Lex Rex

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Lex Rex

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Way Into the Kingdom of Heaven

In answer to Zain's question, the thrust of my reluctance goes to the heart of our differences. I do not want to take this out of context, so you can link to the title by clicking on the same. The first two, I do not believe we have any qualms. It is the last part of #3, this arduous path that the Orthodox proclaim by which we save ourselves that I am trying to reconcile with Scripture, namely Romans 3-8. Saint Innocent does proclaim that nothing is possible but by the grace of God, the death and resurrection of Christ, but the “mansion on the hill” can only be reached through a series of activities by the Pilgrim. This does not explain Paul’s journey, he indeed speaks of his ongoing struggles throughout his Christian life, but after his conversion. As a related requirement, the concept of the Eucharist as necessary for salvation is, IMHO, irreconcilable with Scripture.

The Way Into the Kingdom of Heaven
by Saint Innocent of Alaska

....First of all, a Christian must thoroughly study the foundations of the Christian faith. To that end, you must read and reread the Holy Scriptures on a regular basis, especially the books of the New Testament. You must not only learn their contents but also develop an interest in their origin, who wrote them and when, how they were preserved and have been handed down to us, and why they are called Divine and Sacred. You must study the Holy Books with simplicity of heart, without prejudice or excessive inquisitiveness, not trying to discover hidden mysteries but trying to learn that which leads us to self-improvement. Certainly all that is necessary for us to know for our salvation is revealed quite clearly and in detail in the Scriptures.

It is important also to study our God-given faith in detail, since he who is indifferent toward truth is in danger of becoming easy prey for false teachers. It is so sad that many Orthodox Christians perish simply because of their disregard for Christ’s teachings. Having access to the light, they wander in the dark.

The studying of the faith should conform to your aptitudes and knowledge. For instance, for the serious student, in addition to studying the Scriptures, it is also useful to become familiar with the works of the Church Fathers and with the historical and theological books written by other Orthodox authors. These books will help you to comprehend your faith more deeply, which in turn will give you an opportunity to strengthen others in the Orthodox faith, to whom these books are unavailable.

2. When you become convinced that our Orthodox faith is based on Holy Scriptures and is not invented by people and that the Holy Scriptures contain the true word of God, revealed by the Holy Spirit through prophets and apostles — accept it with all your trusting heart. Believe the Holy Scriptures without doubt or philosophizing, pushing aside all heretical explanations. If you humbly accept Christ’s truth, then your faith will become strong and will lead you to salvation.

3. Finally, try to nourish a diligence in yourself to follow that which is taught by the Holy Scriptures. But if you do not have such diligence, fall down before the Savior and with a sincere prayer ask Him to send you a zealous wish to live according to His commandments. Then, when the grace of God starts leading you toward salvation, follow it, valiantly repelling the snares of the devil, who will attempt to detract you from Christ’s path.

....Those who neglect to take Holy Communion do not love Jesus Christ and will not receive the Holy Spirit, and consequently will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So, for the sake of your salvation, partake of Communion as often as possible.