The Orthodox Faith
For St Paul Orthodox Youth Society - Brisbane
By Fr. John Abdel-Karim
21 - REDEMPTION
As we have stated in previous sections, man has sinned. He has disobeyed God. He has broken His commandment. He was driven out of paradise. He became a slave to sin. He lived far removed from God. He had to be set free from the chains of sin. He had to be redeemed. It is for precisely this reason that the second person of the Trinity, the Son, was made incarnate, was crucified, descended into Hades, was resurrected, ascended into Heaven, and sent us the Comforter. He took upon Himself and bore all the sins of humanity, atoned for man, and reconciled him with God.
For this purpose, however, the initiative and effort of Christ is not enough. Man must cooperate as well. God, of course, desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy, 2:4): "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked might turn from his way and live" (Ezekiel, 33:11). At the same time, Christ says that "if any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mark, 8:34). This means that although with the incarnation of Christ, His crucifixion, His descent into Hades, His resurrection, His ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, the salvation of man became strong and accessible, in order for it to become the property of man it must be pursued by man himself. God respects the freedom of man and does not compel, pressure or force anyone, but rather calls. He asks, if you will. He waits. He waits for man to open his heart and receive divine grace, redemption, sanctification, and glory.
Man alone cannot accomplish anything regarding his salvation. With the co-operation of the devil he accomplishes his condemnation. With the cooperation of God he accomplishes his salvation. Christ himself said that "apart from me you can do nothing" (John, 15:5). Then what can man do? What can he offer? St. John Chrysostom says that man can only offer a good disposition. It is only this that man can offer: the disposition to open our souls and to accept the grace of God.
In future sections, we will look at the meaning of divine grace, what it is and how we acquire it.
LET US PRAY
Most gracious God, for many years until the fulfilment of the age You heard the groanings of condemned humanity. Then You sent Your Son to save the world. Most of humanity has yet to know the Good News. They have not heard the Good News. And many of us that have heard and have been taught the Gospel do not have the strength to accept redemption, with Your Grace. We fervently ask You: Make everyone really know that he needs the salvation that flows out from the redemptive work of Your Christ. That is our wish. Help us to open our hearts. Make Your Grace fall upon us as the dew of salvation to redeem us, to sanctify us, to justify us,