LIFE IN CHRIST
I was baptized Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic sharing in my beloved parents’ faith mixture in the historic Church. As a young man, I fell away into various new age and Protestant beliefs. How glad and thankful I am today to have returned to the historic Orthodox Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ in 33 A.D.
Orthodox writer Clark Carlton has written, “The Fathers of the first two centuries saw Christianity as true communion with Christ in the Church, especially in the Eucharist. This communion is possible only in the historic Church that was founded by Christ upon His Apostles and maintained by their successors, for it is only in the historic Church that the authentic apostolic tradition - genuine life in Christ - is preserved."
Today, there are over 2,000 groups that claim to be the New Testament Church. However, very few of these independent groups agree about much of anything - causing many to wonder which one is the true Church. These independent and divided groups prove that the Church could not be based upon Scripture alone - as many Protestant statements and confessions proclaim.
The Church is not a human institution of likeminded persons. The Church is the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic (complete) mystical Body of Christ on Earth - His continuing presence in the world. Christ is not divided. Since 33 A.D., the Orthodox Church has maintained centuries of unbroken Holy Tradition - which is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
In the words of St. Cyprian, “You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother.” The Church calls all to true communion with Christ. Thousands of Protestant Evangelicals and Roman Catholics have heeded that call in the past decades, myself included.
The ORTHODOX Church does not presume to judge the eternal destiny of those outside her bosom - judgment belongs to God alone. The ORTHODOX Church is the Body of Christ and She summons all to enter HeR loving embrace. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”
LIFE IN CHRIST (continued)
We should not be deceived. Salvation is only for those who are pleasing to God through faith and New Testament works of obedience to Christ. Those who say that salvation is by faith alone, and not also by works of obedience to Christ, have sadly misunderstood Saint Paul who was writing about the works of the Old Testament mosaic law. He could not have been writing about New Testament works of obedience to the commandments of the Lord Jesus - as the Apostle James affirms when he wrote that “Faith without works is dead.”
The Lord Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “If you love Me, keep my commandments. Those who HAVE MY COMMANDS AND KEEP THEM are those who love Me. And those who love Me will be loved of my Father. And I will love them and I will manifest Myself to them.”
Orthodox writer, Clark Carlton wrote, “Ss. Ignatios and Irenaios understood that there is little point in arguing about Scriptural interpretation. They are able to interpret the Scriptures correctly not because they are smarter than others, but because in the Church they have true union with Christ."
Orthodox Christians do not view salvation as merely legalistic justification but as true union with God in Christ by grace and free will. To become a Christian is to put on Christ - to become a member of His Body and to become a partaker of the divine nature - having a direct participation in the life of God. The great Russian novelist, Dostoevsky, wrote that it is the inner disposition of our heart that will determine our eternal destiny. Whether we love His appearing or dread it depends upon the state of our soul.
Tragically, many people miss Heaven by only 12 inches. This is the distance from the head to the heart. Faith that remains in the head will not change or save anyone. The devil and his minions believe that God is real yet they still turn away from Him and tremble in fear. The Lord Jesus promised salvation not simply to those who hear the Word of God but to those who keep it.
God will never override our free will. To the end of our earthly life, there remains always the possibility that we may fall away. Long after his conversion on the road to Damascus, Saint Paul feared that after preaching to others he might himself end up rejected or disqualified by God. It is truly the one who endures to the end who will be saved.