one is born again, he cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven." Although Nicodemus was an excellent teacher of the Old Testament, he was perplexed by these words. Christ then said to him for a second time, "Unless one is born again, he cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven." Nicodemus became even more confused and said to Him: "Lord, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" (St. John 3:4). He was puzzled about what kind of birth the Savior was referring to. Then Jesus repeated it clearly a third time.
Saint Cleopa of Sihastria writes: "So, you see what kind of baptism is required for all of us: baptism through WATER and the SPIRIT, which we have all received from the Holy Church of Christ through the new BATH OF REGENERATION. The Spirit is invisible, and the water is visible. All the sacraments of the Church which were established by Christ are twofold, ONE ASPECT IS VISIBLE and ANOTHER INVISIBLE. ONE IS NOETIC and the other TANGIBLE, in this case, the Spirit and water."
"…Thou did sanctify the waves of Jordan, by sending down from Heaven Thine All-Holy Spirit and smotest
the heads of the lurking dragons. Wherefore, O Merciful King, do Thou now be present through the descent of
Thy Holy Spirit, and sanctify this water (thrice), and give to it: the GRACE OF REDEMPTION, THE BLESSING
OF JORDAN. Make it A SOURCE OF INCORRUPTION, A GIFT OF SANCTIFICATION, A RANSOME FROM SINS,
A GUARD AGAINST SICKNESS, A DEFENCE AGAINST DEVILS, INACCESSIBLE TO EVERY ADVERSE POWER,
AND FILLED WITH ANGELIC STRENGTH…" (Sacrament of Baptism)
According to Saint John of Damascus and Saint Cleopa there are NINE BAPTISMS until the consummation of the world: The first baptism was that of the Great Flood, when God drowned sin with water! The second baptism was the passing of the chosen people through the Red Sea, through the sea and through the cloud, which was an image of the descent of the Holy Spirit. The third baptism was the Levitical baptism, in other words, the circumcision of the Old Testament. No Levite could perform circumcision or be considered a priest unless he had been first baptized with water, washing his clothing and body. The fourth baptism was that of Saint John the Baptist and Forerunner and was called THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE. The fifth baptism, which was given by Christ to the holy Apostles. Didn’t the Savior Christ say to Nicodemus: "Unless one is baptized through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven?" The sixth baptism of confession. When the Savior breathed the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples, he said, "Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosoever since ye retain, they are retained." This baptism was instituted by the Savior immediately after the Resurrection when He gave the Apostle the power to bind and loose the sins of men. "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (St. Matthew18:18). The seventh baptism is the baptism of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, when He Descended in the form of tongues of fire and gave the holy Apostles the power to speak in all the languages of th earth. The eighth baptism is THE BAPTISM OF BLOOD, of MARTYRDOM. The two sons of Zebedee, at the urging of their mother, asked that they be given places at the right and left of the Lord, and Jesus replied, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink and be batized with the batism that I am baptized with." (St. Mark 10:38). The BAPTISM OF BLOOD, with which Christ was baptized on the Cross, is the eighth baptism. This the MOST HOLY BAPTISM UNDER HEAVEN, FOR NO MAN CAN SIN AFTER THIS BAPTISM. HE IS BAPTIZED IN HIS OWN BLOD, AS CHRIST WAS ON THE CROSS, AND THEN HE ASCENDED TO HEAVEN. The ninth baptism IS THE END OF THE WORLD, THE Baptism WITH FIRE, WHICH IS NOT UNTO SALVATION, BUT ETERNAL TORMENT. EVERYONE WILL PASS THROUGH FIRE AND BE BURNED; FOR SOME IT WILL BE FOR CLEANSING AND SALVATION, BUT FOR OTHERS IT WILL BE ETERNAL TORMENT. (These are NINE BAPTISMS according to Saint John of Damascus)
"We are buried with Him by Baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Baptism is called "THE WASHING OF REGENERATION" (St. Titus 3:5). The holy Apostle Peter calls Baptism the promise of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). Through Baptism, ONE IS JOINED OR UNITED TO THE Church.
The comparison of Baptism with a washing by water, WITH THE GRAVE, and other such things indicates that this Mystery (Sacrament) IS TO BE PERFORMED THROUGH IMMERSION. The Greek word BAPTIZO itself signifies "TO IMMERSE." The immersion in water is done three times with the pronunciation of the words: "The servant of God (name) is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," in accordance with THE COMMANDMENT GIVE BY Christ Himself (St. Matthew 28:19). Thus was it performed in the ancient Church.
Through Baptism, A NEW EXISTENCE OF LIFE begins and the baptized becomes A CHILD OF GOD, A MEMBER OF THE Body of Christ and the Church, and an inheritor of Eternal Life. It is therefore evident that Baptism IS INDISPENSABLE FOR ALL, INCLUDING INFANTS, SO THAT GROWING IN BODY AND SPIRIT THEY MIGHT GROW IN CHRIST.
The tenth parabraph of the Creed (Symbol of Faith) states: "I confess ONE BAPTISM FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS." This signifies that the Sacrament of Baptism in the Holy Orthodox Church, AS A SPIRITUAL BIRTH, is conducted as a sacred rite correctly through TRIPLE IMMERSION in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and CANNOT BE REPEATED.
Baptism is NOT ONLY a symbol of cleansing and washing away the defilement of the soul, but in itself is the beginning and source of the Divine Gifts which cleanse and annihilate ALL THE SINFUL DEFILEMENTS AND COMMUNICATE A NEW LIFE. All sins are forgiven, both original sin and personal sins, the way is opened for a new life, and opened is the possibility to receive the Gifts of God. (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
One of the most troubling trends in recent years, is that there are many of Orthodox young men and women who not only live together as husbands and wives without having an Orthodox marriage, but also give birth to children outside marriage. Couples who, sadly enough, are not interested in being married in the Church and/or having their children baptized. It is important for them, and also a matter of salvation, that they correct their spiritual standing with God and the Church as soon as possible. It is also most urgent and necessary that the child or children born out-of-wedlock be baptized. Our Church NEVER REFUSES BAPTISM, no matter under what conditions the child was conceived or born.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George