Saint - Are You A Saint?
What is a Saint?
According to Roman Catholic thought, saints are people so holy that they serve as role models for the faithful. Further, they are so close to God that they can intercede for those who pray for their help. The Roman Catholic Church has more than 2,500 saints on the list; however, the Vatican is now considering 1,000 more candidates for sainthood.
The Pope, upon recommendation of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and advised by his cardinals, decides whom Roman Catholics may recognize as saints. The Congregation will have received a nomination from a local Bishop somewhere in the world.
The candidate must have been dead for at least five years. There has to be a sign from God that the nominee was truly holy. The sign usually is an inexplicable cure that occurred after someone prayed to the candidate to intercede with God. Formerly, two miracles were required. Under new rules proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in 1983, only one miracle is needed for a potential saint to be canonized.
This cult of the saints* is far removed from the biblical teaching of sainthood. In the Bible, "the saints" are simply the body of believers. Those who believe in Christ are saints. The apostle Paul addressed many of his letters to "the saints" in a certain city. In the book of Acts, "saints" is one of the several names for Christians (Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10).
The Hebrew and Greek words behind the English word "saint" are words for holy. Saints are holy ones. God makes them holy. God separates people from defiant humanity. He isolates them for Himself. He marks them as His own and allows them to serve Him. Their holiness, their sainthood, rests completely on the work of God in Christ Jesus.
Here is the good news. You don't need to be dead for five years to become a saint. You don't have to do a miracle. You don't need to pass rigorous investigation by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Believers in Christ are saints. Followers of the Lamb of God are saints. People washed clean of the guilt of sin by the blood of the Lord Jesus are saints.
But God does even more. Not only does He clear us of the guilt of sin by the blood of Christ; He also washes away the pollution of sin by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. He makes us holy. The Holy Spirit shapes us more and more into the image of Christ, the Holy One of God. We become temples, places fit for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
As we Reformed people know, God gives us this grace freely. We deserve damnation because of our sins. But in His free grace alone God declares us saints for the sake of Christ Jesus. Then He goes to work in our lives through the power of His Holy Spirit making us more and more holy.
This grace is free, not cheap. It is costly. It cost the Son of God His life! This free grace calls us to holiness. It calls us to saintly living. Pious living.
Cheap grace is assuring people they are saints without demanding holy lives. Cheap grace is handing out the body and blood of Christ without disciplining those who stubbornly refuse to be holy as God is holy. Cheap grace is preaching that God will live in us and move among us and be our God while forgetting the urgent call to be separate from the world and to touch nothing unclean. Cheap grace is not warning people that the Spirit of God will not dwell in those who will not glorify God in their bodies.
God, who saved u freely out of pure grace, calls us to holy living. He calls us to a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in obedience to the Word of God. God calls us to obey the Ten Commandments and to conform to the standards Jesus Christ set in the Sermon on the Mount. A church will decay from the inside out if there is no personal holiness in the lives of its members.
Saints are not "holy-rollers." Saints are not goody-goodies or namby-pambies. Saints are vigorously and radically obedient to God.
Between the two well-known paragraphs of Article 29 of the Belgic Confession which speak about the marks of the true church and of the false church there is a lesser known paragraph describing the marks of Christians, of saints. Read it. It's important.
May it spur each of us on to greater obedience to the command of God:
"You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy."