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Homily for 7/24/05 - P 5 - True Faith and True Worship

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  • David Moser
    Romans 10:1-10 We are part of the Orthodox Christian Church. The Church is so much more than simply an organization of like minded people - she is, in fact,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 24 2:28 PM
      Romans 10:1-10

      We are part of the Orthodox Christian Church. The Church is so much more
      than simply an organization of like minded people - she is, in fact, the
      living, breathing, moving Body of Christ. The Church is a mystical union
      and communion of believers with Christ and with each other. However, there
      are many spiritually oriented organizations that call themselves Churches
      out there and so it is necessary to determine what sets us apart, what makes
      us different from all the others. What we call ourselves, "Orthodox
      Christians," describes what we are and how we are different from others.
      First we are "Christians" that is we believe in the God/Man Jesus Christ.
      But there are many different Christian Churches, what is it that sets us
      apart from them. That is in the name "Orthodox". The term "Orthodox" means
      "right belief", but interestingly enough, it also can be translated "right
      worship". These two varying translations, when taken together give us the
      distinction of Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Christian Church is characterized by
      its "right belief" - that is, that here is found the true faith without any
      error; and by its "right worship" - that is, that here is found the
      prescription for the true way of life that leads to the Kingdom of God.

      In the epistle today, we heard how important this is for first the Apostle
      writes, "For those who are ignorant of God's righteousness and seeking to
      establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of
      God." What he means by all this is that by trying to establish their own
      combination of belief and worship (their own righteousness) they end up
      missing their goal (God's righteousness). The Apostle speaks further of
      this when he says, "...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and
      believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
      For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth
      confession is made unto salvation." In order to gain God's righteousness,
      which is salvation, we must do two things - confess with the mouth and
      believe with the heart. We must have right worship and right belief.

      The true faith or belief of the Orthodox Church is given to us by our Lord
      Jesus Christ Himself Who is the self-revelation of the One true God. He
      reveals all that is possible to know about God to the world by His very
      existence. In order to insure that this self-revelation is perpetuated and
      passed on He chose 12 apostles who were with Him from the beginning of His
      public life. They lived with Him, listened to His constant instruction,
      observed every action, absorbed from close proximity every nuance of His
      life which is itself the expression of Truth. The Apostles, after the
      coming of the Holy Spirit, were then sent into the whole world to preach the
      Gospel - the good news of God's salvation. Through their teaching the truth
      is spread throughout the whole world and little Churches are established in
      every place. But this was not all, for they also passed on their knowledge
      to those who would guide each small flock - to those chose as bishops and
      priests who would safeguard the revelation of Christ and who would continue
      to preach the truth in every place. This preservation and teaching of the
      truth continues to this day and beyond as new parishes are established, new
      bishops consecrated and new priests ordained; each one receiving from those
      who went before him the truth handed down by the Apostles. Each one, by the
      grace of the Holy Spirit, holding a check on all the others so that no error
      can multiply and destroy the Truth. Thus we have the true faith - the true
      belief given to us by Christ Himself through the Holy Apostles and the Holy
      Tradition of the Church.

      But belief is not enough, we must also "confess with our mouth". This does
      not mean that we only "say the right words" but rather that all our actions,
      all our expression be a confession of the truth. In other words, we must
      have "true worship". To believe is not enough, we must put that belief into
      action and this true belief in action is our "true worship". Now when we
      speak of worship it is natural to think only of the services of the Church -
      but our worship is more than that. To worship God in truth involves every
      aspect, every moment, every action of our lives. We cannot worship God one
      moment and not the next and then expect this to be true worship. True
      worship means that each and every action we take is submitted to the
      righteousness of God. True worship involves our whole lives.

      It is indeed important to have a corporate worship, that is, the worship in
      the Church, which is a true expression of the true faith. Thus it is
      important that we have not only the true doctrines in the Church but also
      the true expression of those beliefs. The prayers, hymns, rituals,
      readings, and traditions of the Church are that expression. The very
      services of the Church are the purest form of "true worship". But worship
      is much more than the services of the Church. Worship, in order to be true,
      must permeate our whole lives. Worship must go with us out the door of the
      Church and continue in every thing that we do, everything that we say. Each
      word, each action is a confession of something and it is our task to make it
      a confession of Christ. What we believe must impact what we do and what we
      do must always be an expression of what we believe. If we do not have the
      "true faith" then we cannot have "true worship" and if we do not have "true
      worship" then we lose our hold on the "true faith".

      The Apostle teaches us "For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness
      and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." We must have both
      belief and confession, true faith and true worship so that we might be saved
      and acquire the righteousness of God rather than be deceived by our own form
      of righteousness. Only the righteousness of God leads us into union and
      communion with Him. Only in that union and communion with Him can we find
      salvation. This is why we are Orthodox Christians - for only within the
      Orthodox Church do we find both the "true faith" and the "true worship"
      those indispensable elements that lead to the Kingdom of God.
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