WE MUST BE
WISE TO BE SAVED (2
Tim. 3:14, 4:2)
To attain salvation, we must be
wise; and this wisdom is found in Sacred Scriptures and "from
us, your teachers, whom you know are true." Paul preached a way
of life. This way of life must be learned and believed (i.e. put
into practice) for us to be "perfect and competent to perform
If we do not learn and believe, we
will have no wisdom to understand the ways of God. Deprived of this
wisdom at present, be humble and do not be troubled with the ways of
God. Abraham knew that Isaac would bear a nation yet, when commanded
to sacrifice Isaac, he was not troubled; he merely obeyed.
So, firstly, let us be humble
before the strange ways of God that surpasses our understanding;
then learn from Sacred Scriptures and known Orthodox teachers the
way of life Paul was referring to.
St. John Chrysostom states that
Sacred Scriptures and St. Paul taught only four things which we must
learn and put into practice that we may deserve the gift of wisdom
and, eventually, salvation.
Firstly, that sinners are always punished; and as long as they
remain sinners, they "wax from worse to worst", i.e. their
progress is for the worst. Secondly, that the righteous cannot
always be rejoicing. No one is equal to Paul in holiness yet he
passed all his life in affliction, in tears, in groaning.
God punishes the sinners even here
on earth so that no one may suppose their sins go unavenged. Seeing
someone punished arouses more fear in us than the thought of hell.
If no wicked man is punished no one would believe that God presides
over the affairs of man. But if all are punished here on earth, one
may doubt the life after. So, God punishes some sinners here and
other sinners He forbears, reserving their punishments in the life
The good, more often, suffer
tribulations here on earth; they rarely experience prosperity
because God wishes to emphasize their status as sojourners and
pilgrims and strangers on this earth wherewith their rewards are
reserved for the life after.
The sinners suffer tribulations as
punishment for their sins. The good suffer tribulation for the
development of virtue. In both cases, suffering is beneficial.
The sinner must be grateful he is
punished here because, if his punishment is reserved for the
after-life, that means he is lost. The good are grateful when they
are in prosperity; but they are also grateful when they suffer
because their reward is reserved for the life after.
Thirdly, we must do good, and
fourthly, we must avoid evil. Sacred Scriptures tells us what is to
be done and what is to be avoided.
Learning the four things mentioned
above and believing, i.e. acting upon them, shall "make thee
wise; that is, it will remove all foolish feelings and
thoughts from you. And you will endure all things with faith,
referring all to the incomprehensible nature of Divine Dispensation.