Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Significance of Believing in Jesus Christ

Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky)

We needed to discuss this subject because of the statement of L. Tolstoy that the dogmas of the Creed have no significance for moral life and even more, on the contrary, contradict to the commandments of the Sermon on the Mount, which represents the doctrine about Christian virtue.

However, any educated Christian except Tolstoy should realize how much good is in the fact that he professes Jesus Christ to be true God, and counts such belief to be one of the conditions for his salvation. Salvation is given to those fulfilling commandments (Math. 19:17), and therefore, if one cannot be saved without believing in the Divinity of Jesus Christ and Holy Trinity, then it means that one cannot fulfill the commandments without such beliefs, cannot build the Evangelic perfection within himself and defeat sinful passions.

1. So, do Russian people feel tight connection, which exists between the dogmas and virtue? — Unfortunately, very vaguely. One can hear such light-minded statements: "I think Jesus Christ to be my ideal and I respect His doctrine as well, but shall never be able to accept him as God". Let such people be consistent, let them openly reject that teaching, through which Christ announced Himself to be the Son of God, but they do not want to do it sincerely, and if you start asking them concerning separate commandments, then the majority of the commandments will be rejected by these people: do you accept humility? — No; do you accept repentance — no; do you think meekness to be obligatory? — Not always; do you take care of your soul so that it could thirst for truth? — Never, etc. Some of these commandments of the Lord are even principally denied by the modern European society, for example, the commandments of humility, chastity; almost the same lot is assigned to those words of Christ, which teach us to have personal relations with God and Jesus Himself. What a conclusion, in reality, can be drawn out of the parable about the prodigal son, about the Publican and the Pharisee, the sower, the Rich and Lazarus by any contemporary denier of Christ’s Divinity? What profit for his soul will he derive from the talk of the Lord with Nicodemus about the final resurrection and belief in Him, and the similar conversation about the resurrection of the dead (John, chap.7), about the good shepherd, about the Dread Judgment and about the personal attitude of believers to Him and the constant stay of the Savior with us, to which is devoted the farewell conversation with the disciples? What is left are only the narratives about the miracles of Christ, but even these are not taken into account by the disbelieving into His Divine Worthiness, or are unbelievably falsely interpreted in the sense of physical curing of the sick, so that Christ’s frequent use of His wonder-working power is understood by them like a deceit.

So, the significant part of the Gospel is directly rejected by the disbelieving in the Son of God, and the rest of His commandments, though they are treated with compassion and respect, are thought to be something impossible, expressing the unreachable ideal, or something very attractive for artistic contemplation, but not at all necessary to fulfill. Only the words and acts of forgiveness and mercy of the Lord to the repentant sinners are thought to be real and together with that the very condition of being forgiven, i.e. repentance, is forgotten and there exists only the light-minded attitude towards sins. The Gospel, with one word, signifies for such people nothing more that a sentimental poem or an edifying parable.

2. Anyway, the unbelievers are trying to hide from the others, and sometimes from themselves that any denier of Christ’s divinity can think the Savior to be an untruthful deceiver, idle dreamer, like Mohamed. The unbelievers by all means try to preserve their idea of Christ as of a perfect, holy man. For example, L. Tolstoy, though he is trying to convince the readers that the majority of the miracles of Christ were made up later, and that those events, which the apostles treated like miracles, were natural phenomena, still does not want to present Christ like a deluder. With all that, the born blind, according to Tolstoy, was not at all blind, but an illiterate, stupid man, whom Christ made smart; the paralyzed, according to his idea, was an idle man, lying in Bethesda; the Savior only woke his conscience and convinced him to work. It is unseen from the Gospel according to Tolstoy that Jesus Christ did not approve of the false understanding of His cures, or that he tried not to focus on the idea of His Divinity. At last, the author forgot about his desire to represent Christ as a perfect man, and could not but accuse Him of fear of the Pharisees’ guards and blamed Him for the desire to be protected from them with arms. Still, our undemanding readers are ready to accept gladly that the Gospel can be respected without believing in the Divinity of Christ, and consequently they think that they have the right to choose only the ideas of the Gospel, which they like. The fact that the negative writers do not ban to call Jesus Christ the Savior, the Atoner, seeing in Him the living example for imitation, makes it even more attractive. The same way acts our Tolstoy, but the one, who especially successfully could delude the public with the similar words, was Ernest Renan. Who of us had not heard the statements of the Russian ladies: "No one other than Renan made me love Jesus Christ due to his book". And men add — "Although Renan did not recognize Jesus Christ as God, still he served to Christianity better than all theologians, having presented the Savior as the perfect man and that way having forced everyone to respect Jesus".

When these awful words will be read by the sons of Christian (not European) culture, who are acquainted with Renan’ s work, then they will come to the conclusion that in the 19th century much was written and published in the state of delirium tremens. Really, no one other than this very Renan convinces us, in respect of the above mentioned dilemma, that the Savior can be recognized as God, and if not, than as a miserable deceiver. Renan does not want to choose at all: he directly accuses the Savior of approving of the legends of people about His miracles, searching for people’s sympathies and finally dares to spout the blasphemy that the Savior resurrected not the four-day dead man, but his alive but hidden in the cave friend, to influence the supposititious crowd.

We have said that the unbelieving but worshipping Christ only in words people take from the Gospel only that, what, being falsely interpreted, can support their passions. With much clarity it was reflected in the book of Renan. He paid attention to the two points in the sermon of Christ — first, to the mercy for the repenting and the threatening warnings to those used to iniquities sinners, coming from the teaching about joyful reconciliation with God and own conscience, — and secondly, to the teaching about the cross, self-sacrifice, about the toleration of the hatred of the world, and the acceptance of both causing sadness and comforting aspects of the Evangelic teaching. He dared to get rid of the first aspect and preserve only the second, as the true teaching of Christ — It happened very easily: he decided that everything edifying, sad, demanding exploits, came from the mouth of the Savior not like His conviction, but as the fruit of irritation towards cruel listeners, who did not want to accept Him as the messenger of God, — as the fruit of his unsatisfied self-love. Christ’s true convictions, according to Renan, were full of pure pink sentimentality, which was nourished by the picturesque landscapes of the Galilean nature, and therefore, only those words of the Gospel, which say about the reconciliation with God, about the significance of truth, about the pardoning of fornicators and publicans have meaning for Christians; and on the contrary, everything that is said about the martyrdom for the sake of truth, retribution and revival can be omitted like the words, said in the state of temporary irritation.

For such dirty statements Renan is worshipped like the great interpreter of the words of Jesus Christ, and Jesus, being dressed in the humiliating attire of a self-loving deceiver has more attraction than that holiest Image of purity, love, resignation and Divine majesty, drawn on the pages of our church Gospel. It becomes clear that the deniers of the Divinity of Christ cannot preserve the idea about His Holiness and that is the reason why this dogma of the Church is so zealously protected by Its fathers and teachers.

But, let us admit that even without accepting the truth about the Divinity of Jesus Christ I can imagine Him to be the most perfect man: what kind of moral force will I derive from Him then? What kind of right will I have to call Him my Savior? The German thinkers-pantheists answer this question with dull and hazy reasoning about the fact that Christ assured people of their unity with God and through that freed them from the fear of death, teaching that this freedom leads us to the unity with God, and brings into the state of Nirvana. The same way teaches Tolstoy, drawing the Savior as one of the most popular pantheists. Nevertheless, our Russian writer could not resemble the German leaders in such distortion of Christianity. He tried, despite his personal logics, to preserve the teaching about life, as about inner struggle, and added the new thought that Jesus Christ, as a truly holy man, is the best example for each one to imitate in different doubtful cases of life, and that it would give us chance to lead holy life; so, in this sense, Christ is the Savior of people, according to Tolstoy.

But then the other moral heroes, who can serve as the examples of pious life, the leaders, for instance, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, apostles and saints, can be called the Saviors. Tolstoy does not hesitate to assign the first three to the number of saints: he only asserts that Jesus Christ deserves such a title most. But then it is possible that in the times of such manifestations of modern mentality, there will come other people, even more perfect that Jesus Christ, who will have more right to be given the title of the saviors of mankind, and it will not be possible for Tolstoy to argue with that.

Out of this comes the conclusion that Jesus Christ can be our unique Savior only in case we believe in Him as in authentic God. Without this faith His moral significance for us is very little superior to the significance of any moral hero and even can be not as good as of some other heroes, for example those, who have much in common with the resent-day people in their state, disposition, conditions of life, and therefore are the more convenient model for imitation.

3. So, the moral significance of our dogma in its negative aspect is clearly revealed, but it is not so important like the positive aspect, which is in the analysis of conditions of our moral development, struggle or perfection, which is always inseparable from the living belief in Jesus Christ, as in true God.

But in order that it would not seem to any one that we shall analyze moral life not from the point of view of its essence, but concerning the influence of this faith upon life, we shall show the main conditions for that with the help of the words of the thinker, who denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the importance of this dogma for virtue; we mean famous Kant, the most impassionate from all philosophers. This very Kant hoped to show that the Gospel can bring not less profit for the deniers of miracles and revelations, than for the believers. Certainly, he did not manage to prove that, but anyway he reasons incomparably more convincingly than any modern deniers. Let us note that his religious views, with the significant diminishment of their moral value, became the basis doctrine of the Tubingen rationalistic school, from which graduated both Renan and Tolstoy. This school, in the person of Straus Bauer, Hartman and the like, could not keep the Kantian views untouched, for among them only Kant tried to preserve the elevated character and purity of the Evangelic commandments. More than that, having incomparably higher morals that all his modern followers, to which almost all European philosophers assign themselves, only Kant kept untouched the thought about the unconditional opposition of the good and evil, about the struggle of these elements within us, about the freedom of will and moral responsibility. Analyzing his doctrine about the atonement and salvation, we shall not touch upon his reasoning about moral autonomy, but we shall analyze his idea about what, in his opinion, happens within man, when he decides to reach moral perfection. Then we shall easily note that it is possible, only if one possesses the living belief in Jesus Christ, as in the unconditionally saint, sinless, having suffered for us Atoner, and true God.

This is what our philosopher says about the changing of life. "Change for the good, — says Kant, — cannot happen within man without pain. The feeling of inner discord and revival causes suffering, which is the more painful, the more those being exterminated evil inclinations of will had taken root in the nature of man and converted into a habit… Colliding one with another, different feelings (horror because of previous sinning and joy of renovation) cause that most profound suffering, which one can only imagine. This is the pain, which cannot be compared with any other. Both the facts that the acceptance of good will as of a life norm causes suffering, and that this suffering proceeds from spiritual revival and the process of conquering the evil, are just. Suffering is the result of the both mentioned simultaneous acts" (the renouncement of the evil and connection with the good and God).

For sure, these thoughts are the truisms for the Orthodox Christian, but for the West, which had made the notion about Christian exploit obscure, this is the highest point, which was reached by its philosophy; it is so high that the great majority of the forthcoming moralists could not perceive this truth and some have not even heard about it. Only in the latest years it penetrated into the refined literature of France, and it happened only because it was conveyed in a more simple way by the Russian belletrists, but in no way by Kant. So, the latter asserted that the change for the good is inevitably in "the dying" of the decrepit man, his "crucifixion" with all passions and physical desires: it, like the most painful of all sufferings, is in the absolute renovation of the heart and the acceptance of the mood of the Son of God as of the personal constant guide and rule".

Where should we find the constant impulse not only to work on our perfection, but to tolerate those sufferings, which are connected with it? Suffering is the object of disgust for natural man; almost all his life is in the multiplication of desires, in order to avoid sufferings. And then the apostles tell man to rejoice in grieves and boast with them. The Gospel makes graceful the outcast, shamed and slain, it calls everyone to step onto the narrow path, by which walk few, demands to forget oneself and hate very life, proclaims grieves for the rich, satiated, laughing and those, about whom all people say good things. To follow this teaching is to contradict one’s own nature: by what can we be stimulated?

"In order to get inspired by the idea of original moral perfection, says Kant, we have to imagine the latter coming true, and then, without any effort, we shall be inspired by this beautiful image, which will be our true savior for each one of us, and consequently for the whole unity". See, how easy it is to be saved in the fantasies of the German philosopher: it is enough to find an inspiring example for that. It is left only to be amazed, why there are so few of those saved, when the example of life of The Savior is known to the hundreds of millions".

4. It is just that the moral image of Him elevates and touches my spirit, but one thing is to admire, and the other is to imitate. When for the sake of imitation I have to oppose my nature, society and accept the cross, then holiness of Jesus Christ for the disbelieving in His Divinity at once starts losing its brightness, seems like something conditional, maybe acceptable for Jesus of Nazareth Himself, but absolutely inapplicable to contemporary life. Jesus could be saint. But how He, the owner of such genial and moral nature, will convince me, a sinner, that the path for moral purity is opened for me as well? Orpheus could tame beasts, Socrates amazed gods with his intellect, Alexander with courage, Achilles with swiftness, but if I, an ordinary man, desire to copy all geniuses, then would not I be ridiculous, as the frog, trying to inflate itself to look like an ox? Not accidentally wise Nicodemus says to Jesus that it is impossible to resurrect, equally as it is impossible to come back to the mother’s womb; not by chance Hebrews repeated that he was deluding the people. Maybe, He was a saint, but to think that I can reach the similar state of holiness means to be deluded, as it happened with Simon the Magician, who wished to fly in the air, being carnal. Let Christ call me to fight against the world, but the world attracts me with its pleasures, I’m bound with it, too, and as it seems, more than with the Gospel.

Really, despite his inner struggle, the Christian is daily forced to choose between Christ and the world, which is hostile to perfection. The world does not like the absolute vice and malice, but more it hates absolute virtue and slays its followers. That is why the Greek, who created their gods through the observation of the life of nature, man and society, drew the heavenly inhabitants not so kind and not so angry, but allotted them with all those good and evil forces, which rule the life of people. The world is filled with sin, starting with the very basic laws of organic life, which represents by itself self-loving battle for survival, — in the nowadays arrangement of our lusty body and revengeful proud soul, in the history of human societies and even in the family arrangement: everywhere is self-love, lust and pride.

A devotee, reaching for perfection, not yet free from being attracted by the evil, opposes to this great giant, having before him only the example of Jesus Christ and comparatively few followers (though believing in His Divinity). Is not it obvious that he, torn between the world and Christ, will go against the world only incase he will "judge the world", if he will believe that Christ is higher than the world, on the word of the Apostle: "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5). Another utterance can be added here: "Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Christ must be higher not only than the visible and perceptible world, but than any conditional existence. For that His existence must have neither conditions, nor origin; for if He had the place of origin, than maybe there exists and will later appear another ancient power, which will occupy its place, and cast out everything hostile to it. Christ must be equal in everything to the Creator, and possess common nature with Him. For otherwise no one will convince me that Divine holiness, preached by Christ, is the unique thing, which is going to convert me into the martyr and the enemy of the world.

So, in order to be our true Savior, Christ has to be true God, standing higher than nature and the world. This is necessary to forget the world for His sake, to contradict the world. In order to combine that opposition to the world with the highest spiritual unity with Him, and to love the renewed by Him world, one needs to believe that the world in its modern form is not the true, created by God temple, but the temple, desecrated and distorted by the ill will of people; and that "all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John, chap.1).

5. So taking into account the conditions, necessary for our inner perfection, we must admit that the effective significance of the example and word of Christ spreads over only those followers, who profess Him as God; but such efficacy is far from being enough to raise the people onto the cross of life, to give them strength to carry this cross patiently. To fulfill that, one needs to accept and follow the teaching about Christ-the Atoner.

Probably, seeing the sufferings, sanctified by the fact of participation of the Son of God in them, I shall love them and decide to tolerate them, but would there be any use in bearing them?

Kant reasons in a correct way, saying that the process of moral perfection is in leaving behind the decrepit nature and gaining new one; but from whom will man receive this new nature? "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24). Is not the word of the Gospel correct, saying: "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Math.7:16). The examples of such devotion, which tries to become the source of gracious feelings and deeds, convince us that this path is disastrous, for it is all about suppressing of one passion by another one, — this way those Buddhists, which had conquered sensuality, fall into pride, those having conquered rage — into indifference, they cannot obtain impassivity and love. Alike are the classical and modern European morals, based on vainglory — dry and dead; such are the morals of Mohammedans, which are manifested in the regular pleasures through sensuous things, and the expectation of the same pleasures in life after death. But this is not enough: even those, absolutely Orthodox and self-denying devotees, who, being attracted to the idea of the personal spirit and interested only in themselves, but not in grace, hoped for further perfection, but soon perished in the state of haughty or sensual blindness. That is why the teachers of asceticism always reminded their disciples that the source of spiritual perfection is not within them, but in the blissful outer sphere, as the Apostle says: "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase" (1 Cor.3:7). Or in another extract: "But I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (15:10); "striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily" (Col. 1:29).

6. Though, if the word of God and the observations of the devotees of faith seem to our consciousness to be something far away and abstract, then let us analyze the phenomena of every-day, surrounding us life. Have you met a person, who essentially changed his life and became virtuous after former vices? What are the reasons of similar conversions? Almost always they are religious, but with that mostly connected with going through a grave shock, which made the decrepit nature of the sinner die or weaken. If these, accompanying conditions were not of such negative character, but were positive, then they, naturally, were in the fact that some pure, loving and smart friend became spiritually close to the vicious man. Such good radical changes happen, for instance, after marriage, or returning home, to the loving parents. In the friendship of a vicious man with a virtuous we see not simple imitation, but direct perception, inoculation of moral forces from one to the other. Living one life with a loving friend, a vicious man finds within himself the unknown till that time force to conquer bad habits, which before seemed insuperable. Now it seems to him, and not accidentally, that his soul fights against the evil not alone, but in the union with the soul of his friend; instead of one good force he has two.

Under what a condition on the part of the good friend does this mysterious merging happen? Under the condition of compassion. Really, everyone can be convinced, through the daily experience that neither intellect, nor eloquence, not even a good example of a teacher cannot by themselves change the evil will of man, but that compassionate love, with which is filled the blissful apostle, exclaiming: "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4:19): this is the deep feeling of the heart, caused by the falls of a loved one, especially known to solemn mothers, — in this is the mystery of spiritual influence upon the sinful soul. The ones, who have it, "are labourers together with God" (1 Cor. 3:9). And if it is so, then consequently, the true Doer, true shepherd is God, Christ, having compassion for every man, stretching his arms to all and saying: "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings" (Math. 23:37). That is Him, Who promised to be among His disciples forever, Him, saying to those observing the Mystery: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:20). The highest degree of compassion for the sins of all men was shown by the Lord in the Gethsemane garden, when He started to suffer because of them to such an extent that He asked the Heavenly Father to free Him from such moral burden, "and was heard in that he feared", as the Apostle says (Hebr. 5:7).

7. Under what a condition can I make use of this grief of the Savior about human sins, akin to how a vicious man fills his soul with compassionate love of his friend? — Certainly, under the condition of this assuredness that I, me personally, was as well in the thought and heart of grieving about my sins Christ. Only in the case that I am convinced that He sees me, invisibly stretches his supporting hand to me, embraces me with His compassionate love, only under this condition He is really my Savior, filling me with new moral forces, teaching my hands to war (Ps. 17:35) with the evil, and is not someone strange, not the historical example of virtue, but the part of my being, or to be more precise — I am the part of His being, the partaker of the Divine nature, as the Apostle says (2 Pet. 1:4).

It is clear that only all-knowing and ever-good God could similarly remember of all existing persons. So, we see that only God could be the Savior of people, the One, Who had the similarity with our nature, i.e. Human God and with that the Sufferer, sympathizing with us. If my conversion from the evil to the good was not a suffering, then Christ would have had no need to suffer. But in that case, i.e. if the man could convert himself from a villain into a saint with one momentary desire, the Divine truth, which separated the good from the evil through sufferings, would have been left unsatisfied; and our conscience would have remained unsatisfied as well. It depended on the Lord to arrange such laws of existence and spiritual life, that the transfer from the evil to the good is possible only through the sufferings of a sinner; but these sufferings remain unbearable and fruitless, if they are not combined with the compassion of the holiest Son of God, Who accepts our grieves not for the sake of Him, but for us; He suffered for us, and therefore became the victim of reconciliation, our Atoner, participating in His sufferings (1 Pet. 4:13). He had no need to fight, like we do, against the decrepit nature, for He was free of it, but those were our sins, our decrepit nature, which were defeated and crucified by Him (Rom. 6:6 and 1 Pet. 2:24). These sufferings of His because of my sins are my atonement; and His long-lasting patience — my salvation (2 Pet. 3:15); not only in the meaning of the encouraging example. It is in the sense that I know Jesus Christ, Who had mourned over my sinful state because of his love for me, and I make Him the part of my being through my desire to go along the path of His holiness, live with Him, revive my new man thanks to Him, tolerate my, so painful before, sufferings and my deviation from the virtuous path because of them, for now I think them to be a sacred bridge towards the best unity with the Lord, because the Apostles taught me to participate in His sufferings. The same way did the martyrs, who felt neither fire, nor iron, sticks, nor their bodies, being cut in parts, in the state of spiritual delight.

8. The Divine revelation clearly convinces us in the fact that the main condition for spiritual perfection, which teaches man to neglect all temptations of life and go for any kind of sufferings, which gives him the opportunity to do spiritual good not only for his soul but for the neighbors, is nothing else but the constant unity with Christ, the unity of faith and love, merging with Him, which is more essential than the union of the souls of friends or spouses. This way the Lord Himself calls the believers to the unity with him; and His apostles, especially John and Paul, profess the real establishment of this gracious union among them. Let us cite here some utterances and end our article with them. Here are the words of the Lord: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned…As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love" (John 15:1-9). "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 6:38). "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28).

And here are the words of the Apostles, who fulfilled the commandments of Christ: "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1-3:7). "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him" (1 John 2:28-29).

Apostle Paul says about the point, which this state of being with Christ can reach: "I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:19-20). "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you" (Phil.1:21-24).

Finally, here are more utterances, showing the significance of the personality of Christ for the Christian community: "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). "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". Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (1 Cor. 12:27), so that "speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:15-16).

So, the Evangelic and in general the New Testament teaching about our personal attitude to Christ, Who said: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen" (Rev. 1:18) not only brings its each sincere follower to the state of holiness, reconciling him with Heaven, but shows him social life in different light, light of love and hope. "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ", says the Apostle. You are the part of the body of Christ. Those, for whom your soul will suffer, will repent and join this saving unity, the Church. In It there is no impersonal merging, as by pantheists and Tolstoy-followers, no rough division, which is usually felt by natural man. Faith and compassion with love unite everybody in Christ. "For he is our peace, who hath made both (i.e. Jews and heathens) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us… for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Eph. 2:14-16).

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