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.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
“But SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD and His
Righteousness, and all these things shall be
added to you” [Matthew 6:33].
THE KINGDOM OF GOD is the central theme of the Divine Teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. “The Almighty God calls everyone to Eternal Life in Him, in His Kingdom, and this means in His Holiness. But into the Kingdom of God NOTHING UNCLEAN CAN ENTER. The Lord cleanses us by His chastisements, as by Providential acts which forewarn and correct for the sake of His love towards His creation. For we must undergo the judgment of justice, a judgment which for us is terrible: how can we enter the Kingdom of Holiness and Light, and how would we feel there, being unclean, dark, and not having in ourselves any seeds of holiness, not having in ourselves andy kind of positive spiritual or moral value?”
Jesus Christ is our Lord, God and Savior Who preached “the gospel of the Kingdom of God: The Good News of the Royal Reign of God revealed decisively through the Person, words, and works of Jesus Christ, THE FULLNESS OF THE FAITH IN CHRIST. Our Lord says, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” [Mark 1:15]. To repent (μετανοώ) denotes the turn one’s life around, a necessary part of true faith and the experience of the Kingdom as a present reality. The Kingdom is yet to come, but it is also “at hand,” already here. It is inaugurated but not yet “FULFILLED”, Christ’s first word, like that of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist, because repentance (metanoia) is necessary to enter and continue in His New Way of Life. Repentance is man’s turning from himself to Gdo. “The Kingdom of Heaven” is synonymous with the “the Kingdom of God.” Repentance, which always accompanies belief, IS A TOTAL ABOUT FACE. It is a radical change of one’s spirit, mind,a nd heart, A COMPLETE REORIENTATION OF THE WHOLE OF ONE’S LIFE AND BEING. It is the necessary first step on “the way of the Lord ” and is followed by the confession of sins, the decisive act of baptism and an actual change in one’s life, the “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
Saint John Chrysostom exhorts us in the following words: “If the Kingdom of Heaven is open to us and a reward is shown to us in the future life, then it is not worthy of investigating why the righteous endure sorrows here while the evil live in comfort. If a reward is waiting there for everyone, according to their just deserts, why should we be disturbed by present events, whether they are fortunate or unfortunate? By these misfortunes God exercises those who are submissive to Him as manful warriors; and the weaker, negligent ones, and those unable to bear anything difficult. He exhorts ahead of time to perform good deeds.” And in fact, we ourselves often see that the best teachers and upbringers are the experiences and misfortunes which men undergo.“
A depiction of the life of the saints in heaven is given in the Apocalypse (Revelation). Saint John the Theologian saw around the Throne of God in the heavens “four and twenty seats” and on them elders clothed in white garments and having crowns of gold on their heads (Revelation 4:4). He saw under the heavenly altar “the souls of them that were slain for the Logos/Word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9); and yet again he saw a “great multitude… of all nations, and kindreds, and people,” standing before the Throne and before the Lamb and crying out: “SALVATION TO OUR GOD WHO SITTETH UPON THE THRONE, AND UNTO THE LAMB” (Revelation 7:9-10).
The bright mansions of the Heavenly Home are called in Sacred Scripture “the city of the Living God,” “Mount Zion,” the “Heavenly Jerusalem,” “the Church of the firstborn written in heaven.”
And thus the Great Kingdom of Christ has been opened in heaven. Into it have entered the souls of all the righteous and pious people of the Old Testament, those of whom the Apostle has said, “These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise (until the coming to earth of the Son of God, and the General Salvation), “that they without us should not be made perfect,” that is, attain the joy and blessedness of the Heavenly Church of Christ (Hebrews 11:39). Into this Kingdom in the New Testament there entered the first ones who believed in Christ, the Apostles, first Martyrs, Confessors, and thus until the end of the world the Heavenly Home will be filled–the Jerusalem on high, the granary of God–UNTIL IT SHALL COME TO ITS PERFECT FULLNESS.
When they shall be gathered together and shall comprise the full Body of Christ, then also the higher world, the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the Church of the Firstborn, will be filled up, and the body of the Queen of God, the Church, which is the Body of Christ God, will be revealed as 10:entirely full and perfect” (Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Homily 45).
With the end of this age and the transformation of the world into a new and better world, there is revealed the Eternal Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Glory. Then will come to an end the Kingdom of Grace, the existence of the Church on earth, the Militant Church; it will enter into this Kingdom of Glory and will merge with the heavenly Church (see I Corintians 15:24-26, 28). These words concerning the end of the Kingdom of Christ must be understood as the FULFILLMENT OF THE SON’S MISSION, which He accepted from the Father, and which consists of the conducting of mankind to God through the Church. Then the Son will reign in the Kingdom of Glory together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and “of His Kingdom there shall be no end,” as the Archangel announced to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:33), and as we read in the Symbol of Faith (Creed): “And His Kingdom will have no end.” Saint Cyril of Jerusalem says to this: “For will not He Who reigned before overthrowing his enemies, reign all the more after He has conquered them?” (Catechetical Lectures).
Death will have no power in the Kingdom of Glory. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed IS DEATH… Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:26, 54). “There SHALL BE TIME NO LONGER” (Revelation 10:6). The Eternal Blessed Life is presented vividly in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1). In the future Kingdom EVERYTHING WILL BE SPIRITUALIZED, IMMORTAL, AND HOLY. (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
(To be continued)
“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