Monday, February 7, 2011

What is The Church ? Part 1.

One of the tragic aberrations of so-called modern religion is "Churchless Christianity."The assertion is that it is Christ who saves us, not the Church, so "all you need is Jesus."
Few who claim to be Christians, would argue that it is Christ who saves. For He is the eternal Son of God who has assumed human flesh, and has done so "for us and for our salvation." Thus Paul writes, "for there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1Ti 2:5). But because this Mediator established the Church which is His Body, we who are joined to Him are joined to His Church as well. To say we love Christ, who is the Head of the Church and at the same time reject His Body is to deny New Testament teaching.
The first use of the word "church" in the New Testament comes in the Gospel of Matthew, when our Lord gives His approval of Peter;s confession of faith and promises, "I will build My church" (Mt 16:18). Jesus Christ builds and we cooperate with Him.
The Book of Acts amplifies what Jesus meant in Matthew 16. When Peter;s sermon on the day of Pentecost concludes, those present ask for guidance toward salvation: "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). Following Peter's word, they are baptized and join with the other believers, three thousand of them (Acts 2:38, 41).
Having been joined to Christ and HIs Church, these baptized believers begin living as the body of Christ . We find them looking after each other, using their personal resources for one another's care, continuing together in prayer and in the Eucharist (Acts 2:42-47). From this point on " the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47), and through out Acts, we see the Church being built as the Gospel of Christ spreads.

Credits: from the Orthodox Study Bible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Give blood and receive Spirit

1920s... For the Russian Orthodox Church these were times of very strong temptations - times when true faith of the people was revealed. Then, one day of standing in the Diving Truth was equal to a whole lived in peaceful times when confessing one's faith was free and without any danger. The Church tried to avoid confrontation with the new government and called for peace in the society; however, in spite of this, persecutions of the faithful were only growing and getting more severe. Repressions against the clergy and the monastics, forceful confiscation of the church property, robbing the faithful of their civil rights were all going on. No monk in St. Sergius Monastery leaving for the service was sure that he will come back to his cell.

Great spiritual fathers of St. Petersburg were arrested at that time. Together with Metropolitan Benjamin were arrested more then 90 people due to their "anti-revolutionary organization of the clergy."These people were church clergy, laymen, and monastics.

Metropolitan Benjamin was arrested on June 1st, 1922 without being given any reasons. The only reason for arrest served a wire sent from Moscow to St. Petersburg: "Metropolitan Benjamin must be arrested and tried at court. Gather all convicting material. Arrest his closest friends and helpers ... Menjinky."

Court proceedings started on June 10th. A famous anti-church man by the name Krasikov who came for the trial, loudly proclaimed: "All Orthodox Church is a anti-reolutionary organization! Therefore, the whole Church must be imprisoned!"

All faithful were following the trial with pain and sorrow. When Metropolitan Benjamin appeared in court, all the faithful started singing: "Save the Lord, Your people.. " and His Highness would bless the believers.

Before the judge proclaimed the verdict, Metropolitan Benjamin was offered to say his last words. What he said shook even the non believers: "I don't know what the verdict will be - life or death... but whatever it is, I will look at the Heaven, sign myself with the sign of the cross and say " Glory be to you, our Lord and God, for everything!"

Metropolitan Benjamin and three other people with him were killed on August 12th, 1992. Memory Eternal to the Man of God!