Conclusion

FROM THE TIME of the saints of the early Church to the saints of our own day and age, the original Church of Christ has been preserved as a treasure given to mankind by God Himself. Throughout the centuries this universal Orthodox Church has maintained the fullness of the Christian experience in continuity, theology, spirituality, and sacramental life. It has given us the Liturgy, the Creed, the Bible, monasticism, and the whole of the Christian world-view.

This may come as a surprise to those who thought that the divided and fragmented Christian experience of the West was the only expression of the Church. Others, however, who have discovered the Eastern Church find relief for their souls, which are hungering for the ancient, historical Christian Church that the Apostles began, and which still exists in our own times.

This Church extends from the saints in Heaven down to the believers here on earth in order to raise us from earth to the heights of Heaven. Thus, the true essence of the Church cannot be found in its earthly institution but must be sought in the spiritual life of the Church which takes place in the heart; for it is within the heart that Christ reveals Himself.

Once Christ reveals Himself to a soul, the heart becomes a battleground where the Christian fights his way towards Heaven. This battle, which is the lifelong struggle of good over evil and virtue over vice, is called Unseen Warfare, and is the essence of the spiritual life of a Christian. In conducting this struggle the soul becomes purified in order to make a place for the living God to come and dwell in it. This is the true and ultimate purpose of the Church. Everything else in life is only secondary.

It was in order to establish this Church that God came down to earth, became a man, suffered, died, resurrected from the dead, and ascended into Heaven. Through this God showed mankind the way from earth to Heaven, and gave us His Holy Church to be the place where Heaven and earth meet, and where communion with God begins.