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[II Tim. 4:9-22; Luke 20:1-8] The priests, scribes and el­ ders did not believe in the Lord. In order to raise them up to faith He offered them a question: the bap­ tism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? Reason about this without bias and your reasoning will bring you to faith. What is said about John’s appearing can be said about every event accompanying the Lord’s coming in the flesh, and a­ bout His very coming, and all that comes into contact with it. Let each person reason about all of this —the conclusion will be the same: “truly this was the Son of God.” Var­ ious thoughts can come, confusion can arise, what seems like incongru­ ities can be encountered; but at the end of all investigations one univer­ sal conviction will come: that it is impossible to think any other way than as is shown in the Gospels and apostolic writings. Great is the mys­ tery of godliness: God is manifest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16).This remains a mystery, but it will be clear to the mind according to the moral neces­ sity which the mind’s own investi­ gation will apply to itself — to con­ fess this way, and in no other way. Unbelievers either do not investi­ gate at all as they ought, or they in­ vestigate superficially, with a mind alien to it, or they accept a wretched frame of mind that is opposed to what faith would require. The most insignificant refutation of the faith is enough for them, in order to justi­ fy their unbelief. The words of un­ believers shake believers, because believers are satisfied with simple faith, and do not seek clarification of the foundations of faith. Those words take them unawares; that is why they are shaken.

Saint Theophan the Recluse

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