This is fairly long but will make an excellent series
Me? A saint? You've got to be kidding, right? NO! Not at all!
How does God identify His children? What does GOD call those of us who have been
born again and have elected Jesus Christ to be Lord ... to be OUR LORD?
How should we who are born again, the children of the Most High God, identify ourselves?
What should we call ourselves? What is our "Family Name"?
To answer that question, we need to ask, "How does God's Word identify us?"
If God's Word identifies us in a certain way, then we can only conclude that God
has chosen to so identify us!
How God identifies us depends on our spiritual condition. If we are born again, then
we are also adopted and adopted children are given a new name to be known by!
Before getting the answer on being a Saint, we must first of all, deal with centuries
old religious definitions that really do not match the Biblical reality.
The religious definitions of saint are:
(Abbr. St. or S.) Christianity. A person officially recognized, especially by canonization,
as being entitled to public veneration and capable of interceding for people on earth.
A person who has died and gone to heaven.
Saint A member of any of various religious groups, especially a Latter-Day Saint.
An extremely virtuous person.
So, according to the religious definitions, you and I are not able to be identified
as a saint!
Now isn't that just the way of religion ... to rob us of our rightful heritage? According
to the religious definitions above, we can't be called saint (unless we are a Mormon)
because either we have not yet died and gone to heaven, or we have not yet been canonized!
To be canonized, one must be dead as well!
Finally, and this is the larger hindrance, we must meet some religiously imposed
qualification of conduct ... one that no matter what level of virtue we may achieve,
there will always be someone who will say "not good enough"!
So, we just simply don't have the right to call ourselves "saints" ... according
But by which authority are we to determine this or any other issue - man's religion
or God's Word? If you answered "religion" then we are finished! But if you answer
"by God's Word", then we must learn what God's Word does, in fact, say on the matter!
In most epistles, Paul addresses the members of Christ's Body as "saints"! Let's
look at 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 ... 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through
the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ
Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus
Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
Paul declares that we are called to be saints! And in nearly every epistle, the greeting
is similar, he addresses us as SAINTS!
So what is a saint?
from hagos (an awful thing) [compare (hagnos), (chag)]; sacred (physical pure, moral
blameless or religious, ceremony consecrated) :- (most) holy (one, thing), saint.
-Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
A saint is one who is sacred, pure, morally blameless and holy!
But by whose determination? By whose works are we made sacred, pure morally blameless
Who decides if we are sacred, pure, morally blameless and holy? Are we made so by
our own efforts?
Do we ourselves decide if this is our state or condition?
Not according to 1 Corinthians (or any other epistle), but by what Christ has accomplished!
We are called to be saints by God's will for those who call upon Christ Jesus!
So then, we are saints not by our will but by God's will for us!
Or, in other words, a saint is not something that we attain or become after we are
born again, but we are made saints by being born again and being a saint is a predetermined
choice of God for all those who call upon Christ Jesus as Lord!
Thus, being a saint is not something that we, somehow by our striving to be pure,
finally achieve; but being a saint is a status that we are to live up to! God declares
that we are saints already and it is our responsibility to live up to that calling
You might think of it this way: When we are born again, God adopts us as His children.
Adoption always includes a change of identity, a change of our family name. Whereas
before we were in the family of "Sinner" now our family name is "Saint"! Thus, we
are no longer known as "Timothy, Sinner" but as "Timothy (or whatever your first
name is) Saint"
This should then change our perspective on who we are in Christ as well! No longer
should we say that
"I am just a sinner saved by grace ..."! Instead we should say, and understand our
status as "I am a saint!"
The definition of a saint? A person who WAS a sinner that HAS experienced God's grace
in salvation and IS NOW a new creature ... a SAINT!
This breeds another question ... is it correct then to call ourselves Christians?
Correct, but incomplete! Do you know how many times in all of God's Word that an
Apostle or writer of any New Testament book identifies us as Christians?
ONCE! Just one time! In 1 Peter 4:16 - - "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let
him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."
The name "Christian" is only used twice more in all the Bible and that in the book
of Acts. The first is that believers were first called Christians in Antioch and
second when Agrippa told Paul that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian.
Both instances were how THE WORLD identified us ... "little Christs", and not necessarily
in a complementary manner.
So, actually, Christian is how the world of sinners identified followers of Christ
while God's leaders identified us as Saints! And Saint has a much broader, deeper
meaning than does Christian! For Christian only means follower of Christ while Saint
speaks to what our character qualities are to be!
While Christian means "follower", "Saint" signifies belonging to the family and house
of God Almighty, "Saint" informs the world that we have been adopted by God Almighty
and that we are in a new situation; "Saint" carries the implication that we are in
the process of becoming like Christ! For the qualities of a saint are the very qualities
of Christ Jesus Himself!
Again, "Saint" is a name to live up to, what it is we are becoming ... which is the
declared will of God our Father! As we are told in Romans 8:29 (and other places)
that we are being conformed to the image of Christ our firstborn Brother among many
brethren. The brethren of Saints!
Ok Dr. Timothy, but I keep failing and honestly I just don't feel like I deserve
to be called a saint!
Praise God it is not about how we feel nor even whether or not we fail! There was
a group of saints who were at a point of terrible failure in many respects, even
allowing an incestuous situation to exist within their congregation! How did the
Apostle Paul address these Christians? Let's take a look ...
1 Corinthians 1:2 (NKJV)
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ
our Lord, both theirs and ours:
It isn't about how we feel about ourselves nor even about how we may miserably fail
to be all that a child of God should be successful at!
Being a Saint is about how God looks at us and how God identifies us ... it is about
having the name HE has appointed for us to be known by! Let me ask you this: If you
ever really failed your natural parents, did you stop going by their family name?
Of course not! What did you do? Most of us simply asked our parents to forgive us
and we tried just that much harder to make sure that our family's name retained a
good reputation and you, a good report!
So, let me encourage you to choose the Biblically correct identity given to us by
God our Father and in so doing let it be a constant reminder to us that we have a
name to live up to!
Be the saint that God says you already are in His eyes!
Dr. Timothy Hoflund