The Essence of the Christian Faith
When God had created man, and had fashioned him from the dust of the earth, and had honoured him with His own image, He set him in the midst of a Paradise of plenty, promising him eternal life and the enjoyment of everlasting good things in keeping His commandments.
But when he disobeyed the true God who had created him and was led astray by the guile of the serpent, and rendered subject to death through his own transgressions, God banished him, in His righteous judgment, from Paradise into this present world, and returned him again to the earth from which he was taken, providing for him the salvation of regeneration, which is in Christ Himself. For God did not turn Himself away forever from His creature, whom He had made, neither did He forget the work of His hands; but He visited him in divers manners, through the tender compassion of His mercy.
He sent forth Prophets; He performed mighty works by the Saints who, in every generation, were well-pleasing to Him; He spoke to us by the mouths of His servants the Prophets, who foretold to us the salvation which was to come; He gave us the Law to aid us; He appointed guardian Angels.
And when the fullness of time had come, God spoke to us by His Son Himself, by whom He made the ages; who, being the Brightness of His glory and the Express Image of His Person, thought it not robbery to be equal to our God and Father. But albeit He was God before all the ages, yet He appeared on earth and dwelt among men; and was incarnate of a Holy Virgin, and emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and becoming conformed to the fashion of our lowliness, that He might make us conformable to the image of His glory.
For as by man sin entered the world, and by sin death, so it seemed good unto the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of our God and Father, to be born of a woman, the holy Birth-giver of God and ever-virgin Mary; to be born under the Law, that He might condemn sin in his flesh; that we who were dead in Adam might be made alive in Christ.
And becoming a dweller in this world, and giving commandments of salvation, He released us from the delusions of idols, and brought us unto a knowledge of of the true God and Father, having won us to Himself for a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; and being purified with water, and sanctified with the Holy Spirit, He gave Himself a ransom to Death, whereby we were held, sold into bondage under sin.
And having descended into Hell through the Cross, that He might fill all things with Himself, He loosed the pains of death, and rose again from the dead on the third day — for it was not possible that the Author of Life should be held by corruption — that He might be the first-fruits of them that sleep, the first-born from the dead; and He shall be all things, the first in all things. And ascending into Heaven, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; and He shall come again to render to every man according to his works.
Adapted from a prayer by St. Basil the Great
St. Basil the Great