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Divinity of Christ, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
15- Belief in Christ
With Respect to the Belief in Him
(1) Belief should be in God only. On this belief hangs the everlasting life and destiny of man. That is why we find a very important verse in the Holy Bible, namely, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (Jn. 14: 1). Thus He put the belief in Him equal with the belief in the Father and having the same importance.
(2) If belief in Christ leads to eternal life (Jn. 3:16), therefore disbelief in Him leads to perdition. Thence the Lord also says: "For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (Jn. 8:24). Regarding belief in Him and life, He says at the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead: "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (Jn. 11:25,26).
(3) Belief in Christ is a matter of salvation. The salvation of man depends upon belief in Him. That is why St. Paul and St. Silas said to the jailer at Philippi: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, You and your household' (Acts 16:31). Naturally this would be accomplished provided that he walked in the things connected with this belief, for example: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk. 16:16).
(4) Who then is Christ, if whoever believes in Him receives remission of sins? St. Peter the Apostle said at the conversion of Cornelius: "To Him all the prophets witnessed that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). Also, St. Paul the Apostle said at the Council of Antioch in Pisidia:
"Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things" (Acts 13:38,39).
Of course we add to this belief the words of St. Peter the Apostle to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost. After they had been cut to the heart, they believed and enquired about the way of salvation. So St. 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" (Acts 2:38). Thence, belief leads to baptism, and baptism leads to remission of sins, and remission of sins involves justification through the blood of Christ. And there are numerous verses about belief and justification, and also about baptism that leads to receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:39); (Rom. 5:1).
(5) Therefore there is a relation between belief in Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit. He who believes in Christ is qualified to receive the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ said: " '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" (Jn. 7:38,39).
(6) Belief in Christ is preceded by the work of the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle said: "No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (1Cor. 12:3). This fact explains why the Holy Spirit came down upon Cornelius and those with him before their baptisms. it was a preliminary work of the Holy Spirit, different from the descent of the Holy Spirit whom the faithful received by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17), and then by the Holy Anointing (1 Jn. 2:20,27).
(7) It is also said about the consequences of the belief in Christ that: "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame" (Rom. 9:33); (Rom. 10: 11); (1 Pet. 2:6). This means that the person who believes in Christ will not be put to shame on the Day of Judgment, that is, on the Last Day.
(8) Thus belief in Christ is not a light matter, but a serious one on which depends man's eternal life, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. How serious are the Apostle's words: "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" (Jn.3 :36)! The belief in Christ is also connected with salvation, with the remission of sins and with the gift of the Holy Spirit as we have already mentioned. And when we mention this belief we mean it comprehensively, inclusive of all the elements pertaining to it such as baptism, repentance and deeds which are the fruit of the faith and which enable the faith to be a living one.
(9) Baptism, with all its spiritual efficacies, is also dependent on this belief because it can never be carried out without belief first. That was why, when the Ethiopian eunuch requested Philip to baptize him, Philip replied: "If you believe with all your heart, you may." Then the eunuch replied: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37).
(10) The belief in Christ was the aim of writing the Gospel. Thus says St. John the Evangelist about all the verses he recorded in his Gospel: "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (Jn. 20:31).
(11) This belief entitles the believer to be a child of God by being born of water and the Spirit (Jn. 3:5). That is why the Gospel says: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (Jn. 1: 12).
(12) There is no man whatsoever in the world who can cause whoever believes in him to receive all the spiritual gifts we mentioned, which are connected with the believer's eternal life, his position as a child of God, and his membership in the Church through faith and baptism.
(13) What is the nature of the belief in Christ? You believe that Jesus is the Christ; that He is the Son of God (Jn. 20:31); that He is the Only Begotten Son of the Father (Jn. 3:16,18) with all the Divine meanings which this phrase carries; that He is in the Father and the Father in Him (Jn. 14: 10,11); that he who sees Christ has seen the Father (Jn. 14:9); that in Him is life (Jn. 1:4); that He is the Savior of the world (1 Jn. 4:14); that He is the Propitiator for our sins (1 Jn. 4:10); (1 Jn. 2:2), and you believe in His words and in the path He designed for our salvation. All these denote the Divinity of Christ and we add to them your belief in His Divine attributes.
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