“and this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent” (John 17:3)
Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Gospel teachings is constantly calling all people to salvation and eternal life! This blessedness begins here in our earthly lives through the knowledge of “the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent”, the Savior of the world”.
To know does not necessarily mean that we see God, Who according to St. Paul, “no man has seen or can see” (I Timothy6:13). The Holy Orthodox Church teaches that God’s Being is Light-bearing and Inaccessible and “upon Whom the orders of angels dare not gaze.” It is even more impossible for a sinful person to see the face of God.
The vision of grace, to be able to see God’s glory, was given to great and righteous people - the Prophets Moses and Isaiah (Is. 6:1-3), the Holy Apostles Peter, James, and John - on Mt. Tabor during the Transfiguration of our Lord (Matt. 17:1-2); the Apostle Paul, at his call to apostolic service (Acts 9:3-6) and other great saints of Christ’s Church.
But the Lord grants all people the opportunity to know Him through faith and a pure heart. He calls such people blessed and happy: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt. 5:8)”. However, man only attains a partial spiritual knowledge and vision of God. The Lord Jesus Christ taught that God’s Light-bearing Being is known perfectly only to “he...whom the Son wills to reveal Him (Matt. 11:27)”.
In His Gospel, Christ the Savior says that God is Spirit (John 4:24), that He is our true Father, Creator, and Providence (Matt 10:30; Luke 12:7). He truly loves us and sent His Only-begotten Son for our redemption and salvation from sin and the Devil (John 3:16). God constantly bestows His benevolence upon us and directs our path towards salvation.
Sending us His countless blessings, He expects us to worship Him in spirit and truth and to sincerely love Him. God also wishes that all people with a heartfelt faith in Him strive to fulfill His sacred will as set out our for us in the Gospel commandments, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”, the Lord says, “but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16).
Our Holy Church has always called people to the saving faith of Christianity, as she does today, preaching through her priests the New Testament commandments and teaching them to live a Christian life. That is why we cherish our membership in the Holy Orthodox Church and glorify our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, with gratitude.
The Holy Apostles, the Fathers, and Teachers, placed everything true and saving into the Church of Christ, as into a great treasure-house. The Holy Church offers Christ’s salvation through her teachings and in the Holy Mysteries without which a man cannot be saved. In order to receive the Gifts of Grace of God’s Sacraments, the Holy Church demands firm faith and a pious life. all Christians are called to know “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God(Roamsn12:2).
St. John the Divine preaches that every believer can know whether he or she has truly known God according to how they observe His commandments: “He who says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him, (I John 2:4)”, “God is Light” (I John 1:5), and therefore our life too should shine with Divine Light. Our God is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth (Exodus 35:6)”, and we should strive to be compassionate, patient, and merciful towards our near and dear ones in our lifetime. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy(Matt. 5:7), says the Lord.
The Holy church commands us to strengthen our piety by reading and listening to Holy Scripture, from which we will receive a saving knowledge of God and His Holy Will - good and perfect.
Let us pray to God with our whole heart that He may strengthen our weak will to fulfill his commandments and to open our minds to understand the Holy Scriptures. The knowledge of God and a heartfelt love of him, witnessed by our deeds, will surely lead us to blessed Eternal Life, which our Heavenly Father will grant us through the grace of His son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
by Protopresb. Gerald Ozlanski