Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Man is endowed with free will ( Part 2 ) - St. Nektarios of Pentapolis

On account of our ethical freedom,we are obligated to concern ourselves with our salvation; otherwise, we will perish. 
The Savior’s formal acknowledgment of our ethical freedom teaches us that our salvation is not achieved solely through the action of God’s grace alone, but simultaneously through man’s consent and action. Behold what the wise Holy Fathers of the Church say concerning this necessity. St. John Chrysostom states, “Even though the Grace [of salvation] is a gift, it saves them who want to be saved.”
St. Gregory the Theologian says, “
Salvation requires both us and God.”
Furthermore, the blessed Augustine says, “God Who created man without man [being involved], cannot save man if he does not want [to be saved].” Hence, we are explicitly and clearly taught that there are two factors that are
instrumental to salvation: i) man’s free will; and ii) God’s grace.
Indeed! God’s grace takes precedence in the work of salvation because the Savior came as a light to them in darkness.
He emitted the light of grace to them who were sitting in the darkness and shadow of death, He
sought the lost sheep, He recalled man who had gone astray by mystically speaking to his heart,
and He revealed to all the path to salvation. It is
Divine Grace that ultimately perfects and saves man. 
Even so, man’s will must be seen as the preceding
component in the chapter of salvation, because his free will is the principle lever that sets into motion the spirit which has been deactivated by sin. This is what propels man’s steps to follow the Savior. This is what provides the heart with the strength of self-denial. This is what lifts and carries the cross. Grace invites, disperses the darkness, and casts light upon every gloomy corner. 
It is still possible, however, for man’s free will, on account of negligence, foolishness, slothfulness and carelessness, and on account of the desire of the flesh, to disobey and to decide to close its eyes and remain in the darkness, to walk the exact-
opposite path leading to perdition, and to choose
to carry out the contrary.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to desire our salvation in order for us to seek it. It is necessary for us to want to hear in order to listen to the voice of Him Who calls us. It is necessary for us to want to see in order to open our eyes and allow them to be filled with immense light. It is necessary for us to take action in order to follow the Savior. It is necessary for us to want to deny the old man, along with the passions and desires, in order to lift the cross on our shoulders. It is necessary for us to want to walk along the narrow and sorrowful path
in order to enter through the narrow gate of Paradise.

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