MY ROAD TO THE LIVING GOD
Archbishop Sergey Zhuravlev
I grew up in a family that didnít believe in God. In our childrenís room, hung Leninís portrait like an icon. I heard about God at Soviet School. They said that God wasnít real and that people fabricated and worshiped gods on their on accord. As many others in our country, I grew up in the ďthe best traditions of Marxism-LeninismĒ. My brother and I were sent to Moscow to worship the remaining relic of Lenin in the mausoleum. I was ďoktyabronockĒ, ďpioneerĒ and I didnít see believers, but they told me at school that there were some believers Ė Baptist Ė who killed and sacrificed children. __________ at the grand pioneers meeting very often blasphemed Good and all believers in Him. She said the Soviet newspapers had published articles that proved the ďblood thirstinessĒ of believers. In my mind, believers were some kind of evil cult who hunted for people, especially for pioneers (children). Not so long ago, I had heard one pastor of a Pentecostal Church say that agents of KGB arranged provocations in the Bryansk region. In some other regions, they referred their agents to the public worship at the believersí churches. At a certain time, a woman agent stood up from her place, pointed to a little baby and proposed to make him a sacrifice. At that moment, Militia came and arrested all believers who were present. Thank God that horrible communist time is over! Today, because of God, we are free to live. Hallelujah!
The Bible tells us that God knew us before we were born in this world, ďfrom my motherís wombĒ. One day he ďcalled me through His graceĒ. He has called each one of us, believers. Every Christian has his own way to God. Some people recognized God in their childhood, somebody else when he was young. Someone go to know Jesus only when he was old and opened his heart for His love. Unfortunately, al lot of people on the earth didnít hear or maybe wouldnít take up the call of Christ our Savior, died and went to Hell after death.
Dear reader, if you havenít accepted Jesus in your life, donít be slow! Noone knows how long he will live in this world, however, ahead of him is eternity.
I was 12 or 13 years old when I prayed to God for the first time. I was very ill and remember that my temperature was very high for several days. The thermometer was all red and literally had burned. The doctor told my mother he had done all that he could do for me. Encouraging her that she had another child, my younger brother. They didnít tell me that I was dying. I realized it when it seemed as if a cold road roller was coming over me. I didnít see it, but I felt the cold. I couldnít move my hands, my legs, but I could still breathe. My soul practically took leave of my body. It was a strange experience. I appeared to be transparent. At the time I didnít know, of course, that in the Bible it said, ď...for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.Ē (2 Corinthians 4:18).
We Christians know that if our earthly house, this body is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened. Not He who has prepared us for this very thing is God who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord we persuade men; but we are well known to God.Ē (2 Corinthians 5:1-11)
Then I understood that not me, not my parents, nor the doctors could stop it. At that very moment something unbelievable happened. I remember I felt someoneís lovely glance. It was a great love from Him and at the same time some sort of sadness. All of a sudden I realized that it was God. He looked at me with such love, but I didnít know Him. I thought, like many other men, that he did not exist. I was ashamed and scared that I had lived in such delusion. I was also afraid because in that glance, I saw and remembered all my love. It was so foolish. ďDid I live or not? It was nonsenseĒ, I thought. Before I lived like a selfish man. Only when I was lying on the bed and dying, did I realize that it was lies, not a real life. A real life is a life for other people and for God.
I said, ďGod, forgive me, if you can forgive me, please.Ē Then I didnít know that God could forgive. He wanted to forgive me, and this lovely look gave me hope. At that very moment, when I spoke to Him, I realized that He wasnít angry with me and forgave me.
When I felt it, I was asking Him, ďÖif it is possible give me more life and Iíll live differently not as before. Iíll live for people and for you. Iíll paint such pictures when men see them theyíll change.Ē I didnít remember how long I prayed, The main thing was that God had heard me and healed me. The coldness slowly dissipated. My life had been restored and the doctors couldnít understand how it was possible. They told my mother that my body had healed itself. I knew that it was the Lord.
Later I tried to talk with my parents and my friends about what would happen to them after their death. Nobody understood what I said. I was afraid for them and for other people who didnít believe in God. I was deeply concerned for those who were not persuaded that paradise is real for men who love God, or that hell was a horrible place. [ ref. Luke 16:19-31] The Bible says, ďBut the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, and whoremongers and sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.Ē (Rev. 21:8)
I used to read so call ďscience atheismĒ books and wondered why I was negative towards God? In 1984, God gave me the first scripture from His inspired word Ė the Bible! In those books, I had found a lot of poems from the Bible and put them down in a special notebook. From 1984 to 1986, I have had the whole with fragments from the Bible, which I found in those godless books. In 1986 I was lucky to get the Bible only for a month through one of my friend. I was so happy. God opened so much for me in His Word! I cried on the Bible from the ecstasy and tender emotion, repented of my imperfection and was delighted with the opening of a little heavenly wisdom!
I recopied only the Gospel according to Matthew, some fragments from Acts and Revelations in my thick notebook. I never parted with that book, neither at night nor at day. Only in 1988, did I buy my first Bible. The time of freedom has come! It was the same year I came to the Orthodox Church to repent and be christened. When my parents learned that I was attending church, they tried to convince me to stop. They thought I had ruined my life. Mummy told me, ďMe or your God and priests.Ē The priests did not interest me. I fell in love with Jesus! In the church, I literally have run to meet the Holy Spirit. Upon graduation from the Art College, I could no longer avoid the army. I was called to military service. From 1989 to 1991, I served at a Moscow suburb in disciplined officersí courses. From the beginning, many times God saved my life. I firmly believed that because I was a Christian, he especially took care of me the last six months of service.
A new commander was appointed to our regiment. He was no ordinary officer. His father was a general, and his father-in-law was a procurator of Moscow region. That officer behaved proudly and insolently with other officers, all the more with soldiers. He was an atheist and from the very first day of his service there, he tried to humiliate me. I was put in a guarded room, often in lock-up. Very often it was without any cause, other than to attack my religion. After the guardhouse, I was in orders with the younger soldiers, which I was to force to work. The company commander became annoyed because it was reported to him that I didnít for anyone to work. Instead I performed the hardest tasks myself. He, like many other officers in our company, considered believers as social outcasts. The more insistent he became, the more God made certain that it would be impossible to break me down. The Bible says, ďYe are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.Ē (I John 4:4) If we have the living God in our hearts, nothing will break us in this life. Glory to Jesus! One day that office swore to put me into a military jail and then added that I wouldnít come back alive. I was put into lock-up again and in direct violation of all human rights, I was kept there for a half a month. Those who knew what lock was about, understood that it was impossible to be there so long. I couldnít survive in such conditions if not for Jesus Christ who gave me strength to overcome the severe trials.
The lock-up was so cold that in the end of June, when I was dismissed it was still icy. It was a very small, dark room. There was no furniture and only sometimes, if the officer on duty was kind, they gave me ďa wooden bedĒ. It is what is known as a plank bed. On seldom occasions was I given a coat. If I had both of them, it still was impossible to sleep there. When I dropped off, I had to wake up and do exercises in order to warm up a little. They almost didnít feed me. What was worse, they gave me even less to drink. I had only a cup of bad water in a day. They let me go the to lavatory once in a 24-hour period. I had to run there and back in three minutes. If I failed to do so, there were different kinds of punishment that were rendered. The worst was that the lock-up period was extended. The hardest think was that they didnít tell me the whole term, but always added one or three days. Several times they extended my term because I refused to take off my Pectoral Cross. They told me that I shouldnít go out from the guardhouse or they would put me in a military jail. At the end of the month, I looked like a squeezed lemon. I had only thought in my mind, ďHow soon will it end?Ē I was willing to even go to the military jail or anywhere, if I could just leave that place. In the guardhouse, officers broke the will of men by administering different kinds of mockery. The very popular procedure was ďaquariumĒ. In the prison they poured water out of the bucket and replaced it with a shovel of chlorine. A man was strangled and burst into tears. As a rule it was over when the soldier was dragged out by officers. They joked that is was ďdisinfectingĒ. They often beat soldiers with boots or with buttstocks. In a word, they did everything in order to break the man and to show him that he was nothing. In the midst of these inhumane conditions, only God helped me to be a man. I didnít become hardened like other prisoners, but prayed and found consolation in prayer. When I was exhausted, I was crying to God. I asked Jesus to come to me and to help me as he had helped other prisoners. Once I read a story about a great martyr, St. George the Victorious. He was beaten and put into a prison cell and Jesus Christ came to him and healed him. Guards that didnít believe in Him exclaimed ďThe great Christianís GodĒ. I said to God, ďChrist, I am a Christian, whom must I ask except you? Help me.Ē
I continued to pray, and suddenly I had a great vision. It was the first time in my life I had seen God in such a way! It was Jesus. At first, I saw an unusual bright light, which seem brighter than the sun, but it didnít blind my eyes. I didnít see the bright light during the whole month, even electricity. Now it didnít even bother my eyes. Besides, when that vision was over, I did not have any spots before my eyes. The light was very unusual. It warmed me throughout my body, without casting a shadow. My heart was beating so fast, (because of the excitement!) from ecstasy. I had forgotten all about my madness, because I felt so good, like after my first confession or maybe even better. I couldnít compare it with anything then or now, while writing these lines. Itís had for me to describe my feelings and experiences. Just imagine, dear sisters and brothers, how wonderful it is to be with Jesus in eternity and the heavens! However, as it is written, ďÖEye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:ÖĒ (I Corinthians 2:9-10) In that bright, light in my prison cell, I was delighted with Jesus who was coming to me with open arms. He was brighter than that light around Him. His dress was made from that light and looked like priestsí cassock. The most unforgettable were His eyes and smile. At first, I didnít think that He could come to me so simply. Then, I didnít think that He would be smiling and so cheerful, and pleasing. His eyes looked at me with such enthusiasm and great love! I asked myself, ďWhy does He love me?Ē At the same time, everything was clear. He doesnít love to receive something in return. He canít help but to love. ďGod is LoveĒ (I John 4:8) He has watched us with such love and admiration! He loves every man so much, but many men either donít know of His love, or theyíve forgotten about it. As long as I live in this world, I shall talk about His love! I have promised it to Jesus! Some years later after that vision, I tried to paint Jesus as I saw Him, but it was impossible. Itís impossible for me to accurately paint His beauty, greatness, gentleness and contentment, etc. Even the most wonderful pictures or icons are just friendly gestures painted by street artists and amateurs for passers by. Only eternity can open Jesus for us as He is! Jesus smiled and came nearer and nearer to me. I felt so nice!
It seemed my internal organs were totally relaxed. My heart was ready to leap from my chest. It was so nice and pleasant. I felt like a child as Jesus looked on me with such admiration, as parents adoring their child. I was ready to come to Him. At that instant, the vision was over. I saw the dark lock-up wall in front of me again. Although, my eyes havenít seen Jesus, my body, soul and spirit have rejoiced from His presence. God was so close; yet I really didnít see him. If the vision had been longer, I would have been in heaven, in his wonderful paradise. The Lord can take us up with Him very quickly. Every believer sometimes prays to God saying, ďBring me up with you, it is so hard for me here. I want to be with you, my dear Lord.Ē S
The Bible has explained why this happens. ďFor the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;ÖWho changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affectionsÖĒ (Romans 1:18-32)
However, there is one way out Ė return t the Creator, bow and confess your sins to Him! In different trials during our life there is a great consolation from God, it is the family. God blessed me to have a wonderful wife and children! Glory to God! It is the evidence of His glory. When we met each other, Nina was preparing to enter the nunnery. She was a good parishioner of the Orthodox Church and saw the ideal Christians in the lifestyle of the monks. I also was nearly a monk. Before my days in the army, I shocked my parents by my statement that I should be a monk. I had planned to enter Troistko-Sergiyevlseiaya Lavra at Moscow. When we saw each other, all the confusion in my mind dissipated. Of course, there were months of my indecision, mental strife and differences. Priests told us that our marriage wasnít from God, that our fates were monastic lives, etc. I said to God that I didnít want to get married if it wasnít to His glory. ďIf this marriage will take me away from you, it is better to take me to Heaven right nowĒ was what I said to Jesus before my final decision to get married. Now I perfectly understand that God did not intend for us to be concealed living as Christians in the monasteries. ďIt is not good that the man should be aloneÖĒ (Genesis 2:18) God spoke and created a normal family, not a monastery.
Several times the doctors told my wife and I that we wouldnít have children. Even though there were some trials, we have received gifts from Heaven through each of our five children. Glory to God! If you are reading this and medical doctors have told you that you wonít have children, right now believe God, the doctor with whom everything is possible. We, men, can only guess, but God has the final word on everything.
Once I was unfriendly to Christians of other denominations. They said in the seminary books that Catholics were heretics, Baptists were ďthe worse from the sectsĒ, Pentecostals and Charismatic were Satanists, etc. After reading such books, I thought to myself, ďGlory to God, I came to Him in the Orthodox Church and not in any other sect.Ē Unfortunately, I have come to learn that in those books were the real lies about all other Christians. Now as a priest and a lecturer, I have visited different, Evangelical Churches and preach to Baptist and Pentecostals. If you would have asked me to do that about six years ago, it would have been impossible. Today I am very much obliged to God that He changed my heart and my mind. Now I can call every Christian who was born from Heaven and recognizes Jesus as their Lord and Savior my brother or sister.
In 1998, to my horror, God told me that in order to save me as a priest from my delusions He need more forces even to save a drug addict, a hard drinker or a prostitute! Indeed they were religious delusions worse than opium. My reformation began through the Bible. Once in 1996, I opened the Bible and heard very deep n my heart the words ďSeryozha, look. Thatís why you have gone from bad to worst. Thatís why I have gone from you farther and farther. My life and active Word has gone from your hands.Ē I was crying when I answered Him, ďSorry.Ē I said. ďItís better to trust in You Lord. There are too many different doctrines around me.Ē It is safer to trust in the Bible. That was how my reformation started! It was one more step to the Living God! In the same year, I met with some believers from Evangelistic Churches. One of them, George, a deacon of a Pentecostal church, gave me a book of sermons by Pastor Earlo Shtegan Ė Itís Time to Start Judging the House of God. Honestly speaking, I didnít want to read that book. I took it and promised it read it only after George agreed to take my book on different menís traditions. I gave him, ďThe Life of the VirginĒ because then I worshiped her. I didnít imagine even one day without reading meditations and prayers to her. I was deeply deluded during this time. It was only through Godís Word that I became free from it. Reading the sermons by Pastor Earlo I was surprised at how he loved Jesus! From the first line to the last I could find nothing with which to disagree. In that book there were all things I had thought on and worried about.
I thought, ďHe is a Protestant, but what Orthodox things he writes.Ē I began to cry and confess to God saying, ďForgive me for blaming Protestants because they are people who love you.Ē After reading that book, I rushed to search for my forgotten Bible that I didnít open for practically 2 years before. My wife read the book also. God touched her heart and she said, ďSeryozha, do you remember when we married, the disputes we had about Baptists?Ē I remembered when Nina told me about one of friends who was Baptist. It was an old woman, according to Nina, she always spoke about Jesus in every conversation. Then she sang about Him and cried. That woman died and Nina asked me ďIs it possible she is in paradise?Ē I strongly objected and said that ďif she didnít confess and didnít become Orthodox, surely she was in Hell!Ē Earlier, in 1991, I had told her ďNina donít be mistaken. If we Orthodox are hardly surviving, how could the Protestants go on living?Ē (paraphrasing the Bible) In 1996 God changed all my notions about church. Church is a meeting of all people who believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who was born from the Holy Spirit!
It is impossible to limit church to certain denominations. In every church there are hypocrites, time-servers, liars, but in every church you can meet true believers that love God and Jesus! No one church, or denomination, or jurisdiction has the right to try and monopolize the Holy Spirit. ďThe wind blows where it listeth, (wishes)ÖĒ (John 3:8) Where does the spirit want to breathe? ďÖbut to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.Ē (Isaiah 66:2)
I recall early in my life I was present during worship service of Pentecostal Christians. I didnít plan to be there, but I was in town occasionally near the House of Prayer. I remembered that I promised Brother George I would come. ďWhy not go to the meeting with the young Pentecostal brother?Ē I thought to myself as I was entering the service, which had started. At the house I was afraid. It was a little town and everybody knew each other. My attendance at that service meant on the next day all the townspeople would be discussing it. In spite of my thoughts I continued on inside. One girl was almost speechless with surprise when she saw ďthe Orthodox priestĒ and pointed her finger in my direction. I didnít suspect anything, opened the door and kept walking. I still didnít realize what was going on, until it dawned on me. I was standing right in front of the rostrum. Those present at the meeting were speechless with surprise. The older men stood in front with their mouth hung open. I was half-dazed myself because I finally noticed that nothing around me associated with the church. There were no icons, crosses, sacerdotal robes or censers. Everything was very simple and modest. When I looked around and tried to concentrate, everyone was examining me very closely. I felt like Casper the Ghost. It wasnít hard to understand why they were in awe. During the century of existence of that church, no Orthodox priest had ever attended and now suddenly one appears in the middle of the meeting without any prior notice. One woman had seen a similar incident in her dream where an Orthodox priest preached in their church. Even her husband didnít believe her. Now this was happeningÖ.
At last when everybody settled down, I was seated between their guest and the meeting resumed. Unexpectedly, the people sang a beautiful song about Godís love. I repeated over and over again to God, ďForgive me, that I had thought so bad about these people and talked so bad about that place.Ē I felt a strong presence of God. It was difficult for me to control myself. It was very hard to suppress the tears. The men sang:
Godís love is great
It has no ending and it flows like a river;
It is deep and wide.
And if it wasnít love, Godís love, we couldnít
have a hope for eternal life
And like our Savior, love all men.
He has loved you and me long ago
He has loved those who laughed and said only ďnoĒ
And He calls everyone by His love.
Oh, if someone who is living on this earth has known
The love of Christ, only by His love everyone lives
And if God would take away His love
This world would perish long ago.
Come to Him, be quick, He waits for you
And He stands at the stone gate
And He is knocking on your door! Itís time to open!
Take His love without any gold or silver!
From 1991 to 1996, I was a priest in Ryazanskaya at Byanskaya region. I have known many priests of different levels. There were only a few of them who sincerely believed or sought God. It was very difficult for me to communicate with other priests and bishops because some of them couldnít imagine any conversation without vodka. Others talked only about women or men according to their sexual orientation. In many Orthodox coalitions, theological seminaries and cloisters even the undergarments worn beneath the priestly vestments were called (readers please forgive me) ďqueerĒ. That terrible gesture further revealed to me the corruption and mire in which my church wallowed.
Not so long ago, one of the priest from a Moscow patriarchy, Father AÖ. told me that in the Russian Orthodox nothing has changed as of yet for the better. ďIf you are not a fascist or gay, you couldnít do any theological work in that church Mafia structure.Ē
Looking at all of that I couldnít find any explanation for what was going on in modern Orthodoxy. Every time I came into contact with such abomination, sin, and hypocrisy that was hidden behind the beautiful facade of religion, I refused to believe that all church structure had rotted. I thought that somewhere there were really true Orthodox priests. I was hurt to see the lawlessness that went on in many temples. Glory to God, the church is alive because our God is alive and at every meeting of men who call themselves the Christian Church. There are people who are really searching for God. These people are the real Church. I have seen many such parishioners in the Orthodox temples in Ryazan and Bryansk regions, people who are really seeking God. Godís heart hurts for all those that have been betrayed by the priests and monks. God says, ďMy people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:ÖĒ (Hosea 4:6)
Recently, I spoke with a priest who is a dean in Kiev region. He came to the Evangelization service and I put a question to him. ďAre you saved (of yourself) or not?Ē At first he couldnít answer, but then he said, ďLet God decide by Himself where I shall be, in paradise or in Hell. I donít know whether I am saved or not? How can I be sure of this?Ē Dear friend, if the priest doesnít know anything about himself what can he know about people? If he isnít saved how can he bring salvation to people? If he were not born from heaven by Godís love, what would he preach? Unfortunately, this is ordinarily the case. I remember how I had confessed in the temple. At that moment I felt Godís forgiveness. Then I received confirmation through the Word of God that it was so indeed. However, when I read the seminaryís books about salvation, I was disappointed. It turned out, that many old monks, whose names were ďSaintĒ or ďReverendĒ didnít know whether they were saved or not. Some of them lived during the tenth century in narrow caves, in the mountains or deserts, exhausted from excessive fasting and lent. When they died they said that probably they would go to Hell. Some of them are very popular in modern Orthodoxy; some people have prayed and lit candles for them.
The way of salvation is simpler than people can imagine. The Bible says, ďÖwhosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.Ē (Acts 2:21) In Romans 6:23 it reads, ďFor the wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Ē It would be better if those sadomasochistic monks didnít take themselves and people for a ride, but instead would open the Bible where everything is simple and clear. Itís happens very often in our lives as in the film about Dr. Aibolit. Barmaley and his friends sang ďNormal heroes always go aroundĒ It isnít necessary to go around as religion taught us. On the contrary we must go the direct Evangelic way! There is only one way to Heaven Ė Jesus Christ! (See John 14:6)
In 1996, I met with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians. I saw the real Orthodoxy in those churches that I had searched for a long time in ďritual ChristianityĒ. Orthodox means to glorify God in the right manner, to worship Him in spirit and in truth. (Refer to John 4:24) Sometimes people called themselves Orthodox, but they didnít worship God as the Bible taught. Now I know many Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Catholics, Orthodox and Adventists whom I can really call Orthodox. Everything that glitters is not gold. God isnít surprised by all these religious ďtinselsĒ and ďnoveltiesĒ. He is glad to see our open hearts. God said, ďÖeven to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.Ē (Isaiah 66:2)
At first I was alone, then my wife and I begin to visit Protestant Evangelic Churches. We liked the worship because everything was very clear. People didnít sit and watch ceremonial rites and activities, but actually participated in worship service. The strong presence of God pulled me like a magnet. I couldnít go very often for fear of my churchís power and judgment of parishioners and also of the ďnew tonguesĒ in which the Christians prayed.
From my seminary books, I knew the horrible things that had been said about some sort of mumbling, unconnected, inarticulate speech that took place at the Pentecostal meetings. I was scared that I would fall into delusion. Also at that time I was still praying to the Virgin, Saints, and angels. In those meetings they only glorified God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! I was very surprised when my wife admitted that she prayed in tongues prior to our acquaintance. I asked, ďNina, why didnít you tell me about this before?Ē She answered, ďBut, we didnít talk about it before.Ē Nina told before when she worked as a seamstress, God baptised her as she sat at her job. When she prepared to enter the nunnery, she was repeating the sinners prayer, ďJesus Christ, God, Son of God, show mercy to me a sinner.Ē Then according to her words, she began to speak in some incomprehensible words. Nina said she thought it was a game, but felt a strong presence of God. She understood that God prepared some gift for her from the Holy Spirit, but her priest prohibited her from praying is such manner. She had to do it only according to a prayer book. My wife and I felt that our new friends had something that we didnít get due to our religious delusions. One day we asked the pastor and some of the believers to pray for us to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Ivan Petrovich Razgonoff, who is a pastor of The Good News Church in Surazh (Bryansk region) and some of his assistants obliged us. That day Nina again began to speak with new tongues. She was very elated!
I watched her and couldnít understand what had happened to her, but I was really happy for her. I thought that maybe as a priest, who taught people of so many misconceptions, I didnít deserve the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There were other doubts also. I was even more fearful of being deceived. I thought, ďWhat if I donít get the Holy Spirit, but instead a demon? What if it was a deception which the Saint fathers forewarned about?Ē I had not doubts after reading Godís Word where it said, ďIf ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13) I made sure that the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues was a Bible teaching and not manís idea. I began to ask the Father about baptism. One day when my wife and I were at home Nina proposed to me that I pray about the baptism again. ďItís all very simpleĒ, she said ďonly believeĒ. Receive the gift and begin to talk as the Holy Spirit give you words! I again doubted and thought that God would speak through me, in spite of my will. I felt that when I received the baptism it would be an explosive thundering event. But, the truth of the matter is that God does not force us, and just gives this gift. ďÖye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.Ē (Acts 2:38) We trust Him as our Father and begin to speak. Because God wonít force us to receive it, if you are saved you can receive this gift from God right not. As you read this text, pray and begin to speak the words that God gives to you. Pray, donít stop and donít be ashamed to pray in the presence of others. Itís only God and you! Hallelujah!
The Reformation of the Orthodox Church