For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Called To Be Saints

Depending on what faith tradition you come from, being a saint can mean many different things. But Scripturally, all who are in Christ are called saints. The word means “holy” or “set apart.” And even the most problem filled church in the New Testament is addressed as “saints.”

Paul writes to the church at Corinth and says: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” (1 Cor. 1:2, ESV)

Again, somewhat ironic, given this church’s problems. It’s kind of like the angel coming to Gideon, hiding in fear of the Midianites and saying: “Hail, Mighty Warrior.” Don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

But the truth is, we are saints. We are holy. In Christ, we have been set aside for the purposes of God. In Christ, we have been given the perfect righteousness of the Son, just as He took our sin upon Himself. In his second letter to this same church Paul declares: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21, ESV)

Yet, just because we have this positional holiness, this standing of “sainthood” that comes through Christ’s sacrifice, doesn’t mean that we are not then expected to live in holiness as well. In fact, Paul says both things there at the beginning of 1 Corinthians. He calls them saints, or sanctified, and then reminds them that they are called to be saints. Holy in Christ, but called to live in holiness as well

Yes God declares us holy in the sense of our legal standing, our standing before His judgment seat because of Christ’s imputed righteousness. But we aren’t intended to sit back and take advantage of that. We are called to truly strive to live lives of holiness.

Matthew Henry wrote that “All Christians are thus far sanctified in Christ Jesus, that they are by baptism dedicated and devoted to him, they are under strict obligations to be holy, and they make profession of real sanctity. If they be not truly holy, it is their own fault and reproach. Note, It is the design of Christianity to sanctify us in Christ. He gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify us to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

He gives us His righteousness for our salvation, but then He calls us to make a profession of real sanctity, to live sanctified lives, to live lives of purity and zealousness for good works. We are not only saved from something, but we are saved to something. We are saved from sin and death, but we are also saved to lives of service and holiness to our God.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 says, “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” And Galatians 5:24-25 reminds us that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Holiness is our very real calling, a very real expectation God has of our lives. Too often we’re tempted to think in terms of the grace that God gives us, thinking that since we have this grace, this glorious transaction of righteousness, that we can just go on living anyway we want; since after all, our holiness is in Christ anyway.

Paul writes about that in Romans 6, and listen to what he says: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4, ESV) He says: “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (v. 6). Yes we know His grace, but having been given that grace, we have died to sin and raised to walk in newness of life, no longer enslaved to sin.

We are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints together will all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to be saints. We are called to live in holiness. We are called to live in such a way that reflects the righteous nature of Christ that lives within us, letting His light shine through. That’s what it means to be a saint.

Just a word of encouragement today from Saint Scott.


Ross Skinner said...

"The word means “holy” or “set apart.” And even the most problem filled church in the New Testament is addressed as “saints.” You're absolutely right.

Gregg Metcalf said...

Great words of encouragement. What grace and what a gift to be a saint in the family of God!