Abide in the Truth - The Process of Salvation

A kindly Orthodox Bishop was once asked, "Are you saved?" His reply, founded in Holy Scripture, was: "I was saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved." From this statement, we learn that salvation is a life-long process of ensuring our Faith in Christ Jesus, (John 3:16) attendent with what is expected of each of the Faithful, (John 3:21) as expressed in Jesus' own words. The process of salvation completes with the on-going and unwavering exercise of that Faith in the passage of time leading up to the moment of our death. The crowns we receive, in Heaven, are manifested by the history of that Faith exercised on earth, during the lifetime of the process of our journey toward Theosis.

I, Otto, a servant of God through Christ Jesus, our ONLY Lord and Savior, pray that you, the reader, will be enlightened with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, such that, the Word of God, Himself, is forever inscribed upon your heart, thus illumined to go forth into all the world, teaching all that the Word of God, Himself, has taught us, and to baptize the unsaved into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and lo, that you, the self-same servant of God, always, with great distinction, fellowship on the most personal level with the Word of God (Christ Jesus), Who is, eternally, the same: yesterday, today, and for evermore. Amen.

But what about the false teaching that sometimes captures the attention of some denominational Christians, which states, in sum:
Once saved, always saved.
How do we respond to such a claim? Could it be true? Let us inquire.

It certainly appears that the kindly Bishop, above quoted, would be in full agreement, and indeed, he is in full agreement; as long as, the person, who is saved, would live a life in full Grace, by partaking of all the available and necessary Mysterions of the Holy Spirit; thus, staying in the Light, that their works are wrought in God. For those, however, who depart from the Grace of the Holy Spirit, by their departure into darkness, so as to conceal their unrighteousness, then, in such case that they continue in that manner, their "Faith" is a lie, and thus, for these souls, their Faithless life has self-condemned them already, for they were lovers of darkness instead of the Light lest their deeds be reproved.

Holy Scripture supports, entirely, everything said in the foregoing paragraph:
Gospel of John 3:18 - "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

Gospel of John 3:19 - "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

Gospel of John 3:20 - "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

Gospel of John 3:21 - "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

First Epistle of St. John 1:5 - "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."

First Epistle of St. John 1:6 - "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:"

First Epistle of St. John 1:7 - "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

First Epistle of St. John 1:8 - "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

First Epistle of St. John 1:9 - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

First Epistle of St. John 1:10 - "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

Second Epistle of St. Peter 2:20 - "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."

Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians 2:3 - "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away* first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
* ("falling away" is the English translated term chosen by the translators of the King James Version from the original Greek word, "apostasia", found in the original Greek version of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. "apostasia" may also be accurately translated into English as the word, "defection")
Gospel of Matthew 13:3 - "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;" 4 - "And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:" 5 - "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:" 6 - "And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." 7 - "And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:" 8 - "But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold." 9 - "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." 10 - "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" 11 - "He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." 12 - "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." 13 - "Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." 14 - "And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:" 15 - "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." 16 - "But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear." 17 - "For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."

Then Jesus explains the parable: Gospel of Matthew 13:18 - "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower." 19 - "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side." 20 - "But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;" 21 - "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." 22 - "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." 23 - "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." Glory to You, Lord, Glory to You.

It is urged upon you, beloved, that the Holiness of God must be considered with soberness of heart: Because God is Holy, nothing impure can be found within His Body, nor can God reside in an impure vessel. The Great Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians, Chapter 3, Verse 16 that:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
This Truth, indeed, tells us that God the Holy Spirit resides in us as long as we remain in the Body of Christ and in the Grace of the Holy Spirit. This is only possible when we continually partake of the Mystical Graces of the Holy Spirit of God, taking care to confess our sins often and repent of them. Then our Lord Jesus Christ "will be faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John, Chapter 1, Verse 9. Confession, on our parts, dear brethren, is a condition of our own free will exercise. Our failure to do that makes our body unfit for God to reside in it, and we, therefore, become separated from God during our journey in the darkness of the world and the things of the world. For those who pursue this journey into darkness, walk into great peril and condemnation: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." Gospel of John Chapter 3, Verse 19. Holy Scripture gives us an example of just such a situation in the example of the Nicolaitans.

An analysis of what our Lord Jesus Christ hates also gives us a picture of His support to the Scriptural context and meaning given just before. In the Apocalypse of St. John (Revelation) Chapter 2, verse 6, our Lord Jesus Christ informs the reader that He, too, along with the Church of Ephesus (a Greek Orthodox Church still in existence), hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans. And...our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in clear and concise language (in his Epistle Letter to the Church of Pergamos) what happens to those Christians who practice the deeds of the Nicolaitans:
Chapter 2, Verse 16: Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Have you, our friend, ever looked into what was the history and background of the Nicolaitans?

St. Iraneus tells us that, "The Nicolaitanes are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is very plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, [when they are represented] as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practise adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Wherefore the Word has also spoken of them thus: 'But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.'"

Further information about the Nicolaitans is available in the "Church History of Eusebius", a work written not so many years after the Nicolaitan heresy had been inflicted upon the people of Antiochean Patriarchate. From Chapter 29, we hear the following account:
"1. At this time the so-called sect of the Nicolaitans made its appearance and lasted for a very short time. Mention is made of it in the Apocalypse of John. They boasted that the author of their sect was Nicolaus, one of the deacons who, with Stephen, were appointed by the apostles for the purpose of ministering to the poor. Clement of Alexandria, in the third book of his Stromata, relates the following things concerning him.

2. "They say that he had a beautiful wife, and after the ascension of the Saviour, being accused by the apostles of jealousy, he led her into their midst and gave permission to any one that wished to marry her. For they say that this was in accord with that saying of his, that one ought to abuse the flesh. And those that have followed his heresy, imitating blindly and foolishly that which was done and said, commit fornication without shame.

3. But I understand that Nicolaus had to do with no other woman than her to whom he was married, and that, so far as his children are concerned, his daughters continued in a state of virginity until old age, and his son remained uncorrupt. If this is so, when he brought his wife, whom he jealously loved, into the midst of the apostles, he was evidently renouncing his passion; and when he used the expression, "to abuse the flesh," he was inculcating self-control in the face of those pleasures that are eagerly pursued. For I suppose that, in accordance with the command of the Saviour, he did not wish to serve two masters, pleasure and the Lord.

4. But they say that Matthias also taught in the same manner that we ought to fight against and abuse the flesh, and not give way to it for the sake of pleasure, but strengthen the soul by faith and knowledge." So much concerning those who then attempted to pervert the truth, but in less time than it has taken to tell it became entirely extinct.
Tertullian has this to say about the Nicolaitans in his treatice "Against all Heresies":
A brother heretic emerged in Nicolaus. He was one of the seven deacons who were appointed in the Acts of the Apostles. He affirms that Darkness was seized with a concupiscence "and, indeed, a foul and obscene one" after Light: out of this permixture it is a shame to say what fetid and unclean (combinations arose). The rest (of his tenets), too, are obscene. For he tells of certain Aeons, sons of turpitude, and of conjunctions of execrable and obscene embraces and permixtures, and certain yet baser outcomes of these. He teaches that there were born, moreover, daemons, and gods, and spirits seven, and other things sufficiently sacrilegious. alike and foul, which we blush to recount, and at once pass them by. Enough it is for us that this heresy of the Nicolaitans has been condemned by the Apocalypse of the Lord with the weightiest authority attaching to a sentence, in saying "Because this thou holdest, thou hatest the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which I too hate."

Tertullian sets forth, in the same work quoted from above, to inform the reader of another related heresy, that of the Cainites:
Moreover, also, there has broken out another heresy also, which is called that of the Cainites. And the reason is, that they magnify Cain as if he had been conceived of some potent Virtue which operated in him; for Abel had been procreated after being conceived of an inferior Virtue, and accordingly had been found inferior. They who assert this likewise defend the traitor Judas, telling us that he is admirable and great, because of the advantages he is vaunted to have conferred on mankind; for some of them think that thanksgiving is to be rendered to Judas on this account: viz., Judas, they say, observing that Christ wished to subvert the truth, betrayed Him, in order that there might be no possibility of truth's being subverted. And others thus dispute against them, and say: Because the powers of this world were unwilling that Christ should suffer, lest through His death salvation should be prepared for mankind, he, consulting for the salvation of mankind, betrayed Christ, in order that there might be no possibility at all of the salvation being impeded, which was being impeded through the Virtues which were opposing Christ's passion; and thus, through the passion of Christ, there might be no possibility of the salvation of mankind being retarded.

The effects of the Nicolaitan false doctrine were felt in further incarnations of other heresies which ultimately gave rise to the feel-good religions of "eternal-security", "perseverence of the saints doctrine", "unconditional assurance", and "once saved, always saved", etc., to wit, the First Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1771, has this to say about the Nicolaitans:
Nicolaitans, in church history, Christian heretics who assumed this name from Nicolas of Antioch; who, being a Gentile by birth, first embraced Judaism, and then Christianity; when his zeal and devotion recommended him to the church of Jerusalem, by whom he was chosen one of the first deacons. Many of the primitive writers believe that Nicolas was rather the occasion than the author of the infamous practices of those who assumed his name, who were expressly condemned by the Spirit of God himself. Rev. ii, 6. [21st Century Editor's comment: The deeds of the Nicolaitans were condemned by Jesus Christ our Lord, Who appeared to the Servant of God John (the beloved Apostle, author of the Gospel of John, and Evangelist) at the Island of Patmos in the 1st Century A.D.] And indeed their opinions and actions were highly extravagent and criminal. They allowed a community of wives; made no difference between ordinary meats and those offered to idols. According to Eusebius, they subsisted but a short time; but Tertullian says, that they only changed their name, and that their heresies passed into the sect of the Cainians.
About the Cainians, the same publication states:
Cainians, or Cainites, in church-history, Christian heretics, that sprung up about the year 150, and took their name from Cain, whom they looked upon as their head and father: They said that he was formed by a celestial and almighty power, and that Abel was made but by a weak one.

This sect adopted all that was impure in the heresy of the gnostics, and other heretics of those times: They acknowledged a power superior to that of the Creator; the former they called Wisdom, the latter, inferior virtue: They had a particular veneration for Korah, Abiram, Esau, Lot, the Sodomites, and especially Judas, because his treachery occasioned the death of Jesus Christ: They even made use of a gospel, which bore that false apostle's name.

The Nicolaitans and Cainites had certainly brought in elements of gnosticism, which the same publication defines as follows:
Gnostics, in church-history, Christian heretics so called, it being a name which almost all the ancient heretics affected to take, to express that new knowledge and extraordinary light to which they made pretensions; the word gnostic signifying a learned or enlightened person.
So, why is so much time spent here talking about the Nicolaitans, Cainites, etc.? Well, if the eternal-security teachers are correct, why is it that our Lord Jesus Christ would tell the Church of Ephesus that He will remove its candlestick out of its place, except it repents?

According to their false doctrine, a person who gets "saved" will always be "saved" even, it seems, if the person fails to repent of his or her sins. This is, in sum, the teachings of Antinomianism, which is defined in the same publication as:
Antinomians, in church-history, certain heretics who first appeared about the year 1535; so called, because they rejected the law, as of no use under the gospel-dispensation, with other doctrines equally absurd.

When we choose to make our heart the Garden of Agape, and abide therein, we shall experience true repentance (a change of mind, a change of direction, 180 degrees opposite to where we were headed) from sin. Then our Lord Jesus Christ will rejoice with us and we "shall not be hurt of the second death" Additionally, for us who overcome, Jesus Christ will "give (us) to eat of the hidden manna, and will give (us) a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it".

Let no one say that these words teach that Christians never sin. When true and faithful Christians sin, they are called to confess their sins with a repentant heart, full of remorse and resolve to make a 180 degree turn away from those sin or sins. Confession restores the sinner to the Grace of the Holy Spirit, so that, God (with us) may abide in the Holy Temple, which our bodies have become at our Holy Baptism, Holy Chrism, and Holy Eucharist. Then, by partaking of the Divine Eucharist, we fortify our bodies with the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus; thus, making our bodies less susceptible to the temptations to sin. When a true and faithful Christian becomes sick, either in body, soul, or mind, then we are anointed with the Oil of Holy Unction for healing by our Lord Jesus Christ in accordance with our Faith in Him to heal us. Thus, our noetic* eyes may see the Supernal Light, Who is Jesus Christ, our Lord, Alpha and Omega, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, and that we may forever abide in that Light.

* Noetic eyes are the eyes of the soul.

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