Christ, the Church and Salvation

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

After all that has been reported we must end with a few conclusions, without, of course, having exhausted this great theme.

a) Only in Christ is there salvation. Since the saints of the Old Testament saw the unincarnate Word and the saints of the New Testament saw and see the incarnate Word and have close communion with Him, this means that man’s salvation takes place only through Christ. And of course since Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and salvation is a common action of the Trinitarian God, it means that we are saved when we have communion with the Holy Trinity, when the grace of the Trinitarian God enters our being, when

“the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit”

are with us.

b) The Church is not a human organisation, but a Divine-Human Organism. It is not a human corporation, but the Divine-human Body of Christ. The source of the Church is this God Himself. It is not men’s invention, it is not a fruit and result of men’s social need, but it is the sole place of man’s salvation. That is to say, the impression is created that men made the Church in order to be able to survive in such difficult and tragic social conditions of life. But, as we explained before, the source of the Church is God Himself, and man’s salvation takes place within it. Clement of Alexandria observes:

“for just as it is a work of his will and is called the world, so also the salvation of men is his will and this is called the church”.

And this means that the Church will never cease to exist, in spite of such difficult and unfavourable circumstances.

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c) In the Church all the problems are solved. We are not speaking of an abstract Christianity which we link with an ideology, but of a Church which is a communion of God and man, of angels and men, of earthly and heavenly, of man and world. The Church is

“a meeting of heaven and earth”.

Peace, justice, etc. , are not simply some social conventions, but gifts which are given in the Church. Peace as well as justice and all the other virtues, such as love etc. are experiences of the Church. In the Church we experience the real peace, justice and love, which are essential energies of God.

d) The Church is the Body of Christ, which has Christ as its head, and the members of the Church are members of the Body of Christ. Members of the Church exist in all the ages and will exist until the end of all time. And when members of the Church cease to exist, the end of the world will come. Thus we are living with many people. The people of God manifest the true communion. As we said at the beginning, on the paten during the Liturgy there are many people. They are the Panagia, the Angels, the Prophets, the holy Fathers, the great martyrs, and, in general, the witnesses of the faith, the saints and ascetics, the living and the dead who have a share in the purifying, illuminating and deifying uncreated energy of God. We are not alone. We are not

“foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household” (Eph. 2,19).

The greatest gift of grace which we have is that we belong to the Church. The greatest gift is that we are in this great Family. We should value this gift, we should feel very deeply moved and struggle to remain in the Church, experiencing its sanctifying grace and showing by our lives that we are in its place of redemption and sanctification. Thus we shall also have the great gift of the “blessed ending”, when we are granted to lie asleep

“in the midst of the Church”.

Source: Mystagogy
From the book titled The Mind of the Orthodox Church.

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