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Then [the jailer] called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household (Acts 16:29-31).

 

The Promise of God

 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then… you shall be My people, and I will be your God (Ezekiel 36:26-28). 
But this is the covenant that I will make… I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31:33).
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days… I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them (Hebrews 10:16).

 

St. Symeon the New Theologian (942-1022 AD)

 

St. Symeon the New Theologian, [one of only three Saints in the Orthodox Church with the title ‘Theologian’ - together with the Holy Apostle John the Evangelist and St. Gregory Nazianzen], teaches that there are two distinct Baptisms and emphasized the power of the Holy Spirit to transform the truly repentant man. He referred to the second Baptism as the ‘Baptism of Tears’, [or ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’], and often compared it to the ritualistic first Baptism in water. St. Symeon boldly declared that Christianity had descended into formulae and Church ritual, which for many people replaced the earlier Christian emphasis on an actual and direct experience with God in Christ Jesus. St. Symeon’s Discourses express his strong conviction that the life of an Orthodox Christian must be much more than a mere observance of rules, and must include a personal experience of the presence of the Living Christ. St. Symeon describes his own conversion through the ‘Baptism of Tears’ and the mystical experience of the Divine light as an example for us.

 

St. Symeon says:

 

Just as it is impossible for one to be saved who has not been baptized by water and the Spirit, (cf. John 3:5), neither is it for him who has sinned after Baptism, unless he be baptized from on high and be born again. If one is ignorant of the Baptism wherewith he was baptized as a child and does not even realize that he was baptized, but only accepts it by faith and then wipes it away with thousands upon thousands of sins, and if he denies the second Baptism - I mean, that which is through the Spirit, given from above by the loving-kindness of God to those who seek it by repentance - by what other means can he ever obtain salvation? By no means!
If men give way to the wishes of the evil one after their Baptism and put these decisions into effect, they cut themselves off from the holy womb of Baptism in accordance with the saying of David.
We receive the remission of our sins at our divine Baptism and we are freed from the ancient curse and sanctified by the presence of the Holy Spirit. But this is not yet that perfect grace of which the Scripture speaks. This applies only to those who are strong in faith and show it in their works, for if we fall back into evil and shameful deeds after our Baptism, we completely throw away this very sanctification. It is in proportion to our true repentance, confession, and tears that we receive the remission of our former sins, and as a consequence of this, sanctification and grace from on high.

 

St. Symeon the New Theologian teaches that the first [ritual] Baptism is only a type, or foreshadow of the second Baptism. The water of the first Baptism prefigures tears and the Myron/oil in Chrismation prefigures the inner anointing of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the second Baptism is not a type of the Truth, but the Truth itself. What, then, is this second Baptism and what are the results? The ‘Baptism of Tears’, [or second Baptism], is the real, spiritual cleansing of the individual from their sin. It is the new birth (cf. John 3:5).

 

In the Discourses, St. Symeon says:

 

Repentance gives rise to the tear from the depths of the soul; the tear cleanses the heart and wipes away great sins. When these have been blotted out through tears, the soul finds itself in the comfort of the Spirit of God and is watered by streams of sweetest compunction.
No one will ever prove from the Divine Scriptures that any person ever was cleansed without tears and constant compunction.

 

The ‘Baptism of Tears’ is fundamentally tied to the new birth, salvation, holiness, sanctification, and divinization. Many people attend the Church’s worship and receive its sacramental ministrations in a mechanical way, not attaching personal faith to the actions. In modern-day Orthodoxy, a revival of the affective nature of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord is needed, especially as seen in the reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit. With the ‘Baptism of the Spirit’, a transformation in the nature of the believer occurs. This is an affective transformation that involves the continual state of the individual and his/her relationship with God and the world that surrounds him/her. In terms of the believer's realtionships with others, this is most clearly stated by St. Symeon the New Theologian in regards to love. In the Chapters and the Discourses, St. Symeon speaks of the ability to live according to the virtues of love that we recognize as being found in I Corinthians 13, and moreover, of the ability to overlook the wrongs that have been done to us. Beyond any doubt, there needs to be a new awareness of the indispensable role of the second Baptism in the life of the Church.

 

What does this mean?

 

This simply means that NOTHING can replace a Personal Salvific Experience of the Presence of the Living Christ and Relationship with the Triune God. Therefore, it is necessary to make a primary existential choice/decision (i.e., a choice/decision that will govern and direct all subsequent life choices). That salvific choice/decision involves the heartfelt and willing submission to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household (Acts 16:29-31).
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:37-42).

 

Spiritual Realities

 

The choice/decision to serve the Lord Jesus Christ proceeds from a profound awareness/realization of the following spiritual realities.

 

I. God Loves Mankind

 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

 

See Genesis 22:2, Isaiah 9:6, John 1:18, John 3:18, John 3:36, John 6:40, and Romans 8:32.

 

II. Christ Came to Bring Abundant Life

 

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly [that it might be full and meaningful] (John 10:10).

 

See John 5:40.

 

III. Sin Separates Us from God

 

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18).
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
For the wages of sin is death [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).
 
See Genesis 2:17, Genesis 8:21, I Kings 8:46, Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1, Psalm 53:3, Psalm 143:2, Proverbs 11:19, Ecclesiastes 7:20,
Ezekiel 18:4, Matthew 25:46, Romans 1:32, Romans 3:9, Romans 5:12, Romans 5:21, Romans 6:16, and I John 1:8.

                 

IV. Christ Died for Us

 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

 

See Isaiah 53:5, John 15:13, Romans 4:25, Romans 5:6, Romans 5:7, Romans 8:32, Galatians 1:4, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 5:2,

I Timothy 2:6, and Hebrews 9:28.

 

V. Christ is Risen from the Dead

 

Christ died for our sins... He was buried... He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures... He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred... (cf. I Corinthians 15:3-58).
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).
For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection (Romans 6:5).

 

See John 11:25, Romans 4:25, Romans 5:12, I Peter 1:3, Revelation 1:5, and Revelation 21:4.

 

VI. Christ is the Only Way to God

 

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me’ (John 14:6).

 

See John 10:9, John 11:25, and Ephesians 2:18.

 

VII. Repent

 

It is not enough just to know these realities. There must be action/synergy.

 

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:37-39).

 

See Psalm 73:21, Ecclesiastes 12:11, Isaiah 44:2, Isaiah 59:20, Jeremiah 36:3, Ezekiel 33:11, Mark 1:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 3:19,

and Acts 26:20.

 

VIII. Submit to Christ's Lordship

 

 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:29-31).
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

 

See Mark 16:16, Acts 11:14, and Philippians 2:11.

 

IX. Receive Christ Through Faith

 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him (Revelation 3:20).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation’. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2:40-41).
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

See Hosea 1:10, John 3:18, John 4:10, Acts 4:4, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:16.

 

X. Experience a New Birth

 

(1) There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. (2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (3) Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (4) Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’…   (16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (21) But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God ” (John 3:1-6, 16-21).

 

Receiving Christ involves repentance, [metanoia, or transformation of the nous]. It is the turning to God from the self and sin, (i.e., from the ego-centric life, which is dominated by attachments to the senses, emotions, intellect, and imagination), to a nous-centered and God-centered consciousness through submission to Christ's Lordship/Kingship in your life, and moreover, trusting Christ to come into your heart to forgive your sins and to make you a new creature. Intellectual assent to the fact/truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for your sins on the Cross is not enough. You must make a primary existential choice/decision, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith.

 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12,13).

 

Decision Time

 

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (II Corinthians 6:2).

 

How to Receive Christ

 

You can receive Christ by faith through prayer. The following is a suggested prayer:

 

‘O Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ, Giver of Wisdom and understanding’, I admit [acknowledge] my need and recognize my sinfulness. ‘I confess all of the sins, which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word, and deed. I am wholeheartedly sorry that I have offended God and that through my sin I have separated myself from him’. ‘I sincerely repent, and with tears I humbly ask for forgiveness. I firmly resolve to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin’. I open the door of my heart and submit to your Lordship in my life. ‘I receive you as my only Lord and Savior. Renew in me the likeness of your image. Thank you for dying on the Cross for my sins’. ‘Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me the hope of eternal life’. ‘Nourish me with your Holy Mysteries’. ‘Heal the wounds of my heart’, take control of my life and make me the kind of person that you want me to be, ‘that being saved by you, I may glorify you forever’. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The prayer above is taken from:

 

  • The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
  • The Canon of Repentance
  • The Canon to the Lord Jesus Christ

 

You can pray this prayer now and Christ will come into your life, as He promised. He knocks at the door of your heart, saying:

 

Turn back to Me with all your heart (Deuteronomy 30:2).

 

Give your heart to Christ, and He will give you a new heart and a new mind. Do not be deceived by your damaged heart or follow its desires.

 

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness [immoral things]... (Mark 7:21).

 

Leave your sins and receive God’s gift.

 

For the wages of sin is death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Romans 3:22).

 

You must act on your choice/decision. In fact, you will be compelled to do so if your choice/decision is heartfelt. You will adopt a new ontological dynamic/approach, (i.e., you will find a new meaning and purpose for your life), with a new goal/intention, based upon submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. You will implement precise and compatible objectives/intentions when presented with any lived-reality, (i.e., you will begin to make correct life-choices). In spite of the fact that there are many levels of intentions, you will be focused and have one primary and integrative goal/intention, [submission to the Lordship of Christ], and move towards that primary goal, in terms of perception, attention, and action. The process includes the continual tuning of the attention [hesychia, or 'enlarging of the heart']. Each possible objective/intention [i.e., each life situation], that you confront will then be meaningfully delimited, and the dynamics of that specific objective/intention will inform you as to the specific objective/intention’s compatibility with the primary goal/intention (i.e., your choice/decision to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ). If incompatibility exists, you will then take corrective action, and continue in the direction of your primary and integrative goal/intention to serve Christ. Although the process will involve sacrifice, it will not be overwhelingly difficult because God has promised...

 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then… you shall be My people, and I will be your God (Ezekiel 36:26-28). 
But this is the covenant that I will make… I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31:33).
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days… I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them (Hebrews 10:16).

 

After you submit to the Lordhip of Christ...

 

 Read the Holy Scriptures and excerps from the lives of the Saints every day.

 

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe (I Thessalonians 2:13).
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him (I John 2:25).
When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held (Revelation 6:9).
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the Word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4).

 

Attend Divine Services regularly and receive the Holy Mysteries.

 

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers (Acts 1:14).
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42).
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the House of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:19-25).

 

Work out your salvation.

 

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble (II Peter 1:10).

 

For the same reason the Apostle Paul wrote:

 

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus (cf. II Timothy 1:13).
For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (II Timothy 1:12).
Build yourself up in your faith in God, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, keep yourself in the love of God, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus, the way, the truth and the life, our Lord who will soon return to gather up his children for He is “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (cf. I Timothy 6:15).
Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to bring you faultless and joyful before His glorious presence – to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority, from all ages past, and now, and for ever and ever! Amen (Jude 24-25).

  

 




It is better to eat meat and drink wine and not to eat the flesh of one's brethren through slander.

Abba Hyperechius


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