Sinners & Saints

Today is All Saints Day, a traditionally Catholic holiday held on November 1st to celebrate the lives and beatification of the Catholic saints. While I am not Catholic, and do not ascribe to their theology or holidays, I found something worth considering today in their celebration.

I celebrate the church.

The Church is called the body of Christ (Eph. 1:15-23) because it belongs to Him (Col. 1:17-20) and He is the head (Eph. 5:23). The church is not confined to any one particular denomination or creed but is defined by those who have believed and obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, namely, His death, burial and resurrection. The church is made up of those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14, ESV).”

So who are the saints? They are those who have dedicated their lives and efforts to the kingdom of God. Those who have been buried with Him in baptism (Col. 2:12), who have been filled with His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), who have been sanctified and set apart for His glory (1Peter 2:9). Those who were once sinners and are now saints. I celebrate them today.

I thank God for a Pastor that loved me and led me as a young man, teaching me to love Jesus Christ and honor the Word of God. I thank God for the bus driver who picked up my family and brought us to church, for the Sunday School teacher who had an inspiring and truthful message every Sunday for this little boy. I thank God for the church I worship with now. The people who serve God, honor His Word and love His ways. Who esteem the heart of God above their own heart and trust His ways above their own. I thank God for a grandmother and a mother who taught me and showed me to worship Jesus Christ and to submit my desires to His commands.

Thank God for the saints!

We’re all sinners and we’re all saints. We have a past and we have a future. As I read the Book of Acts I thank God for the honesty of Luke and the reality that men can be born sinners in the world and die saints in the church because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The unknown writer of Hebrews tells of these sinners and saints who, through the grace and power of God:

who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:33-38 ESV)

Thank God for the saints! Scripture gives us the promise that, for those who are saints of God, it doesn’t end in this life. John, captive on the Island of Patmos, was given a vision of the throne of God in the end of time and he testified:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-17 ESV)

Thank God for the saints.

Greg Kandra writes:

The saints remind us of things that are changeless, timeless. Things we need to remember and hold onto right now. Things like Courage. Sacrifice. Holiness. Hope.
For all the trials and hardships that the world has known, through the centuries ordinary people have stepped forward to live out those ideals. God has given us examples. He has given us saints.

There’s an arrogant Italian playboy who scandalized and embarrassed his family —and then gave up everything for God. We know him today as St. Francis of Assisi.

There’s the son of a deacon who was kidnapped and held as a slave for years before he escaped, and found his way home, and found his way to God: St. Patrick.

There’s the spoiled, rich Spaniard who attended the finest schools.  But, when famine struck Spain, and he saw human suffering, he was so moved with pity that he sold all he had and joined a monastery. That man became St. Dominic.

And there’s that young man from a prosperous and prominent family in Germany who did everything his father didn’t want him to do – including, finally, becoming a priest.  That was St. Boniface.

For what we used to be and for what we’re going to be, I celebrate the church today and all its saints.