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#293581 06/29/08 01:23 AM
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Quote
Matthew 7:21-29

The True Disciple
21�Not everyone who says to me, �Lord, Lord,� will enter the kingdom of Heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, �Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?� 23Then I will declare to them solemnly, �I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.��

The Two Foundations
24�Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solid on rock. 26And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.�

28When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. NAB


I posed a question to my confessor and spritual father. I pose it to you because I sincerely want some kind of answer based in the Apostolic Tradition.

There are many Protestant groups that would have one believe that they have a "guarantee" of a place in the Kingdom because they ahve accepted Christ as their personal Savior. And once having done that, they never have to worry about anything they do again.

I don't believe that.

I work in fear and trembling. I believe in the promises of Christ. I make no claim that anything that people perceive to be of any spiritual or other value is anything but His gift, His talent given, and the Holy Spirit working it out through me IF there is, indeed, any value at all.

As I get older I am haunted by the temptation that I hvae wasted my life and that this is my future--Christ says He has had no knowledge (living relationship/communion) with me.

How does one deal with this temptation to throw in the towel? How does one have any idea that one is on the right track?

I know Mercy is Christ, just as Love is Christ. These words are, for me, a Person--all the attributes I attach to them arise from and are His Person.

Please keep me in your holy prayers,

BOB

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I ran across something two days ago, that really spoke to me. The author said something along the lines of, (paraphrase) "In a difficult circumstance, hold on to the faith you have been given and apply it to the current situation." He indicated that this would get you through anything. That makes a lot of sense. But as to assurance of salvation, I think Protestants understand Faith and Charity, but they have never really understood Hope. Hope is the hope of our salvation in Christ. When you stop and think about it, isn't that our only real hope in the first place? And I don't remember finding the words "personal savior" anywhere in scripture. Just some thoughts. I hope I haven't muddled this more for you.

byzanTN #293624 06/29/08 01:36 PM
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Charles:

Christ is in our midst!! He is and always will be!!

Every answer is a good answer to this Mystery we find ourselves living in and with.

In fact, I would rather believe that the final answer is something more to do with that "leap of faith" we talk about but very often hesitate to take. I am reminded of the ideas that the closer we get to God the more abandoned we feel--remember the book about Mother Theresa's life experience and her absolutely total feeling of being abandoned.

Thanks for your answer.

BOB

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Alexandr:

Christ is in our midst!! HE is and always will be!!

Thank you for the link to St. Theophan the Recluse whose writing seems to me to be prophetically placed in the Scripture and Patristics section just as I began wrestling with this question.
https://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/293452/The_Path_

Thank God for you.

BOB

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Originally Posted by theophan
Alexandr:

Christ is in our midst!! HE is and always will be!!

Thank you for the link to St. Theophan the Recluse whose writing seems to me to be prophetically placed in the Scripture and Patristics section just as I began wrestling with this question.
https://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/293452/The_Path_

Thank God for you.

BOB

Dear Bob,

I think that as we get older, we realize how pitiful we are as Christians--atleast I do. Whereas, when I was younger, I used to think that I had some redeeming qualities, I now see myself as the most sinful and unsuccessful Christian around... I struggle with sloth in prayer, and wonder how I can really love God if this is my struggle. When I go to church services, rather than enthusiastically get up early to go, it is something that I have to discipline my flesh and will, and thus-- force-- myself to do (though, when I get there, I generally feel the services more intensely now than ever before).

These are all tricks of the evil one...My priest once told me that for some reason, on Sunday mornings, he has a hard time getting ready for Liturgy, and that he acknowledges that it is the evil one trying to sabotage him. The Liturgy is then celebrated in the most profound way. So, the evil one ultimately loses, but he tries to get us away from God, and we struggle to fight him.

I don't despair however, because one of the most profound and simple things my priest has ever said keeps me going...that, before the face of the Lord,all we can honestly say will be: 'Lord have mercy on me!'--So, what else can I ask for in the fear of the great unknown mystery of the afterlife? We know nothing about it, so I will just accept that my Evangelical brethren will be rewarded for having acknowledged Jesus and in that, made Him the center of their lives, whether or not they feel, as my tradition and I do, that we need to continuously work out our salvation. They are joyous in the Lord, while in a way, my tradition and I are somewhat the opposite, and depressed in our worry about salvation. I don't think either is right or wrong, Orthodoxy is very ascetic and monastic in its ethos, so I think that these difference in interpreting salvation are as much cultural as they are interpretively theological...and I have to say that I do envy them in their genuine joy.

Infact, perhaps many of them love Jesus and follow Him more than many Orthodox and Catholics do...so I will not judge them. God only knows. As for me, I will continue to lament my sorry soul and continue trying through the blessed avenues my tradition offers me..but in the end, as my priest said, it is all up to God's mercy, whom I will call on..for He is a good and loving God. Amen.

I don't know if any of this philosophical babble made sense,
Alice

Alice #293641 06/29/08 06:24 PM
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ALICE:

Christ is in our midst!! He is and always will be!!

Makes lots of sense. As I said to Charles, we stand in side a Mystery and words don't always wrap themselves around the Mystery so taht we can easily communicate it.

While I applaud our Evangelical brethren in their enthusiasm, I am more than a bit disturbed by the idea that once we accept the Lord as Savior we need do nothing more--not worry about our actions or our words since all is already forgiven; it's the concept of what has been termed "cheap grace." For me it borders on presumption, dangerously.

BOB

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Dear Bob,

There are some Protestants (and I hope that they are in the minority) who believe "once saved, always saved." This gives them comfort because they believe that they do not need to worry about their salvation. However, it is a depraved form of Lutheranism, where they believe that repentance, prayer, and even hope is a work. So they try to avoid all works and become so scrupulous that they may lose all hope. They are to be pitied.

My brother is a member of this group. Pray for Paul.

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May Christ's peace be with His servant Bob,

Your introductory post on this topic touches a topic that has been contemplated for centuries, even St Peter struggled with it after his denial of Christ.

Deep down, perhaps these differences (spiritually, not theologically) with our Protestant brothers and sisters are not so different regarding the Gift of Salvation which is offered to all.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. 1Cor6:20
For anyone who seriously accepts this scripture when he proclaims Jesus as Lord he makes a commitment that he will attempt to live his life as much as humanly possible following Christ's teachings. Of course this DEMANDS good works, for if we don't perform good works we really aren't living the "Golden Rule." The conviction that Jesus is our Lord together with the above verse is one's acknowledgment that we are "set apart" and that our body and soul is committed to God, not our own personal needs.

Anyone who proclaims Jesus Christ as His Savior and then do not follow "the Way" is a liar to himself and to God and is guilty of the sin of presumption (believing that his salvation is automatic without regard to his actions.) And even this sin is forgivable.

We all fall into sin --repeatedly. But the worst sin is believing that God will not forgive us. And since God's love is unconditional and His mercy is boundless we should not be overly burdened by harshly judging ourselves. (remember what Jesus taught about judging others - we also have no right to judge ourselves.

This not to say that we should not have a "fear of judgment" as St John Climacus so often repeated. For a healthy fear of judgment will cause us to try to overcome our sinful habits. Frequent Reconciliation is a good practice also, for God grants infinite graces with this Mystery.

God be with you,
Fr. Deacon Paul

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Any one who really believes that they don't have to do anything because they're saved, and then does nothing to become a true Christian, must be awfully shallow in their faith. It's hard to imagine anyone over 35 actually believing that all he has to do is sit and wait for the Christmobile to pick him up! Perhaps though they claim to have to do nothing, they seperate obeying Christ's commandments and growing in Christ from being saved.
Bob, as for throwing in the towel, I don't think you'd know how to do anything else now but strive to be Christian. As we get older I thnk we really have to watch giving in to despair, because regrets get to be a problem- including seeing all the times we gave in to temptation or didn't pray when we could have, etc.

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Bob,

I also remind you of what many saintly men and women (some raised to the altars) have asked of others while on their death beds: "Pray they I may persevere right to the end."

I knew one holy priest who died last year. He had been a naval officer, and was ordained in his 50's, and was an exemplary and active human being as well as a faithful priest. In the last years of his life he was struck down with a stroke, cancer, and blindness. He could no longer carry out a full ministry. Just before the end, when the doctors said he had only days to live, he asked others to pray "not for a cure, or a perpetuation of my life, but that I persevere right to the end". We did, and he did.

I think we see our personal misery in more detail the clearer we see the holiness we are called to.

In Christ,
Michael

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Chrsit is in our midst!! He is and alwyas will be!!

Thank God for each of you, my brothers and sisters. And thank you for your advice, support, and suggestions.

I'm not "throwing in the towel," partly as St. Peter said to Christ, "Where would I go?" I've been in this pilgrimage and in this focus so long it's who I am. I cannot imagine living or being any other way.

I will admit that this pilgrimage has been a roller coaster ride and has been anything but dull. OTOH, there have been so many obvious signs of the Hand of Divine Providence in my life that I would be a fool to say I didn't see Him and a liar if I said some things happened by chance.

I was haunted by this Gospel passage read the other morning and, as I so often do, took it with me for the rest of the day. Also had one of those days that we all have where at the end of the day I had to say things can only get better because it seemed that everyone was on my case for one thing or another--but I always try to remind myself that if everyone's on my case, they're all leaving someone else alone for a day. grin

When I get home I'll post some disjointed thoughts I put in a file for further meditation and examination of conscience.

Thank God, again, for all of you.

BOB

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Bob, now having passed the great Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (Gregorian), perhaps a reflection on their lives might be in order. Peter openly denied knowing Christ, and was a coward. Paul openly and ardently killed the followers of Christ, and, in a sense, was trying to kill Him as well.

The potential of metanoia, the change of heart, in communion with our Lord is endless - as we see from the fruits of the two Chiefs of the Apostles. But we do have to try on our end - I don't think it is a "toggle switch" of grace as some of the "once saved - always saved" make it out to be.

We will never know on this earth what that profound change means to us or to those around us, but we just need to step toward Christ and desire that deeper communion. He is always waiting.

Diak #293790 06/30/08 10:46 PM
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DIAK:

In my own experience it seems that the constant struggle is wearing off the rough edges--wearing down my youthful rigidity which I have come to see as little more than pride in having some rudimentary knowledge of things and an academic knowledge of doctrines and disciplines. It is in walking the pilgrimage and learning how difficult it can be to stay on the straight and narrow; it is in the learning how awful one can be when one forgives oneself everything out of some sense of being somehow more special than everyone else (again a deep-rooted pride); it is in the realization that as one continues to read the lessons of the great spiritual writers venerated by both East and West that one has come not quite to the top of their shoe soles. It can be in the learning that one is limited and that limitations are part of the human condition thta prefigure one's own mortality.

None of this can one possess in one's youth because it takes lived-out experience--the struggle of putting orthodoxoy into orthopraxy. It is in finally having the scales of pride fall from the eyes--as St. Paul had the scales fall--and realizing that one is not only little better than many but probably much worst than as many more. It comes in the realization that it isn't so bad to be "garden variety" rather than the most special person that God ever created. It is learning this humility that is not false, bragging about how great a sinner one is, but in realizing that "Lord, I'm glad You are God and not me, because I don't have to know everything and I'm comfortable with that." I guess it's in being comfortable with ambiguity since one cannot know everything and in that comfort zone finally coming to see the Hand of Providence and trusting God rather than oneself.

The first time it ever occurred to me that I didn't have to know everything I felt like the greatest weight had been lifted. The ability to ask one's neighbor for help or clarification is a major turning point in one's pilgrimage. The idea that someone else might have something to offer--that I am not the only one gifted; even realizing that maybe I'm not as gifted as I though myself to be--is a source of deep enrichment.

And the realization that one needs others flows from the realization that one needs Christ--really needs Him: moving that thought from the head to the heart. One of the images that I have come to meditate on is the puzzle piece: each of us has a place for the help of others to "plug in" and each of us has gifts, given for us to give away and "plug in" to others.

But enough for now. Thanks.

BOB


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