Gates of Hell
“I Will Build My Church and the Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against It.”
(Matt. 16: 18)
Archbishop Averky, Orthodox Life, No. 3, May–June 1961, pp. 3–9.
...But it becomes very frightful when representatives and leaders of separate local churches which are part of the One True Church of Christ, forgetting their high calling to be servants of the task of Christ here on earth, enter into affiliation and cooperate most friendly with the enemies of the Church and give themselves over to complete subjection and obedience to the servants of Satan, and already thinking not of serving Christ the Saviour, but only about pleasing their new lords. The worst and most dangerous idea of modern times, is the idea of reconciliation, of "coexistence" with evil. And very many servants subjugate themselves to this idea, the servants of the Church are not to be excluded.
But is it possible for the True Church of Christ to reconcile Herself somehow with evil, which comes from the enemy of mankind's salvation - the devil? Is it possible for Her to coexist with it, without carrying on a most decisive struggle with it?
Of course not, for, according to the words of Christ the Saviour, no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). And it is namely for this reason that they who broke away from the True Church, the so-called movement of the Living Church, the movement for reform which wanted to compromise Christianity with this world, that lies in sin, and "Sergianism" which preaches "coexistence" with the godless power of Communism, and participation in the so-called "ecumenical movement" that recognizes the equality in rights and dignity of all groups and "denominations", all this is in essence already a departure from the true Church.
Can that organization be called a Church which calls for "loyalty" to the servants of Satan? This of course already is not The Church, but a false church, or according to the word of God "the congregation of evil-doers", and to remain in such a church is not only not helpful toward salvation, but on the contrary — it is ruinous.
It may be asked why do we speak and write about this so often?
For the reason that it is our sacred pastoral duty — to warn our believers about those countless numbers of subtle temptations which now have been abundantly sown about everywhere; we are obligated to teach them to discern the True Church — to be able to distinguish it from the false church, and "the congregation of evil-doers". Christ our Saviour gave us the great promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail over His Church, that is to say all the forces of hell in all their maximum endeavour. But believers separately, and pastors individually, and even separate hierarchs and whole local churches headed by them, can fall away from the One True Church, preparing for themselves and their followers eternal perdition in the depths of hell.
It was not in vain that the Lord named the members of His Church as "the little flock", and foretold that when He would come back to earth again the second time, He hardly shall find faith on earth (Luke 12:32; 18:8). The circle of true believers in Christ, shunning all compromises with the evils of the devil, at the time of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ will be contracted to an ever greater extent, and corresponding to this the diapason of the True Church of Christ will lessen more and more. But the True Church of Christ, which did not involve itself in "co-existence" with the evil one and did not bow before the Anti-christ, will not end its own existence, in spite of all the difficult hardships, shocks and persecution, to which it will be subjected to up to the very end of the world. It will exist to the very Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, even if only one bishop exists who retained and kept loyalty to Christ the Saviour with a most insignificant group of clergy and laymen. Amen.