St. Athanasius Magazine

The Forth Issue Of St. Athanasius Magazine

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PATRISTICS

ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
THE LITTLE CHILD WHOM JESUS HELD ON HIS LAP WHEN HE SPOKE THE WORDS, "LET THE CHILDREN COME UNTO ME"

St. Ignatius, otherwise known as Theophorus, which in Greek means "God-Bearer,"
led the Christian Church during a critical period of her history. Orthodox tradition had maintained that he was the little child Christ held on His lap when he spoke the words, "Let the children come unto me." What is known for certain is that he grew up to be a disciple of St. John, and St. Peter personally ordained him a Bishop.
Bishop of Antioch, Syria (now in Turkey), known mainly from seven highly regarded letters that he wrote during a trip to Rome, as a prisoner condemned to be executed for his beliefs. He was apparently eager to counteract the teachings of two groups, the Judaizers, who did not accept the authority of the New Testament, and Docetists, who held that Christ's sufferings and death were apparent but not real. Ignatius untiringly affirmed that the New Testament was the fulfillment of the Old Testament and insisted upon the reality of Christ's human nature. For him, Christ's Passion, death, and Resurrection were a vital guarantee of "life everlasting" in the risen Christ. Ignatius believed that, had Christ died only in appearance, his own suffering and his readiness to sacrifice his life for Christ would have no meaning. The letters have often been cited as a source of knowledge of the Christian church at the beginning of the 2nd century.
The letters of Ignatius abound in warnings against false doctrines and false teachers and in admonitions to preserve peace and concord by willing subordination in all religious matters to the clergy and, above all, to the bishop. Nevertheless, he frequently assures his readers that their own church gives no cause for concern and that his words are prompted merely by pastoral solicitude.

Devotion

RESIST THE DEVIL
&
HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU

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Your actions reveals what is in your heart because that's where actions begin. Wrong thoughts at the end result in wrong actions. "The things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart. Those are the things that make someone unclean. Evil thoughts come out of a person's heart." (Mathew 15:18-19). Society teaches us that the environment around us or the circumstances we are living in or our families who brought us up, are all the cause for our sinful desires. So we think we are victims who just fell into the hole been dug for us and we are not responsible for being sinners.
This deceitful policy actually leaves us more vulnerable to being captive to our sinful desires. We should not hear or trust what the culture or society teaches us or tells us, but trust God's word which is good & perfect for us. The truth is that we are tempted by our own evil desires. And when we allow these evil thoughts to remain in our minds they lead to sin and sin leads to death. We are the ones who open our minds to the tempting evil thoughts and we are responsible for everything enters into our thoughts or bodies "when a person is tempted, they shouldn't say, "God is tempting me." God can't be tempted by evil. And he doesn't tempt anyone. But each person is tempted by their own evil desires. These desires lead them on and drag them away. When these desires are allowed to remain, they lead to sin. And when sin is allowed to remain and grow, it leads to death. My dear brothers and sisters don't let anyone fool you." ( James 1:13-16).
In the Gospel of Mathew Jesus said " if any of you wants to be my followers, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up cross, & follow me. If you try to hang on to your life you will lose it. But if you give up life for my sake, you will save it". ( Mathew 16:24-25)
Sinful thoughts and desires can easily sneak in and set up bad habits. We can't take control ourselves to change those habits, but we have to give up control to Jesus. He is our creator who knows what is best for us. Trusting God and obeying His commands is a key element to experiencing His guidance and His power over every temptation that Satan throws in our heart. Jesus came to change our sinful natures by giving us His life. Our relationship with Jesus gives us access to His transforming power. When we trust in Jesus our Lord and savior, accepting the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, praying, and seeking the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will break the chains that hold us & sets us free from all the control of sinful desires and bad habits. "At one time you were dead in your sins. Your desires controlled by sin were not circumcised. But God gave you new life together with Christ" ( Colossians 2:13).
Jesus Christ confronted all the evil powers on the cross and overcame it and gave us this power over sin in the Holy Spirit. Jesus' name is more powerful than anything else that might control us. We have to believe that in Him we can defeat any sinful desires or temptations. We are weak by human nature but by our unity with Him, giving Him our hearts and bodies to dwell in, will be more than conquerors " Christ has set us free to enjoy our freedom. So remain strong in the faith. Don't let the chains of slavery hold you again" (Galatians 5:1)." He took away the weapons of the powers and authorities. He made a public show of them. He won the battle over them by dying on the cross." ( Colossians 2:15).
We must not let sin control the way we live & do not give ourselves into sinful desires. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Lord.
Letting our sinful nature control our mind leads to death. But letting the spirit control our mind leads to eternal life and peace. We must not let any part of our body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give ourselves completely to God, for we were dead but now have new life. We have to use our body to glorify God. " Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple? Don't you know that God's Spirit lives among you. God's temple is holy." (1corithians 3:16-17)

WORD OF WISDOM

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FROM ST. BASIL THE GREAT ON THANKSGIVING

"When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God's feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator."


FROM ST ATHANASIUS ON SPIRITUAL WAREFARE

"The demons first make an attack by temptation and then place hindrances to hamper our way with evil thoughts. But we need not to fear their suggestion, for by prayer, fasting, and faith in the Lord, their attack immediately fails."

ASK BISHOP MAXIMUS

WHAT IS HOLINESS ACCORDING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT? & HOW CAN I BE HOLY?

Holiness is the life of God. He is the Holy One and the source of holiness. We can not be holy on our own, but we collectively acquire the holiness of God in Christ Jesus. " The God who chose you is holy. So you should be holy in all what you do. It is written, "Be holy, because I am holy." ( 1peter 1:15-16). So how can we be holy and all people have sinned and are imperfect?. Our only way to holiness is through the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. "Everyone has sinned. No one measures to God's glory."(Romans 3:23).
"God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son." (John 3:16). The life of Jesus given to us in the Holy Spirit is our way to partake in God's holiness. When we accept Jesus and receive His holiness in the Holy Spirit, we receive power over our sinful nature and be purified and be able to resist all the evil powers that separate us from the holy life of God." God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift." (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we accept and receive Jesus' life in us, He cleanses us from sin and makes us holy and this is what we call "sanctification."
First letter of Peter 2:9 speaks of this new status as well: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light." As sharers in God's holiness, we are called to live holy lives. In the same letter Peter 1:13-16 teaches, " So be watchful, and control yourselves completely. In this way, put your hope in the grace that lies ahead. This grace will be brought to you when Jesus Christ returns. You should obey your Father. You shouldn't give in to evil desires. They controlled your life when you didn't know better. The God who chose you is holy. So you should be holy in all what you do. It is written,"Be holy, because I am holy."
He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. We are commanded to avoid the ways we practiced before becoming children of God and live according to God's ways. We can only do this by living by the power of God's Spirit, following the principles found in God's Word. We call this daily practice of living for God to become more holy "The Sanctification Process." As we seek to follow God's will each day, we can increasingly become holy as we become more like Christ. Our goal should be to say like Paul, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1)

SPIRITUAL LIFE

HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE WITNESS FOR CHRIST?.

Witnessing is much more than just telling others about Christ. That is definitely part of it, but more than that it is "being" a witness for Him. The best way to teach others about Christ and to make them desire to have Jesus in their own lives is to live a consistent loving, Christ-centered life in front of them. If you are a good friend, a good listener, attentive to the needs of those around you and morally upright, then people will be likely to listen to you when you tell them about Christ because they will see that there is something genuinely different‪ ‬about you.
To be an effective witness for Christ, one must have a relationship with God not only knowledge of Him. John the Apostle speaks of this in 1 John 1:1-3, when he says, "That which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at, and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life."
Today we who have experienced new life in Christ give an account of His love and forgiveness, both verbally and in the way we live our lives. This is witnessing. To be effective in our witness, we should remember that the theme of our witness is Jesus Christ. An important part of this theme is the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, not just one of many ways. "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6)
The power of our witness is the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who transforms a life (Titus 3:5), and a transformed life is evident to all. As we witness, we should spend much time in prayer, appropriating the Spirit's power so that we are enabled to let our light shine in such a way that others will recognize the power of God in us. The validity of our witness will be shown in how we live our lives . The effective Christian witness will live his or her life above reproach in the power of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit we exhibit when we remain in Christ. Perhaps most importantly, we must be familiar enough with the Scriptures to be able to accurately and coherently present the gospel to others. "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter3:15)

TALKING TO JESUS

PRAYER

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Jesus,
you are the light that came into the world. In You there is no darkness at all. I come to you cause no one who believes in you should stay in darkness. I live in a world where evil and ungodliness are prevailing and run furiously. I want you to come to enlighten my inner being. Your marvelous light will help me see things in the world and things in my heart from your perspective. This illumination though it may show all the darkness in me which will make me uncomfortable, yet it will lead me to repentance which is the only way to my freedom from all the bondages of darkness. You are the light that keeps on shinning in the darkness. When I set out free from my bondages I will be able to rejoice in your brightened perspective.
Dear Jesus, clothe me with your robe of righteousness, making me fit for your kingdom. I belong to you and I delight in you. I focus in you Jesus instead of focusing on my inadequacy, working on staying close to you. I rely on you in all things I do and all things I need. I spend time basking in your holy light. Please hear my supplication and shine upon me and lead me along the path of eternal life.
Amen.

BIBLE STUDY

CONTINUATION OF THE STUDY OF THE FIRST LETTER OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS

V- PAUL HAD A DISCUSSION WITH THE CHURCH OF CORINTHIANS CONCERNING FOOD OFFERED TO IDOLS.
When the pagan temples around Corinth were finished using meat offered up for sacrificial offerings, they would sell it. Christians wondered: should they buy this meat? Paul said " an idol is nothing in the world". In other words, idols aren't real, so a mature christian has freedom to eat the meat, knowing that there is no other God. Meat is just meat. But for other believers, the idea of eating that meat was offensive; for various reasons, in their minds, it remained a violation of God's Old Testament law to be avoided.

A- Enquiry: May a Christian Eat Food Consecrated to a pagan god? ( chapter 8:1-13)
(Chapter 8:4)
"Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and there is no other God but one."
Chapter 8:5-6
"For even if there are so called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, yet for us there is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live."
Paul's primary concern wasn't the meat, but the way some believers behaved. They were eating the meat in front of brothers and sisters who felt it was wrong, flaunting their liberty to the offense of other believers. "Beware," Paul said, "lest somehow this liberty of yours become stumbling block to those who are weak".
Chapter 8:7-8
"However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience being weak, is defiled."
"But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we better, nor if we do not eat are we worse."
"But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak."

A greater law of love was at stake. Paul asked, because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died. God commandment is to love your neighbor. Jesus told us to love each other in the church.
Chapter 8:11-13
"And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish for whom christ died?"
"But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against christ."
"Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble."

Biblical principals should provide the basis of your behavior, but in the areas of nonessential doctrine, let love guide you. The main rule is whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Chapter 9
PAUL IS TAKING HIMSELF AS AN EXAMPLE
1- HE FIRST TALKS ABOUT HIS RIGHTS AS AN APOSTLE
Chapter9:1-14
"Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?"
"My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?"
"Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?"
"If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?"
"If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ."
"Do you know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the alter partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel."

2- PAUL'S SELF RESTRICTIONS IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO PREACH THE GOSPEL AND GAIN AS MANY AS HE CAN TO CHRIST.
CHAPTER 9:15-27
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship."
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win all."
"To the jews I became a jew, that I might win jews, to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law." " To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
"Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you."
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. ….. now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown"
"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."

CHAPTER 10
PAUL'S EXHORTATIONS
1- AVOID SELF-INDULGENCE
CHAPTER 10: 1-13
Paul is warning the church from self- indulgence and to learn lessons from the faults that our ancestors did and not do like them. They should not lust after evil things as they lusted.
"Moreover brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink… But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted."
" And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell. Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer."
" Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
" No temptation has over taken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

2- DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN IDOLE FEASTS
CHAPTER 10:14-22
" Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"
" For we being many are one bread and one body for we partake of that one bread."
" What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons."
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of the demons."

3- GLORIFY GOD BY SEEKING THE WELFARE OF YOUR BROTHER
CHAPTER 10:23-33
" All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me but all things do not edify."
"Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's wellbeing."
"Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; for the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness."
" If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. But if anyone says to you this was offered to idols, do not eat it, for the sake of the one who told you and for the conscience sake, for the earth is the Lord's and all its fullness."
" Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all To the glory of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."

Continuation of the study in the next edition


Holy Synod

Holy Synod of Saint Athanasius Congregation In America & The Middle East.


ST. ATHANASIUS INSTITUTE

St. Athanasius Institute for Patristic Theology (SAI) is a recognized 501-c3 non-profit educational institute incorporated in Pennsylvania, USA in 2006.
Accredited by The universal Accrediting commission for schools, Colleges and universities (UAC).
Sponsored by The Holy Synod Of St. Athansius Congregation in Pennsylvania, USA. SAI's Dean and President is Archbishop Maximus Hanna D.D.

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