SALVATION is the divine gift through which men and women are delivered from sin and
death, united to Christ, and brought into His eternal kingdom. Those who heard
Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost asked what they must do to be saved. He answered,
"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the
remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Salvation begins with these three "steps": 1) repent, 2) be baptized, and 3)
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. To repent means to change our mind about how we have
been, turning from our sin and committing ourselves to Christ. To be baptized means to be
born again by being joined into union with Christ. And to receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit means to receive the Spirit who empowers us to enter a new life in Christ, be
nurtured in the Church, and be conformed to God's image.
Salvation demands faith in Jesus Christ.
People cannot save themselves by their own good works. Salvation is "faith working
through love." It is an ongoing, lifelong process. Salvation is past tense in that,
through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have been saved. It is present tense, for
we must also be being saved by our active participation through faith in our union with
Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is also future, for we must yet be saved
at His glorious Second Coming.
BIRTH is receiving new life and is how we gain entrance
into God's kingdom and His Church. Jesus said, "Unless one is born of water and the
Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). From the beginning the Church
has taught that the "water" is the baptismal water and the
"Spirit" is the Holy Spirit. The new birth occurs in baptism where we die with
Christ, are buried with Him, and are raised with Him in the newness of His resurrection,
being joined into union with Him in His glorified humanity (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3, 4). The
historically late idea that being "born again" is a religious experience
disassociated from baptism and has no biblical basis whatsoever.
JUSTIFICATION is a word used in the
Scriptures to mean that in Christ we are forgiven and actually made righteous in our
living. Justification is not a once-for-all, instantaneous pronouncement guaranteeing
eternal salvation, no matter how wickedly a person may live from that point on. Neither is
it merely a legal declaration that an unrighteous person is righteous. Rather,
justification is a living, dynamic, day-to-day reality for the one who follows Christ. The
Christian actively pursues a righteous life in the grace and power of God granted to all
who are believing Him.
SANCTIFICATION is being set apart for God. It involves us in
the process of being cleansed and made holy by Christ in the Holy Spirit. We are called to
be saints and to grow into the likeness of God. Having been given the gift of the Holy
Spirit, we actively participate in sanctification. We cooperate with God, we work together
with Him, that we may know Him, becoming by grace what He is by nature.
is to ascribe praise, glory, and thanksgiving to God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit. All humanity is called to worship God. Worship is more than being in the
"great-out-of-doors" or listening to a sermon or singing a hymn. God can be
known in His creation, but that doesn't constitute worship. And as helpful as sermons may
be, they can never offer a proper substitute for worship. Most prominent in Orthodox
worship is the corporate praise, thanksgiving, and glory given to God by the Church. This
worship consummates in intimate communion with God at His Holy Table.
As is said in the Liturgy, "To You
is due all glory, honor and worship, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." In that worship we touch and
experience His eternal kingdom, the age to come, and join in adoration with the heavenly
hosts. We experience the glory of the fulfillment of all things in Christ as truly all in
is a term used to describe the shape or form of the Church's cooperate worship of God. The
word "liturgy" derives from a Greek word which means "the common
work." All the biblical references to worship in heaven involve liturgy.
In the Old Testament, God ordered a
liturgy, or specific pattern of worship. We find it described in detail in the books of
Exodus and Leviticus. In the New Testament we find the Church carrying over the worship of
Old Testament Israel as expressed in both the synagogue and the temple, adjusting them in
keeping with their fulfillment in Christ. The Orthodox Liturgy, which developed over many
centuries, still maintains that ancient shape of worship. The main elements in the Liturgy
include hymns, the reading and proclamation of the Gospel, prayers, and the Eucharist
itself. For Orthodox Christians, the expressions "The Liturgy" or "The
Divine Liturgy" refer to the eucharistic rite instituted by Christ Himself at the
is called Theotokos, meaning "God-bearer" or the "Mother of God,"
because she bore the Son of God in her womb and from her He took His humanity. Elizabeth,
the mother of John the Baptist, recognized this reality when she called Mary, "the
Mother of my Lord" (Luke 1:43). Mary said of herself, "All generations shall
call me blessed" (Luke 1:48). So we, in our generation, call her blessed. Mary lived
a chaste and holy life, and we honor her highly as the model of holiness, the first of the
redeemed, the Mother of the new humanity in her Son. It is bewildering to Orthodox that
many professing Christians who claim to believe the Bible never call Mary blessed her
honor nor who bore and raised God the Son in His human flesh.
PRAYER TO THE SAINTS is encouraged by the Orthodox Church.
Why? Because physical death is not a defeat for a Christian. It is a glorious passage into
heaven. The Christian does not cease to be a part of the Church at death. God forbid! Nor
is he set aside, idle until the day of judgment.
The True Church is composed of all who
are in Christ-in heaven and on earth. It is not limited in membership to those presently
alive. Those in heaven with Christ are alive, in communion with God, worshipping God,
doing their part in the body of Christ. They actively pray to God for all those in the
Church-and perhaps, indeed, for the whole world (Ephesians 6:18; Revelation 8:3). So we
pray to the saints who have departed this life, seeking their prayers, even as we ask
Christian friends on earth to pray for us.
SIN literally means to "miss the mark." As Saint Paul writes,
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We sin when
we pervert what God has given us as good, falling short of His purposes for us. Our sins
separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1, 2), leaving us spiritually dead (Ephesians 2: l). To
save us, the Son of God assumed our humanity, and being without sin "He condemned sin
in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). In His mercy, God forgives our sins when we confess them
and turn from them, giving us strength to overcome sin in our lives. "If we confess
our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
SPIRITUAL GIFTS. When the young Church was getting under
way, God poured out His Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers, giving them
spiritual gifts to build up the Church and serve each other. Among the specific gifts of
the Spirit mentioned in the New Testament are: apostleship, prophecy, evangelism,
pastoring, teaching, healing, helps, administrations, knowledge, wisdom, tongues,
interpretation of tongues. These and other spiritual gifts are recognized in the Orthodox
Church. The need for them varies with the times. The gifts of the Spirit are most in
evidence in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church.
SECOND COMING. With the current speculation in some corners
of Christendom surrounding the Second Coming of Christ and how it may come to pass, it is
comforting to know the beliefs of the Orthodox Church are basic. Orthodox Christians
confess with conviction that Jesus Christ "will come again to judge the living and
the dead," and that His "kingdom will have no end." Orthodox preaching does
not attempt to predict God's prophetic schedule, but to encourage Christian people to have
their lives in order that they might have confidence before Him when He comes (I John
PRE-MARITAL SEX. The Orthodox Christian faith firmly holds
to the biblical teaching that sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage. Sex is a gift
of God to be fully enjoyed and experienced only within marriage. The marriage bed is to be
kept "pure and undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4), and men and women are called to remain
celibate outside of marriage. Our sexuality, like many other things about us human beings,
affects our relationship with God, ourselves and others. It may be employed as a means of
glorifying God and fulfilling His image in us, or it may be perverted and abused as an
instrument of sin, causing great damage to us and others. Saint Paul writes, "Do you
not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from
God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in
your body..." (I Corinthians 6:19,20).
in the Orthodox Church is forever. It is not reduced to an exchange of vows or the
establishment of a legal contract between the bride and groom. On the contrary, it is God
joining a man and a woman into "one flesh' in a sense similar to the Church being
joined to Christ (Ephesians 5:31,32). The success of marriage cannot depend on mutual
human promises, but on the promises and blessing of God. In the Orthodox marriage
ceremony, the bride and groom offer their lives to Christ and to each other-literally as
This material is copyrighted by
Conciliar Press, Ben Lomand, CA. It may not be modified in any way, but can be
transmitted on electronic BBS systems for the edification of those wishing to know more
about the Orthodox Church.
Any questions? Please write at:
If you do not hear a music click here: