From Faith to Faith23 March 2015
The deepest desire of each one of us is to have a living relationship with God and to enjoy His holy gifts. Even the slightest touch of the grace of God in our heart is “better than life” as the Psalmist says; it is in fact better than many lives. But we enter solemnly into this serious relationship with God, knowing that we must manifest the stability of the righteous, namely, that we must live by faith. Thus our faith should continually grow in strength until it attains the third degree of faith – the faith of the just, which is the fidelity that enables us to stand upright and without wavering throughout the stage of God-forsakenness.
This highest degree of faith is so perfectly stable that is no longer any room for the slightest trace of doubt; no longer is it possible for such faith to diminish or draw back from the source of life. Rather, man lives each day as a new event, a new opportunity granted him by the grace of God. The Holy Spirit, at this more mature stage, shows Himself to be at once very delicate and sensitive, and also very severe.
In the beginning, however, God can be very lenient. Man experiences the spiritual comfort and joy that attend the first grace. And although he is still impure, weak and ignorant, grace does not cease to delight his heart and push him onward – precisely of his ignorance. God is merciful, and He wants first of all to teach us the great lesson of how His grace works in the soul. However, if we do not conform to His Holy Spirit, the latter will withdraw. The Epistle to the Hebrews has much to say about those who have received great gifts, who have known the power of the word of God as well as the renewal of their being, only to fall by the way. Above all, we read that it is difficult to “renew them again unto repentance”, that is to be restored by God yet again. In other words, the nearer we draw to God, the more demanding the Spirit of God becomes, that we may live the closer to Him and be united with Him eternally. As we have said before, God wants to treat man as His equal, His image, for He has endowed him with great gifts and possibilities so that he can stand before God and embrace the entire wealth of divine life. ”All that I have is thine”.
Having passed through the first two degrees of faith (introductory faith and charismatic faith combined with charismatic despair), and having attained the faith wherein our inner stability reflects the fidelity of the just, we will have convinced God that we are His, and He will answer us and His word remains forever. God will speak His word to man and enter into a final covenant of love with him and, as we know from Scripture, His covenant is eternal. God will answer us with the very words He addressed to His only-begotten Son. We will not only hear Him say, “Thou art mine”, but also “My son, today have I begotten thee”. This is our one and only true calling: to become like unto Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
1. Ps. 63,3
2. Heb. 6, 4-6
3. Luke 15, 31
4. Cf. Isa. 43, 1
5. Cf. Ps. 2,7
*Excerpt from the book “Remember thy First Love”, Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Essex 2010, pp. 33-35.