The Orthodox Faith

The Orthodox Faith

 

For St Paul Orthodox Youth Society - Brisbane

By Fr. John Abdel-Karim

July  2009

 

15 - THE SALVATION OF FALLEN MAN

 

As we have previously said, man was able to be saved because God gave him a second chance, since he had not sinned on his own initiative. He was influenced by Satan. The Salvation of the fallen man was promised by God when He said to the devil inside Paradise, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel" (Genesis, 3:15). The essential phrase here is "He shall bruise your head." He will crush your head. Who is he? Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the only-begotten Son of God, the seed (descendant) of woman.

 

God kept His promise. He did not fulfil it immediately. He had to prepare things. He prepared the world to accept the "salvation to come." He prepared the nations by the teaching of many wise men for the expected coming from Heaven and the salvation from on high, and by the Old Testament, which "was our custodian until Christ came" (Galatians, 3:24). And "when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were underthe law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians, 4:4-5).

 

The salvation of man through Jesus Christ is a basic doctrine of our Church. It is expressed beautifully in the Creed: "I believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. Light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, one in essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven and was Incarnate by the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary and became man."

 

This is proof of the perfect love and continuous care of God for man. Even when he has sinned and has fallen, God loves man. He tries to raise him; to save him; and to make his return to Heaven and his salvation possible. Many ask whether it was necessary for God to become man to save the sinful man? Could not another man save man? Of course not. Because every man was and is sinful and cannot save himself. How could a sinful man save all humanity? Impossible. Only someone who was without sin was able to save mankind. And that was and is Christ. Others ask whether an angel could not have saved humanity? Perhaps so, if God wanted it that way. But God decided differently. Who are we to question God on His decision? If we think that we can question God, are we not putting ourselves above Him? Are we not even more egoistic and proud than the Devil? And consequently, are we not continuing our sinful condition without repentance?

 

The salvation of man is a recall from the fall and a return to the house of God. It is a return to the arms of God from that separation which man suffered by his disobedience and fall. Since it is a recall and a return, this could be accomplished only by Him Who had originally created man: God. This is why man had to be saved by Christ. He had to stretch out His hands on the cross and to unite "what before was separated." The second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, becomes the saviour of the world through His Incarnation, through His sacrifice on the cross, His descent to Hades,

His Resurrection, and His Ascension into Heaven.

 

With what we have said here, no one must think that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, is the only saviour of the world. As "the Father created the world with the Son, together with the Holy Spirit," so is the salvation of man an act of the entire Holy Trinity. An act of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Father "consented." The Word "became flesh." The Holy Spirit "coordinates the institution of the Church," and abides in the Church and in the sacraments that save and sanctify the faithful. The works of the Holy Trinity are inseparable.

 

 

LET US PRAY

Triune God, with love as Your only objective You created the world and man. You were saddened by his fall and his disobedience. And You never ceased to love sinful man. Out of love for him, You promised him salvation, to give him a second chance. Out of Your love You consented for Christ to be born. To become man. To take on human nature. His only purpose, to raise human nature to Heaven, restoring the "image" and "likeness." We thank You for all of Your love. For Your continuing care for us. For the fulfilment of Your promise. For the Incarnation of the "Word." Because You made our salvation possible.

 We respectfully entreat You, open the eyes of our souls so that we may enter into our salvation. Help us not to lose the chance, and to return close to You. Not only us, but the whole world, Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers. Make it so that all will believe in You. Let no one be lost. Let everyone find salvation through Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer. Glory be to Your Holy Name.