2.31.1 “Let us dwell in the light, that is, Christ, for we are near to him. Let us employ prayers of sanctification as if we see him, for our prayers sanctify us if we pray with the word of God, and the word of God is present where one preserves a pure heart and life in humility. Israel strove to offer the sacrifices. The prophets cried out to God, ‘Send out your light and your truth’ [Psalm 43:3, LXX 42:3]. They cried out, and we received them. As the Lord said, ‘Others have labored’ [John 4:38], and we have reaped the benefits. The Lord himself came to us, saying, ‘I am the light’ [John 8:12]; ‘I am the truth’ [John 14:6]. We have received grace without effort, but we must guard grace with effort.

2.31.2 Of those who say Christians need not work: Since some who wish not to work but to be busybodies misunderstand the Lord’s holy words, ‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat’ [Matthew 6:25], to mean that Christians, who follow this order, need not work the ground, we must show that this is not what the Lord meant. We can work without worrying. We know and believe that the Lord himself causes our work to grow and bear fruit, for he said, ‘The kingdom of God is like a man who scatters his seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how’ [Mark 4:26-27].

2.31.3 Of the ordained: The ordained should serve as types and images of heavenly beings. The bishop should occupy the throne of the Lord himself as head, second to the Lord, of the church he has received; the priest that of the seraph; the deacon that of the cherub. The attendant must assist them.

2.31.4 That the laity may not go up into the ambo: The laity may not go up into the ambo, except those appointed to read or sing from the parchment books.

2.31.5 Of Holy Baptism: Our baptism is not to be considered with physical eyes but with spiritual eyes. When you see water, recognize the power of God which is hidden in the water. Holy Scripture teaches that we are baptized ‘with the Holy Spirit and fire’ [Matthew 3:11]. Recognize that by the faith of the baptizer and the faith of the person being baptized, through sacred invocation, the water is full of the Spirit’s sanctification and divine fire, for it says, ‘He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ So the person being baptized descends guilty of his sins and subject to ‘the slavery of decay’ [Romans 8:21], but he ascends free from such slavery and from sin. By God’s grace he has become God’s son and heir, and co-heir with Christ,1 having clothed himself with Christ, as is written: ‘All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ’ [Galatians 3:27].

2.31.6 Of the table of God and the mystery of the body and blood of Christ, which occurs on it: Likewise, we should not scorn the bread and cup placed on the table of God but should lift up our minds to understand by faith that on that holy table is ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ [John 1:29], a bloodless sacrifice by the priests. Since we truly receive his precious body and blood, we believe they guarantee our resurrection. We do not receive much, but little, so that we realize its purpose is not to satisfy our hunger but to sanctify us.

2.31.7 Of the resurrection of the dead: The Lord did not merely give his flesh over to suffering and death for us. His goal was to procure our salvation despite being free from death, as the explanation above demonstrated. The Lord also predicts through the prophet the coming mystery of his incarnation in flesh: ‘I became like a helpless person, free among the dead’ [Psalm 88:4-5, LXX 87:5-6]. But who is free from death besides God? According to the passages cited above, he became flesh due to his love for mankind and became ‘like a helpless person,’ humbling his flesh ‘to the point of death, even death on a cross’ [Philippians 2:8]. It also proclaims that his flesh arose so that, by making us immortal, he might obtain for us forsaken humans hope for our own resurrection through our firstfruits. Thus we are no longer slaves to eternal death, but free like Christ, our firstfruits, as the blessed apostle Paul says: ‘Christ, the firstfruits, then, when he comes, those who belong to him’ [1 Corinthians 15:23]. He also testifies that we expect this very Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God the Father, to come from heaven to raise our bodies from their graves: ‘Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body’ [Philippians 3:20-21]. Thus must the Lord glorify our bodies like his, no longer subject to wickedness nor any sufferings which presently exist, free from death and sin, and holy, so that we can live a new life2 with him in heavenly light, reigning forever with Christ himself. In this hope we have received holy baptism and receive saving communion with his holy members. This is the doctrine of the catholic church.

2.31.8 That there is one church of God: There is one church in heaven. The same church is also on earth. The Holy Spirit rests on it. The heresies outside of it, to which people adhere, are not the teachings of our Savior nor of the apostles but of Satan, their father the devil.3 They teach the heresies of Jews and Greeks in a different form to take away true life from people.

2.31.9 Of God’s foreknowledge and the world: The world became lesser because of foreknowledge. God foreknew that humans would sin. Therefore we look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, according to the Holy Scriptures,4 when the appearance and reign ‘of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ’ [Titus 2:13], will be revealed to us. At that time, as Daniel says, ‘saints of the Most High will receive dominion’ [Daniel 7:18]. The earth will be pure and holy, a land of the living and not of the dead, which David foresaw with the eye of faith: ‘I am confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living’ [Psalm 27:13, LXX 26:13], the land of the meek and humble, for it says, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’ [Matthew 5:5]. The prophet says, ‘The feet of the meek and humble will walk on it’” [Isaiah 26:6].

2.31.10 We have compiled this small selection of the many church regulations our holy fathers composed. They also composed twenty laws for the church at that same Synod of Nicaea, which I also saw fit to include in this book:

 

Next Chapter – 2.32 The ecclesiastical standards of the holy and great synod assembled at Nicaea

Previous Chapter – 2.30 Acesius, a Novatian bishop and those on his side

Click here to read Book 1 in its entirety.

 

Created by RR 8-20-21

  1. Cf. Romans 8:17.
  2. Cf. Romans 6:4.
  3. Cf. John 8:44.
  4. Cf. Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13.

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