Sunday, March 16, 2014

The First Article of the Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

To believe in God means to be steadfastly sure that God exists, that He cares for us, and to wholeheartedly accept His Divine revelation; that is, everything that He revealed about Himself, and about the salvation of people by the incarnate Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

But in order that our faith be alive and active, it is necessary to confess it. To confess faith means to openly express internal faith in God by words and good works, and that neither danger, persecution, suffering, nor even death are able to force us to renounce our faith in the true God. Only by such a firm confession will we be able to save our souls. For man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:10), says Apostle Paul.

The holy martyrs serve as examples of steadfast and courageous confession of faith. They had such faith in God and were so animated by love for the Lord Jesus Christ that for His name’s sake they renounced all earthly gain, underwent persecution and such martyric sufferings that could be contrived only by the most evil imagination of man.

The words of the Symbol of Faith, "In one God," indicate the uniqueness of the true God. God is one, and there is no other beside Him (Ex. 44:6, Ex. 20:2-3, Deut. 6:4; John 17:3; I Cor. 8:4-6). This reminder is given in order to repudiate pagan teachings about many gods.

God is the highest Being, above all that is mundane or supernatural. To know the being of God is impossible. It is higher than the knowledge not only of men, but even of the angels. From the revelation of God, from the clear testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, we are able to get an understanding of the existence and the basic nature of God. God is Spirit (John 4:24); living (Jer. 10:10; I Thess. 1:9); self-existent, that is, dependent on no one, and having received life from Himself — He is (Ex. 3:14; I John 2:13); everlasting (Ps. 90:2; Ex. 40:28); unchanging (James 1:17; Mala. 3:6; Ps. 102:27); omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-12; Acts 17:27); omniscient (I John 3:29, Heb. 4:13); omnipotent (Gen. 17:1; Luke 1:37; Ps. 32:9); all good (Matt. 19:17, Ps. 24:8); wise (Ps. 104:24; Rom. 14:26; I Tim. 1:17); righteous (Ps. 7:12; Ps. 10:7; II Rom. 6:11); self-sufficient (Acts 17:25); all blessed (I Tim. 6:15).

The assertion that God is Spirit does not contradict those places in the Holy Scriptures in which bodily members are ascribed to God. These expressions are used symbolically in the spiritual writings when they speak of the nature of God. For instance, eyes or ears indicate the omniscience of God, and so forth.

God is one, but not solitary. God is one in essence, but triple in Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Most-holy Trinity, consubstantial and indivisible. One in three Persons, each Person eternally loving the others. God is love (I John 4:16).

The inter-relationship between the Persons of the Holy Trinity is such that God the Father is not born from and does not proceed from the other persons. The Son of God was born from God the Father before all ages, and the Holy Spirit always proceeds from God the Father. All three Persons of the Holy Trinity in being and nature are completely equal within God Himself. As God the Father is true God, so God the Son is true God, and God the Holy Spirit is true God, but all three Persons are a single Deity — One God.

How one God exists in three Persons is a mystery, incomprehensible to our intelligence, but we believe this according to the testimony of Divine revelation. The mystery of the Holy Trinity was revealed to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, when he sent the Apostles to preach. He said, Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). The Apostle and Evangelist John also clearly testifies both to the trinitarian Persons of God and to the single essence of the Persons. There are Three Witnesses in Heaven (about the Divinity of the Son of God); Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these Three are one (I John 5:7).

Apostle Paul, addressing the Corinthian Christians, says, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (II Cor. 13:14).

For clarification of this great mystery we point out the world which, as a revelation of the creation of God, speaks to us of the incomprehensible mystery of the trinitarian essence of the Creator. The imprint of this mystery lies deep in the nature of every created entity. The trinitarian unity, as an underlying idea, is intrinsic to all the works of the Creator, glorifying the Trinity. For example, the speech of all persons in the world has three persons: I; you; he, she, or it. Time is expressed as past, present and future. The states of matter are liquid, solid and gas. All the various colors in the world are make up of the three primary colors, red, blue and yellow. Man conducts himself by means of thought, word and deed. Deeds, in their turn, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even man is a trinitarian unity of body, mind and soul. The salvation of our souls is made up of three Christian virtues, faith, hope and love.

We are able to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity in part only with the heart, by love found in the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, that is, by living in love.

We call God Almighty because He, as King of Heaven, governs all and maintains everything by His strength and power.

Furthermore, we call God Maker of heaven and earth because everything that exists, both in the visible, physical world and in the invisible, spiritual world, that is, the entire universe, was created by God in Three Persons. God the Father created with the Word, His Only-begotten Son, and with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit.

To the invisible or spiritual world belong angels — spirits — bodiless, immortal beings, endowed with reason, will and power. Also to the spiritual world belongs the soul of each person.

The word "angel" is a Greek word which means "messenger," because God sends angels to announce His will to people. Each Christian has his own Guardian Angel, who invisibly helps him in matters of salvation, and guards him from the wicked activity of the evil one. The evil one is called the Devil (slanderer), and Satan (one who is against God). The evil spirits were also created good and free. However, they became proud, fell from God, and became deceitful and evil. Since that time, they have envied everything good and lead men into sin in order to destroy them. Because of sin, all people die physically. They would die a more terrible second, spiritual death, when the soul surrenders to sin and perishes in estrangement from God, if people were not saved from this eternal destruction by the incarnate Son of God.

In the following six articles of the Symbol of Faith, beginning with the second Article and ending with the seventh, are set forth teachings about the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
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