My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
Divine Grace According to the Holy Orthodox Church
The objective salvation, completed by our Redeemer as an event in history, needs to be personally and subjectively applied and appropriated by each man individually: “WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING” (Philippians 2:12), through the Life-Giving and saving energy of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in him.
Therefore, the objective, catholic, historic, and potential redemption obtained for us by the Savior for appropriation to all men, making saving grace a possibility for all, should be subjectively, and in time, appropriated by each man (person), that he might be perfected in the Holy Spirit. Such subjective appropriation of redemption cannot be understood in terms of an entirely external, mechanical process. On the contrary, it is the result OF THE UNION OF TWO FACTORS, THE Divine and the human–THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THE ONE HAND, AND THE FREE “COOPERATION” OF MAN ON THE OTHER HAND, the prevailing role always being that of the Divine factor. Therefore, on the one hand, the All-Good God participates by His grace in the calling ENLIGHTENMENT, REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION OF THE SINNER and, after justification, in his REGENERATION and SANCTIFICATION in the Church–all of this free on the basis and through the power of the redemptive work of the Savior Jesus Christ. On the other hand, man, who accepts the proffered grace, cooperates fully IN THE WORK OF HIS OWN SALVATION, THROUGH CORRECT FAITH AND GOOD WORKS, WHICH IS THE SAME AS SAYING “FAITH WHICH WORKETH BY LOVE” (Galatians 5:6), thus denying any mechanical or magical element in justification and salvation. God positively “will have all men to be saved” (2 Timothy 2:4), but ALL MEN ARE NOT GOING TO BE SAVED, AND THIS IS DUE, FIRST OF ALL, TO THEIR WRONG USE OF FREE WILL AND, SECONDLY, BECAUSE GOD SAVES ONLY THOSE WHO, IN LOVE AND FREE WILL, EARNESTLY DESIRE AND ASK TO BE SAVED. Thus, we can conclude that the two above-mentioned factors cooperate harmoniously by each man, for the completion of which both are absolutely necessary. “It is God’s to grant grace, but thine to receive and to guard it” (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem)
Of these two factors, the Divine Grace granted by the Holy Spirit IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY AND INDISPENSABLE FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL MEN; NO ONE CAN BE SAVED WITHOUT IT, BY HIS OWN POWERS. For “except for the aid and cooperation of God, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO EVEN SEEK, LET ALONE PERFORM, THE GOOD,” according to Saint John Damascene; and Saint Basil the Great writes, “IN THE GRACE OF GOD LIES OUR SALVATION…WHATEVER GOOD BEFALLS US IS AN OPERATION OF GRACE, WORKING IN ALL THING.” The Divine Grace is somehow the motivating power, which starts man on the working-out of his own salvation, and moreover pushes him uninterruptedly and accompanies him (the saved man) until the end. Consequently, Divine Grace IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY–PRECEDING, COOPERATING WITH, AND FOLLOWING THE WORK OF SALVATION, BESTIRRING HIM, ENLIGHTENING HIM, DIRECTING HIM. Then, after THE FREE WILL CONSENT and ACCEPTANCE ON THE PART OF THE MAN HAS BEEN PLEDGED, AND HE HAS BEEN JUSTIFIED, GRACE CONTINUES TO ACCOMPANY HIM, AIDING HIM, COOPERATING IN HIS SANCTIFICATION, BREAKING DOWN ALL RESISTANCE IN HIM, AND EFFECTING THE COMPLETE SALVATION OF THE MAN’S LIFE.
Divine Grace and HUMAN FREEDOM WORK TOGETHER harmoniously in the appropriation of salvation to each man individually. “His death for this reason is become philanthropic, inasmuch as t is by this means that manifestation and condescension of God’s Grace comes to the individual man.” Thus, even though we accept salvation as being wholly a work of Grace, it still IS NOT POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE CONDITION OF ITS FREE ACCEPTANCE ON THE PART OF THE HUMAN WILL. The Greek Holy Fathers understand the human will as being an indispensable participant in Divine Grace in the salvation of the individual man. “God BRINGS NO ONE TO HIMSELF CONTRARY TO THAT INDIVIDUAL’S FREE WILL, ALTHOUGH HE WISHES ALL TO BE SAVED. HE FORCES NO ONE… NOT WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF MAN, NOR WITHOUT HIS WILL (as I have told you many times; RATHER, IT IS IN ACCORD WITH MAN’S FREE DESIRE AND WILL THAT GOD PREPARES THE SALVATION OF MAN.” HUMAN FREEDOM, MOTIVATED BY THE INCLINATION OF DIVINE GRACE, BECOMES NECESSARY AS THE RECEPTIVE INSTRUMENT OF THE SALVATION IN CHRIST, AND WITHOUT EITHER DIVINE GRACE OR HUMAN COOPERATION THE SUBJECTIVE APPROPRIATION OF REDEMPTION IS NOT POSSIBLE.
The only thing required of the man who willingly responds to the voice of God is that “FAITH WHICH WORKETH BY LOVE.” Consequently, SALVATION IS ATTAINED “BY THE GRACE OF CHRIST, THROUGH GENUINE FAITH IN THE LORD, FOR BOTH MALE AND FEMALE.” Also necessary are good works (works of charity), which must embellish the moral life of the believer, who must voluntarily, willingly, submit himself to the will and law of God. Hence, the Confession of Dositheus teaches, “We BELIEVE THAT NOBODY CAN BE SAVED WITHOUT FAITH. WE CALL FAITH THE MOST CORRECT QUALITY WITHIN US, EXISTING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS DIVINE…WHICH WORKS BY LOVE AND THROUGH THE DIVINE COMMANDMENTS TO JUSTIFY US BEFORE CHRIST. WITHOUT IT, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD.”
From the earliest years of Christianity, the Holy Fathers of the Church emphasized CORRECT FAITH and GOOD WORKS as conditions for justification. Indeed, both are alike, yet WITHOUT REDEMPTIVE POWER or AXIOMISTHIAS. “Because FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD, LIKEWISE WORKS WITHOUT FAITH, BECAUSE TRUE FAITH IS TESTED THROUGH WORKS,” according to Saint John Damascene. Truly, FAITH AND WORKS ARE TWO INSEPARABLE ELEMENTS OF THE SAME ESSENCE, AND FOR THIS REASON SHOULD BE NOT BE SEPARATED, INASMUCH AS THE FIRST PRESUPPOSES AND CONTAINS THE OTHER. Faith is closely connected with and through love, of which necessary manifestations and fruits are good works; faith is thus undoubtedly a moral work, and not an intellectual effort alone. Indeed, TRUE FAITH IN CHRIST INCLUDES THE ACCEPTANCE OF TRUTH, ON THE ONE HAND, AND, ON THE OTHER HAND, THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. GOOD WORKS BEING ABSENT, THE CHRISTIAN’S FAITH IS EXPOSED AS FALSE AND HYPOCRITICAL. [Source: A Synopsis of the Dogmatic Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church by Dr. John Karmiris)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God