The Symbol of Faith
The Creed, sung during the Divine Liturgy,
is one of the most ancient prayers of the Orthodox Church. It was
composed, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by the Fathers of
the First and Second Ecumenical Councils (Nicea (325) and
Constantinople (381), respectively), at a time when various heretical
doctrines attempted to overthrow the true faith in the Trinity.
main reason for the convening of the First Ecumenical Council was the
appearance and growing strength of the false teaching of the
Alexandrian priest, Arius. The basic theory of the Arians' false
teaching was that the Son of God was created that His existence had a
The Second Ecumenical Council condemned the false
teaching of the Pneumatomachi (Adversaries of the Spirit), whose chief
representative was Macedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople. The
Pneumatomachi called the Holy Spirit the servant and fulfiller of God's
wishes as well as other names that were fitting only for the angels,
and they did not recognize Him as a Hypostasis (Person) of the Holy
The Holy Orthodox Church made a decisive stand to
protect the purity of the Orthodox teaching of the faith, setting out
the basic saving truths of Christian teaching in the Creed, which is a
constant guide for all Orthodox Christians in their spiritual life. [Back to top]
Creed itself is divided into twelve parts, seven of which were
formulated at the First Ecumenical Council, the other five at the
(1) I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten,
begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; True God of
True God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom
all things were made;
(3) Who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the
Virgin Mary, and became man.
(4) And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried.
(5) And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
(6) And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;
(7) And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; Whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from
the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and
glorified; Who spoke by the prophets.
(9) In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
(10) I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.
(11) I look for the resurrection of the dead;
(12) And the life of the world to come. Amen. [Back to top]
God's Essence and the Creation of the World
Fathers of the Church included in the Creed the most important truths
of the faith taught in the Gospels. Here, in the first and second
verses of the Creed, they stated the dogmatic truths about God's
Essence and the Creation of the world. Through Divine Revelation, the
Holy Church teaches us to believe in the One God (Deut. 6:4; 1 Tim.
1:17) in Three Persons, Who in the Holy Scriptures are called God the
Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). God the
Father is ungenerated and does not proceed from another Person. God the
Son is pre-eternally generated by the Father. God the Holy Spirit
pre-eternally proceeds from the Father. Nonetheless, all Three Persons
of the Holy Trinity are equal in Divinity. The Triune God is The One
Who IS (Ex. 3:14). He is Pre-eternal (Is. 41:4; Ps. 89:2), Infinite
(Luke 1:33; Ps. 102:27), Everywhere-present (Omnipresent) (Jer. 23:24),
All-Wise (Rom. 11:33), All-Knowing (Omniscient) (1 John 3:20), All-Good
(Ps. 145:9), All-Righteous (Ps. 145:17), All-Holy (1 Sam. 2:2), and
Almighty (Ps. 115:3).
By His Omnipotent Word He brought into
being from non-being both the invisible and the visible world (Gen.
1:1). In the first place He created the Kingdom of His eternal glory,
giving life to the most pure spirits, the angels (Job 38:6,7). At first
all the angels were holy. Some of them, firmly established in holiness,
love and striving after goodness, glorify God continuously (Ps. 103:20;
Is. 6:3), and carry out God's commandments. Each Christian believer is
given a Guardian Angel at Baptism. Other angels, who did not stand firm
in goodness, sinned before God (Jude 1:6) and, remaining in evil,
strive to subjugate men, too, to sin (2 Thess. 2:9), in order to drag
them down to the same fate which they themselves suffer (Matt.
25:41).The leader of the fallen angels is called the Devil or Satan
(The Adversary; John 8:44).
After He had created the incorporeal
beings, the Triune God with His Words Let there be... created the whole
visible world out of nothing (ex-nihilo) in six days that is, all the
host of heaven, the earth on which we live and all that surrounds the
earth and finished His work of creation by creating man (Gen. 1:3-28),
from whom proceeded the whole human race (Acts 17:26). The first man,
created sinless by God's grace (Eccles. 7:29), was not only like unto
the angels of God, but he was also made in the Image and Likeness of
God (Gen. 1:26) from the moment of his creation that is to say, he
possessed pure wisdom (Gen. 2:20,23), his will was directed towards
doing good (Eph. 4:24) and his heart in the righteousness and holiness
of truth burned with pure love for the One God, while his conscience
was untroubled and at peace. When our first parents were like this, all
the creatures which surrounded them were submissive and served them
(Gen. 1:26), and the very place of their habitation was called Paradise
(Gen. 2:8). The first man kept God's commandment and lived in constant
joy and blessedness. [Back to top]
The Son of God the Savior of the World
The teaching of faith in the Son of God the Savior of the World is to be found in the third to seventh articles of the Creed.
the salvation of mankind was accomplished the great mystery of
godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), the mystery of His [God's] will (Eph. 1:9).
The Only-begotten Son (John 1:18) of God, descended from Heaven, was
made incarnate, was born of the Virgin Mary in the fullness of time
(Gal. 4:4), and was made flesh (John 1:14). He took a human body
without its sin, and a human soul, and became true Man without ceasing
to be True God (Rom. 9:5).
Two Natures the Divine and the Human
are united without confusion, unchangeably, indivisibly, and
inseparably in the Person of Jesus Christ. Therefore He is called the
God-Man (definition of the Fourth Ecumenical Council), and His
Most-pure Mother is called the Theotokos (Mother of God) (Luke 1:43),
who is more honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious, beyond
compare, than the Seraphim.
Our Lord Jesus Christ manifested His
divinity in His Gospel teachings and in His many miracles which no
other man did (John 15:24), in which He revealed Himself as the Lord of
the visible world (John 2:1-2, Luke 8:24; Matt. 14:26; Matt. 14:15-21);
the Lord of human nature (Matt. 9:20-22; 14:35-36; Luke 4:40; Matt.
20:29-34; Matt. 9:32-35; 12:22; Luke 11:14; Matt. 8:1-3); the Lord of
the invisible world (Matt. 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-40); and the Lord of Life
and Death (Luke 7:11-16; Matt. 9:18-19; Luke 8:49; John 11:1-45). He
also manifested His divinity through other signs and miracles that
occurred at various moments of His life (Matt. 3:16-17; Mark 1:10-11;
Yet, as Man, the Savior was exposed to various
dangers (Matt. 2:13; Luke 4:29), deprivations and tribulations (Luke
9:58), to malice, humiliation, and persecution (Matt. 12:24; John 5:18)
during His earthly life.
Having illumined men with the light of
the true knowledge of God (John 1:18) and having disclosed the will of
the Heavenly Father (John 6:40), Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World,
accomplishing the Divine Truth which had condemned sin (1 Tim. 2:6;
John 1:29), endured mocking, abuse, the Passion of the Cross and death
under Pontius Pilate (Matt. 26:47-75; 27:1-66). While His Body was in
the Sepulcher, Christ descended into Hell, where He freed the souls of
the righteous who had awaited His coming (1 Pet. 3:18-19; Eph. 4:8-9),
and on the third day after His entombment was resurrected by the power
of His divinity. During the forty days after His Resurrection, the
Savior appeared many times to His disciples and continued to instruct
them in the mysteries of His divine Kingdom (Acts 1:3).
accomplished our Redemption, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of His
disciples, ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9) and sits at the right hand
of God the Father (Mark 16:19) with honor and glory in the same Body in
which He had been resurrected from the dead. The Lord ascended into
Heaven as the God-Man, for as God He was always in Heaven and in every
place of God's dominion (Ps. 103:22). After His Ascension the Savior
was given all power in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), and through
His Divine Providence He preserves His Church, in which He is present
through Grace (Matt. 28:20), instructing and giving wisdom to her
shepherds, through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), to administer rightly
the word of Truth. Therefore Christ's Church cannot sin in Truth, for
she is the pillar and bulwark of the Truth (I Tim. 3:15) and the
Kingdom of God on earth (Mark 1:15). This grace-bestowing Kingdom shall
endure (1 Cor. 15:25) until the Lord Jesus Christ comes in His glory
with His angels (Matt. 25:31) to judge the living and the dead (John
5:29), after which the Kingdom of Glory and Blessedness shall come, and
of His kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:33). [Back to top]
The Holy Spirit
Holy Orthodox Church confesses the Holy Spirit as the True God, the
Third Person (Hypostasis) of the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-Giving and
Indivisible Trinity. The Church confirmed her hope and faith in the
Holy Spirit as God in the definition of the Second Ecumenical Council
(Constantinople, 381), which was convened to condemn, among other
things, the heresy of Macedonius who denied the divinity of the Holy
Spirit. This definition entered into the Creed as the eighth article.
Scripture testifies to the Holy Spirit while speaking of the very
beginning of Creation: The earth was without form and void, and
darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was
moving over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). Further in Holy
Scripture the Holy Spirit is mentioned frequently, disclosing His
divine attributes. The Holy Spirit is the True God (Acts 5:3-4). He is
glorified equally with the Father and the Son (Matt. 28:19), He is
All-Knowing (John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:10-11), Everywhere-Present (Rom.
8:9), Eternal (John 14:6), and Omnipotent (1 Cor.12:7-11). Creative
activity is inherent in Him (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 32:6; Job 33:4), He
regenerates souls, cleanses men of their sins and sanctifies them (John
3:5-6; 1 Cor. 6:11), and is the world's Providence (Ps. 104:30). The
Creed calls the Holy Spirit the Giver of Life, because through His
activity man becomes a partaker in life eternal in God.
distinctive property of the Third Person of the Trinity the Holy Spirit
is that He proceeds from God the Father, Who, according to St. Maximus
the Confessor, confers His one nature upon the Son and upon the Holy
Spirit alike, in Whom it remains one and undivided, not distributed,
while being differently conferred; for the procession of the Holy
Spirit from the Father is not identical with the generation of the Son
by the same Father. The procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father
is eternal and comprises the Spirit's personal property, belonging to
Him alone as the Third Person of the Trinity.
The Orthodox Church
has always preserved and will continue to preserve unaltered the
Undivided Church's teaching on the Holy Spirit's personal property the
eternal procession of the Spirit from the Father the definition of the
Second Ecumenical Council and the teaching of the Church Fathers in the
spirit and power of Holy Scripture. She preserves untouched the
formulation of the Creed as set out by the first two Ecumenical
Councils. The Fathers of the following Ecumenical Councils forbade any
alterations in the Creed through addition or deduction of any new words.
Holy Scripture teaches, the Father creates everything by the Son in the
Holy Spirit. According to St. Cyril of Alexandria, it is the Father Who
acts, but by the Son in the Spirit; the Son also acts, but as the power
of the Father, inasmuch as He is from Him and in Him according to His
own Person. The Spirit also acts, for He is the All-Powerful Spirit of
the Father and of the Son.
The Holy Spirit participated with the
Father and the Son in the creation of the world, for by the word of the
Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of
His mouth (Ps. 33:6), and of man (Gen. 1:26-27) .The Holy Spirit bore
witness of Himself through the Prophets and the chosen men of God,
proclaimed the Lord's Truth and Will to God's people, and disclosed the
coming Messiah in the prototypes: No prophecy ever came by the impulse
of man, but men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God (2 Pet. 1:21).
action of the Holy Spirit never ceased in the world, but it was only
with the coming of Christ the Savior into the world that the fullness
of God's saving grace was made accessible to men. And from His fullness
have we all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16).
Spirit was revealed to the world in a special way on the day of the
founding of Christ's Church Pentecost when He descended upon the Holy
Apostles in the form of tongues of fire (Acts 2). From that charismatic
moment to the present the Holy Spirit abides in the Church as Christ
Himself bears witness: And I will pray the Father, and He will give you
another Comforter, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth
Everything in the Church is filled with the Holy
Spirit. The action of His grace abides in every sacrament of the Church
and extends to all forms of divine service. In the Holy Eucharist, the
supreme sanctifying moment in the Church's daily liturgical service,
the prayers and rites are linked, above all, with the invocation of the
Holy Spirit. The Church prays that through Holy Communion we may
commune with the Holy Spirit; that we, having partaken of the Holy
Gifts, may bear the living Christ in our hearts and be temples of the
Holy Spirit. [Back to top]
One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
Holy Church was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28). The
purpose of Christ's Church is the salvation of man. It is only in the
Church that full union of man and God takes place, and this union is
the basic condition for salvation.
By His suffering on the Cross
the Lord Jesus Christ made atonement for human sin (John 1:29; Heb.
7:27) and by His Holy Blood He founded the Church (Acts 20:28), so that
in her we might live by Him and for Him (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Therefore
there is no guarantee of salvation outside of the Church.
brought to the Church by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; for the Lord
said that He would found the Church on the confession of faith (Matt.
16:18). Members of the Church are justified by God's grace (Rom.
3:24-30) and saved by God's power (Rom. 1:16) through faith in Christ
and His Resurrection (Rom. 10:9) and by works of faith (James 2:17-26).
Church is One as the Lord Who founded her is One (John 10:18). The
Church is Holy, for she lives, acts, and thinks by the Holy Spirit
(Acts 1:5; 8:15; 9:17). The Church is Catholic, for her flock has one
heart and one soul (Acts 4:32) and her catholicity is dominant. The
Church is Apostolic, for she keeps the Apostolic Succession by the
laying-on of hands upon the hierarchs (Acts 6:6; 14:23; 20:28), and
sacredly holds the Apostolic Tradition (2 Thess. 2:15).
calls the Church the mystical Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), and this
definition of the Church as Christ's Body is not a symbol or
abstraction, but an expression of the Church's real mystical life,
indicating the real union of God and man in Christ.
On one hand,
as founded by God, the Church received her being and exists outside the
usual order of human life and cannot be compared with it because she is
a phenomenon full of profound mystery. On the other hand, however, the
Church is a community of people united by their Orthodox faith, its
doctrine, the hierarchy, and the Sacraments. The human side is
changeable and imperfect, but the Church is Holy and Divine because she
is sanctified by the Blood of Jesus Christ and the Gifts of the Holy
Spirit, Who gives mankind true life in God.
The Church serves to
establish the Kingdom of God on earth, for she was preordained by
Christ to serve as a means of transfiguring the world in the Light of
the Gospel Truth and to become the leaven for the Kingdom of God (Matt.
13:33). The Church is the pillar and bulwark of the truth, for she is
the Church of the living God, Who is Truth itself. Therefore everything
in her is true the confession of faith, sanctification by the
Sacraments, the bestowal of grace, life according to God life upheld by
God in her, God's help and His promises. The words the pillar and
bulwark express the truth's firmness, immutability, and changelessness.
Apostles, like Christ Himself, teach only one Church; they teach the
unity of all in God: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were
called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith,
one baptism, one God and father of us all, who is above all and through
all and in all (Eph. 4:4-6).
The unity of the Church is founded
on the mutual love of all the members of the Church: If we love one
another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us (1 John
4:12). For it is precisely in that we share the bonds of love that we
constitute the Church, the true Body of Christ, and for this reason the
Lord commands us to love one another (John 15:17). It is by prayer
offered in unity of spirit that the unity of the Church is achieved.
unity of the Church exists by the power of the Divine Grace in the Holy
Spirit. The unity of all the members of the Church with Christ and
between one another exists in its highest form in the Sacrament of the
Holy Eucharist in partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ: The cup of
blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ?
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all
partake of the one bread (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
The unity of the
Church is protected by the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils, the rules
of the Holy Fathers of the Church, and Holy Tradition. The existence of
Local Orthodox Churches does not contradict the unity of the Church.
The fact that they are separate in their visible organization does not
prevent them from being spiritually larger members of the one body of
the Universal Church, or from sharing the One Head, Christ, and the one
spirit of faith and grace. This unity is given visible expression by a
single confession of faith and by communion in prayer and the
Sacraments. The Local Orthodox Churches continually maintain
Eucharistic Communion, honor and respect the traditions of every
Church, and always show one another their concern in mutual love.
the Church is a unity, she is also divine and holy by her nature and
essence. She was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ and sanctified by His
Passion and His Holy Blood. The Church is sanctified by the power of
Christ the Savior's prayers (John 17:11-19). The Church is also holy by
virtue of Christ's teaching. Through the glad tidings of the Gospel the
Lord reveals His will to men, calls them to salvation and indicates the
way to salvation and sanctity (Heb. 4:12).
The Holy Spirit,
dwelling permanently in the Church, fills her with His sanctifying
grace (1 Cor. 12:13). The Spirit sanctifies man and awakens him to
deeds of selflessness and sanctity (1 Cor. 3:16-17; Rom. 8:1-15).
Divine service, the Sacraments, sermon, ritual, singing, fasting,
prayer, icon, and architecture everything bears the seal of the gift of
the Holy Spirit and is directed towards the salvation of man.
great assembly of Saints in the Orthodox Church is a living testimony
to the sanctity of the Church. This is a proof of the reality of the
life and action of Divine Grace in the souls of men. The Church is also
holy through the lives of those of her children who, striving for
Christian perfection, have devoted themselves entirely to the
fulfillment of the will of God, of His Holy Commandments.
extent to which a person preserves his sanctity is the extent to which
he remains a member of the Church. Our sinfulness is outside the
Church. Some individuals remain members of Christ's Church by virtue of
the rudiments of the sanctity that is in them. That is why the process
of the grace of salvation consists in our full sanctification, in the
complete elimination of sin from the community of believers and from
Faith in the Church is not a substitute for
faith in God. To believe in the Church is to believe that she is the
mystical Body of Christ (Eph. 1 -.22-23), that she is the concentration
of grace on earth where man receives sanctification, and the abode of
the grace of God throughout all ages, world without end (Matt. 16:18;
28:20; Eph. 3:21).
To have faith in the Church means to venerate
in piety the true Church of Christ and to obey her teaching and
commandments in the conviction that she is filled with the saving grace
which guides and teaches us, and which pours forth from her One,
Eternal Head our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because she is the Body of
Christ the Church is fully in possession of all that is required for
man's sanctification and salvation through grace. Our Lord Jesus
Christ, the divine Founder of the Church, Who taught men to have faith,
love and charity, bade men above all to have faith in Him as their
Lord. And as no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy
Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3), we must commune in the shrine in which the Holy
Spirit permanently abides, and which we call the Church.
Christ leads us to the Church, and life in Christ is life in the
Church. Thus, he who does not believe in the Church does not believe in
God either. The Christian's life is impossible without faith in the
Church, without abiding in the Church. It is impossible to understand
Christ's teaching and to commune with Christ without the Church, for
our salvation is not just the reward for a righteous life, but also
consists in the gradual merging of our life with the life of the
Church, that is, the Body of Christ. The Church regenerates and renews
all those who enter her and she vitalizes and elevates man, making him
fit for a new holy life in Christ.
There is nothing accidental or
arbitrary in the Church. Everything in her takes place through God's
ordination. All that has been prescribed by the Church is and must be
law for each and every one of us. The Christian also believes in the
Church because obedience to the Church is obedience to God, and by
serving the Church he serves God and earns His approval.
inspires man with faith in the Church through His grace by drawing him
into the life of the Church. The Christian feels the power of Divine
Grace acting upon him through the Holy Sacraments, the rites and the
whole order of Orthodox Church life; and as he lives this life man
attains an unshakeable conviction of the truth of his faith in the one
Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. [Back to top]
One Baptism for the Remission of Sins
becomes a child of the Church through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.
Baptism is the door to Christianity, the beginning of life in God.
Baptism restores the image of God in man and bestows the saving power
of Christ's redemptive feat on him. Through Baptism the Christian
receives access to all the Holy Sacraments and acts of grace of the
Church, which lead him to deification.
Baptism is called the
second birth because in it a man dies to his sinful life and is reborn
into a new, spiritual, holy life, in which he puts on the new nature,
created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness
(Eph. 4:24). Through Baptism men are reconciled to God, cleansed from
the impurities of sinful acts by the Divine Spirit, and become fellow
citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God (Eph.
2:19), and children of God (John 1:12).
Just as the Holy Spirit
descended in the form of a dove upon the Lord Jesus Christ during His
Baptism in the River Jordan, so is every Christian endowed with Divine
Grace in a mystic way during his Baptism. St. Peter says: Repent, and
be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit (Acts 2:38). Through the action of God's sanctifying grace in
the Sacrament of Baptism all the sins of the person being baptized are
forgiven. Man's sinful state is totally eradicated by Baptism, and his
sins are washed away as if they had never existed. The newly-baptized
leaves the font as a new creature.
Our Savior says: Unless one is
born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John
3:5). Baptism, therefore, is necessary for every man who enters the
Church. Only through Baptism can infants be cleansed of Original Sin
and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. They are baptized according to
the Lord's words: Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them;
for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:14); on the basis
of Apostolic Tradition, and according to the faith of their parents and
All the saving actions of Divine Grace are
indivisible in the Sacrament of Baptism. Grace, by regenerating man,
cleanses him from all sin, justifies and sanctifies him. And, by
justifying and sanctifying him before God, Divine Grace makes him a son
of God, a member of the Body of Christ the Church and an heir to
Water is the substance used in the Sacrament of
Baptism. Man has long associated water with the concept of a
life-giving, regenerating power that cleanses and revives nature, a
power vitally necessary for human life. Therefore water in the
Sacrament of Baptism is the best symbol of the grace of the Holy
Spirit, which cleanses man of sin and regenerates him.
administered by triple immersion of the one being baptized, with the
intoning of the Holy Name of the Triune God the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Spirit Who bestows the power of grace to the Sacrament. The
Church always administers Baptism, as Christ commanded (Matt. 28:20),
through the invocation of the Threefold Name. The Teachings of the
Twelve Apostles, one of the oldest Christian writings (lst-2nd
Centuries), says in Chapter 7: Baptize in the Name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And, as St. Athanasius the Great
says, He who takes anything from the Son, or the Father and the Son,
without the Spirit receives nothing...for attainment is only in the
The Creed, just as St. Paul (Eph. 4:6), calls us to
confess one Baptism. This is because regeneration through grace (is
born again John 3:3), that man experiences in Baptism, is unique and
unrepeatable, just as his natural birth is unique and unrepeatable, and
just as Christ's Death and Resurrection are unique.
should confess his baptism through a life pleasing to God, for Christ
our Savior says: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven (Matt.
5:16). Therefore a man's visible, external life is a reflection of his
inner, spiritual life. The Sacrament of Baptism lays the foundation for
a new life of grace, and the perfection of this life with the help of
Divine Grace is the task of every member of the Church. For a Christian
the path to the confession of the grace-bestowing gifts of Baptism lies
through living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:15-16), a life
according to faith (James 2:20), membership in Christ's Church, and a
constant sense of prayerful repentance (Heb. 13:15; Acts 17:30).
Paul tells us: without faith it is impossible to please [God] (Heb.
11:6). The basis of the Christian's spiritual life is faith in Jesus
Christ, in the Triune God, in the Divine Economy of our salvation, and
in the Holy Orthodox Church. Living faith in Christ perfects the
Christian, makes him wise and firm, and gives him joy and the life
eternal (James 1:4-8, 12).
In addition to his heartfelt faith in
Christ, the Christian should confess his Baptism through his life in
faith. A Christian life is a constant struggle against sinful
temptations, a feat assisted by divine grace. In translating the
Savior's Gospel into life, a Christian is serving the commandments of
goodness and justice on the basis of the pure teaching of the Gospel.
Christian can attain perfection in his spiritual life through constant
prayer in church and at home. Prayer is a means of constant communion
and union with God. It preserves a man from spiritual fall and
maintains him on the path of spiritual ascension. Prayerful communion
with God rewards the person praying with great spiritual consolations:
an ineffable joy, peace and an inexplicable feeling of blessedness,
which serves as a guarantee of our future total union with God in His
Prayer must be accomplished by a sense of repentance,
which is the basis of a spiritual feat. Repentance is necessary to
achieve a living faith in Christ and to maintain this faith. Without
true repentance a Christian cannot attain a single virtue. A repentant
feeling saves a man from many pitfalls on the path to salvation.
Penitence is a second Baptism and renews the grace of our first
Baptism; for he who truly repents and promises to turn away from sin is
not only forgiven, but his sin is erased by God, as well, and he
attains the purity and sanctity given him at Baptism.
confession of Baptism through a deep, truly Christian spiritual life is
only possible if a man is a member of the Church, the Body of Christ.
In the Church he is made one with Christ. Christ our Savior not only
revealed God to man and drew us closer to Him, but also showed us a
perfect model of sanctity, what a man's inner, spiritual essence should
be. [Back to top]
The Resurrection of the Dead
is created by the Lord for life, and human thought cannot reconcile
itself to the thought of death. Death was a consequence of the first
man's sin, for as St. Paul says: sin came into the world through one
man and death through sin (Rom. 5:12). As a consequence of his sinful
disobedience to God, man deprived himself of paradise and knew death.
The Fall deformed man's inner, spiritual nature, as well as the entire
visible world. The accord between human freedom and Divine Grace was
destroyed, an accord through which man was directly called to
deification. This break was so forceful that man could no longer return
to this previous condition by his own power.
By His Resurrection,
our Lord Jesus Christ conquered Death by death, and revealed to man the
path leading from death and corruption to eternal life (Acts 2:24,
27-28; 2 Tim. 1:10). Although man remains mortal as before, death has
no power over him; for it was defeated by the Risen Christ the
First-fruits from the dead and the Author and Finisher of our own
resurrection. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the
first fruits of those who have fallen asleep... [so that] all be made
alive... at His coming (1 Cor. 15:20-23). For this perishable nature
must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on
immortality (1 Cor. 15:53).
By the words of the 11th Article of
the Creed, I look for the Resurrection of the dead, the Holy Church
confesses that through the action of God's omnipotence all the bodies
of the dead shall reunite with their souls, come to life, and be both
spiritual and immortal. The universal resurrection of the dead, as the
Bible tells us, is linked with Christ's second, glorious coming (1
Resurrection of the dead was known in Old Testament
times, too. The Prophet Job said: For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been
thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see
for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another (Job 19:25-27).
The holy Prophet Ezekiel also prophesied the universal resurrection of
the dead (Ez. 37:12,14).
By His Resurrection, Christ the Savior
affirmed the truth of the universal resurrection of the dead. All of
Christianity is founded on Christ's Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:14).
Brought into communion with Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism,
man becomes one whole with Him in the body of the Church, which is at
once human and divine. As a result of this union of grace, the
Christian partakes in both Christ's Resurrection and in eternal life.
While man's spiritual link with Christ is established through Baptism,
his physical unity with Him is accomplished through the Holy Eucharist
(John 6:54-57). The Eucharist Christ's Body and Blood is a guarantee of
resurrection. Christ's Resurrection is the beginning and guarantee not
only of our resurrection, but of a universal renewal and
transfiguration of all creation (Rom. 8:20-21).
Church's prayers for the dead are based on faith in universal
resurrection and on the unity of the Churches Militant and Triumphant.
By His Resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ showed that death is not
annihilation and non-existence, but the gate to life and immortality.
The Christian looks on death as the transition to an eternal life. [Back to top]
The Life of the World to Come
Creed ends with this confident hope on the part of the Christian: I
look for...the life of the world to come. By the life of the world to
come the Holy Church means the life that shall be after the
resurrection of the dead and Christ's last judgment.
A man is
responsible to God for the life that he has been given. It is here on
earth that, of his own free will, a man lays the beginning of that life
which shall begin when his body dies. His fate after death depends on
how he has lived his life on earth. If he has always been with Christ,
joined closely to Him through the Holy Sacraments in His God-Man
organism of the Church, then after his death he shall also be with God,
ceaselessly experiencing the blessed and eternal joy of living
communion with God which we who live on earth call in the words of Holy
Scripture Paradise (Luke 23:43), the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom
of God (Matt. 5:3-10,8,11; Luke 13:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:50), the house or
the mansions of our Heavenly Father (John 14:2).
joy of life in Paradise cannot be expressed in human language (2 Cor.
12:2,4); it derives from the fullness of knowing God and from the
nearness of God. That is why Christ our Savior says: And this is
eternal life, that they know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ
Whom Thou hast sent (John 17,:3).
This joy is immutable, but it
affects the human soul in different ways. The depth of perception of
this joy by man's soul also differs. In My Father's house are many
mansions (John 14:2), says Christ the Savior. There are many mansions,
and all of these mansions, prepared for the souls of those saved and
redeemed by the Son of God's death, are illumined by a light coming
from God, the Source of Light, Life and Blessedness; and in each of
these mansions the presence of our Savior the Lord can be felt, giving
life and joy to those who dwell in it.
Only those who consciously
and stubbornly disdain the call to repentance, the call to a life
worthy of repentance, shall remain outside communion with God at death,
deprived of Light and Grace (Luke 16:23; Matt. 5:22,29; 8:12; 22:13;
We should not suppose that the attaining of eternal
blessedness and the Kingdom of Heaven are goals in themselves for the
Christian, the purpose for which he lives and towards which he strives.
The blessed state in the life to come is a result of moral perfection,
the deification of man, which he attains here on earth. The Savior
says: Seek first [the kingdom of God] and His righteousness, and all
these things shall be yours as well (Matt. 6:33).
taken from "These Truths We Hold - The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life
and Teachings". Compiled and Edited by A Monk of St. Tikhon's
Monastery. Copyright 1986 by the St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, South
Canaan, Pennsylvania 18459. [Back to top]