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The Law of God
For Study at Home and School
By Seraphim Slobodskoy
Holy Trinity PublicationsCopyright © 1994 Holy Trinity Monastery
All rights reserved.
All that we see: heaven, the sun, the moon, stars, clouds, the earth on which we live, the air we breathe, the earth on which we live, including the grass, trees, mountains, rivers, seas, fish, birds, beasts, animals, and finally people — God created all of this. Yes indeed, the world is the creation of God! When we see God's world then we understand how beautifully and wisely it was made.
Here we are in a meadow. Overhead, the blue sky with white clouds is stretched out like a tent, and on the earth there is thick, green grass, sprinkled with flowers. In the grass we can hear the sounds of various insects, butterflies fluttering around the flowers, and bees and gnats of different kinds flying through the air. The whole earth is like a huge, beautiful carpet. But there is no carpet woven by the hand of man that can be compared with the beauty of God's meadow.
Let us take a walk in the woods. There we can see a multitude of different kinds of trees, the mighty oak, the lordly pine, the spotted birch, the fragrant linden, the maple, the tall fir tree and the thick chestnut tree. There are little clearings with bushes and all kinds of herbs. Everywhere we hear the voices of birds, the buzzing and chirping of insects. Hundreds of different kinds of animals live in the forest. And how many different kinds of berries, mushrooms, and flowers there are! The forest is like a great world unto itself.
And here is the river. It quietly flows, sparkling in the sun, among the forests, fields, and meadows. How much fun it is to go for a swim! All around it is hot, but in the water it is cool and pleasant. How many different kinds of fish, frogs, waterbugs, and other living creatures there are! It has its own life, its own little world.
How magnificent the ocean is, with its huge and rich underwater world of living creatures.
How beautiful the mountains are with their lofty peaks covered with eternal snow and ice, high above the clouds.
The world is marvelous in its beauty, and all that is in it is full of life.
It is impossible to count all the plants and animals that populate the earth, from the very smallest, which are invisible to our eyes, to the very largest. They live everywhere — on the land, in the water, in the air, in the soil, and even deep beneath the earth. It is God Who gave all this life to the world.
The world of God is rich and varied! At the same time, in all this vast variety there reigns a marvelous and definite order established by God, or, as we often say, the "laws of nature." All the plants and animals are distributed throughout the world in keeping with this order. What each one is supposed to eat, that is what it eats. And there is a definite and logical purpose given to everything. Everything in the world is born, grows, and dies — one thing is replaced by another. God gave a special time and place and purpose to everything.
Man alone lives everywhere on the earth and has dominion over everything. God granted him reason and an immortal soul. He gave man a special and great purpose: to know God, to be like Him, that is, to become constantly better and inherit eternal life.
In their external appearance people are different, but they all have the same reasonable and immortal soul. Through this soul people are lifted above the animal world and become like God.
Now let us look into the deep, dark night, from earth up to heaven. How many stars we see scattered there. There is an infinite number of them! Many of the stars are just like our star, the sun. There are some that are many times larger than ours, but they are so far away from the earth that they seem to us to be tiny, twinkling pinpoints of light. They are all in motion in an orderly and harmonious manner, according to definite paths and laws. Our earth amid the heavenly vastness seems like a tiny speck of light.
The world of God is vast, uncontainable! We can neither account for nor measure it all, for only God, Who created everything, knows the measure and weight and number of all things.
God created the entire world for the life and benefit of people, for each of us. God's love for us is infinite!
If we love God and live according to His law, then much that is unintelligible in the world will become understandable and clear to us. Let us love God's world and live in friendship, love, and joy with everyone. Then this joy will never end, and no one will take it away from us, for God Himself will be with us.
In order to remember that we belong to God, to be closer to Him and to love Him, that is, to fulfill our purpose on earth and to inherit eternal life, we must know more about God, know His holy will, that is, GOD'S LAW.
QUESTIONS: Who created the world and gave it life? Who made definite order in the world (or as we often say, established the laws of nature), and what does this consist of? What purpose did God give to man? For whom did God create the world? Why is it necessary for us to know God's Law?CHAPTER 2
God created the whole world out of nothing, by His Word alone. God can do all that He wishes. God is the highest existence. There is no one nor anything equal to Him anywhere, neither on earth nor in Heaven. We, mankind, cannot fully comprehend Him by our reason. We would know nothing about Him unless He Himself had not revealed it to us. What we know about God has all been revealed to us by God Himself.
When God created the first people, Adam and Eve, He appeared to them in Paradise, revealing Himself to them, revealed how He created the world, and how people must believe in the One True God and fulfill His will. This teaching of God was first passed on orally from generation to generation, but later, at the inspiration of God, it was written down by Moses and by the other prophets in the sacred books.
Finally, the very Son of God, Jesus Christ, appeared on earth and revealed all that mankind needs to know about God. He revealed to mankind a great mystery: God is One but a Trinity in Three Persons. The first Person is God the Father; the second Person is God the Son, the third Person is God the Holy Spirit. These are not three gods but one God in three Persons, the Trinity in one essence and indivisible.
All three Persons have the same divine dignity; there is not a senior one among them nor a junior; as God the Father is true God, so also God the Son is true God, and likewise, the Holy Spirit is true God.
They are different only in that God the Father is not begotten and does not proceed from anyone; God the Son is begotten of God the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father.
Jesus Christ through the revelation of the mystery of the Allholy Trinity taught us not only to worship God truly, but also to love God as all three Persons of the Most-holy Trinity — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All eternally abide with one another in unceasing love and make up one Being. God is all-perfect love.
The great mystery, which God revealed to us concerning Himself, is the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which our weak mind cannot contain or understand.
St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the mystery of the Most-holy Trinity. He said, "Do you see in the heavens the brilliant sphere of the sun and how from it light is begotten and warmth proceeds? God the Father is like the sphere of the sun, without beginning or end. From Him is eternally begotten God the Son, like light from the sun; just as there comes warmth together with light from the sun, the Holy Spirit proceeds. Each one is distinguished separately: the sphere of the sun and the light and the warmth — these are not three suns, but one sun in the heavens. So also, in the Holy Trinity: there are three Persons but God is one and indivisible." Blessed Augustine says: "You see the Trinity if you see love." This means that we can understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity more readily with the heart, that is by love, than with our feeble mind.
The teaching of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was written down by His disciples in a sacred book, which is called the Gospel. The original word for Gospel is the Greek word Evangelion, which means glad tidings or good news.
The sacred books, gathered together into one book, are called the Bible. This is from Greek word which means "book."
QUESTIONS: Can we completely comprehend with our mind what God is and by ourselves learn about Him? Where do we learn about God and how He is the Creator of the world? Who revealed the teaching about God, that He is One but a Trinity in Persons? How are the Persons of the Holy Trinity called? How are They distinguished from One Another? What is the Gospel and what is the Bible?CHAPTER 3
The Attributes of God
God revealed to us concerning Himself that He is a bodiless and invisible spirit (John 4:24).
What does it mean that God has neither a body, nor bones, as we have, and does not have in Himself anything that makes up our visible world, and therefore we cannot see Him?
In order to explain this, let us take an example from our earthly world. We do not see the air, but we see its actions and results; the movement of the air has great power which can move huge ships and complex machines. We feel and we know that we cannot live without the air that we breathe. So also we do not see God, but we see His activity and its results, His wisdom and power are everywhere in the world, and we feel them in ourselves.
The invisible God, out of love for us, at various times appeared to righteous people in a visible form — in images, or, reflections of Himself, that is to say, in such a form that they could behold Him. Otherwise they would have perished from directly beholding His majesty and glory.
God said to Moses, There shall no man see Me, and live (Ex. 33:20). If the sun blinds us with its brilliance, and we cannot look upon this creation of God lest we be blinded, then how much more so, on God Who created it. For God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5), and He dwells in unapproachable light (I Tim. 6:16).
God is Eternal (Ps. 89:3, Ex. 40:28)
All that we see in the world began at one time or another. It was born, and at some time it will also come to an end, it will die, it will be destroyed. All that is in the world is temporal; everything has its beginning and its end.
Once there was no Heaven, there was no earth, no time, but there was God, because He has no beginning. Having no beginning, He has no end. God always was and always shall be. God is outside time. God always is.
Therefore, He is called eternal.
God is unchanging (James 1:17, Mal. 3:6)
There is nothing in the world constant or unchanging; everything constantly changes, grows, ages and disintegrates. One thing is replaced by another.
Only God is constant; there is no change in Him. He does not grow, does not age. He in no way, and on no account and at no time ever changes. Just as He always was, so He is now, and so He shall remain forever. God is always the same.
Therefore He is called unchanging.
God is omnipotent (Gen. 17:1, Luke 1:37)
If a man wants to make something, he needs material; without material he cannot make anything. With paint and canvas man can paint a beautiful picture; from metal he can make a complex and useful machine. But he can never make, for instance, the earth on which we live, or the sun which gives light and warmth, and many other things.
Only for God is everything possible; there is nothing that He cannot do. He wished to create the world and He created it out of nothing by His word alone. God can do all that He wishes.
Therefore He is called omnipotent.
God is omnipresent (Ps. 138:7-12)
God always, throughout all time, is present everywhere. There is no place in the world where He is not present. No one can hide from Him anywhere. God is everywhere.
Therefore, He is called omnipresent.
God is omniscient (I John 3:20, Heb. 4:13)
Man can learn many things, know a great deal, but no man can know everything. Moreover, man cannot know the future, and cannot hear everything and see everything.
Only God alone knows everything, what was, what is, and what will be. For God there is no difference between day and night. He sees and hears everything at all times. He knows each of us, and not only what we do and say, but also what we think and what we want. God always hears everything, sees everything, and knows everything.
Therefore, He is called omniscient (knowing all things).
God isall-good (Matt. 19:17)
People are not always good. It often happens that a person does not love someone else.
Only God loves all of us and loves us perfectly, not as man loves. He gives all that we need for life. All that we see in the heavens and on the earth was created by the Lord for the good and benefit of man.
This is how one bishop teaches about God's love for us: "Who gave us life? The Lord! From Him we received a rational soul that can think and learn. From Him we received a heart that is able to love. Around us is the air, without which we cannot live.
"We are always supplied with water which is as necessary for us as the air. We live on the earth which supplies us all the food that is necessary for the maintenance and preservation of our life. We are supplied with light without which we could not do anything for ourselves. We have fire with which we can keep ourselves warm when it is cold and with which we can prepare the food we eat. All this is the gift of God. We have a father, mother, brothers, sisters, and friends. How much joy, help, and consolation they provide for us! But we would not have any of these were it not pleasing to the Lord to give them to us."
God is always prepared to give us everything that is beneficial to us, everything good, and He takes more care for us than the best father does for his children.
Therefore God is called all-good, or Most-merciful.
We call God our Heavenly Father.
God is all-righteous (Ps. 7:12, Ps. 10:7)
Men often tell lies and are unjust. But God is perfectly just. He always preserves righteousness, and He judges people justly. He does not punish a righteous man without a reason, and He does not leave a man unpunished for any evil deed, unless the man himself corrects his life by repentance and good deeds.
Therefore, God is called all-righteous and all-just.
God is all-sufficient (Acts 17:25)
Man is always in need of something, therefore he is often dissatisfied.
God alone has everything and is not in need of anything for Himself; on the contrary, He gives everything to all.
Therefore, He is called all-sufficient.
God is all-blessed (I Tim. 6:15)
God is not only all-sufficient, but He always has within Himself the very highest joy — complete blessedness, the very greatest happiness.
Therefore, God is called all-blessed. We can never find true joy in life, except in God alone.
We call God creator, or maker, because He created all things, visible and invisible.
We likewise call God almighty, master, and king, because He, by His almighty will, rules and reigns and directs all that was created by Him, holding them in His power and authority.
We call God Divine provider, because He provides for all things and takes care of all things.
QUESTIONS: What are the attributes of God? Why do we call God a spirit, eternal, unchanging, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, all-good, all-righteous, all-sufficient and all-blessed? Why do we call Him creator and maker? Why do we call Him almighty, master, king, and provider?CHAPTER 4
God loves His creation; He loves each of us. And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (II Cor. 6:18).
Therefore we can always at any time turn to God, to our Heavenly Father, as if to our own father or mother. Our turning to God is prayer.
This means that prayer is conversation or speaking with God. It is as necessary for us as air and food. Everything we have is from God, we have nothing of our own. Life, abilities, health, food: all these things are given to us by God.
Therefore, in times of both joy and sadness, whenever we need anything, we must turn to God in prayer, for the Lord is extremely good and merciful to us. If we ask from a pure heart, with faith and fervor concerning our needs, He will unfailingly fulfill our wish, and grant all we need. We must completely rely on His holy will and patiently wait, for God alone knows what we need and when to give it to us, what is useful and what is harmful.
People who are slothful about praying to God do great harm to their souls; for as they depart from God, God departs from them.
Excerpted from The Law of God by Seraphim Slobodskoy. Copyright © 1994 Holy Trinity Monastery. Excerpted by permission of Holy Trinity Publications.
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