Tag: Journey To Sainthood

YOU CAN BECOME A SAINT!

YOU CAN BECOME A SAINT!

In common usage, a saint is a rare, almost otherworldly creature. It’s not something many aspire to. But can you really be a Christian if you’re not a saint?

The calendar is full of saints, some that even secular people recognize, like St. Valentine and St. Patrick. Saint names cover the map in many areas of the world. And this year Mother Teresa is in the news, as she is scheduled to be named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church on Sept. 4—19 years after her death.

But what exactly is a saint? Who has the right to define it, and how many saints are there anyway?

Common views

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes over 10,000 saints and beati (those who are beatified, one step from sainthood in Catholic teaching).

The requirements to be named a saint are strict. According to Catholic Online, the process of canonizing saints in the Catholic Church generally requires evidence of two miracles performed after the death of the saint. “Since miracles are considered proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede for us, the miracle must take place after the candidate’s death and as a result of a specific petition to the candidate.”

No such requirement is stated in the Bible. In fact, many are shocked to find that God says the saints have not ascended to heaven and will actually be resurrected from the dead at the return of Jesus Christ (John 3:131 Thessalonians 4:14-16)! Read more about this in our article “What Is Heaven?”

The Catholics aren’t the only ones with saints. Other religions have different definitions and recognize different saints.

But what about the Bible? What does it say about saints?

Bible definition of saint

Saint in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word hagios, which basically means holy or set apart. The Bible uses the word saint to refer to all true Christians—living or dead, miracle-working or non-miracle-working.

Here’s how The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament explains hagios. It is translated in English as “holy, set apart, sanctified, consecrated, saint,” and in part it means “morally pure, upright, blameless in heart and life, virtuous, holy.” When translated as saint, it is “spoken of those who are purified and sanctified by the influences of the Spirit. This is assumed of those who profess the Christian name” (edited by Spiros Zodhiates, 1992).

In the Bible, all Christians are called saints. Consider a few examples of how the Bible uses the word saints:

  • “Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man [Saul], how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem’” (Acts 9:13, emphasis added throughout).
  • Peter “came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda” (Acts 9:32).
  • “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:7).
  • The Holy Spirit “makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27).
  • “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1).

The New Bible Dictionary confirms the New Testament usage and explains when it began to change. “In the NT the apostolic designation for Christians is saints (hagioi), and it continued to be used as a general designation at least up to the days of Irenaeus and Tertullian, though after that it degenerated in ecclesiastical usage into an honorific title” (pp. 487-488).

Proud that “I’m no saint”?

When you understand that God calls all Christians saints, it is interesting that so many people seem content or even proud that they are not a saint.

  • Elvis Presley is quoted as telling a reporter, “I ain’t no saint, but I’ve tried never to do anything that would hurt my family or offend God.”
  • Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones said, “I don’t deny myself food. I’m no saint.”
  • Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shrugged off a sex scandal by saying, “I am no saint but you know that.”
  • Author Georgette Heyer said, “God knows I’m no saint, but I don’t think I’m more of a sinner than any other man.”

Many such quotes are probably motivated by a desire to avoid hypocrisy—and the generally accepted idea that sainthood is rare, a bit odd and definitely not required of everyone.

If you aren’t a saint, what are you?

But, as we have seen, according to the Bible, if you aren’t a saint, you aren’t a Christian at all!

How do you become a saint?

There’s no requirement for miracles or human recognition. God is the One who names saints.

You become a saint the same way you become a converted Christian. The apostle Peter summarized the process in Acts 2:38:

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The process of conversion is explained more fully in our free booklet Change Your Life!

What should a saint do?

Christians are called to continue changing throughout their lives—to become more and more like Jesus Christ. Calling them saints—holy people—focuses on their goal to become holy, as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

It is God who makes things holy. His presence, His calling, His way of life make Christians separate from the world. He wants us to strive toward the moral perfection He has.

God’s people have always been called on to make a difference between the holy and the profane.

What is holy?

  • God’s law. Romans 7:12 says, “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just and good.” Explore how God wants us to apply His law today in our free booklet God’s 10 Commandments: Still Relevant Today.
  • God’s Sabbath. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Learn more about why God set the Sabbath apart and why He wants us to keep it holy in our free booklet The Sabbath: A Neglected Gift From God.
  • God’s holy days. Leviticus 23:4 says, “These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations [meetings, appointments with God] which you shall proclaim in their appointed times.” Study the meaning of the seven festivals and holy days in our free booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.
  • God’s Church. Ephesians 5:27 says, “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Our article “The Church: What Is It?” gives more about this essential group of people established by God.
  • God’s Bible. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:15, “And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” For more on this most important book, see the articles in the Life, Hope & Truth “Holy Bible” section.
  • God’s calling. Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy 1:9 that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling.” Read more about God’s invitation to become saints in our article “God Calling!”

​And what is profane and to be avoided?

  • Sin. The apostle John wrote, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. … He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning” (1 John 3:4, 8). Learn more in our article “What Is Sin?”
  • Society (the world). John also wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

The distinction between the holy and the profane is also described in other terms in the Bible, such as righteous and wicked.

The future for the saints

When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, the saints who are alive will rise up to meet Him as He descends, and those who have died He will bring back to life (1 Thessalonians 4:16-171 Corinthians 15:52). The saints will then help Him rule the earth (Revelation 20:4). The Bible calls His peaceful, prosperous kingdom the Kingdom of God. Then “the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).

In the end, “the holiness of God will sweep the universe clean and create new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell (2 Peter 3:13)” (New Bible Dictionary, p. 488).

God loves His saints—and He has plans to add many more of them. In fact, He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Is He calling you to be one of His saints now?

Follow God and He will make Saint….

Our Journey To Sainthood

Our Journey To Sainthood

We actually have a large list of canonized saints, and most of them are well known to have done amazing things. And they go ahead to do so: finding things for us, helping to heal our illnesses, and obtaining favors. They are partners who pray with us and for us.

For such intercession support, we might also count on deceased family and friends whose holiness and love helped us on our journey through life while they were alive.

Between them and us there is the not-so-important event called death. Those of us who have experienced the death of someone we love know how hard it is to let go. And if we have been with the person at the moment of death — even though we believe in faith that he or she has gone to a better place — the memory of the experience can stay for years.

In as much as death is an everyday occurrence, the Church this month places life and death before our eyes in a special way — in the feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Holy Souls. These days are a sober reminder that “here we have no lasting city” (Hebrews 13:14). And yet, for those who believe, death is not the end; it is a transition, the gate through which we must pass to eternal life.

Once death comes, even following a long period of suffering, its arrival is swift and leaves a feeling of deep emptiness for those who remain. It is definitely uncomfortable to face death, to cogitate about it, to discuss about it. And yet the problems for us all is to confront death in faith as an integral part of our human condition.

My friends, we believe that God has prepared great things for those who struggle to love him. One of my favorite little bits of the Bible, from 1 Corinthians, is this saying:

What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him (2:9).

To put it simply, God wants us to be saints. Saints! In Greek, the term is ἅγιοι (hagioi) and in Latin, sancti — literally, “the holy ones.” Our life’s goal is to be with the saints and be one of them in the unspeakable happiness of heaven.

You might have observed that Pope Francis, when he’s interacting with young people, often taps them on the face with his hand. It reminds us how, in days gone by, in conferring the sacrament of Confirmation, the bishop would give the one being confirmed a gentle slap on the cheek. This 13th-century ritual, which is no longer practiced, was meant to be a reminder that the struggle now begins in earnest.

Our lives (and I know I don’t need to tell you) are often a struggle, even a battle. We wage war with sickness and disappointment, with broken relationships, and certainly with personal sin. This is our exciting human and Christian struggle. This is the path of holiness.

Our goal in this life must be to become all that we were created to be so we can join the women and men, boys and girls, who right now see the glory of God. Like them, we are called to do amazing things in our lives. To be a superhero? Well, simply to respond to all our daily challenges and struggles in the way the Gospel calls us to do can be considered amazing, even heroic. With courage today and always, permit God to assist you to become all that he created you to be. Keep up the struggle. If you’re down, get up!

Be glad and proud to follow Jesus Christ, for your reward will be great … in heaven!