Tuesday before Pentecost – John 16:2-13
John 16:2-13 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
This reading has particular significance for me, as it caused me to search for the true church; thank God that God revealed it to me! During this search, I was in Campus Crusade for Christ, “witnessing” in the student union at Purdue University on a regular basis, and even went to Daytona Beach one Spring break to evangelize all the motorcycle riders, and to Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey for about two months to evangelize the New Jersey boardwalk.
I have “Campus Crusade” to thank for leading me to Orthodoxy. They are quite serious, and also quite inconsistent in their faith. They basically agree that “We all believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and must invite Him into our heart” in order to be saved. They do not have any significant theological precision about WHO Jesus Christ is, and belief in any or all of the following is “optional”:
the need for baptism,
the Holy Eucharist,
the existence of a definable, VISIBLE church,
the intercession of the Saints,
the ever-virginity of the Theotokos,
and reverence in general for the Theotokos, who, for most of them was just a young Jewish girl who had several children, Christ among them.
I could go on with more things if I tried hard to think of them.
I was young, and gung-ho, and am sure glad there is no film about me from that time! The lack of dogma among us really bothered me. It did not make any sense to me that we accepted a bible from a church that we rejected. It did not make any sense that some much dogma and beliefs were negotiable or not even thought of. The verse:
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:” (John 16:13)
Gave me no rest. If God is a God of order and not disorder, then how could it be that so many doctrines were unimportant? There was a cacophony of beliefs, and the only agreement that I could see was that we all “believed in Jesus”.
I have since learned that DOGMA is important, and it is defined, and is not optional. The entire history of the true church has been one of defending the dogmatic truths about God. Only recently, do we have Christians who are basically theologically illiterate.
How do we learn dogmatic truth? This is a small question, with a simple, but not easy answer. We learn of God from the Holy Spirit, and by living according to the things we learn.
“8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
The great gift of Orthodoxy, which I sorely lacked during my sojourn in Protestant Evangelicalism, is that morality is stressed with ALL dogma. Our entire ascetic tradition – the fasting, long and intricate services, the prayer book, the standing, prostrations, love of monasticism, and the writings of the Holy Fathers – all of it – assists the soul as it traverses the path laid out for it by the Holy Spirit.
One of these days, I will write about monasticism in our church. Monasticism has guarded the church. In some places in Orthodoxy, especially in America, monasticism is being thrown out the window. Bishops are no longer monastic, but are just tonsured “bachelors”, who never lived as monks. They lack the spiritual formation that the church has deemed necessary for a millennium. Many Orthodox in these churches do not know about monasticism, or even fear or loathe it as too extreme for our age. These churches are much weaker because of this. Monasticism is our light which keeps us in line. It provides the rigor we must have. Without rigor, we cannot be saved.
All things concerning God are learned from God, in a soul prepared for this knowledge by becoming purified.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God”.
“To the pure, all things are pure.”
We cannot learn about God, Who is pure, without become pure, we cannot learn anything about truth without living in it.
The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St John, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/. ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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 The way we evangelized using the “Four Spiritual Laws” is particularly embarrassing to me. It was Christian marketing 101, without the TV set, and it presented a shallow understanding of salvation. We were also more aggressive than I would like to admit. Gotta get those people in the field white for harvest saved!
 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1Cor 14:33)
 Matthew 5:8, sung in most liturgies in the Beatitudes, except in too many churches who, do to a lack of rigor and monastic understanding of our services, never sing them.
 “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)
Because the vast majority of humanity has been separated from the Orthodox church by distance, history and culture, it is good that God has not allowed “the best to become the enemy of the good”. In other words, while other confessions may not still have ALL the truth that God has promised through the Holy Spirit to provide us, He has provided a wide variety of avenues that can lead those who seek Him with all their hearts, to the Truth–the good leading to the best.
Just to clarify–I do not mean that all avenues lead to Truth, but that God guides people along many different avenues to bring those who seek Him with all their hearts to Himself and to His Church.
I am grateful for all the stepping stones of truth He has provided in the world and uses to guide us to the Truth.
Deborah, absolutely agree! and this refers not only to people of other confessions, but to those whom He consideres prepared & ready by their pure heart & kindest actions – like my grandfather, for example. He was a person, of whom it is said that “Christianity is written on the testimonies of the heart”. He was baptized in his early childhood, his mother was a real Orthodox Christian, who spent her life, in spite of all hardships, in love for God & the church. My grandfather spent the whole life in honesty, kindness, humility, generosity, always treated people with love & justice…But he was a communist, and did not believe that Christ was God. He used to tell me: “Natasha, you are such a clever girl, how can you imagine that God really could allow them to do this to Him???” He suggested that “there is something there”, but Christ was not God definitely. And finally, God remembered his pure heart, his humble life, his noble deeds, and – at his deathbed, when he suffered greatly during several months, He showed him the Truth. My grandfather took the Holy Communion (of what I did not even dream before). Our loving & merciful God simply could not leave my dear grandfather without reasoning him & guiding him to the right way…So in my family there also were the stepping stones, though at times, like in this example, they can be very hard to overcome, but better late than never!
Apart from Truth there is nothing but lies, the great deep, the
void, mirages, images, shadows, “confusion and every evil
work”, a place where there is no reality…….
Apart from Truth, love can not exist…….
Yet apart from love, Truth yet remains Truth…….
So it is that one must receive “the love of The Truth in order to
be saved”, not “the truth of love”…….
The Way to THE TRUTH of The Life was revealed in The Life and
Teachings of The Messiah, and it is well to remember that both
The Teachings and The Life of The Messiah were given Him by
His GOD and Father, HE WHO is The One and Only True GOD,
Father(Creator) of ALL(Messiah inclusive)…….
Truth is never ending…….
What a beautiful and hopeful story, Natalia.
My hope is that God’s mercy extends beyond even the deathbed to the grave, and that all those who have earnestly sought Him or even those who were too weak to seek him or too far from the truth to find Him will be able to, through our prayers and by means of God’s unfathomable compassion, have some chance to find and accept the Truth and experience eternal Life.
But that, of course, is all in the realm of mystery….
I do believe His mercy extends everywhere. NOTHING IS predetermined!
St Seraphim of Sarov (I am not sure this statement belongs to him, though it is considered to be so) said: “when you find yourselves in Heaven or in hell, you’ll be greatly surprised at whom you’ll see there…”
and it is really so – we foresee God’s judgement in this life, and also project our estimations to what can be beyond the grave. a sad & silly position simultaneously! What we only can (and have to) do here is to hand over our neighbours to His merciful power once & forever.