FROM BEING AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN TO BECOMING A BIBLE BELIEVING AND PRACTICING CHRISTIAN

By:

Mike Tsottles Special guest presenter and  beloved brother in Jesus our Lord

Christian Messianic Analysis and Apologetics

If I say that I had awakened or that I had learned, and that I came to an understanding on my own; these would all be false and misleading statements. I may not have been able to say this when I first ‘gave my life over to Jesus’, but now I can unequivocally state the following:

He – the One, True and Living God in all His love had awakened me, He had taught me and He gave me the understanding I needed to begin to realize; that His love for us and His promises toward us are so very much more than what I was taught within the Orthodox faith.

Let me state here and now, first and foremost that I am most grateful, appreciative and blessed to have been raised by wonderful parents; who set my feet on the right path by exposing me to the Greek Orthodox Church and its basic tenets of faith.  This foundation was critical because without the foundation one cannot continue to build.

Additionally, it was not I who sought the abundance of God’s truth and knowledge about His kingdom, but He who faithfully drew me to Him.  {For God is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in you …}

As noted before, it was all God – I only had to want truth in my life, then listen and obey. {For while we were yet sinners, God loved us  …}. What is one of God’s ways to bring us His truth ? See the next four paragraphs.

What I have learned from my days in the Greek Orthodox church and what I can say I have learned to date about God, His plans and His purposes for my life; I do not believe were two separate and distinct phases. But instead a continuum of His blessings, with any demarcations simply being a period where I hesitated to listen or thought it best not to obey. Oh, to stop fully seeking His truth and lean on one’s own understanding and its disastrous consequences.

So let me expand on what I have just stated and clarify. When the mandatory days {by my parents} of attending Sunday school and church were completed, I decided with much pride that I did not benefit or have any further need of ‘the church’. To save much time and unneeded script for you to read, I will offer that after two (2) failed marriages I knew there was a critical and immediate need for the healing of my soul and especially a refocus of my spirit man.

At this point in my life I realized the focus had to be taken off of me and onto the Only One who could rescue me from my life’s failures, and grand missteps. If we could be fully honest with ourselves, then we would realize that our lives without Jesus as Lord and Savior are a sad testimony of failure after failure by our own doing.

What had now begun to be awakened in me was that I needed God, His righteousness, His truth and His guidance to change what was unprofitable and allow my life to be fully blessed. However, it has taken more than three decades for me to begin to understand that it was God’s great love toward me, which was the necessary cause that began well before the first day I stepped foot into the Greek Orthodox church.

Sadly, what my parents were not taught; they could not teach to me. And what the Greek Orthodox Church did not {at that time} teach me, to seek the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength was a much needed basis for growth in Him.  I learned without growth there is stagnation and that brought a deep dissatisfaction with the tradition of church attendance and its hollow ringing of Christian authentication. Of equal importance, I later learned the necessity of daily reading and meditation on God’s Holy word. To know of His great love toward us and to learn that one of our greatest desires is to be loved. Not with the suspect and incomplete love of humankind, but by the perfect, everlasting and never ending love of our Creator God.

Yes, I was initially caught within a net of religion and religious activity, both of which lead all to an inevitable position of wanting. Wanting what God created for us to need – Him and his great love. A caveat is needed here; as it is not beyond any Bible-believing and preaching Christian church to have its congregants and membership to be surrounded by religious activity and then be too exhausted for the personal time with Jesus. “In Your presence oh God, that is where I belong. In Your presence, that is where I am strong”.

What I did not remember learning or being taught in the Greek Orthodox Church was the absolute necessity of confessing Jesus as my Lord and Savior, in order to have eternal life. That truth was front and center, blended & molded in the Praise & Worship, in the delivery of the Word, and all prayer time in my non-denominational church.  I can remember my mother asking me with sadness and concern when she first found out I attended a church outside of the Greek Orthodox Church, “how could you forsake your church”? The answer is the similar to when Jesus asked the Father “Why hast Thou forsaken Me”? Jesus was forsaken by the Father so that ‘we’ – all born of the womb within humanity could be redeemed and understand we need Jesus to wash away our sins so that we can be with the Father for eternity. So, did I have to forsake my Orthodox upbringing to understand how to obtain life everlasting? I will say, just as the Father only needed to forsake Jesus for a short period of time … so did I need to forsake the Greek Orthodox Church in order to receive God’s full truth and be led on that path to eternal life. For God says, “today is the day of salvation”.

I have learned by the world’s greatest Teacher-Jesus, and yet I confess I have so very, very much more to learn. The worlds existing volumes of literary works cannot begin to contain His truth and understanding. But this one thing I know, and that is outside of God’s love one is lost. Hope is out of reach, peace is unattainable and the human soul is in deep and desperate need.

Maybe I did err and betrayed myself by playing the game of hangman in church with my brother while the priest was giving his sermons. But I did not speak much Greek and then only a word or small phrase, while the entire service at that time was wholly in the Greek language, though that changed years later.  No, let us get to the heart of the matter. It all boils down to the responsibility of the one teaching {person-church-assembly}, and understanding their God ordained purpose of being convicted to speak the whole, unbending and complete Word of God.

I hope and pray that none will read this and begin to believe there is meant to be any blame or condemnation to any church leader or church denomination. For Ephesians 6 tells us, “we war not against flesh and blood. But against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.

So, one must seek out truth and seek it in those places where the truth is spoken!

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Filed under Faith, Judeo-Christianity, Messiah, Personal, Religion, Salvation

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