Orthodox America


  To All Who Love Christ


Many say: It is enough that we believe in Christ, confess His Name, repent, and "accept Him as Lord and Saviour"; that's what the Bible tells us to do if we want to be saved. But, is this enough? Does not Christ command us to do many other things if we wish salvation?

You who cherish the word of God and attentively study and search it, what else does Holy Scripture say about salvation? "And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved" (Acts~2:~7). Today, two thousand years later,, "such as should be saved" are still being "added to the Church"! Are you among them? You must find the Church of Christ, be joined to her, follow her, and listen to her voice!

But where is the Church?

Historically, for the first millennium Christians throughout the world were united. There existed only One visible Church which spoke with a single voice, Those who preached a different doctrine from that of the Apostles and their successors were considered to be "outside" the Church. Today many people believe that the Church is made up of sincere believers in all Christian denominations. But how can this be true when Christians believe quite differently on a number of significant points? How can they all be right? Is our Lord a God of confusion? What is the Church and where can it he found?

The Church is the Body of Christ (Col, 1:24). This Body has but one Head, which is Jesus Christ,, God the Father "gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His Body" (Eph. 1:22-23). With His physical body Christ ascended back into the Heavens forty days after His Resurrection. But in order that He might be with His followers "unto the consummation of the ages ," He left behind another body in which to continue His word--not a body of flesh and bones, but a' body made up of those who rightly believe in Him: this "body" He calls His Church, It is a divinely founded community of men and women. United by "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5); it is the new "Ark of Salvation."

The Apostles were the first leaders, or bishops, of the Church. Christ's strong words to them--"He that heareth you, heareth Me., ," (Luke 10:16; Matt. 18:17)--cannot be ignored by any sincere Christian. These words mean that salvation depends at least in part on finding the Church and listening to its holy voice, the voice of Christ through the Apostles, echoing through their successors down through the ages. Beginning with the first generation after the Apostles, all true Christians have heard this voice, treasured it, and faithfully echoed it to the next generation, thereby preserving the unity of faith through the visible body of the Church.

In order for men and women of good faith to hear the voice of Christ's Church,, the Church must have a visible reality; it must be something that one can find and know for certain that it is the “fullness of the Truth;” it must teach exactly the same things that were taught in the beginning, without change or innovation. It must have unbroken succession from Christ and the Apostles. Only the Orthodox (true-believing) Church satisfies all the above requirements or withstands the test of Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and history. Any open-minded seeker can determine for himself that this same Orthodox Church existed with the Apostles, existed in the 11th century when the Latin Christians departed from her, continued alive and well in the countries of Eastern Europe, Russia, Greece, etc., still preached the same saving Gospel while Europeans were slaughtering one another over the Reformation in the 16th Century, and still continues today, with active missionary work in the countries of the West! Despite almost constant persecution, the Orthodox Church alone .. has preserved a unity of faith from the time of the Apostles in confirmation of the Lord's words concerning His Church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt., 16:18).

 

Why does Christ want you in His Church?

 

Christ wants you in His Church because He wants you to be a member of His body! He desires so much that you be united to Him. Not only is He the Head of the Church, the Body, but He fills the Church with Himself (Eph. 1:23). If you are a member of this Body, then it is truly possible to be filled with the Lord Jesus Christ in fact. How does He accomplish this?

When the unbelievers asked Christ for a sign, He spoke to them about the great mystery of the Eucharist in unveiled terms (ignored or "reinterpreted" by most people today): “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you... For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:53-56); and later, on the night of the Last Supper, He revealed even more clearly how true believers are to feed on Him when He said, over the bread and the wine: "This is My Body...This is My Blood." This, then, is how the Redeemer fills us and fills His Church ! He wants you in His Orthodox Church so that He might give Himself to you in the fullest, most complete way possible, so that He might save you and "raise you up at the last day"! (John 6:5l).

The first thing the disciples did after receiving the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was to go forth and preach the Gospel of Salvation. It was a pure and simple Gospel one not diluted or adulterated by human invention or vanity. It is a Gospel still preached today, in the Orthodox Church of Christ.

All you who love Christ: you must find His true Church and be at one with her so ,that you may hear this saving Gospel and be filled with Christ Himself, so that "ye might be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect"!

Fr. Alexey Young Editor

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