Who Is a Saint? #6

Saturday, August 31, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Through faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork alone as sufficient payment for our sins, we are dead to our old Adamic nature (sin’s dominion): “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6). We have been raised again with Christ to “walk in newness of life” (verse 4). Just as our Adamic nature produces sins, that new nature/life we have in Christ generates good works (Galatians 5:22-26; Ephesians 4:20-32; Philippians 1:11; Colossians 3:1-17). God has made us “saints” for this purpose!

Paul explained practical sanctification in 2 Timothy 2:19-21: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7). The Christian is to take God’s Word, study and believe it rightly divided, and will thus be “perfect [mature], throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Remember, one is not a saint based on his or her performance, but because of his or her identity in Christ. Still, our positional sanctification (in Jesus Christ) should be reflected on a daily basis (practical sanctification by Jesus Christ). A sinner is a sinner not because he sins—he sins because he is a sinner in Adam (his very nature causes those sins). Likewise, a saint, although leading an imperfect life, is still a “saint” (“sanctified;” today’s Scripture) in God’s eyes because of that person’s identity in Jesus Christ.

This earthly Christian life is a preview of that which is to come….

Who Is a Saint? #5

Friday, August 30, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

In religion, “saints” are nothing more than intercessors who influence God to grant us favors. In Scripture, they are something else entirely. God—yea, God alone—creates saints through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork (today’s Scripture). Saints are not for our selfish desires: they are for God to use to glorify His Son Jesus Christ forever and ever and ever.

Among other things, Jesus Christ is our “sanctification” (today’s Scripture). The writer of the book of Hebrews, when describing Israel’s salvation, used the same terminology the Apostle Paul utilized to refer to us, the Church the Body of Christ. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:10,14; cf. Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 1).

Just as God will separate (sanctify) these believing Jews from the unsaved descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (like He separated Aaron and his sons from the common Israeli bloodline for service in the Levitical priesthood), so He has separated us from the ordinary human race. Just as He will redeem Israel from her sins and Satanic bondage using Jesus Christ’s shed blood (via the New Covenant; Hebrews 8:8-13), so He has bought us out of that slave market of sin and death (redemption; today’s Scripture).

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Christ, we have a new nature: we are a new type of mankind, the Church the Body of Christ, the “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15). All saints are equal in Jesus Christ—all Christians are in one body.

When God saved us, He not only delivered us from His wrath in everlasting hellfire, but He made us “saints” in Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture) to use us for His glory forever….

Who Is a Saint? #4

Thursday, August 29, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Usually, the Bible uses the word “saint” to describe Christians living on earth.

In Ephesians 3:8, the great Apostle Paul humbly declared that he was “the least of all saints—Paul, a “saint,” was not in heaven here (he was in prison in Rome!). Again, while he was in prison, Paul penned in Philippians 4:21,22 that the Philippians were to “salute [greet] every saint in Christ Jesus” and that “the saints salute [them], chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.” Were they to greet the saints in heaven? Where is “Caesar’s household?” In heaven, or in the Roman emperor’s palace in Rome on planet earth?

Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 6:2,3: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” Notice the synonyms—“saints,” “you,” and “we,” meaning the Corinthians living on earth are “saints! Again, even Paul considered himself a “saint” (indicated by the pronoun “we”), and Paul certainly was not in heaven when he wrote that either.

The writer of the book of Hebrews praises his audience for “ministering to the saints(6:10). Where are these “saints?” In heaven, or on earth? When he instructed, “Salute… all the saints (13:24), did he mean believers in heaven, or believers on earth?

Whether physically dead or alive, all believers in the God of the Bible (Jesus Christ) are still redeemed from sin and everlasting hellfire. They are still “in the LORD.” Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Even after death, they are still called “saints” (Matthew 27:52,53; Revelation 16:6; Revelation 17:6; Revelation 18:24). But why has God made them “saints?”

Now, let us see the role of the saints in God’s plan for the ages….

Who Is a Saint? #3

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Observe how the Bible does not restrict the word “saint” to Christians who have died.

When the Apostle Paul gave his testimony to King Agrippa in Acts 26:10, notice his words: “Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.” Was Saul of Tarsus imprisoning deceased saints in heaven? No, these saints were still alive on earth—otherwise, they could not have been put to death!

In Romans 12:13, we read about practical Christian living in the Dispensation of Grace: “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Where are these “saints?” Do those in heaven have needs that we can fulfill? Nay, but there are plenty of needy “saints” living on earth! Romans 15:25,26,31; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:3; and 2 Corinthians 9:1,12 are other examples of needy “saints” living on earth.

The following verses identify “saints” living on earth, not in heaven: 2 Corinthians 1:1 (Corinth), Ephesians 1:1 (Ephesus), Philippians 1:1 (Philippi), and Colossians 1:2 (Colosse). Romans 16:15 lists “saints” who are not in heaven, but alive on earth: Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.”

Paul instructed the Roman believers in Romans 16:2 to behave like the “saints” they were, living right here on planet earth! In 1 Timothy 5:10, we read about Christian widows who “washed the saints’ feet.” Do people in heaven need their feet washed? Nay, so where are these “saints” whose feet these women are washing? Paul commended Philemon for refreshing the bowels of the saints (Philemon 7). Was Philemon serving Christians in heaven, or Christians on earth like himself?

The Bible does use the word “saint” for deceased believers, but as we can see, “saint” usually applies to Christians living on earth….

Who Is a Saint? #2

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 43:7 is the Bible’s clearest definition of “saint,” “sanctify,” and “sanctification:” “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”

When God makes one a “saint,” this individual is “called by [His] name” (sanctified), His creation, His “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10), and no longer an ordinary human. The Creator of heaven and earth has redeemed him or her from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire) and saved that person so He can use that person forever for His purposes. That “saint” should reflect God’s values and principles (as opposed to selfish, or sinful, living), thereby glorifying Him.

The Bible’s clearest illustrations of sanctification and sainthood are the Levitical (or Aaronic) priesthood and the vessels of the Tabernacle and Temple.

“For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:… and no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:1,4). Not just any Jewish man could serve in Israel’s priesthood—only a man “called of God,” a son of Moses’ brother Aaron, Israel’s first high priest (Exodus 28:41-43; Exodus 29:9,44; Exodus 40:12-15). Psalm 106:16 calls Aaron “the saint of the LORD.”

“…Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever” (1 Chronicles 23:13). Aaron was “separated,” or “sanctified,” to be a priest to perform God’s service. “The most holy things,” associated with Aaron’s ministry, were special vessels (cups, bowls, shovels, et cetera) used in the Tabernacle (later, the Temple). Ordinary Jews were not to use those vessels: they were to only be used in God’s Tabernacle and Temple to do His work.

This is sanctification….

Who Is a Saint? #1

Monday, August 26, 2013

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).

Behold, the identity that we Christians have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Just as religion confuses us regarding the definition of “sinner,” it genders uncertainty as to what is a “saint.” Did you know that denominations disagree as to what a “saint” actually is? Must one die to be deemed a “saint?” Is it necessary to have two confirmed posthumous miracles demonstrating one’s intercessory work to God, before one can be recognized as a “saint?” Must one lead a sinless life to be a “saint?” Must one be “canonized” by a church hierarchy to become a “saint?” Should certain “saints” be revered more than others? These are important questions, and the Bible already declared their answers long before any church councils or church fathers offered fallible opinions.

The Lord Jesus Christ so clearly affirmed: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

As always, remember that the authority is not in church councils, denominational boards, creeds, assumptions, patristic writings, or preconceived notions. According to the Lord Jesus Himself, the Bible alone is the standard by which all will be judged one day. In the King James Bible, we English-speaking people have every word that the Almighty God of creation wants us to hear from Him. Jesus Christ will use that same text to judge our beliefs one day, so we had better learn what His Word says rather than appealing to the traditions of men!

Firstly, let it be understood that our English word “saint” is derived from the Old French saintifier (influenced later by sanctifier), from ecclesiastical Latin sanctificare, from Latin sanctus ‘holy.’ “Saint” in our New Testament is the Greek word hagios, meaning “holy” or “set apart.” In today’s Scripture, the Bible says that we who are in Jesus Christ are “sanctified,” set apart, holy, and are therefore “saints.”

Let us delve deeper into this doctrine….

In the Palm of Thy Hand

Sunday, August 25, 2013

“Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128 KJV).

Join the psalmist in esteeming the “precepts” of God preserved for thee in a Book that thou canst hold in the palm of thy hand….

The concept of our Creator God, Jesus Christ, is quite overwhelming. He is such a BIG God concerned about us, such tiny creatures who do everything we can to push Him and His will aside in favor of a “more intelligent” plan. To think that He would even bother to give His Word that was first preserved in heaven (Psalm 119:89) and form it into a book of human language that we could hold in our hands and study and read for ourselves, knowing full well the textual critics and denominationalists would immediately butcher it with their vain translational and hermeneutical methods, that they would greatly “wrest” (twist, corrupt) His Word. They have set themselves up for the day when they will stand before Him and be held accountable for their foolishness!

In today’s Scripture, the psalmist confessed: “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” A “precept” is “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.” In the verse previous, he declared: “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold” (verse 127). Do we “esteem all [God’s] precepts concerning all things to be right,” or just the parts of Scripture that bolster our denominational system? Do we love God’s Word “above gold, above fine gold?”

Dear readers, may we never take our King James Bible for granted. History testifies to the fact that countless souls died to give us those precious and preserved Words of God. They did not die in vain, so let us not relinquish that golden text in favor of the feeble, tarnished hallucinations of seminarians, Bible skeptics, and others who rely on human wisdom to govern their worldview (the “false way” of today’s Scripture). May we “esteem” the Word in the palm of our hand, and value it in our hearts by believing it! 🙂

One Heartbeat Away from Eternity

Saturday, August 24, 2013

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1 KJV).

How true, Job, how true!

Earlier this week, just hours after returning from my mom’s aunt’s out-of-state funeral, my family received news that my dad’s younger brother had had a “minor” heart attack but that CPR saved him. We were relieved. Minutes later, we received a second phone call: we learned it was a massive heart attack and his soul likely slipped away into eternity before help arrived.

I was the one who had to tell the news to his 86-year-old mother, my grandmother. There really was no easy way to tell her, and as I gently spoke those words that no mother ever wants to hear, the poor soul sat speechless. As she wept, she told me she never expected to bury a child. Actually, none of us expected that it would be my 61-year-old uncle to die next in the family, and that he would die without any warning—no one in the family was able to tell him goodbye. My poor dear grandmother never did receive her phone call from him that she had been awaiting.

At the funeral Thursday, the most heart-wrenching sight I had ever seen, I was reminded of today’s Scripture. Dear readers, we never do appreciate the frailty of our lives until death comes. Quite frankly, any one of us may literally be just a heartbeat from eternity. As Job stated, we have been given but “few days” on earth (today’s Scripture). We just do not know how “few” those days “full of trouble” really are. That is why the Bible says to be ready to leave today; death gives little to no warning!

We do not have to go to hell. May we not teeter on the edge of a lost eternity! Jesus Christ died for our sins, His perfect blood paid for those sins, His burial put away those sins, and His resurrection gives us new life and justification in Him (Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Trust alone in that Gospel of the Grace of God, and when that final heartbeat comes, you will be prepared!

The Sting of Death

Friday, August 23, 2013

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV).

In Jesus Christ, we endure “the sting of death” but for a moment….

Having attended the funerals of two family members—my maternal great-aunt and my paternal uncle—during the past four days, my family and I have certainly felt “the sting of death.” That second passing away was unexpected and extremely quick, making it very painful for the family.

To view the bodies of loved ones lying lifeless in their caskets, always pricks (“stings”) the inner man: like a knife, death slices through the souls of the bereaved. That feeling is greatly intensified in those who literally “have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) because they are outside of Jesus Christ and lack assurance of seeing their loved ones in heaven.

The verse following today’s Scripture reads: “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). We all know that sin is a very painful reality, clearly and fully manifested by the Mosaic Law. The Law shows us that presence and particulars of sin while death is the penalty of sin: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).

Romans 6:23b provides the solution: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” While we live in this sin-cursed world and are subject to its effects (including physical death), 1 Corinthians 15:57 offers us Christians consolation: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As people who have trusted alone in the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for our sins, we have hope in Jesus Christ. One day, at the “rapture,” when Jesus Christ will return to gather us the Church that is His Body, He will bodily resurrect our deceased Christian brethren and we will be reunited forever (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Today’s Scripture reminds us that not only will Jesus Christ rescue us from that “sting” of their loss, but He will give them—and us“victory” over the power of death.

What a hope we have in Jesus Christ! 🙂

Who Is a Sinner? #7

Thursday, August 22, 2013

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Behold, God’s standard of righteousness, of which we all fall short!

“He that believeth on him [Jesus Christ] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18). Right from birth, every person is destined for everlasting hellfire. Scripture says that everything we are by nature and everything we do by nature are offensive to God. Just as physical illness has symptoms, our (invisible) sin nature generates sins (the actions). If we are to be made right in God’s sight (justified), there must be a drastic change in our makeup. The illness, the naturenot merely the symptoms—must be treated.

The only way to avoid that penalty of that sin nature is to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). When we trust alone in the shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the fully-satisfying payment for our sins (Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4), we receive the very standing (position) that Jesus Christ has before God the Father. God “makes us the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), and we thus have in Jesus Christ the righteousness needed to fellowship with God forever in heaven. We become “a new creature in Christ”—we lose our “old man” identity in Adam and God gives us a new nature in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:6).

We have nothing in which to boast, for that eternal life is a gift, and a gift is only free—we do not deserve it (Ephesians 2:8,9). Jesus Christ paid it all, and we accept His righteousness by faith in Him alone.

Who is a sinner? A sinner is one whose nature does not measure up to God’s standard of rightness. Dear readers, please remember, it is only a sinner that the Saviour Jesus Christ can save. Howbeit, for those sinners who do trust Him alone, He does save them from sin and eternal hellfire, free and forever. 🙂