I was raised Roman Catholic. In that denomination, only those who have attained a high degree of piety are referred to as saints, and that only happens after careful assessment by church authorities. However, the Bible requirements are much different, actually throwing the gate wide open to ALL who sincerely love the Lord. Here is one of many scriptures indicating this status includes all followers of Jesus—–the second verse of the first epistle to the Corinthians:
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 (1 Cor. 1:2).
In this verse, three simple criteria are offered for “sainthood”:
(1) Belonging to “the church of God”—The word “church” is from the Greek word ecclesia (pronounced ek-klay-see’-ah) meaning “called out ones.” Therefore, it is comprised of all those who have been truly called out of life of sin into a life of consecration to God;
(2) Being “sanctified in Christ Jesus”—The word “sanctified” has a double meaning: first, being cleansed from the defilement of sin, and second, being dedicated to the purposes of God;
(3) Calling on “the name of Jesus”—in other words, living a life of communion with the Savior of all mankind.
So all who have been born again, regardless of denominational affiliation, are not only invited, but included in “the assembly of the saints” (Ps. 89:5). Wow! In an age of much spiritual compromise, isn’t this a challenging idea to embrace?
Sainthood and sanctification are inseparably interwoven, because a “saint” is simply someone who is “sanctified.” This initially comes as a gift from God. As soon as we confess Jesus as Lord of our lives, a number of “sanctifying” influences work together to present us “holy unto the Lord.” At that glorious moment of spiritual rebirth, we are:
“sanctified by the truth” (Jn. 17:19)
“sanctified by faith” (Ac. 26:18)
“sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:5)
“sanctified . . . in the name of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:11)
“sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Ro. 15:16)
“sanctified by God the Father” (Ju. 1:1)
“sanctified” by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 13:12)
“sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10)
However, claiming sainthood from the very start of our walk with God is almost like asserting that an acorn is really an oak tree. It is, but it isn’t. It may have the identity and the potential, but to really be an oak tree in a manifested way, that acorn has to “fall into the ground and die,” then spend a good deal of time growing (Jn. 12:24). And so it is with us.
All believers have the identity and the inheritance of being saints, but to really be saints in a valid and viable way (to fully realize this inner potential), we must die to self, die to the world, and die to sin. Then we must spend a good deal of time growing in God, yielding to His nature, and fulfilling His will.
Then we emerge in the very character of the “King of saints” Himself (Rev. 15:3).
This should be our goal, every single day.
by Mike Shreve
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