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THE ORTHODOX FAITH:
What's Orthodoxy?
Who started it?
Is it 2000 year old,
before catholicism
and protestantism?

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Concerning Faith and Works

I believe that man's natural virtue ó whatever its degree ó cannot save a man and bring him to eternal life. The Scriptures teach: "All our righteousness is like unto a menstrual rag" (Isaiah 64:6). The fulfillment of the works of the Law does not permit us to demand or to merit something from God. Not only do we have no merits or supererogatory works, but Jesus Christ enjoins us that when we have fulfilled all the works of the Law, we should esteem ourselves as nothing but "unprofitable servants" (Luke 17:10). Without Jesus Christ, a man's personal virtue, his repute, his personal value, his work, his talents and his faculties matter but little; they matter only insofar as they test his devotion and faith in God. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not an abstraction but rather a communion with Him. This communion fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit and our faith becomes a fertile reality which engenders good works in us as the Scriptures attest "which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

Thus, according to the Apostles, faith engenders true works; and true works, which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, bear witness and prove the existence of a true faith. Since faith is neither abstract nor sterile, it is impossible to dissociate it from good works. It was by this same faith in the same Jesus Christ that the righteous of the Old Testament (who are venerated to the same degree as the other saints in the Orthodox Church) were saved, and not because of their legalistic or disciplinary observance of the Law. Faith is also a gift of God, and a man relying on his own efforts, his own piety, or his own spirituality, cannot of himself possess this faith. Yet faith is not imposed: to those who desire it, God grants it, not because of a fatalistic predestination, but because of His Divine foreknowledge and His disposition to co-operate with man's free will. If God has given us faith, we must not think ourselves better than others, nor superior or more worthy than them, nor should we think that we have received it because of our own merits, but we should attribute this favor to the goodness of God Whose reasons escape us. We must thank Him by bowing down before the mystery of this privilege and be conscious that one of the attributes of faith is the "lack of curiousity." It is neither works nor faith, but only the Living God Who saves us.

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