Salvation, for Orthodox Christians, is ever-deeper unity and relationship with God the Holy Trinity. This process begins with baptism, and it continues throughout our lives by working out our salvation (Philippians 2:12) until we have come so close to God that we shine with his glory and holiness.
Our world is sick. We humans are sick—very sick. The brokenness, pain, and destruction in the world are symptoms of our spiritual disease—sin—which leads to death. Jesus Christ, who we call our Great Physician, came to destroy Death and heal our diseases to quite literally bring us into the Trinity’s never-ending cycle of love, and his eternal life.
This is what salvation is for Orthodox Christians: becoming so wrapped up in the grace of God, that we become just like him. Not only do we reclaim the innocence and God-likeness mankind lost though Adam and Eve, we will continually become more like God for all of eternity. We will become by grace what God is by nature.
We are saved by God’s grace alone—we are not capable of saving ourselves, no matter how good we are. This salvation is a process, worked out by participating in and cooperating with the grace of God. It is an ongoing, everlasting process of moving from glory to glory, becoming more and more holy and God-like…forever. This is called theosis.
And so, as Orthodox Christians, we are being saved. The decision to accept him as our Savior is an important first step, but it is only the beginning of a long, and yes, difficult journey. Salvation is choosing to follow Christ, not once, but every minute of every day. Yet the rewards of a faithful lifelong struggle within the Church of Jesus Christ—the divine hospital—are quite literally infinite.
“Every Christian Must Recieve a Divine Change”
It is a great thing to believe in Christ, because without faith in Christ it is impossible for anyone to be saved; but one must also be instructed in the word of truth and understand it. It is a good thing to be instructed in the word of truth, and to understand it is essential; but one must also receive Baptism in the name of the Holy and Life-giving Trinity, for the bringing to life of the soul.
It is a good thing to receive Baptism and through it a new spiritual life; but it is necessary that this mystical life, or this mental enlightenment in the spirit, also should be consciously felt. It is a good thing to receive with feeling the mental enlightenment of the spirit; but one must manifest also the works of light. It is a good thing to do the works of light; but one must also be clothed in the humility and meekness of Christ for a perfect likeness to Christ.
He who attains this and becomes meek and humble of heart, as if these were his natural dispositions, will unfailingly enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and into the joy of His Lord.
—Saint Symeon the New Theologian (†1022)