January 12, 2019

Repentance as the Path to the Lord (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

Before the Lord’s appearance to the people, before He began the work of Divine economy* of our salvation, Saint John the Forerunner was sent to prepare people for receiving Him. This preparation consisted in a call to repentance. Since then, repentance has become the path to the Lord and Savior, and the threshold to faith in Him. The Savior Himself began His preaching with the words: "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Repentance and faith lead a person who seeks salvation back and forth between these two states. Repentance weighs him down with the burden of his sins and frightens him with the impartial judgement of God’s righteousness. But faith comes along and shows him the Deliverer Who has taken away the sins of the world. He who repents cleaves to the Deliverer, and laying down the burden of his sins through confession, joyfully runs after Him along the path of His commandments. Faith in this manner is born of repentance and is founded on it. He who repents holds firmly onto faith according to his feeling of deliverance. Faith is alive through repentance. Without repentance faith would be like a sapling which is without an animating current—withered and not giving of life.

* The Russian word, domostroitelstvo, is translated as “Divine economy,” which refers to God’s stewardship, overseeing our salvation, as a steward oversees a household. The epitome of God’s Divine economy is Christ’s incarnation, and salvation through Him.