What do you think of when you hear the word “saint?” The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox have applied this title to many throughout the centuries who have been officially admitted into some-type of extra holy “Christian Hall of Fame” (i.e. St. Augustine, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, etc.). There are many qualifications for how one gets to be a saint, such as performing verifiable miracles, and these saints are even prayed to. How do you measure up?
In the Protestant tradition, this title is usually applied to the Apostles and authors of Scripture (i.e. St. Mark, St. Paul, St. AuthorofHebrews? etc.). You get the point. These are special holy people. Almost a class unto themselves. These ideas have infiltrated even the ranks of us Baptists (gasp!). Think about it. It’s evident in the way we speak, “Oh isn’t she a saint,” is a common saying to designate someone who God really works through, or has worked through. You know, someone who does a lot of charity work. We can argue all we want about the falsity of the doctrine of sainthood, but whether we believe it or not, we often think in it’s categories.
So should we just throw it off as a Roman Catholic thing? Should we get rid of the doctrine of Sainthood? The Bible doesn’t talk about saints does it? Actually it does. Here is the blaring truth: the word “saint” (ἁγίοις if you prefer the Greek) is never used of individuals, but rather it is always applied to the whole body of Christ, the church (i.e. To the saints at…). Not some select group. Not some special individual who prays for 15 hours a day, preaches to animals, and lives on a steady diet of communion wafers. Not some spiritual super-star.
The Saints are the Church.
Or to put it another way, the believers in the Church, are all Saints.
When Paul writes a letter he writes it to the whole Church, all of the saints residing there (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2). He doesn’t write only to the church leaders, but to all of the saints.
So then, biblically, what does it mean to be a Saint?
The word Saint means Holy One. So to be a Saint is to be holy, that is set apart by Jesus Himself. To be sanctified. Called to Christ. Called into the Church, the body of believers.
Here is the kicker: the holiness that sainthood requires and implies, is not yours, but God’s holiness. God has fulfilled the requirement , in your place, so that you may be called holy.
So Christian, have you trusted in Jesus Christ? Do you trust Him for all of your righteousness? Then, Christian, you are a Saint. It depends not on you, but on the grace of God himself.