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Few and the Multitudes

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Anything outward can become a counterfeit. Fr. Seraphim Rose Few days ago I read story about the famous holy eldress in Russia who reposed in 1920 s, when she
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2004
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      Anything outward can become a counterfeit.
      Fr. Seraphim Rose





      Few days ago I read story about the famous holy eldress in Russia who
      reposed in 1920's,
      when she was still young , she was already very spiritually devout person
      and she went on few pilgrimages to the holy places troughout the Russia
      ,but when she arrived at  Kiev Caves Lavra where multitudes of saints lived
      and their Relics offer great spiritual consolation to many , she was simply
      overwhelmed spiritually as well as from the fact that when she was visiting
      there was 17000  pilgrims from all over Russia also visiting the holy place
      and especially the Relics of Saints Theodosios and Anthony founders of the
      Kiev Caves Lavra. She aproached the relics getting trough the multitudes of
      people and she wondered how many people must be there that day,
      and standing there she found one elder who stood near by and after brief
      conversation he answered her question about the number of people present,
      and he said there is 17000 people here today but of all of them only 7 are
      the truly genuine pilgrims, and he made remmark that she was - one of 7.
      After that he withdrew back among the multitudes again, and the young
      maiden who is to became famous eldress later on in life wandered about that
      saying.
      However years after that incident she briefly met one renown holy fool for
      Christ  who just looked at her and told her
      You are very blessed, you were granted the honour that St Theodosie himself
      spoke to you and bless  you. And instantly she was remainded of her
      incedent years ago in the Kiev Caves Lavra next to Relics of St Theodosie.
      This brief story indeed tells us how few are inwardly truly on that narrow
      road of Salvation , while outwardly looking and judging about it , it may
      seem that there are multitudes.......who have ears let him hear.......

      H.S.I.



      Few

      by

      Nicholas J.Soteropulos


      I.


             The people of God, the godly, were always few. And there were times
      when they were very few. At the time of Noah, when the flood occurred,
      being confirmed today by means of various scientific methods, the ones who
      were godly and who were saved from the flood were only eight, Noah and his
      familiar family. At the time of Lot, when through "eternal fire" (Jude 7),
      with fire from heaven, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities were
      destroyed, in those cities the godly were only Lot's family. At the time of
      Elias, in all of the faithful Israeli people, who did not worship Baal,
      there was only Elias and another 7,000 men. And at the time of Daniel, when
      the Judaic people was taken captive in Babylon and Nabuchodnosor set up his
      golden icon, idol, and commanded the peoples to fall down and worship it,
      only four Judeans were proved to be truly faithful and did not worship the
      idol - Daniel and the three children.
      And toda! y the Christians are few. And they are few also in the other
      countries, but even in Greece, which is the heart of Orthodoxy, of
      Christianity in its genuine and authoritative form. Surely a few object.
      They will say: How do you say that the Chirstians in Greece are few? Here
      in Greece 98% of us Greeks are Christian.
      We repeat emphatically that even in Greece Christians are few. Surely in
      100 Greeks the 98, when they were infants, were baptized and called
      Christians, indeed orthodox Christians. But in growing up did they remain
      Christian? To be sure, they maintained the name of Christian, and indeed
      Orthodox Christian. But does their mentality and their way of life
      correspond to this good name that was given them? They are called
      Christian, but are they also Christian? Unfortunately the many, the
      majority, are not in reality Christian; they are worldly people.
      How can one be a Christian when he or she doesn't believe in Christ as Lord
      and God, but generally and abstractly ! says that a superior power exists?
      That isn't faith, but unbelief. How can one be an orthodox Christian, when
      he or she equates the truth with heresy, when he says that all of us
      orthodox and papists and protestants are all the same? How can anyone be a
      Christian, when he equalizes all religions, when he says that all the
      peoples and all the religions worship the same God in a different way?
      Unfortunately, he could be a Patriarch, but he isn't a Christian. How could
      someone be a Christian when he or she passes the day without having God
      pass by in his mind, his creator and benefactor and savior? How can he be a
      Christian, when he doesn't pray, when he doesn't address himself to God,
      when he doesn't invoke the Lord? How could someone be a Christian, who
      doesn't sacrifice anything for the Lord, not even an hour a week to church
      himself, but churches himself in cafeterias, in arenas, in cinemas, in
      night centers, in worldly and in sinful dances?
      How could someone be a Christia! n, when he doesn't have eternal
      perspective, when he doesn't believe or doubts, that there exists a soul or
      spirit, resurrection and eternal life? How can someone be a Christian, when
      he says on the one hand that he believes, but is indifferent in respect to
      spiritual things and does not have anxiety about his salvation and the
      salvation of his fellow human beings and brethren? How can one be a
      Christian, when for hours he is riveted on the television and observes
      shameful and satanic things, while in respect to Holy Scripture, the
      television of God, he has neither the appetite nor even the curiosity to
      open it? How can he be Christian when he wants mercy, is merciless, harsh
      and uncompassionate, a materialist like Giezi and Judas? How can he be a
      Christian, when he doesn't take Christ's commandments into account, but
      instead has made shameful sins a way of life? How can anyone be a Christian
      when he places the opinion of the world above the judgment and commandments
      of God? H! ow can anyone be a Christian, when he follows nude and crazy and
      shameful styles, and he ridicules and mocks godly and modest persons? How
      could women be Christians, when they reach the extreme peak of impudence
      and shamelessness, when they publicly appear practically have naked and
      practically completely naked; when they exhibit to the common vision both
      their stomachs and their belly buttons? How could one be a Christian when
      he performs his own carnal will, but doesn't do the will of God and kills
      children with abortions?
      How could someone be a Christian when he doesn't feel and sense his own
      sinfulness, wretchedness and misery, and doesn't humble his pride and
      doesn't come forth to the mystery of divine Confession? How could someone
      be a Christian, if he doesn't come forth to share in the supernatural
      mystery of divine Communion and does not unite with Christ, or rarely draws
      near and without spiritual preparation, considering the blood of Christ as
      something common?To sum up, how can someone be a Christian if he is not
      moved or touched by the name of Christ, if he doesn't love Christ, the
      Beloved of the beloved; if he doesn't love Him more than all things and all
      persons, if he doesn't make sacrifices for the love of Christ? A man who
      doesn't love Christ thusly, is a-Christian, is a miserable existence, is
      accursed. "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be
      accursed. Maran atha" (1 Cor. 16:22).
      Some will say: The way you write makes people fall into despair.
      No! I don't write thusly in order to make people despair. I write thusly in
      order to demonstrate that Christians, godly people are one thing, and the
      world, worldy people are another thing. I write thusly in order to goad
      well disposed worldly people and for them to take an interest in God and in
      their salvation. Christ is the hope of the world. The Church of Christ is
      full of hope. And if worldly people who are Christians by name want to
      become Christians in ! reality, conscientious Christians, they have the
      possibility to do it. How? With repentance. With a change of mind-sets and
      life. With effort and struggle. "Struggle" shouts the Leader of
      Christianity, the Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ (Luke 13:24).
      Whoever struggles the good struggle of faith, whoever strives to surpass
      his impassioned self and to become a spiritual person, he or she is a
      Christian, even if he (or she) doesn't reach the desired height; even if he
      isn't completely released from the evilness of corrupt human nature.
      Christians are imperfect persons, who, however, yearn perfection, believe
      in Christ, love Christ, hate evil and strive and struggle for the good, and
      for their imperfections and weaknesses they repent and make their
      confession and continually ask for the mercy and grace of Christ.
      O worldly people! You were baptized as infants and received the blessed
      name of Christians, for which rivers of blood have been shed by the martyrs
      of Chirstiani! ty! Christ doesn't antipathize you, but sympathizes you and
      thirsts for your salvation. And He was sacrificed with the most painful
      manner for all people, consequently for you, too. And the people of Christ,
      the few Christians - they too don't antipathize you, but sympathize you,
      and they pain for you, and are in anxiety over your salvation. And they
      pray, even if you don't understand them, speak sarcastically to them, and
      deride them. The Christian faith isn't blind, it has proofs, many and
      marvelous and supermarvelous proofs. We beg you, examine the proofs of
      faith, abandon the worldly mind-sets and the worldly way of life, embrace
      Christ, take on the spiritual struggle and then you shall be able to take
      on the spiritual struggle and then you will be able not only to be called
      Christian by virtue of baptism, but you will also be able to be Christians
      on account of your faith and Christian life.
      But God willing we shall continue in the following article.

      II.


      In the previous issue we wrote, in part one of the present article, that
      conscientious Christians are few. And now we say that, as we advance toward
      the end of the world, real Christians will become fewer. Now this
      unpleasant truth is not only proved by harsh reality, but is also confirmed
      by Holy Scripture.
      Perhaps someone will object, that Holy Scripture in Revelation 7:9 reveals
      that the saved are "a great multitude, which no one was able to enumerate".
      This is to say that those who are saved will be a great, not a small,
      multitude. How are these passages reconciled with the saying that the real
      Christians are few?
      Truly conscientious Christians are few, if we look separately in every
      epoch and every place. But they become many, an innumerable number, when
      they are calculated collectively, as the faithful believers of all places
      and of all epochs together.
      In directing Himself to His followers, Christ addresses them "small flock".
      He said: "Fear n! ot the small flock; for your father is pleased to give
      you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Fear not, my small flock, for your Father
      was well decided in giving you the kingdom. Unfortunately the many don't
      believe, they don't follow the good Shepherd Christ, Who sacrificed His
      life for the sheep, they are not His sheep and they don't belong to His
      select flock. "Many are called, but few are chosen", Jesus said repeatedly
      (matt. 20:16, 22:14). The Lord calls all to salvation, but few respond to
      the call and are saved - the elect. Someone asked Christ: "Lord, are those
      who are saved few?" And Christ answered: "Struggle to enter through the
      marrow gate; for I tell you, many shall seek to enter and shall not be
      able" (Luke 13:23-240. "Broad is the gate and wide is the path leading
      toward destruction, and few are those who find it!" Do not these words of
      the Lord mean that the saved are few, for few are those who struggle and
      prefer hardship, while those who journeying towards destructi! on are many,
      because many are those who prefer the easy, comfortable life? Fearful
      words, most fearful, since the godly and the saved are few, and the many,
      our fellow human beings and people, beloved persons, journey towards
      eternal misfortune. Really, how fearful is it to think that your man or
      woman, your father or mother or your brother or your child is going to
      hell, to eternal torture!
      Already at the beginning of Christianity, during apostolic times, at a
      local church, the Church of Sardus, Christ finds the bishop spiritually
      "dead" and "a few names which have not defiled their garments", that is a
      few real Christians (Rev. 3:4).
      Regarding the end times Christ prophesied the increase of lawlessness, and
      on this account the freezing over of love, the chief Christian virtue and
      the one consisting of all the virtues. "On account of the increase of
      lawlessness", the Lord said, "the love of many shall grow cold" (Matt.
      24:12). Most Christians will end up becoming lawles! s and their hearts
      will become freezers. Few Christians will keep their heart hot. According
      again to the word of Christ mankind is going toward the same state as that
      of the days of Noah and Lot, during which godlessness and sin had become
      super-abundant, and godliness and virtue had been limited to a few persons
      (Luke 17:26 ff).
      Christ, moreover, prophesied the fearful decrease of faith, the basic
      virtue of Christianity, without which one can not be accounted a Christian.
      The Lord said: "When the Son of man comes, do you suppose He will find
      faith upon the earth?" (Luke 18:8). When the Son of man comes, in His
      second appearance, do you suppose he will find faith upon the earth? The
      way the Lord speaks here, He sets the existence of faith during the end
      times as problematic. This means that the faith then will eclipse, then
      few, very few, shall maintain the faith. The atheistic propagandas, the
      heresies and amoralism will have dissolved the faith of many.
      Just as Christ! spoke in the case of the faithful believers, the real
      Christians, so also spoke Paul, the mouth of Christ. Christ spoke about the
      "small flock". And Paul spoke about a "remnant". Just as during the time of
      the prophet Elias there were "seven thousand men who bent no knee to Baal,
      thus also at the present time a remnant according to the selection of grace
      has occurred", says Paul (Rom. 11:4-5). The greatest part of Israel did not
      believe. The "remnant", a small percentage - this believed. And from
      mankind generally, how many believed? The majority or the minority? The
      minority. And even of them, who were baptized Christians there came forth
      heretics and others of inconsequence towards the Christian quality,
      unworthy of the Christian name.
      In 1 Cor. 9:22 divine Paul says: "I became all things to all people, so
      that I may save certain ones". And in 2 Tim. 2:10 he says: "For this reason
      I patiently endure on account of the elect, so that they too may be saved".
      The Apostle wa! s interested in the salvation of all, and for its sake he
      did and endured everything, but he knew that he would only save "certain
      ones", who, according to the word of the Lord, which we have already
      mentioned, are few (Matt. 20:16, 22:14).
      In 2 Tim. 3:1-5 the Apostle, in referring to the bad change of Christians,
      prophesied fearful conditions and wretched characters during the last
      years: "For people shall be selfish, money-lovers, arrogant, prideful,
      blasphemous, inobedient to parents, ungrateful, undevout, unaffectionate,
      merciless, cold, bitter, slanderers, unchaste, agitated, non-lovers of
      good, traders, impudent, blinded, pleasure-lovers rather than God-lovers,
      having the form of piety but denying the power thereof". The last phrase,
      "having the form of piety, but denying the power thereof", has the sense
      that Christians will hold to the form of Religion, while in its essence,
      which is revealed in works, they will have denied.
      In 1 Tim. 4:1 and in 2 Thes. 2:3 ! the apostasy or "falling away" is
      prophesied. And at the height of the apostasy antichrist will appear.
      According to these passages the Christians will be few, and during the last
      years they become fewer, much fewer, very few. Already many Christians have
      ended up becoming a-Christian, and many have ended up becoming antichrists,
      adversaries of the Faith and of the faithful and forerunners of great
      antichrist.
      In his time the apostle John wrote: "And now there are many antichrists" (1
      John 2:18). Antichrists, who came forth from the Christian world! And if
      during apostolic times there were many antichrists, today we must say that
      the antichrists are a great many. The Christian sphere has become full of
      antichrists! And the worst and most dangerous antichrists of all are
      high-priests, who wear the pectoral cross with Christ. On the outside is
      Christ and within them is the Satan of pride, of cunningness, of betrayal,
      of amoralism, and of evil, malice, and hatred…
      Fo! r why Scripture has foretold that the godly are few and that they will
      beome fewer? In order to demonstrate that it's God-inspired and thereby
      support Christians in the faith, and not to fear on account of their small
      number, not to "fall from the clouds" seeing the apostasy (falling away)
      and the scandals, not to despair, because their faith is supported in
      truth, and because to them, the small flock, the heavenly Father was
      pleased to give the kingdom.

      III.


      We wrote, on the basis of harsh reality and of God-inspired Scripture, that
      Christians, conscientious Chirstians, a few, and as we advance toward the
      end of the world they become fewer, and finally they will become even
      fewer, very few. This surely is unpleasant for the many, indeed the most
      unpleasurable thing, because it means the failure of their destiny. And
      this failure provokes sorrow and pain to the few, the conscientious
      Christians, because conscientious Christians love all people, they, like
      God,  want all people to be saved, and, when they see the many not caring
      seriously and not being anxious for their salvation, they pain, their heart
      shudders.
      But if conscientious Christians are few, and the others are many; if, in
      other words, the world is the majority and the real Christians are the
      minority, this is not minimalizing for the few and this shouldn't provoke a
      sense of inferiority, but quite the opposite. Christianity doesn't go with
      the ! majority! The more sparse and rare is a good, that much more value it
      has. Thus even the few good people, the conscientious Christians, have
      great value. And as the journey goes on towards the end of the world, a
      very hard journey, their number is lessened, and their value is increased.
      The many, the a-Christs, the people without Christ, are also useless, they
      have no value, since they remain in a state of spiritual indifference and
      in the life without Christ, the sinful and prodigal life. The few, the
      conscientious Christians, regardless of their societal status have value
      and super-value for many reasons. We mention a few reasons in continuation.
      The few are faithful believers. Now the faith is not for all, but for those
      who have good prerequisites. "The faith is not for all", says apostle Paul
      (2 Thes. 3:2). The faith is for people who have an awareness and a sense of
      their limits, who have humble-mindedness and a good disposition. The faith
      is for elect souls "elect ! of God according to faith", says also the
      apostle (Titus 1:1). Those who believe, believe because they are elect, and
      they are elect according to the judgment of God, and not according to the
      judgment of the world, who is capable of considering useless and
      egotistical people as being chosen ones. The faithful, even though they
      might be in a lower social status, poor and beggars and rag-men, on account
      of their faith they are wealthy, with wealth that is incomparably superior
      to the material and temporary riches. "Has not God", says James the brother
      of Christ, "chosen the poor of the world rich in faith and inheritors of
      the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5). That is,
      did not God chose the poor from the world to be wealthy in faith and
      inheritors of the kingdom, which he promised to them who love him?
      The few are purified of their sins. And sins are the greatest of all evils,
      and indeed of eternal misfortune. Not only the many, the worldly peopl! e,
      but even the few, the conscientious Christians, are sinful. But through
      faith, however, and the mysteries of the Church the few are discharged of
      their sins and are rendered blessed, happy. "Blessed are those whose sins
      were forgiven and whose sins were covered", says the Psalmodist (Psalm
      31:1).
      The few are "regenerated, reborn" (1 Peter 1:23), a "new creature"
      (Ephesians 2:15, 4:24), "new men" (Col. 3:9-10). That is to say, they
      became a new creation, new people, people with superior mind-sets, with
      superior feelings, and a superior life. An old and raggy piece of clothing,
      what value does it have? But a new piece of clothing has value. Thus the
      few, too, after the "washing of regeneration and renewal" (Titus 3:5), the
      rebirth and renewal, the old became new people and obtained value. Thus for
      them the "according to the icon" (usually translated "image"), which had
      become useless, was cleansed and saved, as we sing in hymns to saints. An
      old icon of an eminent painter,! whose imaged form has been darkened and
      practically annihilated, when it is cleansed with chemicals, and when the
      almost invisible form is revealed brilliant, all-shining, it acquires
      significant value. How much greater value does the animated and living icon
      man which God skillfully fashioned, sin blackened, but was cleansed with
      His blood and which Christ restored, have!
      The few are the children of God. When men were created by God, they were
      children of God. But they demonstrated bad behavior and became
      disinherited, neglected children. But God compassionated them and gave them
      the possibility through His incarnated Son to become again His children.
      What do we hear on the night of Christmas from the apostolic reading? "When
      the fulness of time came, God sent His Son, coming to be in His human
      nature from a woman, born under the law, so that he may redeem those under
      the law, so that we can obtain sonship" (Gal. 4:45). That is, "so that we
      obtain again sonship, so that w! e again become children of God". And on
      the night of Pascha what do we hear from the gospel reading of the Divine
      Liturgy? "Those who received Him (the incarnated God Logos), to these He
      gave authority to become children of God, those believing on His name,
      those who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the
      will of man, but were born of God" (John 1:12-13). There is sexual birth
      and there is spiritual birth. Christ became man and sacrificed Himself so
      that all people can have the possibility to become to become children of
      God. But unfortunately the many showed themselves to be unworthy of the
      divine love and compassionate condenscention. Only a few responded to the
      divine calling. Few believed in Christ with their heart and embraced
      Christ. And to them He gave "authority", the right, the privilege, to
      become children of God. Is it considered a great thing for one to be a
      child of a minister or a prime minister or of a president of a democracy or
      of a k! ing or of an emperor? What are these officials before God? Zero!
      And less than zero! A great thing, an imaginably great thing is to be a
      child of God, of the all-powerful and all-wise and all-good and
      all-super-perfect Being.
      The few have the grace of God, the superpower of heaven. They are
      grace-filled people. With the grace of God they are rendered powerful, they
      become strugglers toward what is within and toward what is without, and
      they distinguish themselves as victors in the most noble and important
      struggle. With the grace of God charismatic Christians are able to do
      signs, surpassing the physical laws, proving themselves more powerful,
      incomparably more powerful than the powerful of the earth.
      The few become "communicants of divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). How? With
      spiritual struggle and the mysteries of the Church, especially the most
      supernatural mystery of divine Communion. In them, because they believe and
      love Christ and struggle to keep His word, there come ! and dwell in them
      Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit, the whole Holy Trinity. "If
      someone loves me", Christ said, "he shall keep my word, and my Father shall
      love him, and we shall come unto him and we shall dwell in him (John
      14:23). And concerning the Holy Spirit Christ said to His own: "It remains
      near you and shall be in you" (John 14:17). It remains near you and shall
      come in you. From Pentecost and later in the conscientious members of the
      Church dwells the Holy Trinity. The faithful believers are God-bearers,
      Christ-bearers and Spirit-bearers.
      The few have eternal perspective. In departing from this temporary and
      trying world they don't go down; they go up, to the super-cosmic cosmos of
      God. And at the second appearance they shall have a glorious resurrection.
      He, who resurrected men from non-existence, at the common resurrection of
      the dead shall resurrect His own with glorious bodies, like His own
      resurrected body. Then the few shall shine like the sun, mor! e than the
      sun.
      The few have been declared kings. "Ye are an elect race, a royal
      priesthood", says Peter to the faithful believers (1 Peter 2:9). And the
      apostle John says: "To the one loving us and washing us of our sins in His
      blood and made us kingdom (kings)" (Rev. 1:5-6). The Son of God did not
      become man and did not undergo a multitude of humiliations and
      crucifixional death for small things, but for great things, so that the
      humble and humble-minded ones of the earth may be raised to a heavenly and
      eternal royal office. We remind the most honor-bestowing word to the small
      but elect flock: "Small flock, fear not; for your father was well-pleased
      to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). We bring to mind yet another most
      honor-bestowing word, according to which the faithful believers "are in
      receipt of an unshakable kingdom" (Hebrews 12:28).
      If we are of the few, the conscientious Christians, departing from this
      world we shall receive - yes, we shall receive an unshakable kingdom, a
      kingdom that is unending, indescribable, thrice-glorious, and we shall
      co-reign with our God unto the vast ages, and our kingdom shall have no
      end.
      This much value, this much importance does God give to the few, the
      conscientious Christians!
      But let us continue.
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