|Volume 18 Number 10 October 2016||
You May Be a Saint
Gary C. Hampton
The following report appeared on the Fox News website on Sunday, September 4, 2016. “Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint on Sunday, praising the tiny nun for having taken in society’s most unwanted and for having shamed world leaders for the “crimes of poverty they themselves created.” (https://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/09/04/thousands-gather-for-canonization-mother-teresa.html).
Reading the article led me to ask one question, the answer to which I found on a website devoted to telling the stories of saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. The author said, “What is the definition of a Roman Catholic saint? Simply speaking, a saint could be said to be anyone who is currently residing in heaven. The Catholic Church, through the process of canonization, officially recognizes this fact” (https://www.roman-catholic-saints.com).
The answer left me confused. Paul wrote letters “to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:7) “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 the Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2); “to the saints who are in Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1); “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi” (Philippians 1:1) and “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse” (Colossians 1:2).
The apostle to the Gentiles did not think saints were only those already in heaven. A saint is one who has been sanctified or set apart for God’s service. That setting apart occurs at the point when one’s sins are washed away in baptism (Acts 22:16). Paul gave a list of sins that would prevent one from inheriting the kingdom of God, then said, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
Sanctification is an ongoing process that God is completing in His children as long as they live on the earth, as can be seen in Paul’s prayer for the church at Thessalonica. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Such an understanding is likely why John emphasized continuing to walk in the light (1 John 1:7; 2:9-10).
God’s Word plainly says that anyone can be a saint. Those who have been washed in the blood of Christ are set apart for His service. We must make it our constant goal to stay in the light so that the Father can complete our sanctification and so that we can be at home with Him in heaven.
[Editor’s Note: Obviously, it is not brother Gary Hampton who is confused regarding the meaning of the biblical word, “saint.” Contrariwise, anyone who uses the word “saint” in a non-biblical or an extra-biblical way is confused as to its meaning and definition. We are better served by relying upon divine definitions of Bible words than instead turning to mere mortals for guidance in religion. “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23 NKJV). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]