What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him. Matthew 21:28-3
John the Baptist did it right. He came to the people of God and called them to repent for the Kingdom of God was at hand. He did not go to the tax collectors and harlots first and risk losing or even offending the Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law. John went to them and they did not believe him. But people who know they are sinners get what is at stake. Tax collectors and harlots heard the call to turn around and they did it. And even when the religious saw this they remained unmoved. Can there be anyone left on the planet who is still surprised by this? Sadly, “professional” Christians are just like everyone else. We all, no matter who you are, get stuck and stop repenting. Couple this with the false teaching of “once saved always saved” and repenting, confession, and communion suffer. People suffer.
Salvation demands faith in Jesus Christ. People cannot save themselves by their own good works. Salvation is “faith working through love.” It is an ongoing, life-long process. Salvation is past tense in that, through the death and Resurrection of Christ, we have been saved. It is present tense, for we are “being saved” by our active participation through faith in our union with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is also future, for we must yet be saved at His glorious Second Coming. From “Orthodox Understanding of Salvation” posted by Fr. Peter-Michael Preble
Daily Readings in the Orthodox Church for Wednesday, August 12, 2009: 1 Corinthians 16:4-12 and Matthew 21:28-32