Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Saint Who??

I just saw a news article about the former Pope John Paul II's sainthood proceedings. Seems that the final requirement for him to be beatified, which is the last step before being declared a saint by Rome has been met - a miracle that can be attributed to his intercession. Apparently a French nun has testified that she was cured of Parkinson's disease because of the Pope's prayer on her behalf.

Sorry, but every time I come across this stuff it really bothers me. What is a saint, anyway? According to the Roman Catholic church it is someone who's life and writings have been studied and show virtue, and testifiable miracles. Oh, and they have to be dead, too. And most people on the street would have some similar definition of sainthood - a really good person, someone who can always be counted on to do the right thing, someone with unlimited patience and forbearance.

Alright, now let's go to the real source of truth on this one - the Word of God. What is the Biblical definition of sainthood? The word is found in the NASB version 69 times. In the OT the Hebrew word is qadosh, meaning a holy one, one who is set apart. In the NT, the Greek word is hagios, meaning one who is sacred, consecrated or holy. In other words, a person who is holy and set apart for God's purposes. And definitely not a dead person, but a living one. But look then also at how the term is applied:

  • to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
  • and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27)
  • Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. (Romans 16:15)
  • To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: (1 Corinthians 1:2)
  • Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: (2 Corinthians 1:1)

OK, enough examples. So does this sound like some special class of super-holy Christian? I think not. In fact the term is used in all these cases and everywhere else synonymously for God's people, those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and their faith in Him. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, then in position before God you are declared a saint. Or as Paul puts in in Romans 1:7, you have been called as a saint. Being holy, sacred, sanctified and set apart as God's own possession is part of the holy calling with which we have been called. Sainthood is not about the virtuous works of our lives or the miracles that can be attested to - although the Bible is also very clear that the true saints will live in a manner consistent with our calling and position. And the very fact that we each have been redeemed and declared righteous by faith is in itself a miraculous work of God. But the whole basis for being a saint - Biblically speaking - rests in God's hands and His works, not in ours. He's the one that declares us to be saints, He's the one that brings it to reality, and He's the one that confirms it by His Word, His Spirit, and His Son.

So rejoice, ye saints of the Lord! You have been claimed by the King of the universe and set apart for His purposes, as His possession, in His Son, for His good pleasure, to reflect His glory. You are no longer identified as a sinner - you were a sinner, you have been saved by His grace, you are declared a holy saint.

1 comment:

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