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576homily for 2/2/14 - Zach - saved by God

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  • David
    Feb 2, 2014
      1Tim 4:9-15

      “ …we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially
      of those that believe.�

      Today we sit on the transition between the end of the Resurrectional
      cycle of the past year and the beginning of the preparation for the new
      cycle. Next week we will begin with the Sundays of preparation for Great
      Lent, however today we finish up the cycle begun at Great Lent last
      year. In this moment, the Apostle brings to our remembrance the key to
      the whole work of our spiritual life – the “living God, who is the
      Savior of all�. Without the saving work of our Lord: His incarnation,
      His life, His death on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection, all our
      labor would be in vain. He is the One Who makes our salvation possible.
      In the Gospel, after hearing of the difficulty of salvation compared to
      a camel going through the eye of needle (an obviously impossible task)
      the disciples asked of Christ, “Who then can be saved�. He answered them
      saying “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are
      possible.� See here how the Apostle presents again for us this same
      truth that our salvation is not possible for us on our own, but is only
      accomplished by God Himself.

      Seeing that we men were hopelessly held captive by the chains of our
      sin, out of His great love and compassion for us, God came to accomplish
      for us what we could not. Taking flesh and becoming man, although He
      Himself was without sin, He voluntarily entered into the prison where we
      were ourselves were held captive. He then defeated the devil, our
      captor, and freed us all from our chains. More than that, He opened the
      path to heaven which had been blockaded and closed by the evil one so
      that we might again follow Him as He leads us into the presence of the

      The Apostle points out, however, that it is not just that God is the
      Savior of all men, but also remarks that He is especially so of those
      who believe. Why does he make this distinction? Is it not sufficient
      that God is the Savior of all? What is it about “those who believe� that
      sets them apart? It is important because while God has made possible our
      salvation, it is up to us to accomplish it, to make it real in our
      lives. Our Lord Jesus Christ has broken the gates of hades where we were
      held captive by the devil and has released the chains of sin that bound
      us; He has opened the gates of heaven to all who wish to enter. He does
      not, however, herd us like beasts from one place to the other. It is now
      our choice; it is up to us to follow Him where He leads. And that choice
      begins with belief. Those who believe are those who, having been set
      free by Christ, have chosen to believe that He will indeed lead them
      into heaven and so have resolved to follow Him. The first step of our
      salvation is accomplished by the God/man Jesus Christ, however, the next
      step, to follow Him, is up to us. Without His first step, our second
      step would not be possible. Having our salvation made possible by God,
      now the choice is ours whether we will follow Him.

      In just this small phrase, the Apostle puts before us the great
      question: “Will I follow Christ?� Will I believe in Him; will I choose
      to conform my life to His? Do I indeed believe that there is a salvation
      that He has accomplished and if so, do I also trust Him to show me the
      way of salvation? God has done all that is needed for my salvation; His
      work is complete. Now it is up to me – will I follow Him. Will I deny
      myself, take up my cross and follow Him? This is a call to action for
      each of us – a call to enter into the work that God has done for us and
      to join ourselves to it.
      If we choose to follow Christ, how do we know what to do and where to
      go? God does not leave this to our imagination, but provides a real and
      accessible path to follow. That path is laid out for us in the life of
      the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ and it is only by joining
      ourselves to that Body that we can possibly share the life of Christ. To
      share His life, we have to leave behind our own lives. We have to make
      choices and make changes. For this reason, our Lord also says that the
      first step of those who would follow Him is to “deny yourself� When you
      believe God and choose to join your life to His, then the first thing is
      to no longer do as you wish to do, but to order your life according to
      the will of God. How do we know what this kind of life looks like? Again
      we go to the Gospel and hear the words of Christ to “love God will all
      your heart, your strength and your mind� and to “love your neighbor as
      yourself’. Even these commandments, clear as they are, are so large as
      to be at times vague and difficult to apply. Therefore these
      commandments are themselves broken down into smaller commandments such
      as the limits imposed by the ten commandments of Moses and the nine
      beatitudes of Jesus Christ. Even then we need examples of how these
      things work out in our daily lives and for that we are given the
      examples of the saints and god-pleasers who have already worked out
      their salvation in their own lives. And even more we are given our
      pastors and teachers – the bishops, priests and spiritual fathers and
      mothers that are with us to give us guidance and help day by day. It is
      for this reason that the Apostle, having pointed out to us all the work
      of Christ into which we must enter, then instructs his spiritual child,
      Timothy, himself a bishop, in how to lead and guide the flock that God
      has given to him saying: “be an example of the believers, in word, in
      conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity …give
      attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine … that thy profiting
      may appear to all�

      God has accomplished our salvation – in fact the salvation of all men.
      Now it is up to us to choose to believe Him, to follow Him, to enter
      into the salvation that He has provided. He does not leave us alone to
      do this but gives us the gospel and the other scripture as a guide, the
      lives of the saints and holy men and women as our example, and pastors
      and teachers who provide us with support and direction in this great
      labor of working out our salvation. This then is both the end and the
      beginning of our salvation. It is the end, for God has accomplished all.
      It is the beginning, for we must now choose to follow Him and put that
      choice into action. Therefore my brothers and sisters, choose – choose
      now to deny yourself, to take up your cross and to follow Christ.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org