BASIC DOGMATIC TEACHING
An Orthodox Handbook
by Protopresbyter Fr. Anthony Alevizopoulos (1931 – 1996)
Dr. of Theology, Dr. of Philosophy
Chapter 9 – The Person of the Godman
1. The incarnation of the Logos
«Let us rejoice in the Lord, narrating the present mystery». (Come and let us be filled with joy by the Lord, narrating this mystery: the hindrance of the dividing wall is dissolved; the flaming sword has turned its back, and the Cherubim have set free the Tree of Life. Thus, I too can partake of the Paradise of Bliss from where my disobedience drove me out. Because the unvarying image of the Father, the character of His eternicity, has taken on the form of a servant since He came from a Virgin mother without undergoing any transformation: He remained that which He always was – the true God – and He assumed that which He wasn’t – He became a man, out of philanthropy. To Him, therefore, let us cry out: “O God, You Who were born of a Virgin, have mercy on us”».
This hymn from the Vespers of Christmas presents the grand mystery of the Divine Incarnation and also reveals the salvific message contained therein.Saint John the Evangelist referred to this same mystery when he wrote the following, superb phrase:
«In the beginning was the Word (Logos) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.» (John 1:1).
«And the Word (Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father» (John 1:14).
The incarnation of God the Logos without a doubt constitutes God’s most prominent revelation of Himself to man: the ultimate Theophany.
Obviously, in this case also, it is not a revelation of God’s essence; it is the revelation of the Lord’s Person.
It is in this sense that we comprehend the hymn of the 9th Ode of Cheesefare Sunday:
«It is impossible for people to see God, Whom the hosts of Angels dare not gaze upon, but through You, o Most Pure One, the Logos was made visible to mortals, incarnate; while magnifying Him together with the heavenly Hosts, we beatify You».
So, it is about the sight of the Lord’s Person, with which the Apostles themselves did not become fully acquainted, but only “as much as they were able”. Says Saint Dionysios the Areopagite: «He remains latent, even after the revelation», or, to express ourselves in a more divine manner, “…also within the revelation».
2. The divinity of the Lord in the Old Testament
As we have seen, Christ’s divinity was already witnessed in the Old Testament (Isaiah 9:6. Mic. 5:1. Daniel 7:14).
But these are not the only cases of witness. Of course, the voice of the Prophets was within a “veil” – it was the “shadow” of the “in Christ” revelation (2 Cor.3:14, Hebr. 10:1, John 5:39) – but the New Testament shed plenteous light and interpreted the prophecies of the Old Testament, authentically and divinely inspired.
For this reason, we shall mention a few instances where the divinity of the Lord is witnessed, indisputably.
In Psalm 44:7-8, it says: «Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. […] you loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Therefore God, your God, anointed you with oil of rejoicing… ».
This prophecy is mentioned by the Apostle Paul, who underlines that it is referring to the Christ (Hebr. 1:8-9). In other words, we have here a witness that pertains to God the Father and God the Son.
In Psalms 101:26-28 it says: «At the beginning it was you, O Lord, who founded the earth, and the heavens are works of your hands. They will perish, but you will endure, and they will all become old like a garment. Like clothing you will change them, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not fail».
This prophecy also is mentioned by the Apostle as pertaining to the Person of Christ (Hebr.1:10-12). Consequently, we have here a witness regarding the divinity of the Son and His participation in the opus of the creation of the world.
In passage 2:32 of the Prophet Joel it says: «…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved». It is important to mention here that the Hebrew text has the name “Yahwe” – in other words, “God”. Furthermore, the Prophet Isaiah says: «…and the one who believes in Him will not be put to shame» (Isaiah 28:16).
The Apostle Paul interprets these passages as follows: «…that 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. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”(Isaiah 28:16) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”(Joel 2:32) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?… » (Romans 10:9-14).
From this divinely inspired interpretation of the Old Testament it is clearly apparent that the prophecies pertain to the Person of Christ, Whom they refer to as “Lord” and “God” – together of course with the Father and the Holy Spirit (cmp. Isaiah 6:3), because the Persons of the Trinitarian God are always united (John 10:30, 14:1-20). And that is the reason the Apostles preached – as we shall see – the name of Jesus Christ.
There are many other witnesses in the Old Testament which are likewise interpreted in the New Testament and which prove the divinity of the Lord (see for example Psalms 109:1 and the interpretation in Mark 12:35-37). Ut us our belief, however, that these few examples that were quoted are sufficient for us to be convinced that the Old Testament proclaims the divinity of the Lord.
3. “Here I have stood, before you came, on the rock…”
As we are informed by the Apostle Peter, it was the Son and Logos of God Who spoke to the Prophets, informing them of events that were to come in the future. To the Prophets – the Apostle said – spoke «the Spirit of Christ, Who was in them, indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow» (1 Pet. 1:11).
It is also characteristic how the Apostle Paul refers to the “rock” of the Mount Choreb from which water sprung forth, and he says that God, Who had stood on that rock before, was Christ.
«And the Lord said to Moyses, “Go on ahead of this people, but take with you some of the elders of the people and the rod with which you struck the river (Nile) take in your hand, and go. I here have taken my stand, before you came, on the rock at Choreb. And you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, and the people will drink.”» (Exod.17:5-6., cmp. 1 Cor.10:1-5).
4. I am the One Who Is
«He, Who in the past had conversed with Moses on Mount Sinai with symbols, saying “I am He Who Is” and Who today is transfigured upon Mount Tabor, is showing to the disciples the primeval beauty of the image, by having assumed the human essence. Having made Moses and Elijah witnesses of such a Grace, He made them communants of delight, by foreshadowing His glorious and salvific through-the-Cross Resurrection».
This hymn from the Vespers of the Transfiguration relates the Person of the Lord to the Person of God, Who had revealed Himself to Moses.
This same truth is underlined by Basil the Great; this Father of the Church makes reference to the Old Testament passage – Exodus 3:14 – where God reveals His name to Moses and underlines that the same Person is also called “Messenger” (AngelÞ) and “God”. And indeed; In Exodus 3:2 it says that a Messenger (Angel) of God appeared to Moses, in the form of a blazing flame. But afterwards, it says that the voice which was heard said: “I am the God of your Father, Abraham“, and after this, “I am the One Who is” (Exod. 3:14).
«What, then?», asks Basil the Great, «is the same One both ‘Messenger‘ (Angel) and ‘God’?»; and he comes to the conclusion that it is He, about Whom we were taught that «…he is named Messenger (Angel) of Great Counsel (=volition. Per the Greek text, βουλή (vouli = volition, will)» (Isaiah 9:6).
«Because, although He afterwards became the ‘Messenger (Angel) of Great Counsel‘, nevertheless, He previously did not regard the name ‘Messenger’ (Angel) as belittling». We not only see here that the Lord is referred to by Scripture as both ‘Messenger’ (Angel) and ‘God’, but also that Jacob himself – when narrating the vision to the women – says: «And the messenger (Angel) of God said to me during sleep…» (Genesis 31:11). And then, after a while: «…’I am the God who appeared to you at a divine place, there where you anointed a stele to me’…» (Genesis 31:13).
However, in the Holy Bible it is mentioned that: «“I am the Lord, the God of Abraam your father and the God of Isaak“» (Genesis 28:13).
«The One therefore», concludes Basil the Great, «Who is mentioned here as ‘Messenger’ (Angel), says that He had revealed Himself there, to Jacob. It is therefore obvious to every one of us that: where the same Person is referred to as both ‘Messenger’ (Angel) and ‘God’, there the Only-begotten Son is implied, Who appears from generation to generation to mankind, proclaiming the Volition of the Father to His Saints» (cmp. also Genesis 16:7, 13).
Þ angel = Greek, άγγελος (angelos), messenger, also Ευ-αγγελισμός = positive message/announcement (the Annunciation)
5. The divinity of Christ in the New Testament
«Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Jesus answered them […] If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.» (John 10:31-38).
«…Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy!» (Mark 14:61-64; cmp. also Matthew 26:63-65, Luke 22:70-71, John 5:18, 4:26).
The following verses clearly testify that Christ Himself admits that He is God; that was the reason men accused Him. (John 10:33). And The Lord accepted the accusation and proclaimed it as being the only truth:
«…he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me…» (John 12:45, 14:9). «I and My Father are one.» (John 10:30). «…I am in the Father and the Father is in Me» (John 14:11, 20, 17:21-23). «the Father who dwells in Me does the works» (John 14:10). «All things have been delivered to Me by My Father» (Matthew 11:27, John 3:35). «All authority has been given to Me, in heaven and on earth» (Matthew 28:18).
«I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,”says the Lord, “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come; the Almighty» (Revel.1:8. cmp. also 22:13).
Certainly, this statement is not ascribed only to the “Lamb” – that is, the Son – but also to Him «Who sat on the Throne» (Revel.21:5), Who instructed John to write that He makes everything new, and that to whoever thirsts, He will give him freely of «the water of life» (Revel. 21:5-6; cmp. also Isaiah 41:4, 44:6). But, we also know that the Son is also the One «Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come»; that through Him everything was created and that they find their final destination in Him (Colossians 1:15-17). He is the One Who gives the «water of life» (John 4:10, 14) and the One Who is the Almighty (Matthew 11:27, 28:18, John 3:35).
Apart from all these testimonies, we also have the testimony of (Messenger) angels and Christ’s disciples:
«And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; that is also why the Holy One Who is to be born will be called the Son of God», said the angel (Gabriel) to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35).
«He will save His people from their sins» the angel informed the righteous Joseph (Matthew 1:21).
«For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord», the angels said to the shepherds (Luke 2:11).
«“Truly You are the Son of God!”» His disciples said to Him, and worshipped Him (Matthew 14:33, 16:16).
But the question is posed: In what sense should we comprehend this characterization? In the spiritual sense – that is, in the sense that “every person is a son of God”, or in the natural sense, because a person partakes of the same divine nature as the Father, Who, as we mentioned, begets the Son pre-eternally?
In the Old Testament, it is mentioned that the Lord existed pre-eternally and that through Him everything was created (Psalms 44:7-8, Hebrews 1:8-9, Psalms 101:26-28, Hebrews 1:10-12). Christ Himself assures us, that even before the world came into being, He was enveloped «by the Father, with the glory which He had before the world was» (John 17:5, Philippians 2:6).
The Apostle Paul mentions that God saved us according to His Grace, «…which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ…» (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
All of the aforementioned prove that the Lord is the pre-eternal Son of the Father – the Incarnate God the Logos (John 1:1, 14) – the Son of God, according to His divine nature, and not by Grace. He was begotten; He was not created (Psalms 2:7, Hebrews 1:5).
This mystery – of God’s “kenosis” (self-evacuation) – is analysed with clarity by the Apostle Paul. He says, therefore, of Christ:
«…Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.» (Philippians 2:6-11). In this passage it is testified without a doubt that Christ is – according to His divine essence – the Son of God; that is, God.
We also surmise the same thing from Peter’s confession, and more so from the response by Christ Himself:
«“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”», Peter said (Matt.16:16). To which the Lord replied:
«“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven.» (Matth.16:17; cmp. Gal. 1:15-16).
If Peter’s confession signified that Christ was the Son of God in the spiritual sense, then why did the Lord reply that this truth could only have been revealed to him by the heavenly Father? Did the contemporaries of the Apostles perhaps believe that Christ is the Son of God in the natural sense? Of course not. That is the reason Peter needed God’s revelation and not the testimony of men.
But it was not only Peter; other Apostles also testify to Christ’s divinity:
«In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God». «And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth» (John 1:1-14).
«This is the true God and eternal life», says John (1 John 5:20).
«And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
The Apostle Paul reminds the elders of Ephesus that the Holy Spirit rendered them bishops (overseers), so that they would minister to the Church of God, «which He purchased*, through His own Blood» (Acts 20:28).
OODE Note* Greek verb in Gospel text : περιεποιήσατο (pron. peri-epi-isatoh), meaning “established, founded”
In Ephesians he writes: « …His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; Who, being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…». In other words, Christ is the Seal of God’s hypostasis (Hebrews 1,2-3).
When addressing Titus, he makes mention of «…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ» (Titus 2:13)
To the Colossians he says : «…for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily» (Coloss.2:9. also 1:19).
Finally, to Timothy he says that the great mystery of godliness is in the fact that «God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.» (1 Tim. 3:16).
All the above – and in particular the words “justified in the Spirit” – that is, the witnessing by the Holy Spirit as to the divinity of the Lord – constitutes the unshakeable foundation of our faith in the divinity of the Lord as well as our confession of the same, which secures salvation. (Joel 3:5, Isaiah 28:16, Romans 10:9-13, Acts 4:12).
6. The “Lamb” of the Apocalypse
Christ’s divinity is also proclaimed in the last Book of the Holy Bible: The Book of Revelations of John.
When Christ’s disciple saw the sealed book, which no-one could open – not in the heavens nor on the earth – he began to cry inconsolably for the misery of the human race, which was to remain in the darkness of ignorance. Then, one of the elders proceeded to speak, saying: «…“Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” » (Revel. 5:5).
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the root of David, is Christ (Matthew 1:2-16). He is mankind’s only saviour Matth.1:21); no-one else can deliver mankind from the darkness of ignorance and from the abyss of sin (Acts 4:12).
John later on sees the Lord in the form of the Lamb, and in an upright stance:
«And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth…» (Revel. 5:6).
The upright stance of the Lamb denotes the resurrection of Christ and in fact the resurrection of the Lord’s whole Body; just as the Apostle Thomas was called on to see Christ’s wounds on His resurrected Body, in the same way John also saw the Body of the Lamb marked by the wounds. That is the reason he says «as though it had been slain». But the Lamb’s stance was upright. This means John saw the resurrected Body of the Lord, and in fact, in all its omnipotence (the seven horns) and His omniscience (seven eyes). The four living creatures represent the whole Church, which will be reigning together with Christ.
«…Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song…» (Revel. 5:7-8).
In other words, we note that the entirety of the Church offers a veneration of worship to Christ, while it lauds and exalts not only God the Father (Whom John sees seated on the throne), but also the God-man Christ:
«And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “ Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped Him…» (Revel. 5:13-14).
On the basis of the Holy Bible, we cannot give any other interpretation to this veneration. Veneration of worship belongs only to God (Matth. 4:10, Deut. 5:9, 6:13). The Apostle John falls at the feet of the Angel to worship him, but he replies:
«See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God…» (Revel.19:10).
In these last times that John’s Revelations refer to, the veneration of worship is inconceivable, even when it has to do with an angel. The reason for this is that worship is an exclusive right that belongs to God.
Thus, when the entire Church is portrayed in the Revelation as worshipping the Son just as She does the Father, is because She recognizes Christ as a true God – or, as mentioned in the Epistle of Judas – as «the only Lord God» (Jude 4).
The Holy Bible further underlines that those who do not acknowledge Christ as «the only Lord God» (Jude 4) – that is, as God – are exposed to the danger of death and that consequently, the duty of each and every Christian is to strive in every possible way to lead them to the faith of Christ, «pulling them out of the fire» (Jude 1:22).
In order therefore to live, it is imperative that we believe in Christ, because « He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.» (John 3:36; cmp.14:6. 1 John 5:12-20).
«He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 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» (Jphn 1:10-13).
7. In authority and power
«And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him» (John 7:31-32).
«On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”» (John 7:37-46).
We also have miracles in the Old Testament, where the Word of God was conveyed by the mouths of the Prophets (“thus said the Lord”!). But those miracles took place pursuant to prayer, and in the name of God (See for example Kings III 17:20-24, 18:36-39. I Kings 2:14, 4:32-37), whereas the Lord was given «“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth….» (Matthew 28:18) – even the authority to forgive sins (see Matthew 9:, Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20).
The works of the Lord that testify to His divinity are in the following passages: (John 5:36, 10:25; cmp. Matthew 4:23, 11:5, 15:31; Mark 7:37; Luke 7:22, cmp. Isaiah 61:1-2):
«“Young man, I say to you, arise!”» (Luke 7:14), He said to the widow’s dead son (cmp. Luke 8:54, John 11:43).
«He said to the man, “Stretch out your arm.” And he stretched it out, and his arm was restored as whole as the other», He said to the man with the withered arm (Μάρκος 3,5. Ματθαίος 12,13).
«Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm» upon His command (Mark 4:39).
«He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”» He commanded the wicked spirit (Mark 9:25).
But the Lord did not only work miracles, He also spoke with authority (see Matthew 7:29, Mark 1:22, John 7:46).
«“You have heard that it was said to those of old….”» He repeats in His Sermon on the Mount, and each time, He adds: «…But I say to you…» (Matthew 5:21-48).
8. The name of Jesus
«…and nations will hope in his name» (Isaiah 42:4). According to this irrefutable witness, this prophetic utterance applies to the name of Christ (Matthew 12:21).
«Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem…And you are witnesses of these things» (Luke 24:46-47).
The kerygma (preaching) in the name of Christ – or, better still, of the name of Christ – is imperative for man’s salvation. For man to be saved, he must believe «in the name of the only-begotten Son of God» (John 3:18, 14:1). «To those who believe in His name», the Lord gives the authority «to become children of God» (John 1:12; cmp. 1 John 5:13).
«“…nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”» (Acts 4:12; Cmp. 13:38-39; Rom. 3:22).
Faith in the name of Christ secures communion with the One, Trinitarian God – in other words, our partaking of salvation. And this, because through Jesus Christ «we both have access by one Spirit to the Father» (Ephesians 2:18). But, for one to come to Christ and acknowledge His Sovereignty, he must be «drawn» by the Father (John 6:44) and be «in the Holy Spirit» (1 Corinth. 12:3).
Of everything that has been said, it is clearly obvious that through the name of Christ, we Christians believe, confess and invoke the One and Trinitarian God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle exhorts us to thank God the Father always, for everything, «in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ» (Ephesians 5:20). Every single thing that we do, whether in word or in act, we should do in the name of the Lord Jesus, «giving thanks to the God and Father through Him» (Colossians 3:17).
The Lord Himself reassures us that the petitions which are made in His name are fulfilled (John 14:13-14, 16:23).
Indeed, He gave His disciples the authority to perform miracles – in His name (Matthew 10:1, Mark 3:15, 6:7-13, 16:17-20, Luke 9:1-2, 10:9, 17-19). The Acts of the Apostles report many such miracles in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:43, 5:12, 8:7, 14:10).
«…”In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”», Peter said to the lame beggar (Acts 3:6, cmp. 4:10, 9:34).
«…“I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”», Paul commanded the demon that the servant had inside her (Acts 16:18).
The baptism of the faithful was performed in the name of the Trinitarian God (Matthew 28:19); the Apostles in their sermon however underlined baptism in the name of Christ (Acts 2:38, 19:5), without this of course signifying that they didn’t observe the whole of the Lord’s commandment (Matthew 28:19). Whosoever was baptized became a «Witness of Christ» (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:47-48) and was named a «Christian» (Acts 11:26, 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16). That is why the congregations of true Christians always took place in the name of Christ (Matthew 18:20).
With all the above, we see that true faith – which leads to salvation – relates to faith in the name of Christ.
That is also why he is blessed, who becomes hated by all «for Christ’s name’s sake» (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13) and who will be reviled and persecuted, and all kinds of evil said against him falsely (Matthew 5:11, Luke 6:22); he will be delivered up to councils and scourged in their synagogues; he will be brought before judges and put to death (see Matthew 10:7-18, Luke 21:12-17). «If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you […] But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter» (1 Peter 4:14-16).
If one suffers as a Christian – that is, as one who bears the name of Christ, Who is the incarnated and only truth (John 14:6) – then he is suffering for the sake of the truth. He should not feel ashamed for this, but instead, he should give praise to God through that name. But if one is not persecuted for the sake of Christ’s name, he should – according to the Apostle – be ashamed. He has no right to boast, because he is not suffering for the sake of the truth.
We should underline this point particularly, because there are deluded people, who maintain that they are being persecuted and imprisoned for the sake of the truth, but without bearing the name of Christ – without preaching that name; in other words, without actually being “witnesses of Christ”. These people are not suffering for the sake of the truth, but because they are distorting the meaning of the Holy Bible and become transgressors of the Laws of the State. In other words, while the Holy Bible institutes respect and obedience towards terrestrial lords and the observance of all those duties that belong to them (see Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-16, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Titus 3:1, Proverbs 8:15-16, Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-3, Jeremiah 34:6, Hebrew text: 27:6, Acts 22:17-29, Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25), they do not obey the laws of the State, they do not consent to weapons (even though this is not forbidden by the Holy Bible – Luke 3:14) and through this disobedience, they undermine the foundations of legal order and for that, they are justifiably persecuted. All such instances should, according to the unerring word of the Holy Bible, be ashamed (1 Peter 4:14-16).
On the contrary, the true witnesses of our Christ are blessed and joyful when they are hated and persecuted, because they are undergoing all these things for the sake of Christ’s name, Whom they preach with their words and their lives. In the face of this immense duty, they are not intimidated by any threat (cmp. Acts 4:18-20, 5:28-42). They know that they aren’t saved by their faith in a God Who is impersonal or abstract, but their faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ and their confession of the name of Jesus Christ. That is also the reason the Holy Martyrs whom John sees «under the altar» are the souls of those who had been slain «for the word of God and for the testimony» of the Lamb (Revelation 6:9).
This name has, for our salvation, such an importance for our salvation, that the unerring word of God reassures us that the children of the Kingdom shall have the name «of God and of the Lamb» written on their foreheads(see Revelation 22:3-4). We therefore should bear that name – that is, we should be called and should actually be Christians – and live in the world as “witnesses of Christ”; we must furthermore invoke that name, the way that all pious Christians do, and the way that the Lord exhorts us (see John 14:13-14, 16:23):
«Our Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner!».
9. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either
«Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They came out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, so that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that every lie is not of the truth» (1 John 2:18-21).
«Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is an antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you» (1 John 2:22-26).
«But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (heresies of perdition), even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction» (2 Peter 2:1).
These words of the Holy Bible are a clear warning for all of us. Whoever has the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20) – that is, whoever remains inside the Church, and whoever preserves inside him “that which he heard from the beginning” (2:24) – he will remain “in the Son and in the Father” (2:24). But whoever denies the Lord Jesus Christ, well, he belongs to the “heresies of perdition”, which have as a result a “swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).