The Church is One. This is the first definition that the Church gave Herself in the Creed. One God, One Faith and One Church. In our current days for many people, this initial self-definition by the Church has become incomprehensible and even forgotten.
The Church is one, but it has two parts: on earth its counterpart is the church militant (because its members are struggling each with their own sins and passions, due to the fallen nature of man and in-bred tendency to sin), in heaven it is the church triumphant (because God has delivered, or saved those members, who were worthy, of their sins and iniquities). These two parts are integrally linked for they are in close communion and accord, as Christ said: “and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19), (Matt. 19:18).
The Church is connected not only by love and unanimity of thought, but by such love that Her members become one whole body. This one whole body is the Body of Christ in which the Holy Spirit lives. This very cohesion is what Christ prayed for in His prayer as High Priest , where He likens it even to the Unity and Indivisibility of the Most Holy Trinity! Therefore all false teachings, heresies, distortions in teaching and schisms which violate the Holy Oneness of the Church place the instigators and participants of such things outside the Church.
The Church is Holy
The Church is Holy because the Holy Spirit lives in Her and animates Her. The Holy Spirit can manifest Himself wherever and whenever He pleases and is never restricted by anything. But the Church of Christ is the house of God and the Holy Spirit lives in the Church as in His Own home.
This is why the Church alone has been granted the power to bless and sanctify, i.e., to not only make its members holy but even sanctify the entire surrounding world and the numerous objects in it, ranging from icons to homes and even vehicles. The bishops of the Church are called “sviatiteli” (luminaries, edifiers in sanctity), while the priests are called “ministers of sacredness” (“sviaschennik” – Russian). “God is Holy and His Church is Holy. Holiness is a power which causes hell to tremble and which the godless world cannot endure. This power and this light is poured forth abundantly by the Church onto each of its members who strive to acquire it. It is indispensable in order to acquire godliness, i.e., holiness, to which each of Her members, without exception, is called.
The Lifting of Restrictions
The Church is the reinstatement of fallen man. Just as all mankind fell in the person of Adam, likewise it rose up again in Christ. In the Church, the curse of God which man acquired in Paradise when he fell is lifted and in the Church those punishments and restrictions which God gradually placed on man in order to preserve and educate him are loosed.
But primarily it is death which is abolished in the Church. In the beginning Christ said to Adam that he would die a death; now He Himself says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24). And Apostle Paul asks the rhetorical question: “O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor.15:55).”
Faith and Delusion
Father Nikita Grigoriev
Copyright 2011 Nikita Grigoriev.