I want to be a saint.
No, I don’t mean a player on the New Orleans Saints football franchise who are 5-1 this year. No, I’m not a Saints’ fan but congrats on their success. Although that is an interesting name for a football team whose one objective is to destroy the other team.
I want to be a saint.
No, I don’t mean the Christians that the Roman Catholic Church have decided to tell people to pray directly to because they are recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or closeness to God. That’s not me.
I want to be a saint.
No, I don’t mean the jolly ol’ fellow who climbs down chimneys delivering presents to boys and girls one night a year who goes by the name Santa Claus. (Spoiler alert: the man behind Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas who lived in the fourth century in Turkey. He was a very rich man who inherited a lot of money after his parents died. He helped the needy and poor with his generosity. After his death, his gift giving legend grew.) That’s not me either, although I love Nicholas’ love for the least of these.
I want to be a saint. Do you? Am I? Are you?
Let’s talk about the saints as we find the word in the Bible to answer those questions.
The word “saint” is a Greek word (hagios) used 235 times in the Bible. It’s an important word.
This word literally means “holy.”
God uses this word to describe people. Who? His people. His holy people. He uses the word “saint” to describe those who have been made holy through the blood of Jesus Christ.
So if you have recognized your sinner status from birth, repented of your sins, received the promises of new life in baptism hinged upon God’s grace through faith given to you, then you have a new name: Sinner made Saint.
Yes, until Jesus returns, you will continue to sin, but the God-led and inspired authors of the Bible never label those in Christ again with the old name “Sinner”. They just don’t. Paul never begins his letters with, “to the sinners in Corinth!” Why is that? Yes, Paul commands many of the churches to stop sinning. Yes, the old sinful Adamic nature still fights with the Spirit-led nature inside of us each and every day as we are simultaneously sinner and saint (Luther). But God wants you to remember your ultimate status since He has come into your life, which is one of predestined, called, and justified holy saint before God the Father. God wins and so do you. Daily, your sinful nature is being drowned through the connection to your baptism where you are linked to Christ’s death and resurrection.
Grace wins! And when God sees you, He sees Christ Jesus’ payment for your sins. Your sins are forgiven!
I am a saint and so are you! But Paul puts the pronoun focus more on “we” and “us” than “I” or “me.”
The apostle Paul begins a majority of his letters to the churches he started or desired to visit with a line like this, “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus!” (Ephesians 1:2)
Or like this: “To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons!” (Philippians 1:1)
Ok, one more: “Your love (Philemon) has given me (Paul) great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints (Christians).”
The Christian church is made up of people that God calls His saints.
I couldn’t find a single time that the word was being used for an individual person. It was always plural. Saints. Why the plural? Church isn’t about one individual person, one pastor or one of privileged position.
The Church is made up of God’s saints like us, from all walks of life, rich and poor, male and female, all lost once but now found.
And get this...guess what God the Holy Spirit does for us the holy saints? Prays/intercedes for us to the Father. The Holy Spirit “intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:27). That’s pretty sweet stuff! Trinitarian prayer on your behalf when you don’t know what to pray for. The Holy Spirit is your truth-telling advocate to the Father about your saint status before Him.
Why did I choose to write a few hundred words of theology on the word “saint”?
November 1, the day after Halloween, is marked by the Church as a festival called All Saints Day.
All Saints Day is a day to remember those “saints” who have died in Christ and whose soul has gone to be with Jesus in paradise. All Saints Day is a day to remember that we will see them again at the resurrection of the dead. Praise the Lord! You will see your wife, husband, kids, friends, coworkers, and others from the past who were Christians on earth and now have gone to be with Jesus. So we have saints on earth and saints in heaven.
This All Saints Day, I invite you to:
- Read these verses on Thursday to remember what God says in His Word about the Saints.
Old Testament: Isaiah 25:6-9
New Testament: Revelation 7:2-17
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
- Visit the graveside or the urn of someone you love that has passed away. Pray to God in thanksgiving that that person was made a saint by God’s free gift of grace.
- Mark December 31 on your calendar and plan to attend our New Year's Eve worship service, where all those who have had family die in Christ this past year will be invited to honor those saints that evening.
So, a blessed All Saints Day to you!
I want to be a Saint...oh wait, I am a Saint. And so are you! Or is it we?