Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. It is inexcusable to insert words into the mouth of the Lord Jesus that not only did he never speak but also he never even thought. In addition to a subjective spiritual experience, “faith” is understood by the Church also as “a doctrine to be followed, that is, the entire content of Christ’s instruction to the Apostles (Mt. Christ Himself indicates that salvation is a life-long journey: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). [15] Elder Cleopa of Romania, The Truth of Our Faith (Thessalonica, Greece & London, Ontario: Uncut Mountain Press, 2000), 154. Orthodoxy accepts the baptism of infants and small children who are baptized based on the faith of the child’s godfather. This harsh reality flies contrary to the claims of Orthodox theology that such people are spiritually regenerated. 36:25-7). In his First Apology, St. Justin the Martyr describes the early-Church rite of baptism: the new converts “are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated… In order that we… may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe” (Chapter 61). Christ founded the Church (Matt. It is quite easy to demonstrate this statement. The Holy Fathers agree on the primacy of humility in one’s spiritual life. What Does God’s Word Say about Godfathers? "The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation...God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism..." ( New Catholic Catechism, #1257) "If you are a [born-again] Christian, you will go to heaven; If you're following another religion, then by default you will go to Hell." “But now I say to you, if you will not observe these commands, but will neglect them, you will not be saved” (Part II, “Commands”, Command 12, Verse 16). The Eastern Holy Fathers also used the term “original damage”, as opposed to “original sin” (which is, actually, a much later Western term.). And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Baptism is not a precondition for salvation, or is baptism a “holy mystery” that cleanses a person of ancestral sin. "We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins." However, a number of pagans heard about Him through the preaching of the Apostles and accepted Christ by faith. 10:9-13). Orthodox churches view salvation for a person as unattainable apart from baptism. Normally, believers will be baptized, and they “will be saved” on the last day. For this cause they were straightway baptized, that what they were unable to accomplish by themselves, this might be effected by the grace of Christ. And, of course, there is a strong Patristic consensus pointing to the necessity of works for one’s salvation. But then why is trying to keep the Commandments important? Demons are not saved, even though they have faith too: “…The devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19) – and even confess Christ: “A certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:16-17). for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. [36] Constantine Platis, Dance, O Isaiah: Questions and Answers on Some of the Differences between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Other Faiths (Boston, MA: Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, 2000), 55. In general, God is seeking in us the ability to accept communion with Him – and readily gives it to us in proportion with our ability to accept. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:44, 46-7), “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. “For alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin” (Tobit 12:9). Forcing oneself to diligently keep Christ’s Commandments leads one to humility. Christ said: “I… will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Saints would weep over their virtues for this reason. The New Testament knows nothing about the Orthodox system of godfatherhood, e.g. [37] Stragorodskii, ibid., Chapter 5, “Vera” (“Faith”). © 1999-2018 OrthoChristian.comWhen reposting our material a link to OrthoChristian.com is required. Forgive, and it shall be forgiven to you. “…And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith, whereby the Almighty God justified all men that have been from the beginning…” (St. Clement, “First Epistle to Corinthians”).[35]. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Rather, He saved them because of His grace, which produced within them a sincere desire to serve God. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? The early Church did not believe that baptism guarantees one salvation: “…After we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation.” (St. Justin the Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 65). “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Small children and babies are excluded from the list of those who may be baptized, because they cannot take responsibility nor can they consciously accept the Christian faith. There can be found even a few Old Testament quotes about redemption (forgiveness of sins) as a result of works: “Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sins” (Sirach 3:30). Note: Many people have emailed asking what my motives were in writing this article about water baptism.For those interested, I’ve given a brief explanation in my blog. In baptism our sins are washed away, but we do not become sinless. We notice immediately that for the Apostle the possibility of his salvation was tied to his ascetic feats. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. In Mark 17 Christ lists the outward signs that will accompany those who will have achieved theosis. However, the very text that Catechism in the Home cites in support of the baptism of babies and the system of godparents comes only from times much later than the time of Christ’s apostles. The example of such life was given to the Church by Christ Himself. Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974), 16-17. The Catechism rightly cautions. 1.11 God does not force salvation on anyone but assists those who choose it. One’s return to God starts with repentance. And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:23-24). 1.7 Repentance is a necessary condition of one’s personal salvation. 7:21-3), From an Orthodox work earlier cited, we learned that children are baptized in the Orthodox Church based upon the faith of the godfather, an adult who becomes their spiritual parent.xiv This spiritual father of a little child gives “birth” to his godchild “for God and eternal life”. A great ascetic of the 4th century, St. Macarius the Great, who had tasted communion with God in his earthly life, was so permeated with that experience, that he almost could not imagine what else could be given to his soul beyond the grave[31] and was inclined to believe that on the day of Resurrection it will be just the body that “will be covered and glorified with the Light of God that there is in the human soul now – so that the body could reign with the soul, even now partaking in the Kingdom of Christ, consoled and enlightened by the eternal light” (St. Macarius the Great, Discourse 2, “On the Kingdom of Darkness”). Baptism is not necessary for salvation. In His dialogue with Nicodemus, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. The new spiritual rebirth from God signifies the establishment of fellowship with the Lord on the basis of sincere and firm faith. 1.13 Salvation is possible only in the Church. Christ Himself said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. He exhorteth us therefore to believe on Him with our whole heart, and to be not idle nor careless unto every good work” (34:2-4). [3], [4], Why do we call Christ “the Savior”? In His “High Priest’s prayer”, Jesus Christ prays to God the Father about His followers that “they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:21). If we are talking about salvation, someone must be in danger. 1.14 Christ’s life on Earth is an example of personal salvation for us to follow. But you couldn’t support that knowing, for example, that the thief on the cross had no opportunity for baptism or church membership. As Christians, we seek not simply blessings from God but God Himself – and our salvation is the experiential knowledge of God. In his 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians,[56] St. Clement specifically mentions the importance of keeping Christ’s Commandments: “Nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments” (Chapter 6). Thus her function is to transform our whole life into preparation. As St. Peter of Damascus said, “the first sign of the beginning of the health of the soul is seeing your sins innumerable as sea sand.”[50]. But he is still the same man. [43] St. Justin the Martyr, The First Apology, Chapter 61, “Christian baptism”, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.lxi.html (accessed April 10, 2010). Just as three Persons of the Holy Trinity dwell in each other without losing their individual character, we are also called to “dwell” in God without losing our identity. 2:8); but he also teaches, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. But this… only clears for one the path to God but does not do anything with him. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament emphasizes the fact that God did not save or accept Abraham or the Israelites based merely on their external physical circumcision. Then Christ imposed the law of baptism, saying, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). To say that baptism is a requirement in order to be saved goes against the Scriptures that say that salvation is a free gift (Rom. As far as I am concerned salvation is an ongoing process. The Serbian Orthodox Catechism in the Home misinterprets God’s Word by asserting: “When He was teaching Nicodemus, Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is baptized of water and the Spirit.’” viii. God gives faith to those who seek Him. Only when people had faith in Christ would the apostles proceed to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul teaches that at the time of sincere faith and spiritual birth of the believer, God cleanses man from sin “with the circumcision made without hands.” In other words, God operates in a person’s heart through granting a rejection of that person’s former sinful lifestyle and producing a genuine desire to obey Him: “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Col. 2:11-12), Unlike Orthodox priests who claim salvation comes through religious rites, the Apostles taught salvation for a person comes solely through justification through faith in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, God does not force salvation on anyone: otherwise, this would not be “salvation” but rather His re-making us into something that contradicts His Own original design of us. The Holy Scriptures do not contain one single example of baptizing infants and small children, although it does not exclude the possibility that older children (perhaps around 7 years old) could be baptized. xvii Tertullian, Treatise on Baptism, (c. 200-206 A.D.), 18, 4, cited in Simo Ralevic, Biblical Baptism, (House of Prayer: Pech, unknown date), 20. Many Saints would repeat throughout their life the words “Everybody will be saved, I alone will perish.”[64]. I believe baptism is part of the salvation process but would never take a stand on where in that process one is actually saved. However, some have concluded from this fact that there is nothing that man can or must do for his salvation. In the process of the holy mystery of Baptism, the godfather becomes a spiritual father to that child – a status spiritually conferred by God… The mystery of Baptism is the most important ritual in the worldwide Church of Christ… And the fact is that the name that the newly baptized child receives from his godfather during the baptism is recorded in the ‘Records of People Born and Christened in the Church of Christ’ and ‘the Book of Eternal Life’, a book possessed by the eternal Lamb of God, who was slaughtered from the foundation of the world.” iii. There is a multitude of places in the Scripture testifying to the fact that salvation is not a single act but extended in time: “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22), “To us who are being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18), etc. Specifically, the verse actually states that the condition for salvation is faith and not baptism. Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 4000 characters. Some say faith only, others say it is necessary. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) lay out this process in general. Even the greatest Saints, up to their last hour, never took for granted that they were going to heaven. Thus the Orthodox Church holds Baptism to be as necessary for infants as for adults, since they, too, are subject to Original Sin and without Baptism cannot be absolved of this sin. can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life…” (John 6:54). [53] Stragorodskii, ibid., Chapter 1, “Pravovoe zhizneponimanie pered sudom Svyashennogo Pisaniya i Svyashennogo Predaniya” (“The Legalistic Mentality before the Judgment by the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition”). Nowhere in his letters did Paul leave even the slightest idea that water baptism could lead to anyone’s salvation. 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