Saints in Christ
What is meant by the word “saint”? How does one become a saint? What role do saints play in the church?
While there are certainly individuals in church history who have been strikingly effective and particularly used by God, in the language of the New Testament there is no basis for titling someone “Saint So-and-So” while the rest of us are called by our ordinary names. Biblically, saints are not a special group of outstanding Christians who have done something peculiarly pious. Saints are normal Christians who follow Jesus.
“Saint” is simply the New Testament word used to describe every believer. In the introductions to Paul’s letters, he frequently addressed the recipients as “saints.” The word means “set-apart ones” or “holy ones,” and all Christians are those who have been set apart from what they once were in sin and set apart for Christ. They are His treasured possession—His saints.
And if you are in Christ, so too are you.
The key to becoming a saint, then, is not building up a résumé of good deeds; it is being “in Christ Jesus.” The Bible says that by nature, we are “in Adam,” and unless we are placed into Christ, we remain in Adam and will die in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:22). Jesus came to do all that Adam failed to do and undo all that Adam did in the fall. People are brought from their experience in Adam to a new experience in Christ by His atoning death on the cross. Paul puts it this way: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Here is the real question about sainthood: not “Am I in church?” but “Am I in Christ?” It’s good to be “in church,” but just as someone can be “in a garage” and not become a car, someone can be “in church” and not be a Christian. If we are not in Christ, we are still the same old stuff—religiously painted up and spiritually interested, perhaps, but fundamentally unchanged.
Are you in Christ? If so, then you are a saint! All the benefits and blessings of being in Christ Jesus accrue to you, and you have the privilege of living for Him. Paul’s addressing of ordinary Christians as saints stood as a reminder to them: This is what you are, and this is what you should live as. You are different. You are not to be like the world. You are His. Rejoice today, this moment, if He has set you apart for Himself, and live in freedom to the praise of His glory.
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful1 in Christ Jesus:
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us2 for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known3 to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee4 of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,5 to the praise of his glory.
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