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4. The Christian Faith.

The Symbol of Faith or Creed.

The Creed is a concise summary of all the truths of the Christian Faith, composed and affirmed in the First and Second Ecumenical Councils. Whoever does not accept these truths is not an Orthodox Christian.

The entire Symbol of Faith is as follows:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light: true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father; by Whom all things were made;

Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the Heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man;

And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried.

And rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.

And ascended into the Heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;

And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life; Who pro-ceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets.

In one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead.

And the life of the age to come.


The First Article of the Creed.

1. I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

To believe in God means to be steadfastly sure that God exists, that He cares for us, and to wholeheartedly accept His Divine revelation; that is, everything that He revealed about Himself, and about the salvation of people by the incarnate Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

But in order that our faith be alive and active, it is necessary to confess it. To confess faith means to openly express internal faith in God by words and good works, and that neither danger, persecution, suffering, nor even death are able to force us to renounce our faith in the true God. Only by such a firm confession will we be able to save our souls. For man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:10), says Apostle Paul.

The holy martyrs serve as examples of steadfast and courageous confession of faith. They had such faith in God and were so animated by love for the Lord Jesus Christ that for His name’s sake they renounced all earthly gain, underwent persecution and such martyric sufferings that could be contrived only by the most evil imagination of man.

The words of the Symbol of Faith, "In one God," indicate the uniqueness of the true God. God is one, and there is no other beside Him (Ex. 44:6, Ex. 20:2-3, Deut. 6:4; John 17:3; I Cor. 8:4-6). This reminder is given in order to repudiate pagan teachings about many gods.

God is the highest Being, above all that is mundane or supernatural. To know the being of God is impossible. It is higher than the knowledge not only of men, but even of the angels. From the revelation of God, from the clear testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, we are able to get an understanding of the existence and the basic nature of God. God is Spirit (John 4:24); living (Jer. 10:10; I Thess. 1:9); self-existent, that is, dependent on no one, and having received life from Himself — He is (Ex. 3:14; I John 2:13); everlasting (Ps. 90:2; Ex. 40:28); unchanging (James 1:17; Mala. 3:6; Ps. 102:27); omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-12; Acts 17:27); omniscient (I John 3:29, Heb. 4:13); omnipotent (Gen. 17:1; Luke 1:37; Ps. 32:9); all good (Matt. 19:17, Ps. 24:8); wise (Ps. 104:24; Rom. 14:26; I Tim. 1:17); righteous (Ps. 7:12; Ps. 10:7; II Rom. 6:11); self-sufficient (Acts 17:25); all blessed (I Tim. 6:15).

The assertion that God is Spirit does not contradict those places in the Holy Scriptures in which bodily members are ascribed to God. These expressions are used symbolically in the spiritual writings when they speak of the nature of God. For instance, eyes or ears indicate the omniscience of God, and so forth.

God is one, but not solitary. God is one in essence, but triple in Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Most-holy Trinity, consubstantial and indivisible. One in three Persons, each Person eternally loving the others. God is love (I John 4:16).

The inter-relationship between the Persons of the Holy Trinity is such that God the Father is not born from and does not proceed from the other persons. The Son of God was born from God the Father before all ages, and the Holy Spirit always proceeds from God the Father. All three Persons of the Holy Trinity in being and nature are completely equal within God Himself. As God the Father is true God, so God the Son is true God, and God the Holy Spirit is true God, but all three Persons are a single Deity — One God.

How one God exists in three Persons is a mystery, incomprehensible to our intelligence, but we believe this according to the testimony of Divine revelation. The mystery of the Holy Trinity was revealed to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, when he sent the Apostles to preach. He said, Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). The Apostle and Evangelist John also clearly testifies both to the trinitarian Persons of God and to the single essence of the Persons. There are Three Witnesses in Heaven (about the Divinity of the Son of God); Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these Three are one (I John 5:7).

Apostle Paul, addressing the Corinthian Christians, says, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (II Cor. 13:14).

For clarification of this great mystery we point out the world which, as a revelation of the creation of God, speaks to us of the incomprehensible mystery of the trinitarian essence of the Creator. The imprint of this mystery lies deep in the nature of every created entity. The trinitarian unity, as an underlying idea, is intrinsic to all the works of the Creator, glorifying the Trinity. For example, the speech of all persons in the world has three persons: I; you; he, she, or it. Time is expressed as past, present and future. The states of matter are liquid, solid and gas. All the various colors in the world are make up of the three primary colors, red, blue and yellow. Man conducts himself by means of thought, word and deed. Deeds, in their turn, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even man is a trinitarian unity of body, mind and soul. The salvation of our souls is made up of three Christian virtues, faith, hope and love.

We are able to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity in part only with the heart, by love found in the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, that is, by living in love.

We call God Almighty because He, as King of Heaven, governs all and maintains everything by His strength and power.

Furthermore, we call God Maker of heaven and earth because everything that exists, both in the visible, physical world and in the invisible, spiritual world, that is, the entire universe, was created by God in Three Persons. God the Father created with the Word, His Only-begotten Son, and with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit.

To the invisible or spiritual world belong angels — spirits — bodiless, immortal beings, endowed with reason, will and power. Also to the spiritual world belongs the soul of each person.

The word "angel" is a Greek word which means "messenger," because God sends angels to announce His will to people. Each Christian has his own Guardian Angel, who invisibly helps him in matters of salvation, and guards him from the wicked activity of the evil one. The evil one is called the Devil (slanderer), and Satan (one who is against God). The evil spirits were also created good and free. However, they became proud, fell from God, and became deceitful and evil. Since that time, they have envied everything good and lead men into sin in order to destroy them. Because of sin, all people die physically. They would die a more terrible second, spiritual death, when the soul surrenders to sin and perishes in estrangement from God, if people were not saved from this eternal destruction by the incarnate Son of God.

In the following six articles of the Symbol of Faith, beginning with the second Article and ending with the seventh, are set forth teachings about the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Second Article of the Creed.

2. (I believe) ...and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made.

In the second article of the Creed, we speak of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and confess that we know that He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, that He is of the Essence of God, and was so before His birth on earth.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God. He is the only Son of God the Father, begotten of the essence of the Father, as light from light. From true God the Father is begotten true God the Son, and is begotten before all ages, before the beginning of time. So the Son is eternally with God the Father, and also the Holy Spirit, of one essence with the Father. Jesus Christ Himself said, I and My Father are one (John 10:30). The words of Jesus Christ, My Father is greater than I (John 14:28) pertain to His manhood.

If angels and saints sometimes are called sons of God, that means that they are sons of God only by grace, by the mercy of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

To the word "begotten," in the Symbol of Faith, are added the words "not made." These words were added to refute the false heresy of Arius, who held that the Son of God was not begotten, but made.

The words "by Whom all things were made," means by Whom, by the Son of God, all things were made. Everything existing in the visible world and the invisible, was made by and through the Son, and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3).

The Son of God, with His incarnation on earth, received the name Jesus Christ. This name indicates His human nature. The name Jesus is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name, Joshua, and means Saviour. This name was twice stated by God through angels before the birth of Christ, because the eternal Son of God descended to earth and was incarnate for the salvation of men.

The name, Christ, is a Greek word and means the Anointed One. It corresponds to the Hebrew, "Messiah." In the Old Testament, anointment was used to set apart prophets, high priests, and kings who, at the assumption of their office, were anointed by oils and thus received the gifts of the Holy Spirit necessary for worthy fulfillment of their duties.

The Son of God was called the Anointed One, Christ, in accordance with His physical nature, because He had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, prophetic knowledge, sanctity of a high priest and the power of a king.

Note: When the articles of the Creed, beginning with the second and ending with the seventh, are read separately, it is necessary to prefix each of them with "I believe." Example: "I believe in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God ..."

Discussion of the Pre-eternal Birth of the Son of God.

We live in time, and temporal things change. When the world reaches the end of its temporal existence, at the second coming of the Saviour, then it will change and become eternal. There will be "new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; II Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1).

Living in temporal conditions, it is difficult for us to imagine eternity. However, to some degree at least, we are able to imagine it by means of science or philosophy.

Thus eternity is unchangeable. It is outside time. God, the Holy Trinity, is eternal and unchanging. Therefore, never was the Father without the Son, or without the Holy Spirit.

The holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church explain that the Father was always with the Son, Who was born from Him, for without the Son He would not be called the Father. If God the Father ever existed without having a son, and would have made Himself a father, not having been a father before, that would mean that God was subject to change, from not having begotten to having begotten. But such an idea is worse that all blasphemy, for God is eternal and unchanging. Thus the statement in the Symbol of Faith, "begotten of the Father before all ages," means before the existence of our time, eternally.

St. John of Damascus explains, "When we say that He (the Son of God) was begotten before all ages, we show that His birth is not in time, and is without beginning. For not from nothingness was the Son of God brought into being. This aureole of glory, the image of the hypostasis of the Father, living wisdom and strength, hypostatic Word, essential, perfect, and living likeness of the invisible Father, was always with the Father and in the Father, and was born of Him eternally and without beginning."

The concept of "begetting" as being completely independent from the process of being begotten exists only in the material world, with material time and limitation. The spirit is not bound or subordinate to laws of matter. Similarly, the natural material begetting is in no way applicable to the spiritual begetting. Therefore, the Ecumenical Councils, conveying the main point of the Divine begetting of the Son from the Father, affirmed the words of the Symbol of Faith, "Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father..." The Son of God, in accordance with His essential perfect union with God the Father, is always, eternally begotten, like "Light of Light," without passion, not by the law of the created, material world. We are not able to completely comprehend this while we live within the intellectual (rational) framework of the material world. Therefore, the trinitarian nature of God is called the "Mystery of the Holy Trinity."

A comparison for clarification of the mystery of the Holy Trinity is given by the Fathers of the Church. John of Damascus says, "As fire and the light proceeding from it exist together, not fire first and then the light proceeding from it, and as light being begotten from the fire always abides in it and is not at all separated from it, thus the Son is begotten of the Father, no way separated from Him."

In another comparison, we are able to see that sunbeams, which are found on earth performing their life-giving activity, are never separated or broken away from the sun. By these comparisons, the words of the Gospels become understandable: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, Which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1:18).

St. John the Evangelist calls the Only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with

God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The designation of the second Person of the Holy Trinity as the Son of God was revealed from on high to the Apostle John (Rev. 19:11,13), though in part it was known in the Old Testament in a hidden way (Ps. 32:6; 18:15).

The Fathers of the Church explain, "As the mind giving birth to a word, begets without pain, does not divide, is not exhausted, and does not undergo some sort of bodily existence, thus the Divine begetting is passionless, inexplicable, incomprehensible, without division."

"As the word," says Archbishop Innocent, "is an exact expression of an idea, not separating itself from it and not merging with it, thus the Word was to God, a true and exact likeness of His existence, indivisible, without confusion, and always existing with Him. The Word of God was not a phenomenon or an affinity by the power of God, but is God Himself, the second Person of the Holy Trinity."

The Third Article of the Creed.

3. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from the Heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.

The third article of the Symbol of Faith is the statement of how the Son of God descended from Heaven to earth, took upon Himself a body, human in every way but without sin, and was incarnate. He took on not only the body, but the soul of a man and became perfectly human without ceasing to be God at the same time. He became God incarnate.

The Son of God descended from Heaven and became a man (God incarnate) in order to save people from the power of the Devil, sin and eternal death. Sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4). That is, sin is an offense against the Law of God. Sin arises in people by the action of the Devil, who tempted Eve in Paradise, and through her, Adam, and persuaded them to break the commandment of God.

The fall into sin of the first people, Adam and Eve, broke down the nature of mankind. Sin in people clouded their intelligence and will. To the body it brought sickness and death. People began to suffer and to die. By their own power, people were not able to conquer sin in themselves and in their descendants, or to correct their intelligence, soul and heart, and to destroy death. This can be accomplished only by God, the Creator of all.

The merciful Lord gave a promise to people that the Saviour of the world would come to earth to deliver people from the power of the Devil and eternal death.

When the time of salvation came, the Son of God came to dwell within the pure Virgin Mary and, through the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Her, received from Her the nature of man and was born in a supernatural way "of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary."

The Most-holy Virgin Mary was a descendant of the family of King David. She was the daughter of the righteous Joachim and Anna. The

Most-holy Mary is called a Virgin because She, out of love for God, promised to never marry. She is called Ever-virgin because She always remained a virgin, before the birth of the Saviour, at the time of the birth, and after the birth.

The holy Orthodox Church calls the Virgin Mary the God-Bearer (Theotokos), and holds Her more sacred than all created beings, not only people, but angels. "More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim" we declare of Her because She is the Mother of God Himself. Thus, according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the righteous Elizabeth addressed Her, and whence is this to me, that the Mother of My Lord should come to me? (Luke 1:43).

Through His prophets, the Lord God showed many signs of the coming of the Saviour into the world. For example:

The Prophet Isaiah predicted that the Saviour would be born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and with remarkable clarity foretold His suffering (Isaiah 5:7-8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 53).

The Prophet Micah prophesied that the Saviour would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:4-6).

The Prophet Malachi predicted that the Saviour would come to the newly built temple in Jerusalem, and that before Him would be sent the Forerunner, like the prophet Elias (Mal. 3:1-15).

The Prophet Zechariah predicted the triumphal entry of the Saviour into Jerusalem on a "colt, the foal of an ass" (Zech. 9:9).

King David in the twenty-first psalm described the Saviour’s suffering on the cross with such accuracy that it seems as if he had seen the crucifixion himself.

The Prophet Daniel, 490 years before Christ, prophesied the date of the appearance of the Saviour, predicted His crucifixion, and after it, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the cessation of Old Testament sacrifices (Daniel 9).

When the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to earth, many righteous people recognized Him as the Saviour of the world. The wise men of the East recognized Him by the star which shone in the East before the birth of Christ. The shepherds in Bethlehem recognized Him from the angels’ proclamation. Simeon and Anna recognized Him by a revelation from the Holy Spirit when he was brought to the Temple. John the Baptist recognized Him in the Jordan River, at the time of baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father testified, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased (Matt. 3:17). Many people recognized Him by the superiority of His teaching and especially by the miracles that He did.

For our salvation Jesus Christ accomplished His teachings, His life, His death, and His resurrection. His teachings are for our salvation when we accept them with all our heart, and behave in accordance with them, when we emulate in our own lives the life of the Saviour. As the false word of the Devil, accepted by the first people, became in people the seeds of sin and death, so the true word of Christ, sincerely accepted by Christians, becomes in them the seeds of holy and immortal life.

Discussion of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

St. Sylvester (IV century), in conversation with the Jews about the faith, said, "God, Who brings everything into being, when He created man and saw his inclination to every evil, did not despise the perishing work of His hand, but rather deigned that His Son, existing inseparably from Him (for God is everywhere), should come to us on earth. Thus He descended and was born of the Holy Virgin and became subject to the law, to redeem them that were under the law (Gal. 4:4-5).

"That He was born of a Virgin was predicted by the Prophet Isaiah with these words, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel (Is. 7:14). This name, as you know, designates the advent of God to people, and in translation from Hebrew means God with us. Thus, the Prophet, a long time before, predicted that God would be born from a virgin.

"For God, nothing is impossible; but regarding the Devil, it is necessary to conquer by that which was first conquered. Those first conquered were men, men not born by the usual order of nature, not from the seed of man, but from clay, furthermore, from soil clean and pure as the Virgin, for it had never offended God. It had not been defiled by either the blood of a murdered brother or killed animals. Therefore it was not infected with decaying bodies, nor was it defiled by any unclean or indecent acts.

"From such soil flesh was created for our ancestors, which was brought to life by the breath of God.

"But if the all-evil Devil conquered such a man, then it is necessary that the Devil be conquered by such a man. Such a man is our Lord Jesus Christ, born not by the usual laws of nature, but from the pure and holy womb of the Virgin, as Adam came from the soil uninfected by sin. As Adam was brought to life by the Spirit of God, so this One (Jesus Christ) was incarnated by the action of the Holy Spirit, Who descended upon the Most-holy Virgin. He became perfect God and perfect man, in every way except sin, having two natures, Divine and human, but one Person. In His human nature He suffered for us, but His Divinity remained without suffering."

For clarification of this explanation, St. Sylvester gives an example. "When a tree, illuminated by the rays of the sun, is cut down by a hatchet, then along with this felled tree, the rays of the sun are not also cut down. Likewise, when the human nature of Christ, united with God, endures suffering, then this suffering does not touch the Divinity."

During the course of the first century of Christianity, Jewish scribes, known as the Massoretes, preservers of tradition, removed all the manuscripts of the sacred books from all the synagogues throughout the world, and replaced them with their own transcriptions, which were rewritten with strict precision and with repeated verifications from letter to letter by the massoretic scribes themselves.

The degree of invariability and immutability of the massoretic texts is astounding. However, all this uniformity amounts to absolutely nothing. Only standardization of the texts was achieved. But those mistakes which already existed at the moment of the massoretic revision were not corrected. On the contrary, some distortions were purposely introduced by the Massoretes to obscure the clarity of the prophecies which foretold Christ the Saviour.

Of these distortions we will point out first of all the famous alteration by the Massoretes of Isaiah 7:14:Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.... Knowing that this passage was a favorite of Christians, and testifies best of all to the most-blameless birth of our Lord, the Massoretes, while carrying out their reform, inserted the word al’ma ("young woman") in place of the word vetula ("virgin") in all the Hebrew texts throughout the world. At the time, the ancient Christian apologists reasonably objected to the interpretation of the Jewish scribes, "And what kind of a sign, about which the prophet speaks here, would the birth of a son to a young woman have been, since this is shown to be an everyday occurrence?"

In a manuscript of the Prophet Isaiah written before the birth of Christ, which was discovered not too many years ago, the word "virgin" is used in Isaiah 7:14, and not "young woman."

Therefore, it is clear why the Church prefers the Septuagint and Peshitta translations for the authoritative text of the Old Testament, and principally the first, for the Septuagint text was produced under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the concerted effort of the Old Testament Church.

Septuagint: The first and most exact translation of the Holy Scriptures was the translation of all the books of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, done "according to the Seventy" (actually seventy-two) translators, or as they are called, interpreters, in the third century before the birth of Christ, about the year 270 B.C.

The Egyptian King Ptolemy Philadelphus, wishing to have in his library the sacred books of Hebrew law, ordered his librarian, Demetrius Phalereus, to acquire those books and to translate them into the language of the most common usage — Greek.

On the order of the King, an embassy with rich gifts for the temple was dispatched to the high priest Eleazar in Jerusalem, with the request to deliver to Alexandria all extant Hebrew sacred books and to send able people to make a translation of them.

The inspired high priest Eleazar fulfilled the request of the Egyptian King with extraordinary seriousness. In order that this great undertaking receive the participation of the entire Old Testament Church, a fast was established for all of the God-chosen nation, and prayer was intensified by all. The twelve tribes of Israel were summoned and the order given to choose six men to be translators from each tribe, in order that they could labor together to translate the Holy Scriptures into the Greek language. The chosen translators, having arrived at the city of the King of Egypt, lovingly undertook their holy labor, and with good progress finished it in a short time. Thus, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, this translation appeared, the fruit of a concerted, heroic effort of the entire Old Testament Church. This translation was in general use at the time of the earthly life of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and was used by the Apostles of Christ, the Fathers of the Church, and all the leaders of the Church.

Peshitta: In the first and second centuries there appeared a translation of the Holy Scriptures in the Syriac language known as the Peshitta, meaning simple or faithful. For the Orthodox Church, these two translations (the "Septuagint" and the "Peshitta") are the two translations in general use. But for the Roman Catholic Church, there is still another translation done by St. Jerome, known as the Vulgate. It appears undoubtedly more authoritative than the contemporary Hebrew original. (Compiled from the books [in Russian] Discussions on the Holy Scriptures, by Bishop Nathaniel, and Summary of Study of the Old Testament of the Bible, by Archbishop Vitaly, and other sources.).

It is extremely instructive that in close study the facts of the Gospel narrative, which at first glance seem questionable or hardly probable or plausible, always turn out to testify in favor of the Gospels, once again confirming the accuracy of the events reported in them.

Several decades ago, independent critics considered completely implausible the story in the Gospel of Luke in which Joseph, with the Holy Virgin betrothed to him, went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David: (Luke 2:4). They went in order to fulfill the command for a census, a project carried out when Cyrenius Quirinin was governor of Syria (cf. Luke 2:2). In this undertaking, according to the account of St. Luke, it was necessary to go to register not at the place of residence, but to the place of family origin. Critics considered this to be an impossible task, first because the alarm and disorder created throughout the country if everyone at the same time left his habitual place of residence in order to go to the city from which his ancestors came would be daunting. Secondly, the story contradicts the well-established facts which were recorded concerning the Roman Census. It is well known that the Romans required registration at the place of habitual residence.

At a superficial glance these objections appear to undermine the reliability of the narration of St. Luke and seem formidable. However, every objection fades in the light of the indisputably established facts. Recently a document was discovered relating to the years 103-104 A.D. and the administration of the governor of Egypt, Gaius Vibius Maximus. In this document he is directed to report the census, exactly according to the order which is stated in the Gospel of St. Luke: in view of the census, each person must go to that place where his family originated. If this is so, then the objection to the account of St. Luke, that it is in contradiction to the usual Roman procedure, fails. From the statement of Vibius Maximus we learn that the Romans accommodated themselves to the customs and manners of the subjugated country. The narration of the census procedure in St. Luke is shown to be an irreproachable and exact account. (From the preface to Four Gospels published in Truth Paris, 1943.).

Discussion of the Miracles of God.

Materialists categorically reject the possibility of miracles of God in the world. They maintain that miracles contradict the laws of nature. Miracles, they say, are incompatible with the scientific truth of strict conformity of all natural phenomenon. Is that so? We will attempt to answer.

Prof. S.L. Frank says, "The mechanical engineer Galileo teaches that all bodies, irrespective of their specific weight, fall to earth with the same speed and acceleration. Is the generally known fact that a bit of fluff falls to the ground much more slowly than an iron weight a contradiction to this law? Or that in water, wood does not fall at all? Is this law broken by the fact that an airplane does not fall, but is capable of rising higher and flies over the earth? Obviously not.

"For the law of Galileo, like all the laws of nature, contains a silent reservation: ‘subject to various other conditions,’ or ‘if all outside influences are held constant.’"

Stated abstractly, the establishment of the attraction between the earth and a body of matter by its gravitational pull is not broken in the least. Only the concrete total sum appears altered or becomes complicated from the interference of new outside variables, as yet unaccounted for in the original law. In the first case — the power of the resistance of the air or water; in the second — the power of the motor, forcing the propeller to rotate and cut into the air. In the same manner, those events which are called miraculous can also be attributed to the effect of supplementary variables, not another variable of nature, but a supernatural power.

If Christ, as it is said in the Gospels, walked on water as on dry land, then this fact no more breaks the law of gravity than the fact of the flight of an airplane over the earth, or the flotation of a body lighter than water. In the latter instances, the action of the law of gravity is not broken, but is overcome by the power of the motor, or the resistance of the water. In the first instance, the law is utterly overcome by the power of God Incarnate, Christ.

If a man recovers from fatal illness after fervent prayers to God (his own or someone else’s), then this miracle also hardly breaks medicine’s established natural course of the illness, any more than successful surgical intervention of a doctor breaks it. In the latter case, the illness ends through mechanical alteration of circumstances conditional to it, and in the former, through influence on these conditions by the supreme power of God.

"If a man," says Archpriest Gerasim Shorets, "due to his free will, has the ability to influence nature, then is it possible that God does not have this ability? He, the Creator of the laws of nature?

"It is possible to make interesting observations about people who negate miracles," he continues. "Many of them who mock Biblical miracles, and regard believers in their veracity as backward men, themselves believe in commonplace and absurd things. They believe in ill-fated meetings, in the number thirteen, in a hare running across a road, like fools.

"Many of them, who with pride point to science to demonstrate the impossibility of miracles, themselves believe in what should really be classified as miracles, but which are twenty times less worthy of faith or confidence than the Biblical miracles attested to by many respectable people, a large part of whom would joyfully lay down their lives in affirmation of the truth.

"Those who deny miracles themselves believe only in those miracles which happened, according to their explanation, millions of years ago, and which were observed by no one.

"They do not believe in the creation of the world by God, but they do believe in its arbitrary origin, or that an embryo of organic life fell to earth from an unknown planet.

"They do not believe that Christ is able to resurrect a man, that is, bring back to life a previously living organism, but they believe that in former times, organic life sprang from lifeless matter.

"They do not believe that God, Creator of fire and people, could make three children fireproof, but they believe that embryonic organisms were sustained over the course of millions of years in the midst of the scorching heat of the world’s haze and melted granite..."

No, serious scientific truth raises no objections to the miracles to which materialists refer. The objections are based only on their assumptions, hypotheses, and natural-philosophical theory, or their own materialistic faith.

Thus, while supposedly refuting the miracles of God on the basis of science, the scoffers reveal themselves as being ignorant regarding the questions of science, insufficiently educated in philosophy, or conscious opponents of belief in God.

(Compiled from a pamphlet: Religion and Science by Prof. S. Frank; and a pamphlet Did Jesus Christ Live? by Archpriest G. Shorets; and others.).

The Fourth Article of the Creed.

4. And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried.

In the fourth article of the Creed, it is stated that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for us during the reign of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor over Judea; He was crucified for our sins and for our salvation, because He Himself was without sin. At that time, He really suffered, died, and was buried.

Of course the Saviour suffered not as God, Who cannot suffer, but as man. He suffered not for His sin, of which He had none, but for the sins of the whole human race. After His death, His body was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. But from the time of the burial until His Resurrection, He descended in soul into hades and liberated all those who believed in Him, beginning with Adam and Eve.

Hades is the name of the place of estrangement from God, devoid of light or bliss. There Satan reigns. In regard to the soul the word "hades" signifies a condition of great affliction and torment.

The Lord Jesus Christ, as perfect man and Son of God, because He by one word is able to annihilate all enemies, voluntarily offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of people through crucifixion on a cross. Execution by hanging on a cross was the most infamous, cruel, and terrible form of capital punishment. It was the symbol of every human evil, and the most striking display of the power of the Devil. This terrible execution, devised by men according to the suggestion of the Devil, subjected people to hate, malice, embitterment and death. The Saviour, having endured disgraceful execution on the Cross, died, but rose from the dead. Through the Cross, life shone forth! Christ destroyed the main support of the Devil, and turned the Cross into an instrument of eternal victory over evil and death. The Lord sanctified the Cross with His pure blood and by His sacrificial heroic feat of love. The most terrible criminal, if he be repentant, is not rejected by the Saviour. From this moment, neither suffering nor death are able to deprive us of eternal bliss if we are with Christ the Saviour. On the contrary, the way of the Cross has become the path to eternal glory in the Kingdom of God.

The words in the Creed "suffered and was buried" were directed against some heretics who falsely taught that the Lord did not suffer torment on the Cross, but that His suffering only appeared to be suffering and death.

The words "under Pontius Pilate" point out the true historical event of the suffering of Christ, which occurred at this specific time. During the hours of Christ’s suffering on the Cross, there was darkness over all the earth (Luke 23:44), states the Evangelist. Early historical writings of the Roman astronomer Phlegontus, Thaddeus, and Julius Africanus note this darkness.

One of these exclaimed, "One of the gods has died!" A well-known philosopher from Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite, was at that time in the city of Heliopolis, in Egypt. Observing the sudden darkness, he said,..".either the Creator is suffering, or the world is coming to an end." Afterwards, after the preaching of the Apostle Paul, Dionysius accepted Christianity and became the first bishop of Athens.

Glory to Thy long-suffering, O Lord! Before Thy Cross we bow down, O Master, and Thy holy

Resurrection we glorify.

The Resurrection of Christ is discussed in the following, fifth article of the Creed

Discussion of the Cross of Christ.

Christ revealed the name of God. The name is Love.

From his first deep breath, man began to sense God’s everlasting love toward him. Here, too, originated the divine tragedy between God and His first-created, intelligent creature. This creature was not able to comprehend the complete perfection of the love that was offered. Man had to experience the agony of severed relations with God, and having tasted of and learned the horror of this estrangement, was then able to experience His love once again.

Adam had no fear. It is true that perfect love casts out fear. However, as attested to by the Fathers of the Church, fear always precedes love. This fear does not consist of apprehension of violence, but is born from a feeling of the loftiness of God. By fear, man measures the distance between himself and God.

Even when considering the lives of the saints, we experience fear, breathing the air of the mountain heights, in which we ourselves could not survive.

The approach of God tramples down fear by His presence and gives us bliss. However, having fear at the depth of our existence, we treat the love of God with reverence.

It was necessary for man during his life to learn what he was in comparison with his Creator. Having broken off from God and having gone away from Him, he glances back, and from afar sees and feels his omnipotent Creator.

How did Adam tear himself away from God? Everything that Adam did conformed to the love of God for him. His life was fervent love, but this was not by his own merit. Everything he did was done by the grace of his Creator, as a result of His love.

We, born in sin and not having this love, but having to acquire it, which is the goal of our life, are not able to understand the condition of Adam. Everything that we do by our own will for our own sake is sin, and only in subduing our own will, sacrificing ourselves out of love for another, do we join the Light, do we find interior orderliness according to God.

Adam was entirely of God. Everything in him was light. Only in one respect did he not reach perfection: in him was the possibility to eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. In this he should have constrained his will out of obedience and love; through this he fell away from God and sank into darkness.

Without sacrifice, there is no love. All the love of Adam towards God was dependent, if one may say, only upon his rejection of the fruit. Adam did not feel the slightest compulsion, because true love does not tolerate constraint.

Having tasted the fruit, Adam at once extinguished the light in himself and was filled with darkness. There was nothing for him to love. The darkness manifested itself in him by the sensation of nakedness. He hid from the Father. He lost God, and God lost His friend. For in order to love Adam as in former times, since Adam was now refusing love, it was necessary to create him again. Man was left to himself. In the bitter experience of separation from Love, he had to know the full depth of this misery, that when the Light was again revealed to him, he would voluntarily prefer this Light to the light he had chosen, thanks to the knowledge of good and evil. Again, he would voluntarily return to the world of Love from his own world which he created over the course of a thousand-year period of isolation from the Truth, from a world of his own, created by himself, with delights, with his own buildings, with his own ideals.

Suffused with darkness and the ability to understand good and evil, man acquired the capability of killing people like himself. But developing within himself this quality, man ceased to be content with murder alone. This became nothing to him. He began to kill his brother with torment. But even this appeared to be nothing. He began to kill his brother with taunting. But even this was not enough.

Then he invented something that, while not killing, put his brother in a helpless position, so that by his own helplessness he provoked the laughter of passersby, in order that his brother might die from humiliation and terrible pangs of pain.

At this point in the development of the quality of evil, God clearly revealed to people Who He is, the Creator of everything visible and invisible. If He were a vengeful Deity, He probably would have had to destroy the whole human race because that creature so maliciously laughed at the idea of his Creator. But Love acted completely to the contrary.

Our Heavenly Father gave His Only-begotten Son, that He should hang on the evil tree of hate and extreme bitterness created by man. The Son, having been crucified and having satisfied as far as was necessary the malice of His enemies, died. After three days, the Father resurrected the Son and engraved this new event on the hearts of people.

From this point in history, notions of people in the world and their understanding underwent a full revolution. The Cross, formerly only an instrument of terrible torture and cruel execution, became the single eternal support of man. The way, truth and life begins with the Cross, without which it is impossible to be saved.

There followed a new history of man, in which it is impossible for anyone to excuse himself through ignorance or lack of understanding. God was crucified on the cross. There need be no blindness!

If the world before Christ was a savage world, and inhabitants were dwelling in the jungle of their ignorance, then after Christ the world without the Cross becomes a world of apostates and damned people to whom will be said in time: get thee hence from Me, into the fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Those who follow Christ are openly called friends of the Lord.

I call you not servants, says the Saviour, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you. "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever 1 command you (John 15:15,14).

God’s love to us is beyond measure, radiating from the Cross of Christ! Great and unbounded is the Cross of Christ. It is impossible to comprehend the width and length of it, the depth and the height. But as far as possible, let us at least try to understand.

"How wide is the Cross of Christ?" asks one bishop, and answers, "It is as wide as the world, just as Christ died for the whole world, as it is written: He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2).

That is how wide the Cross is.

How long is the Cross of Christ? It is long enough to last throughout all ages, as long as there remains on earth but one sinner who might be saved; until there disappear sorrow, suffering and everything that is against the Lord in God’s world.

That is how long the Cross is.

How high is the Cross of Christ? It is as high as Heaven, as the Throne of the Lord. Indeed, it is as high as the highest Heaven; for when Christ was crucified on the Cross, Heaven descended to earth, and earth ascended to Heaven.

That is how high the Cross is.

How deep is the Cross of Christ? That is a great mystery, which is not given to us to understand and about which we can only reverently conjecture. If the height of the Cross extends to Heaven, then by its depth it reaches down to hell, to the most inveterate sinner in the deepest depths into which he might fall — as Christ descended into hell and preached unto the spirits in prison (I Peter 3:19).

That, we dare to hope, is how deep the Cross of the Lord is.

The Cross of Christ is the beginning and ending of our salvation (Cf. John 3:16-17, 36).

Without the Cross we are not Christians, we are not members of the Church of Christ, we are not sons of God. For the Cross we were born, with the Cross we live, and with the Cross we die (Matt. 10:38; 16:24; 28:19. Luke 14:27; Mark 10:21; 16:6).

The Cross of Christ is a piece of armor, or a garment which we put on (Matt. 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-39; Luke 12:50) at the time of our earthly toils and labors in order that by it we be distinguished from all heterodox or unbelievers (Rev. 7:3; Ezekiel 9:4).

The Cross of Christ is laudation for Christians and formidable punishment for those who loathe and shun it, for those who fall away from the Church of Christ because of it, and for the enemies of God (Gal 6:14; I Cor 1:18; Heb. 13:13; 6:6; Philip. 3:18).

The Cross of Christ is a spiritual sword by which visible and invisible enemies are vanquished.

The Cross of Christ is a divine weapon to drive away every enemy and adversary (I Cor. 1:18:Luke 1:71-74; Matt. 22:44).

Finally, the Cross of Christ will be an awful sign on the day of Tribulation and Last Judgement of God for all adversaries of the name of Christ, antichrists (Matt. 24:30).

(Compiled from Humility in Christ, P. Ivanovna; the Journal Eternal, and Lessons and Examples in Christian Faith by the V. Rev. Gregory Di-achenko.).

Discussion of Two Providential Acts of God.

In our day the rational world is increasingly indifferent to the Christian faith. Unbelief, godlessness, and atheism are becoming firmly established everywhere.

But for the edification of the faithful, to strengthen us who vacillate in the face of the convictions of atheists, we will describe two historical events which are striking even to the materialistic world.

The first of them occurred on the day of the suffering of our Saviour on the cross, and the other in our time.

I. When the Saviour suffered on the cross all nature trembled, the light of the sun was hidden, and darkness was on all the earth, as the Evangelist relates. This extraordinary event had been predicted many centuries before by the Prophet Amos: The end is come upon my people of Israel: I will not again pass by them any more (Amos 8:2). And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day (Amos 8:9)...and I will make it as the mourning of an only Son... (Amos 8:10).

The eclipse of the sun at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in spite of the singularity of the event against all the laws of nature, as, for instance, there was a full moon — the moon did not stand between the earth and the sun — is an historical fact, fully described in pagan accounts:

1. The Roman historian and astronomer Phlegontus reports that the eclipse was so severe that it was possible to see stars in the sky.

2. The eclipse is reported by the scholar Julius Africanus and the Greek historian Thaddeus.

3. A noted philosopher from Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite, who was at that time in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, observing the sudden darkness, said "Either the Creator is suffering or the world is coming to an end."

II. The second event is the miraculous appearance of the Holy Fire on Great Saturday in the Tomb of the Saviour in Jerusalem. The appearance of the Holy Fire has occurred annually for centuries, and continues to do so in our times. The exact date of the first appearance of the Holy Fire is difficult to determine. Historians of the Church refer to the writings of the Holy Fathers St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. John the Damascene, who both mention its occurrence. The Crusaders spoke about the Holy Fire, and pilgrims have consistently verified its presence throughout the centuries down to the present day.

The reception of the Holy Fire belongs exclusively to the Orthodox Patriarch. Heterodox (non-Orthodox) representatives have tried to receive it, without success. The Catholics ostentatiously withdrew from participation in this triumph of grace, despite the observation of the Roman Pope Urban II at the Council of the Cross at Clermont. He witnessed the Holy Fire in the Tomb of the Saviour, and concluded with the words, "Whose heart, no matter how petrified, would not be softened by such a phenomenon?"

The following account serves to show that the appearance of the Holy Fire in the Tomb of the Saviour occurs under the strict and thorough surveillance of the civil authorities. All flames in the church are extinguished the day before, on Good Friday, under police control. The premises of the Tomb of the Saviour are thoroughly inspected by the civil authorities, and then upon leaving the Tomb is sealed by them. The Patriarch unvests and stands clad only in a cassock. He is examined from head to toe to see if there is not some sort of incendiary device on him. Only after this is the seal removed from the entrance to the Tomb of the Saviour and the Patriarch enters it to receive the Holy Fire. After some time, and after fervent prayer, the Patriarch receives the Holy Fire, lights a bundle of candles (thirty-three in all, one for each year of the earthly life of the Saviour), passes them to those present in the church, and the whole church lights up in a sea of fire. The Holy Fire, during the course of ten to fifteen minutes, does not scorch.

Peoples of many nations, Greeks, Russians, Armenians, Arabs, Englishmen, Americans, Frenchmen, Turks, Jews, and others, gather to observe this glorious event.

The appearance of the Holy Fire is the greatest visible manifestation of the Paradise of God in our sinful world, serving for the enlightenment and salvation of us sinners.

On the Holy Fire at the Tomb of the Lord.

In our time of spiritual barrenness, people’s lives are limited to earthly preoccupations; great interest and curiosity attend every novelty. Man is totally disinterested in spiritual matters, or in the manifestation of God’s benevolence to our sinful world.

Thus, very few are aware of the miraculous appearance of the Holy Fire, which has appeared over the centuries from year to year on Great Saturday in the Tomb of the Lord in Jerusalem, in the place of the burial and glorious resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

As a reminder of this extraordinary miraculous appearance we bring true evidence, revealed in the letter of a Russian pilgrim and eyewitness of the appearance of the Holy Fire two years in succession, Maria Pavlonvna Chreshchatetskaya. This letter was written to Fr. Nicholas Samoukov, a hieromonk at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, in answer to questions given her about it.

Furke, France April 30, 1958

"Esteemed and dear in the Lord Fr. Nicholas, Christ is risen!...if the Lord wills, I will go to Novo Diveyevo, and then will not delay to come to Jordanville, and personally tell you everything that interests you. Until then I will attempt to answer all your questions.

"My companion was the nun, Maria Torskaya.

"We travelled from the Mount of Olives monastery to the Holy Sepulchre by bus. The weather was beautiful. The crowds were beyond measure, in the thousands. The mood of the people was enthusiastic. Of the nationalities present there were Greeks, Russians, Armenians, Arabs, English, Americans, French, Turks, and even Hebrews, who illegally got on the Arab side. Greeks and Arabs prevailed, I think. In the church the people behaved themselves outrageously from our point of view, with shouting and leaping and in general, making a lot of noise. But from their point of view, if they do not carry on this way (it is the way they pray), then the Holy Fire will not descend.

"I have already said that the people were beyond number, not only in the church, but around the church. When the Patriarch appears before the Tomb enclosure all the people quiet down, and there is complete silence until the appearance of the Holy Fire.

"First there is a procession around the church with many banners, three times around, with the Patriarch in full vestments. Then it stops in front of the Tomb enclosure. They take all the robes and the miter from the Patriarch. He remains in only a cassock, and the Turkish authorities examine him from head to foot to see if there is any incendiary device on him. This process takes until about 1:00 P.M.

"I think that the Patriarch waited for the fire for not more than five to seven minutes.

"Last year another Russian pilgrim and I, coming from America, clearly saw (we were very lucky to have a good vantage point) a thin zigzag of light like lightning flash from above and strike downwards; and momentarily there appeared the fire in the Tomb of the Saviour, where it spread on cotton wads which were lit from the fire.

"The Patriarch lit a bundle of candles (thirty-three in the bundle) and passed them immediately through a special window-like opening made in the wall, and in a twinkling, from one to another, the fire spread throughout the enormous church, below and above. At this moment, the whole church reverberated from the wildly enthusiastic cries of the rejoicing crowds.

"For fifteen minutes or so, the Holy Fire does not scorch. I personally put all the diseased places of my body in the flame and did not feel it at all. A monk from the Mt. of Olives monastery, Fr. Savva, washed himself in it, immersed his whole face in it though he has a moustache and a beard, and not one hair caught fire, not even singed.

"In such a throng of people and with such a sea of fire, if it had been our usual fire, there would have been an inevitable conflagration. But from year to year, the same event happens, and there is never the slightest hint of fire.

"Women not only entered the altar, but even passed through the Royal Doors, but at this time the Grace was so powerful that it cleansed and protected everything.

"After receiving the Holy Fire, attendants carry the Patriarch, as he does not have the strength to walk. Evidently from the great exertion, he is left covered with beads of perspiration and totally drained of strength. Furthermore, they say that in their ecstasy, the people could tear off all his clothes. As I said before, last year I had a very good vantage point, above, next to the Tomb enclosure itself, so I was able to see things that others could not. This year, with the nun Torskaya, I entered the altar, and here I saw clearly how they carried the Patriarch straight into the vestry, since it was right next to me.

"There can be no doubt that this is unusual fire.

"Probably you have heard about the wondrous occurrence in the 1800’s when the heterodox did not wish to allow Orthodox Christians into the church or the Patriarch into the Tomb enclosure. They themselves wanted to take possession of the holy flame. They closed the church and posted guards so that no one could enter the church. The Patriarch stood with the people on the outside, praying and lamenting.

"At the moment when the heterodox awaited the fire in the Tomb of the Saviour, and while the Orthodox Christians stood outside, there was a loud bang, the stone column cracked, and from it came the blessed flame which they all caught instantly.

"A Turk, an employee of the government, shouted "All-powerful is the Christian God, and I am a Christian!" The Turks killed him.

"From that time not one of the heterodox has attempted to encroach upon the holy flame again.

"Thus the column stands, cracked and blackened from the fire, in edification to all. Everyone who passes by kisses it.

"Perhaps in my haste my writing is not completely clear, but when I come, I will personally finish telling you about it.

"With love in Christ,

Maria Chreshchatetskaya

"The Holy Fire of Great Saturday," from a letter by Schema-monk Nicodemus.

The Russian schemamonk, Fr. Nicodemus of Mount Athos, visiting Jerusalem in 1958, describes wonderfully in a letter the unusual triumph which he observed at the time of the reception of the holy flame.

"On Great Saturday, about 12:00 noon, I, sinful Schemamonk Nicodemus, had the good fortune to follow the Patriarch from the altar of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in the procession of the Cross, going around the Tomb enclosure three times, and thus I was able to see that which is rarely observed at the life-giving Tomb.

"After the third time around, the Patriarch (Greek Orthodox of Jerusalem) stopped before the locked and sealed door to the Tomb of the Saviour. I stood at the right side of a candlestick before the Tomb enclosure, a few steps away from the Patriarch.

"The Patriarch disrobed to his cassock. They took from him his miter, sakkos, and omophorion.

Police and state officials searched the Patriarch. Then they tore the tape from the seal off the door of the Tomb enclosure and permitted the

Patriarch to go inside the chapel. Along with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, they admitted the Armenian Patriarch. The Armenian Patriarch did not take part in the procession of the Cross, but stood with his people on the left side of the tomb enclosure.

"Several others were permitted inside the chapel. Clergymen, upon a signal from the Patriarch, extinguished the Holy Fire from the previous year on the berth of the life-bearing Tomb and picked up everything in order to prepare for the reception of the Holy Fire.

"When the Arab police, who were to carry out both the Patriarch and the Holy Fire, entered the chapel, the door was closed after them.

"As is known to everyone, the chapel has two compartments, the altar of the Angel, and the life-bearing Tomb of the Saviour itself, the grotto or cave.

"Only the Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters the inner grotto of the Tomb. The others, with the police and the Armenian Patriarch, stand in the adjoining chapel of the Angel and wait silently.

"The door of the chapel is closed. Everyone is quiet, and silence reigns throughout the whole church of the Resurrection of Christ. All the devout await the Holy Fire in silence.

"It is necessary to explain about the preparation of the Tomb of the Saviour. On the evening of Great Friday, the flames in the whole church and in the chapel are extinguished under the control of the police.

"In the middle of the berth of the life-giving Tomb is placed a lamp on a pedestal, filled with oil and with a floating wick set, but unlit.

"Around the edge of the berth a ribbon is placed, and all over the berth they unpack pieces of cotton wadding. Thus prepared under the surveillance of the police, the Tomb enclosure is locked and sealed. The locked Tomb of the Saviour remains undisturbed until Great Saturday, when the Patriarch enters the cave of the Tomb of the Saviour to receive the Holy Fire.

"Then on Great Saturday, they admit the Patriarch into the cave of the life-giving Tomb, and the door is shut behind them. There is absolute silence...

"In the cave itself, it is dark. The Patriarch, alone there, silently prays to the Saviour... sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes more. At the time of my visit, fifteen minutes passed. Then suddenly in the darkness, on the berth of the life-giving Tomb, beads of bright blue began to spill about, multiplying, and turning into dark blue fire. From them, the prepared balls of cotton caught fire, then the ribbon, and the lamp. Everything became enveloped in the flame from the Holy Fire...

"The Patriarch quickly ignited his two bundles of candles. Upon entering the chapel of the Angel, he gave a light to the Armenian pilgrims through the oval window.

"During the appearance of the Holy Fire an uproar of joy and rapture like a clap of thunder resounds from the vast expanse of the church of the Resurrection of Christ.

"Then, to put out the fire on the berth of the Tomb of the Saviour (it does not burn here), they take away the burning lamp and the cotton wads with the ribbon.

"Two Arab policemen carry the Patriarch from the Tomb enclosure on their shoulders, with the support of assisting clergymen, and quickly carry him into the altar of the church of the Resurrection of Christ.

"One priest with the burning lamp goes before the Patriarch. All this is so fast that not many in the chapel are able to light their candles. Nor was I able to. Instead, I endeavored to join the throng of people following the Patriarch as he entered the altar, where I lit my bundle of candles with the Holy Fire from the hand of the Patriarch himself.

Schemamonk Nicodemus, Mt. Athos

Note: The church of the Resurrection of Christ is commonly known in English literature as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The Lifebearing Tomb of the Lord.

(An excerpt from a letter from the Greek archimandrite, Fr. Kiriakos, curator of the Tomb of the Saviour in Jerusalem, about the appearance of the Holy Fire.).

"…and regarding the Holy Fire, neither I nor anyone else has the right to be with the blessed Patriarch inside the cave of the Tomb of the Saviour at this time, except the Armenian bishop and those admitted only as far as the chapel of the Angel.

"The Patriarch of Jerusalem alone enters the inner grotto, in which is found the lifegiving Tomb.

"Several centuries ago, the Armenians tried to dispute the right of the Orthodox to receive the holy fire in the grotto of the Tomb. Then the Orthodox were denied access to the church of the Resurrection of Christ, and they were forced to stand in the courtyard. After the lapse of some time, while the Patriarch and the people prayed in the court of the cathedral, the Fire erupted from a column which was near the entrance. The Armenians received nothing.

"From this time we have never again been driven away from the Lifebearing Tomb. The column, to this day, stands cracked and charred."

Archimandrite Kiriakos, curator of the Lifebearing Tomb of the Saviour, Jerusalem, October 2,1960.

The Fifth Article of the Creed.

5. And He arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.

The fifth article of the Creed speaks about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after His death.

Since in the writings of the prophets of the Old Testament there were clear predictions about the suffering, death, burial of the Saviour, and His Resurrection, it is stated "according to the Scriptures." The words, "according to the Scriptures," pertain not only to the fifth, but also to the fourth article of the Creed.

Jesus Christ died on Great Friday about three o’clock in the afternoon and rose after midnight of the following Saturday, on the first day of the week, called from that time the Christian Sabbath, the day of the Resurrection of Christ. But in those days, a part of a day belonged to the whole day, so it is said that He was in the tomb three days.

The circumstances of Jesus Christ from the time of His death until the Resurrection are expressed in the Orthodox Christian Church by the following words," In the grave bodily, but in hades with Thy soul as God; in paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit wast thou Who fillest all things, O Christ the Inexpressible."

We know that in the Old and New Testaments several people rose from the dead, but there the dead were raised by someone else, and the resurrected rose in their former earthly corruptible bodies, and therefore, had to die again. Jesus Christ rose from the dead by Himself, by the power of His own Divinity; He rose and was changed in His body, which became immortal and eternal. He came forth from the tomb, not disturbing the Sanhedrin’s seal, not rolling away the stone, and invisible to the guards.

The Lord revealed His Resurrection to people first through an angel, who rolled the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. The Resurrection was witnessed by soldiers guarding the tomb, who dispersed in fright. Then the angel announced the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Myrrhbearing women. Finally, Jesus Christ Himself, over the course of forty days, repeatedly appeared to His disciples, with many tangible demonstrations of His Resurrection. He allowed the disciples to touch His wounds from the nails and the lance, He ate before them, and spoke with them about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.

On the day of the Resurrection of Christ we sing: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tomb bestowing life."

By death, the Lord conquered death, and to all in the graves, that is, all the dead, He gave life. Now the Lord abides in this new, resurrected body forever. Also in the new body of the resurrection lives the Mother of God, Whom the Lord resurrected after Her death. All people will receive a new, changed body at the second coming of the Saviour, when there will be a general resurrection, which the eleventh article of the Creed speaks about.

Thus is fulfilled the prophecy spoken through the Prophet Hosea: I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death (Hosea 13:14). O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (I Cor. 15:55).

Discussion of the Resurrection of Christ.

The Resurrection of Christ is the greatest event in the history of the world, and therefore Christians replaced the Old Testament Sabbath with this commemoration. The feast of the Resurrection of Christ is the "one king and lord of sabbaths, the feast of feasts, and the triumph of triumphs." The triumph of the Resurrection is the meaning and foundation of our Christian faith, And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching in vain, and your faith is also vain (I Cor. 15:14), says the Apostle of Christ.

If there had been no Resurrection of Christ, then not only would there be no Christianity, but even the faith in God, in the power of good and truth, would have been undermined. The meaning of life would have been lost. If the dead Christ had not been resurrected, then not only would there be no salvation for anyone through Him, for to whom can death and helplessness show help, but there would have been the greatest triumph of evil in history. The days of Golgotha, and in general, the entire earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ, would have been the most wicked mockery of evil over good, of the Devil over the entire world of light and idealism. No more powerful or inevitable motive for dark despair could exist, for if this Righteous One were shown to be powerless, if such a Great Personality vanished into the abyss of nonexistence, then what are we to expect for ourselves, and what are we preparing ourselves for? There would be no righteous life for mankind. Life would be only "an empty and stupid joke" (Lermontov), or, in the apt words of the great Christian author, Dostoevsky, life would be "devilish vaudeville," mere play-acting.

But Christ is risen, and the father of lies, a murderer from the beginning — the devil (John 8:44) is rendered profane and powerless. Life is victorious, death and evil are brought to emptiness and pettiness, Christ is risen, and in full brilliance His majestic, regal Divinity begins to shine.

"It is astonishing that serious people can believe in such foolishness, and this in the twentieth century ... the age of science and experimentation... Reason does not permit belief in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," says the non-believer.

"The historic fact of the Resurrection of Christ, as well as all His teachings, has undergone criticism from many scholarly people and rationalists. Several of them have devoted their entire lives to proving that the Gospel narrative about the Resurrection is a fraud, a mistake, or a delusion. From the earliest times a malicious fable has appeared stating that His disciples came by night and stole Him away, while we slept (Matt. 28:13). Though they first spoke fearfully about the earthquake at the tomb, the rolling away of the stone, and the appearance of the angel as lightning, the guards, bribed by the Jewish priests, then spread the lie that Christ was stolen from the tomb. The absurdity of this fabrication is immediately apparent to anyone.

It is completely inadmissible that the guard, composed of several men, could have fallen asleep. Where was their the military discipline? It was in fact a Roman guard, and the Roman army, by its iron discipline and courage, was one of the best armies in the world. If the soldiers slept, then they would not have been able to see, and if they saw, it means they did not sleep. In that case, they would not have given the Apostles the opportunity to perform the "theft;" on the contrary, they would have arrested the thieves and would have presented the dead body together with the thieves to the authorities.

But if there had been a theft, is it possible that the executioners of Christ would have left the "thieves" at large to preach His Resurrection? By the power of their authority, they would have forced the Apostles to produce the stolen body for them, in order to expose their lies and deception, and to suppress their preaching about Christ at its inception. Yes indeed, if the disciples had stolen the body of the Saviour, then it would have been necessary to bring them into court immediately, to convict them with the evidence of guilt, and thereby prevent their teaching. But the murderers of Christ did not do it, because they did not believe the soldiers would be able to support their own slander in court.

It is not possible that the enemies of Christ failed to verify the testimony of the soldiers. They, of course, did not fail to thoroughly, albeit secretly, verify the words of the soldiers, the first witnesses of the miracle of the Resurrection. Undoubtedly, they personally, although not in the full body of the Sanhedrin, went to the tomb of Christ and saw that it was empty. After analysis, they were unable not to acknowledge that Christ really rose from the dead. But why were they so shamefully silent about it? Why did they not as a body confess their grave sin and in this way guard their people against a threatening disaster?

For these corrupt people earthly goods were closer and more dear than the blessings of Heaven. They did not trust repentance as a means to gain forgiveness. At the same time, they understood very well that their repentance for slaying the Messiah would entail for them swift, unmerciful stoning by those people whom they drew into participation in this evil deed. In fear for their lives they kept quiet. Thus they proved to be powerless in a confrontation with truth. They were forced to confine themselves to issuing a mere order to the Apostles not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). Prohibiting preaching about Jesus Christ, they avoided the question of where was the body of Jesus. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20), said the Apostles, who continued to conquer the world with their preaching about the Resurrection of Christ.

Furthermore, could the Apostles, who were peaceful, timid people, who remained at home under lock and key for fear of the Jews (John 20:19), and who were unarmed,... could they decide on such an insolent, daring, and purposeless undertaking as the theft of a body from under the nose of the guards? How would they be able to do battle with such formidable Roman guards? Besides, the details do not resemble a theft.

The idea of theft was first thought of by the Apostles themselves when they, after the announcement from Mary Magdalene, dispersed in fear and thought that the theft of the body was a new outrage of the enemy against Him. Going into the grotto of the tomb, the Apostles saw that the grave, although it was empty, did not appear to have been robbed. For if thieves had taken the body of Jesus Christ, they would have taken Him in the shroud. But the linen lay rolled up and the sudarium, a long, narrow linen napkin wound about the head, was not lying with the linen but folded together in a place by itself (John 20:7).

Therefore, this absurd Jewish fabrication was discarded long ago. In its place, skeptics advance a hypothesis of lethargic sleep and pleurisy with effusion to explain the water which flowed from the side. According to this theory, Jesus Christ fell into a deep faint and perhaps lethargy, and therefore was taken for dead. He was taken down from the cross and buried. Due to the approaching holy day of Passover they had to hurry with the burial, and in their haste, neither friends nor enemies had the chance to examine Him and ascertain that He was really dead. The action of the aromatics and the influence of the cold air of the cave brought Him back to consciousness. He got up, and although still weak, attempted to get out of the tomb. His cries and pounding frightened the guards, and they ran away. Availing himself of the flight of the guards, the gardener, or one of the disciples, rolled away the stone and liberated Him from the grave. His appearance in a white shroud gave Him the appearance of an angel, the herald of the Resurrection. Jesus Christ spent forty days in the company of the disciples, and then, from his pleurisy, really died.

The story is totally improbable and does not stand up under the slightest criticism. The Gospels say that from the pierced side of the Lord issued blood and water. From a medical point of view, this appearance showed paralysis of the heart, certain death. But even if Jesus Christ had remained alive, then due to a lack of breath from the tightly tied shroud, saturated with aromatics, that life would have ceased under the adverse conditions in the tomb. Weak and exhausted, He would hardly have been in a condition to move the stone and produce cries and pounding loud enough to terrify the guards. The Gospels speak in sufficient detail about conversations with Jesus Christ, about the joy with which He filled the hearts of His disciples, about the walk with His disciples on the long road, and so on. Does all this resemble someone just regaining consciousness from a faint or mortally ill lethargy? In fact, such a person would be a pitiful and exhausted sick man. In the opinion of specialists, He would not have been able to take two steps with perforated feet, nor take hold of anything with His hands. Even such opponents of Christ as Strauss (David Frederick Strauss, 1808-1847, German theologian and philosopher, famous for "demythologizing" the Bible) correctly noted that this half dead man would surely have been a disappointment to His followers. For Him to inspire such mighty faith that it spread throughout the world, subjugated a powerful empire to Him, awakened in all of those who saw Him the enthusiasm for martyrdom — is psychologically inconceivable and impossible. The Apostles remained persuaded of the Resurrection of Christ for their entire lives. If the Resurrection was imaginary, then sooner or later the real death of Jesus Christ would have followed, and that would have ended all the activities and accounts of the Apostles. Quite to the contrary, they began to preach with a certainty which they had never demonstrated during the earthly life of Christ.

The more common theory in our day is the apparition theory, that Christ did not actually rise from the dead, but that the disciples reported that they saw the Lord living and speaking with them. The disciples were so taken with the identity of Jesus Christ and hence become so intimately linked with the idea of His approaching Kingdom that they could not be reconciled with the fact of His death. Under the strain of anticipation they allowed themselves such massive hallucinations that they, giving way to self-deception, gave the accounts recorded in the Gospels.

It is true that in history and in present day reality hallucinations, however occur, both with individuals and with crowds, although the latter case is very rare. Hallucinations, however, are found among people who wish to see and hear something, who are mentally prepared for it. Their cerebral condition is ready to perceive that which they intensely await. But let us return to the Gospel story. In order to be deceived, to see something which did not exist, it would have been necessary to wait for the Resurrection, to believe that His Resurrection was near and would come to pass. Who among the Apostles had such faith? When Mary Magdalene and the other women went to the tomb, they thought, Who shall roll us away the stone...? (Mark 16:3) When Mary Magdalene saw that the tomb was empty, the idea of the Resurrection did not occur to her. Even when she saw the Lord she did not recognize Him. Why? She believed that dead people do not arise. The Apostles reacted in a similar manner when the news was brought to them He is not here, but He is risen (Luke 24:6). Their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not (Luke 24:11). Thomas not only did not believe when he saw, but for him it was even necessary to feel. Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands... (John 20:27). It was the most sober, most convincing verification of the fact.

Jesus appeared to the Myrrhbearing women, to Peter, Luke and Cleopas (Luke 24:18), to the ten disciples, to the eleven, even to five hundred believers, and finally, to the Apostle Paul... How could all of them be deceived? Is it possible that among this group there was not one single person with a sober, clear mind, with healthy senses and critical faculties? As professionals affirm, hallucinations are more often visual or auditory sensations. Rarely do they occur in combination with others, and extremely seldom do hallucinations occur in the realm of sensation by touch. Where all three senses are involved together in a hallucination appearing to at least the ten and then eleven men, and even to the five hundred, and where broiled fish and honeycomb are eaten by it and disappear, as is stated in the Gospel (Luke 24:42),... such a hallucination has never been known in history, and never will be.

Thus the Apostles indeed saw the Resurrected One: the Resurrection is an indubitable historical fact. Skeptics are not able to undermine the Gospel story; they only refute each other, and some of them openly acknowledge their helplessness in struggling against Christ. The German scholar DeWette (Wilhelm Martin Lebrecht DeWette, 1780-1849, German Protestant theologian and Biblical scholar), who over the course of ten years led the skeptics, on his deathbed confessed that "the event of the Resurrection, although the means by which it happened is completely obscured by impenetrable darkness, nevertheless appears to be as indisputable as the death of Caesar."

Discussing the trustworthiness of the miracles of the Resurrection and the Ascension, physicist Balfour Stewart said, "Was the well-known power of nature preserved according to the immutable laws in these cases, or was it somehow overcome by a higher force? Undoubtedly it was overcome during the Resurrection as during the Ascension. We are obliged to analyze the evidence of these great events, which is accomplished in a most credible manner. History, in narrating these events, has borne this test so well that every suggestion that this did not really happen leads to the greatest moral and spiritual confusion."

Why did not Jesus Christ appear among the Jews after the Resurrection? St. John Chrysostom explains that the appearance of the risen Lord would have been useless for the Jews, and that if there had been the slightest possibility that by it they could be converted, then without doubt the Lord would not have denied the Jews. But after He resurrected Lazarus, they were completely antagonistic. The Jews started to seek opportunities to kill not only Jesus Christ but Lazarus as well. If Christ had appeared to the Jews after the Resurrection, in one way or another they would have decided to kill God again.

Thus, Christ is risen from the dead. The most convincing evidence of the fact of the Resurrection of Christ is that mighty change which it produced in the Apostles, and through them, in the whole universe. On it rests all the culture of the last two thousand years. Could the fantasy of thirteen dreamers support it? They changed all history. Without the Resurrection of Christ we would not have Christianity or Christian culture. World history would have taken a completely different direction. Without the living power of the Christian faith, the ancient world would have decomposed and perished. It is impossible to believe that imagination alone could have produced such greatness and so much good.

By this demonstration all opposition to the miracle of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ falls away. Even the briefest critical analysis of the objections elucidates their total groundlessness. But malicious criticism does not weaken. "The Devil fights with God, and the field of battle is in the hearts of people," writes Dostoevsky.

In our time, new but lame arguments are advanced: God does not exist; Christ as a historical figure never existed, and therefore there was no Resurrection; the Gospels are pure mythology, fiction not supported by actual historical events. They are a compilation of ancient pagan myths about legendary gods. These "critics" have to realize that in the various myths, only gods such as Osiris and Dionysius died and rose again, but never God Incarnate. That lesus Christ was God Incarnate is indisputable by evidence from the Gospels. Along with the Gospels we have the testimony of pagans, opponents of Christianity. For example, Pliny the Younger, the Roman consul and governor of Bithynia and Pontica in Asia Minor, in his letter to Emperor Trajan (about 112 A.D). wrote, "They (Christians) gather and sing hymns to Christ, as God. They do not swear, do not tell lies, do not steal, do not commit adultery." Pliny did not write, "they sing to their God, to Christ," but he wrote, "to Christ, as God." Therefore he knew that Christ for the Christians was not only God, but man.

A contemporary of Pliny, Tacitus, one of the most accurate historians, reports, about 115 A.D., "Christ, during the reign of Tiberius, under Procurator Pontius Pilate, was sentenced to death."

Many pieces of evidence about Jesus Christ as a historical figure are in the Hebrew Talmud. It is true that these references are written with malice and hatred, calling the Saviour "apostate," "Nazarene," etc. Very little is said in the Talmud about the miracles of the Nazarene.

Especially striking is evidence of the former persecutor of Christians, Saul, later the first among the Apostles, Paul. The authenticity of his testimony is beyond dispute. This is understood by the most furious enemies of Christianity. "The strength of Paul’s testimony," says one of our prominent authors and thinkers, "is such that even if there were none other, we would still know with greater exactitude than about many other historical figures, not only that Christ did exist, but how He lived, what He said and did, how He died, and how He rose from the dead."

The truth of the Resurrection of Christ the Saviour consists of the fact that it was the Resurrection of God Incarnate. He resurrected the human body, and by this transformed the human being into a spiritual, divine body for eternal life with God. In this lies the victory of the Saviour over death for all generations.

"The bodily Resurrection of the Saviour from the dead is an historical, true fact," says one of our well-known Orthodox missionaries, and he enumerates this in the following points:

  1. Christ predicted His Resurrection (Mt. 16:21; 20:19; Mark 9:9).
  2. After the Resurrection He testified about the event (Luke 24:46).
  3. He appeared in visible form:
    1. On the morning of the Resurrection to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9).
    2. To the women going away from the tomb (Matt. 28:9).
    3. To Peter near Jerusalem (Luke 24:34; I Cor 15:5).
    4. To two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13).
    5. On the evening of the Resurrection, to the Apostles, except Thomas (John 20:19).
    6. A week later in the evening to all the Apostles (John 20:26).
    7. After several days at the Sea of Tiberias to seven disciples (John 21:1-3).
    8. Not long after, on the mountain near Galilee, to eleven Apostles (Matt. 28:17).
    9. To five hundred of the faithful (I Cor. 15:6).
    10. To his brother "according to the flesh," James, and all the Apostles (I Cor. 15:7).
    11. At the time of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, to all the Apostles (Luke 24:50). To the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 9:1; 15:8).
    12. To the first archdeacon, Stephen (Acts 7:55).
    13. Until the Ascension, over the course of forty days, explaining the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
  4. He ate and drank with the disciples (Luke 24:42).
  5. He showed His hands and feet with the wounds, which He received from being nailed to the cross (Luke 24:40).
  6. He gave admonitions (Matt. 28:18; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:17; John 21:15; 20:21; Acts 1:7).
  7. He travelled with the Apostles (Luke 21:15).
  8. The Myrrhbearing women and the eleven disciples worshipped Him (Matt. 28:9,17).
  9. Angels proclaimed the Resurrection of Christ (Matt. 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6).
  10. The event was reported by Roman soldiers keeping watch at the tomb (Matt. 28:11).
  11. The Apostles identified themselves as witnesses of the Resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:32; 10:39), and they relied on this actual historical fact for the foundation of all their preaching (Acts 2:22; 3:26; 4:10; 10:39). At the same time, it is especially significant that the Apostles do not give an account of the precise moment of the Resurrection of Christ. They only say that...which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes...and our hands have handled... declare we unto you... (I John 1:1-3). The exact moment of the Resurrection of Christ no one was able to witness. Even the soldiers, keeping watch at the tomb, did not observe the exact moment of the Resurrection. The risen Christ was invisible to them. In fact, the Apostles were not able to witness it, as they had hid and locked themselves in their houses for fear of the Jews (John 2:19). That is why not one of the four Gospels contains a description of the exact moment of the Resurrection, although there are detailed accounts of all events preceding the Resurrection and detailed accounts after the Resurrection.

We know that if the Resurrection of Christ were fiction, then no matter how much of a genius the author is, he would not omit the center and theme of his composition. He would, without fail, touch upon the moment of the Resurrection in his account, because man’s innate curiosity demands it.

But the Apostles did not do this. This constitutes the highest proof of the authenticity of their witness. For they were not writers, but guileless and simple men, influenced by the Holy Spirit, actual witnesses of the true event of the Resurrection of Christ and the whole Gospel story.

The Apostles themselves said, And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching in vain, and your faith is also in vain. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept (I Cor. 15:14,20). He is the first to partake of our future resurrection.

Only then did the Apostles and the first Christians go to death, when they had made certain of the actual Resurrection of the Saviour, of His victory over hell and death. Only in this case were they able, as the poet said, "To go to execution singing hymns and looking into the jaws of unfed beasts with unflinching gaze." Thus, the miracle of the Resurrection is accomplished in deed. Christ is risen indeed!

Compiled chiefly from an article by Archpriest Gerasim Shorets, Christ is Risen, from his brochure, Did Christ Live? Additions from a book by D.M. Merezhkovsky, Jesus the Unknown; an article by Archpriest I. Chernavin, Did Christ Rise from the Dead?; and other sources.

The Sixth Article of the Creed.

6. And ascended into the Heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father.

In the sixth article of the Creed, it is stated that Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven with His pure body, and sits at the right hand of God the Father.

The Ascension of the Lord occurred forty days after His Resurrection. The Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven in body and soul, and in His Divinity He always abides with the Father.

"Sitteth at the right hand of the Father" means on the right side, in the place of honor and glory. These words mean that the human body and soul of Christ was received with the glory that Christ has by His Divinity.

By His Ascension, our Lord Jesus Christ united earth and Heaven and glorified our human nature, raising it to the throne of God. He showed us that our fatherland is in Heaven, in the Kingdom of God, which is now open to all who truly believe in Him.

To him that overcometh will 1 grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My father in His throne (Rev. 3:21).

The Seventh Article of the Creed.

7. And He shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

In the seventh article of the Creed it is stated that Jesus Christ will come to earth again to judge all people, living and dead, who will all rise at that time, and that after the terrible Last Judgment the Kingdom of Christ will begin, of which there will be no end.

The second coming of the Saviour is clearly discussed in Holy Scripture. For example, when Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, angels appeared and said to the Apostles, "This Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, will come again to earth in the same form, in the body of a man, as you saw Him going up to Heaven."

The second coming of Christ will not be at all like the first. The first time He came in the humble form of a man to suffer for us and by this to save us from sin. He was born in a stable for cattle, lived, not having a place to lay His head, and died between criminals on the cross. In the second coming He will appear suddenly as a King, with majesty. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matt.24:27). The second coming of Christ the Saviour will be extraordinary: The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man, (a cross) in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matt. 24:29-30), ...and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations (Matt. 25:31-46), and He will judge all people, all of us, the righteous and the sinful.

This judgment is called terrible, because the conscience of every man will be revealed before all. Not only the good and evil deeds will be disclosed, but also the manner in which each man conducted his earthly life; every spoken word, secret wish, and thought will be laid bare.

According to this judgment, the righteous will enter into eternal life, and the sinners into eternal torment — for doing evil deeds and failing to repent of them, or to make amends through good deeds and a righteous life.

For the hour is coming, says the Lord Himself, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29).

The exact hour of the second coming of the Lord to earth is known to no man. It is a secret which, by the word of the Lord Himself, no one knows, not even the angels of God, only the Heavenly Father alone. Therefore, we must always be ready to appear before the judgment of God.

Although the exact time is not known to us, God’s word reveals several signs of the approach of the coming of the Lord. Before this time the Gospels will be preached to all people. The Jews will return in great numbers to Christ.

At the same time there will be more corruption, lack of faith, less love toward one’s neighbor, and increased wickedness and calamity among people. False prophets will appear. Discord and war will grow stronger among the people; famine and starvation, epidemics and earthquakes will occur in various places. Finally, when evil reaches its highest manifestation on earth, Antichrist will appear.

Antichrist, the antagonist of Christ, will appear before the end of the world, and will seek to exterminate Christian faith on the earth with all his power. But with the coming of Christ, the dominion of the Antichrist will end in terrible ruin, as will he, since he is a disciple of the Devil himself.

After all these things have come to pass the eternal Kingdom of Christ will begin.

The Eighth Article of the Creed.

8. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets.

The eighth Article of the Creed speaks about the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also true God, as is the Father and the Son. This we confess, calling Him Lord.

The Holy Spirit is also called the Giver of Life because He, together with God the Father and God the Son, gives life to all, especially spiritual life. It follows that He is likewise the Creator of the world, equal to the Father and the Son. It is said about the creation of the world: And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). Jesus Christ Himself said about the blessed regeneration by the Spirit, ...Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:5).

Thus the Holy Spirit is true God, the third Person of the Triune God. To Him we must render the same worship and glory as to the Father and the Son.

The words, "Who proceedeth from the Father," define the personal hypostatic nature of the Holy Spirit, by which He is distinguished from God the Father, and from the Son, begotten of the Father. His nature is such that the Holy Spirit continually proceeds from the Father. Jesus Christ Himself spoke on this point to His disciples: But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, Which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me (John 15:26).

The words, "Who spake by the Prophets," means who spoke through the prophets. The prophets predicted the future and wrote Holy Scriptures under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore their books are called divinely inspired. The words, "spake by the Prophets," are stated so that no one need doubt that the Holy Scriptures were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not by the authors themselves, as ordinary books are written. They therefore contain the highest God-given truth, the Word of God, or Divine revelation.

The fact that the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostles is not mentioned in the Symbol of Faith because at the time of its composition no one doubted it.

The Holy Spirit now conveys His gifts to true Christians through the Church of Christ, in prayer and the Holy Mysteries. In the Holy Mysteries the Holy Spirit enlightens the faithful with the light of Christ’s teaching, warms their hearts by love for God and neighbor, and purifies them of every stain of sin.

Jesus Christ called the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13) and warned us, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men (Matt. 12:31).

"Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" is conscious and hardened opposition to the truth, because the Spirit is truth (I John 5:6). Conscious and hardened resistance to the truth leads man away from humility and repentance, and without repentance there can be no forgiveness. That is why the sin of blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven, since one who does not acknowledge his sin does not seek to have it forgiven.

The Holy Spirit was revealed to people in visible form at the Baptism of the Lord in the form of a dove, and on the day of Pentecost when He descended to the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire. He appeared also as a cloud of light in the Old Testament and at the Transfiguration of Christ.

The Ninth Article of the Creed.

9. In one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The ninth article of the Creed speaks about the Church of Christ, which Jesus Christ founded on earth for the sanctification of sinful people and for their reconciliation with God.

The Church is called a union of all Orthodox Christians, living and dead, for He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him (Luke 20:38), united among themselves in faith and Christian love, by its hierarchy and by its sacraments.

Each individual Orthodox Christian is a member or a part of the Church. When we say that we believe in one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the Church is understood to include all people who confess one and the same Orthodox Faith. It does not only mean the building where we go to pray to God and which is also called the church of God. Jesus Christ entrusted the visible construction and government of the Church to the Apostles, and then to their successors, the bishops, and through them He invisibly rules the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the true Head of the Church, and no other head of the Christian Church exists or ever will. Jesus Christ is Head, and the Church is the spiritual body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23).

The holy Apostle Paul says, For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (I Cor. 12:12-13). Thus, ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (I Cor. 12:27). He (Jesus Christ) gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (the Church) (Eph. 4:11-12).

Jesus Christ said that His Church is invincible and will endure forever. I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matt. 28:20).

The truth of God, His teaching, is preserved in the one Church of Christ, ...the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3:15). Jesus Christ said, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26) that the Holy Spirit may abide with you forever (John 14:16).

He who obeys the Church, obeys Christ Himself, and he who does not obey, but rejects her, rejects also the Lord Himself. If one does not obey the Church, let him be to you like as a heathen man, and a publican, said the Lord Himself (Matt. 18:17).

The Church of Christ is one, because it is one spiritual body, has one head, Christ, and is inspired by one Spirit (cf. Eph. 4:4-6). It has one goal, the sanctification of people, and everywhere the same teachings of God, and the same sacraments. Therefore, the Church cannot fall into ruin or become divided. Heretics may fall from Her or become separated from Her; they then cease to be members of the Church. The Church by their action does not cease to be united. The Church obliges all of us to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:5).

The existence of geographical divisions of the Orthodox Church, such as Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Russia and others, does not violate the unity of the Church of Christ at all. For they all are revealed to be members of one body, One Universal Church of Christ. They all confess the same faith, and have prayers and sacraments in common.

The Church of Christ is Holy, because it is sanctified by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, through His suffering, with His divine teachings and with the Holy Sacraments established by Him, in which the Grace of the Holy Spirit is given to the faithful. Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify it... (Eph. 5:25-26).

The sanctity of the Church is not violated by Christians when they sin because they can always cleanse themselves through the Mystery of Repentance. If someone remains unrepentant, then he visibly or invisibly withdraws from the Church.

The Church of Christ is Catholic. Catholicity is the unity of all believing Orthodox Christians, united in truth by the love of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church is bound neither by natural boundaries nor time nor by people, and it consists of all true believers everywhere. Therefore it is also called universal.

The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ is furthermore called Apostolic, because the Lord spread it and strengthened it through the holy Apostles. The word Apostolic is essential because the Church uninterruptedly and without change has preserved the Apostolic teaching and the succession of the gift of the Holy Spirit through holy ordination.

The highest visible authority in the Church belongs to the Ecumenical Council. Primacy in the Ecumenical Church is composed of the patriarchs, then of lesser prelates — metropolitans, archbishops and bishops. Local councils, if their decisions are in agreement with the spirit of Orthodoxy as revealed in the past, also have authority.

The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is furthermore called Orthodox (from the Greek, ortho, correct, straight, true, and doxa, glory, worship, in the sense also of dogma, piety, teaching), because, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, It unchanging, correctly and gloriously keeps the teachings of Jesus Christ — so that we may glorify God in a way that pleases Him.

The Tenth Article of the Creed.

10.I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins.

The tenth article of the Creed speaks about the Mystery of Baptism and about the remaining Mysteries.

Jesus Christ, sending His disciples out to preach, said, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and added, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you (Matt. 28:19-20). By this the Lord clearly stated that other mysteries had been established by Him.

By sacraments, or mysteries, are meant those holy acts through which the Holy Spirit mysteriously and invisibly confers Grace (the saving power of God) upon man.

The holy Orthodox Church has seven Mysteries: Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Holy Communion, Marriage, Ordination, and Holy Unction.

The Symbol of Faith mentions only Baptism because that Mystery is the door into the Church of Christ. Only those who have been baptized can avail themselves of the other sacraments.

Moreover, at the time of the composition of the Creed, there were quarrels and doubts. For example, some thought that heretics who returned to the Church should be baptized a second time. The Ecumenical Council said that Baptism could be performed only one time for any given person. Therefore it is said — "I confess one Baptism." It is understood that this one Baptism must be performed in the true Church for it to be valid. This is true of all the Mysteries.

The Mystery of Baptism.

The Mystery of Baptism is the sacred act in which the believer in Christ, through threefold bodily immersion in water, while calling upon the name of the Holy Trinity — the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit — is washed of all sin committed by him prior to Baptism and given the grace to fight against the inclination to sin which has become habitual in man since the sin of Adam and Eve. The believer is reborn by the grace of the Holy Spirit into new spiritual life and becomes a member of the Church.

The Mystery of Baptism was established by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He sanctified Baptism by His own example, being baptized by St. John the Baptist. Then, after His Resurrection, He gave the Apostles the commandment: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).

Baptism is necessary for anyone who wishes to be a member of the Church of Christ. "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God," said the Lord Himself (John 3:5). To receive Baptism it is necessary to have faith and repentance.

The Orthodox Church baptizes infants on the faith of their parents and godparents. Present at the Baptism are godparents, to whom the faith of the baptized child is entrusted before the Church. When the child grows older, the godparents are obliged to teach him the faith and to endeavor to help the baptized become a true Christian. This is the sacred responsibility of the godparents, and they sin grievously if they neglect their duty. That the gifts of the Spirit are given on the faith of others, we are given proof of in the Gospels, concerning the healing of the cripple: When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee (Mark 2:5).

Sectarians contend that babies should not be baptized and criticize the Orthodox for performing the sacrament for infants. The foundation for the baptism of infants is that Baptism has replaced the Old Testament circumcision, which was done when an infant was eight days old. Christian Baptism is called circumcision made without hands (Col. 2:11-12). The Apostles baptized whole families in which without doubt there were children. Babies as well as adults are participants in the sinful inclination inherited from Adam and have need to be cleansed and strengthened against it.

The Lord Himself said, Suffer (let) the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:16).

Thus, Baptism is spiritual birth, and as a person is born once, so also the Sacrament of Baptism is done once, One Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph. 4:5).

The Mystery of Chrismation.

Chrismation is the Mystery which bestows the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the believer in order to strengthen him in the Christian spiritual life.

Jesus Christ spoke about the gifts of Grace of the Holy Spirit when He said, He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: For the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:38-39).

The Apostle Paul says, Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest (i.e., pledge or token) of the Spirit in our hearts (II Cor. 1:21-22).

The gifts of Grace of the Holy Spirit are necessary for every believer in Christ. There are furthermore extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit which are conveyed only to certain people, such as prophets, apostles and kings.

The first Apostles accomplished the Mystery of Chrismation through the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17; 19:2-6). Then at the end of the first century, the Mystery of Chrismation came to be performed by anointment with holy oil, after the example of the Old Testament Church, as the Apostles themselves were not always able to perform the Mystery through the laying on of hands.

Holy Chrism is special oil that is prepared in a prescribed manner from fragrant substances and is then consecrated.

The first chrism was sanctified by the Apostles themselves and their successors, the bishops. Only bishops may consecrate this chrism. By anointing with the chrism sanctified by the bishops, priests are able to perform the Mystery of Chrismation.

During the performance of the Mystery with the holy chrism, they anoint the following parts of the body with the sign of the Cross, the forehead, eyes, ears, mouth, chest, hands and feet, while pronouncing the words, "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

The Mystery of Confession.

Confession is the Mystery in which the believer admits his sins before God in the presence of a priest and receives through the priest forgiveness of sins as if from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Jesus Christ gave to the Apostles, and through them to all priests, the power to forgive sins. Receive ye the Holy Spirit: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained (John 20:22-23).

Even John the Baptist, preparing people to receive the Saviour, preached the Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins ... And were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins (Mark 1:4-5).

Having received this power from the Lord, the Apostles performed the Mystery of Confession: And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds (Acts 19:18).

Forgiveness of sins (absolution) by means of confession requires peace with all one’s neighbors, sincere contrition for sins committed, confession, firm determination to correct one’s life, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and hope in His mercy.

In certain cases an "epitimia" (a Greek word meaning "prohibition" or "restriction") is laid on the repenting believer, consisting of some pious act or some deprivation directed at overcoming a sinful habit.

The Mystery of Holy Communion.

Holy Communion is the Mystery in which the faithful Orthodox Christian receives, in the form of bread and wine, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through this Mystery is united with Christ and becomes a participant in eternal life.

The Mystery of Holy Communion was established by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself at the time of the Mystical Supper, on the evening before His suffering and death. He Himself celebrated the Mystery first. "Jesus took bread, and gave thanks (to God the Father for all His mercy toward mankind), and brake it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is My body.’

"And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’ " (Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-24; I Cor. 11:23-25).

Then, after establishing the Mystery of Holy Communion, Jesus Christ commanded the disciples to perform it at all times: "This do in remembrance of Me."

In instructing the people, Jesus Christ said, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him (John 6:53-56).

In obedience to the commandments of Christ, the Mystery of Holy Communion is continually celebrated in the Church of Christ and will be continued until the end of the age, during the service known as the Divine Liturgy, when the bread and wine, by the power and the action of the Holy Spirit, is changed into the true body and true blood of Christ.

The bread used for Holy Communion is a single loaf, as all the believers in Christ constitute His one body, the head of which is Christ Himself. For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread, said the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 10:17).

The first Christians received Holy Communion every Sunday. The Church commands us to receive Holy Communion at least once during every fast, and as often as possible.

Preparation for receiving the Mystery of Holy Communion consists of fasting, prayer, reconciliation with all, and then, Confession, that is, cleansing of the conscience in the Mystery of Confession.

The Mystery of Holy Communion, in Greek, is called the Eucharist, which means "thanksgiving."

The Mystery of Marriage.

Marriage is the Mystery during which public vows are made before the priest and the Church by the groom and the bride to be faithful to each other. Their conjugal union is blessed as an image of the spiritual union of Christ with the Church. The Grace of God is requested and given for their mutual assistance, unanimity, and for the blessed procreation and Christian upbringing of children.

Marriage was established by God in Paradise. At the time of the creation of Adam and Eve, God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it (Gen. 1:28).

Jesus Christ sanctified Marriage by His own presence at the wedding in Cana of Galilee and confirmed it as a divine institution by saying, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female (Gen. 1:27). And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife: and the twain shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:24). Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matt. 19:4-6).

The Apostle Paul compares the union of marriage with the union of Christ and the Church (cf. Ephes. 5:22-32).

The union of Jesus Christ with the Church is founded upon the love of Christ for the Church, and on the complete devotion of the Church to the will of Christ. Hence the husband is obliged to love his wife selflessly, and the wife is obliged to voluntarily, lovingly obey her husband.

Husbands, says the Apostle Paul, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it... he that loveth his wife loveth himself (Eph. 5:25,48). Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body (Eph. 5:22-23). Therefore each spouse, husband or wife, is obliged to preserve mutual love and respect, mutual sacrifice and fidelity. Like all Sacraments, Marriage is given to man in order to help him save his soul. If the husband and wife do not live in a Christian manner the Sacrament of Marriage will not save them. Good Christian family life is the source of personal and public good. The family is the foundation of the Church of Christ.

The Mystery of Marriage is not obligatory for all, but individuals who willingly remain unmarried are obliged to lead clean, pure and virgin lives, which, by the teaching of the Word of God, is higher than married life and is one of the greatest spiritual feats (Matt. 19:11-12; I Cor. 7:8,9,26,32,35,37,40).

The Mystery of Ordination.

Ordination is the Mystery in which a duly appointed man, through the laying on of hands by the bishop, receives the Grace of the Holy Spirit, strengthening him for divine service in the Church of Christ as bishop, presbyter (priest), or deacon. This Mystery is performed only for people selected and consecrated to become clergy. The degrees of the clergy are three: deacon, priest, and bishop.

A man ordained deacon receives Grace to assist during the performance of Mysteries. A man ordained priest receives Grace to celebrate the Mysteries. A man ordained bishop receives Grace not only to celebrate the Mysteries, but also to ordain others to celebrate the Mysteries.

The Mystery of Ordination is divinely established. The Apostle Paul testified that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

The Apostles, performing this Mystery under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, raised up deacons, presbyters, and bishops, through the laying on of hands.

The selection and ordination of the first deacons by the Apostles is described in the book of Acts: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them (Acts 6:6).

With regard to the ordination of presbyters it is written, And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on Whom they believed (Acts 14:23).

In the epistles of the Apostle Paul to the bishops Timothy and Titus it is said, Wherefore I put thee (Bishop Timothy) in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands (II Tim 1:6). For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain presbyters in every city, as I had appointed thee (Titus 1:5). Appealing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul says, Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure (I Tim 5:22). Against a presbyter receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses (I Tim 5:19).

The Mystery of Holy Unction.

Holy Unction is the Mystery for the sick in which by anointing with Holy Oil, the Grace of God is invoked for physical and spiritual healing.

From these letters we see that the Apostles reserved to the bishops the power to ordain presbyters through the laying on of hands, and to have jurisdiction over presbyters, deacons, and servers.

The Mystery of Holy Unction is still called in Russian soborovaniye, "the gathering," because several clergymen are called to perform it, although if necessary, it can be done by one priest.

The Mystery comes from the Apostles. Having received from the Lord Jesus Christ power in the time of preaching to heal all the sick and infirm, they anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them (Mark 6:13).

Especially detailed is the account of this Mystery by the Apostle James. 7s any sick among you? Let him call for the presbyters of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:14-15).

The Apostles did not preach anything of their own but taught only that which was commanded them by the Lord and that which was inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says, But I certify you brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12).

Holy Unction is not given to infants because infants cannot knowingly commit sins.

The Eleventh Article of the Creed.

11. I look for the resurrection of the dead.

The eleventh article of the Creed speaks about the general resurrection of the dead, which will come at the end of the world.

The resurrection of the dead that we look for will occur at the same time as the second and glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. At that time all the bodies of the dead will be united with their souls, and they will come to life.

Faith in the resurrection of the dead was expressed as early as Abraham, at the time of the sacrifice of his son Isaac (cf. Heb. 11:17); by Job in the midst of his extreme suffering, For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh shall I see God (Job 19:25-26); the Prophet Isaiah, Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead (Isaiah 26:19).

The Prophet Ezekiel contemplated the resurrection of the dead in a vision of a field strewn with dry bones. By the will of the Holy Spirit the bones came together, bone to bone, became covered with flesh, and the breath of the Spirit came into them (Ezekiel 37).

Jesus Christ speaks about the resurrection of the dead more than once, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live (John 5:25). Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29). Whosoever eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:54).

In answering the questions of the unbelieving Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ said, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither many, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in Heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matt. 22:29-32).

The Apostle Paul says, But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor. 15:20-22).

At the moment of the general resurrection the bodies of dead people shall be changed. In essence, the bodies will be the same as we now have, but in quality they will excel our present bodies. They will be spiritual, incorruptible and immortal. Changed also will be the bodies of those people who are alive at the time of the second coming of the Saviour. The Apostle Paul says: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body ... we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (I Cor. 15:44, 51-52).

Corresponding to the change in man himself, all the visible world will change. From the corruptible it will turn into the incorruptible.

The souls of people who died before the general resurrection exist under differing conditions. The souls of the righteous will experience a foretaste of eternal blessedness, and the souls of sinners a foretaste of eternal torment. The state of the souls of the dead is determined at the particular judgment, which takes place after the death of each person. This is clearly evident from the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ about the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Luke 16:19-31). The Apostle Paul also points this out when he says, Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better (Philip. 1:23,24).

Death has great significance in the life of every man. It is the demarcation point by which the time of preparation is ended and the time of reward is begun. But as this particular judgment is not final, the souls of sinful people who died with faith in Christ and repentance are able, to receive relief from suffering beyond the grave and even be completely delivered from it by the prayers of the Church, augmented by works of charity done for them by the living, and especially by commemorating them in the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ. For this purpose the Orthodox Church established commemoration of the dead, which has been performed regularly since Apostolic times. Commemoration of the dead comprises one of the main parts of the Divine Liturgy. This is evident from the first Christian Liturgy of the Apostle James.

The Apostle John says, If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He (God) shall give him life (I John 5:16).

The Apostle Paul in his epistle to Bishop Timothy writes, I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:1-4).

The Apostle James says, Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

If we should pray for the living, then we should also pray for the dead, because to God there are no dead. To God all are living. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him (Luke 20:38).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians, For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom. 14:8).

Even in the Old Testament it was the custom to pray for the dead. Thus, for example, the Prophet Baruch prayed for the dead saying, Lord Almighty, God of Israel! Hear the prayer of the dead of Israel and of their sons who sinned before Thee... Do not bring to remembrance the unrighteousness of our fathers (Baruch 3:4-5). Judas Maccabaeus prayed and brought offerings for dead soldiers (II Mace. 12:39-45). Thus, teachings about prayer for the dead are founded upon Holy Scriptures as well as Holy Tradition.

Discussion of the General Resurrection of the Dead.

The truth of the general resurrection of the dead is clearly and definitively revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It also flows from the fundamental powers of our immortal souls, and from our understanding of an Eternal, Omnipresent and All-righteous God.

As early as the Old Testament, the righteous had faith in the general resurrection of the dead on the basis of Divine Revelation (Job 19:25-26; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 12:2; Mace. 7:9 and others).

In general, all of the righteous people in the Old testament considered themselves strangers and pilgrims on this earth and sought the Heavenly Fatherland (Heb. 11:13-20).

Through the Prophet Hosea the Lord said, I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, Where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes (Hosea 13:14).

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ preaches about the resurrection of the dead clearly and definitely: Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live... they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:25,29).

The Saviour affirms the teaching of the resurrection by the Mystery of Holy Communion. Whosoever eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:54).

When the Saviour speaks about the purpose of His advent on earth, He points out eternal life specifically. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:15-16).

During His stay on earth the Saviour raised the dead, and He Himself rose from the dead, becoming, according to the words of the Apostle Paul, the firstfruits of them that slept (I Cor. 15:20).

The Apostle placed the truth of the resurrection of the dead above all doubt and contended that it is intimately connected with the resurrection of Christ and with all the teaching in the Gospels. Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching in vain, and your faith is also in vain... If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept (I Cor. 15:12-20).

Besides that, the Apostle Paul points out the natural phenomenon in nature which convinces us of the truth of the resurrection. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain; it may of chance be wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body... So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (I Cor. 15:35-44).

The Lord Himself said, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24). Nature itself shows us this marvelous, authentic phenomenon. A kernel, thrown on the ground decomposes, decays, rots — and then what? Is that all that occurs? No, not at all! From it begins growth. It grows into ears with new grains, despite the fact that it appeared to be reduced to dust. Is not this marvel worthy of our attention? Is it not obvious that this witnesses to the fact that the Omniscient Creator through death lays the beginning of life, and out of ruin creates new being?

Thus, the mystery of the resurrection of the dead is always before our eyes. It is evident to us in nature, and strengthens our faith, and denounces our skepticism.

But, in spite of this, the question may occur in our soul, "How can the dead be raised, when the body of the dead turns into dust and is destroyed?" If Almighty God gave us existence once from a handful of earth, then obviously He can take the handful of earth a second time and reanimate it. If God brought forth the whole world from chaos; if He created it from nothing, then is it possible that He is unable to form our bodies anew from a handful of earth, and give us the same bodies as before, only in a renewed form?

Figuratively, the Lord already showed the Prophet the mystery of our resurrection from the dead. He was shown a vision of a field strewn with the dry bones of men. From these bones, by the word of God uttered by the Son of man, the figures of men were formed and, perhaps by the same capability as existed at the primeval creation of man, the Spirit reanimated them. By the word of the Lord, as dictated to the Prophet, first movement occurred in the bones, bone became joined to bone, each according to its place; then the bones became bound with tendons, clothed with flesh, and covered with skin. Finally, upon the second sound of the voice of God, pronounced by the Son of man, the spirit of life came forth in them. They all began to live, stood on their feet, and they constituted a great multitude of people (Ezek. 37:1-10). Will not the future resurrection of the dead follow likewise? Wonderful indeed are the works of God! Marvelous is the holy faith that we profess!

Thus, by the righteous determination of God, our frail body, like a seed, is condemned to die at first. It decays to dust, and then rises again. The place where the dead are interred is in essence a cornfield, in which our bodies are sown by the hand of death, like seeds. The earth, our mother, is a stronghold, where in the midst of decay, our immortality is kept. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (I Cor. 15:44).

God did not condemn us to death in order to obliterate His creation, but in order to recreate it, to make it capable of future imperishable life.

It remains for us people to reverently submit to the wise judgment of God, to accept with faith Divine Revelation about our fate, and to look with Christian hope for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. (Taken from the book Lessons and Examples of Christian Faith, and other books by Archpriest Gregory Diachenko.).

The Twelfth Article of the Creed.

12. And (look for) the life of the age to come. Amen.

The twelfth article of the Creed mentions the life of the future age; that is, the eternal life which will begin after the general resurrection of the dead, the renewal of the whole world, and Christ’s judgment over all.

For righteous people, eternal life will be so joyful and blessed that in our present state we are not even able to describe it. The Apostle Paul says, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (I Cor. 2:9).

This understanding of the blessedness of the righteous arises from visions of God in light and glory, and from union with Him. In Paradise, the souls of the righteous will be united with bodies which will be illumined with the light of God as the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was at the time of His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.

The Apostle Paul writes, It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory (I Cor. 15:43).

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43).

The states of the righteous will be in various degrees of blessedness, corresponding to the virtue of each. The Apostle Paul said, There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:41-42).

For unbelievers and unrepentant sinners life in the future age will be one of eternal torment. The Lord says to them, Depart from Me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels ... and these shall go away into everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:41,46).

This torment of sinners will proceed from their estrangement from God, from the clear realization of their sins, from severe pangs of conscience, from having to stay among evil spirits where the eternal, unquenchable fire burns.

What is this unquenchable fire? The Word of God does not define it, but uses the term to portray the inexplicable, inexpressible torment of hell.

Thus punishment of sinners will not be because God wants them destroyed, but they themselves perish because they did not accept the love of truth for their salvation (II Thess. 2:10).

The Creed is concluded with the word "Amen," which means "truly" or "so be it." By saying this word after the Creed, we attest to the fact that all that is stated therein we acknowledge to be undoubtedly and invariably true.

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