new life fellowship

serving jesus christ the king

Reflections on Sainthood

By now the relics of Saint Therese have been and gone from Letterkenny. Reading about the life of Therese I was struck by her sacrifice, suffering and love. As I was thinking about saints and sainthood my mind turned to what the Bible has to say on the subject.

The word occurs nearly 70 times in the Bible and on every occasion it is used to refer to the ordinary followers of God. The apostle Paul uses it in his letters—addressing them to the saints at Corinth or Ephesus etc. Here’s the picture that emerges from the Bible of what a ‘saint’ is:-

• In the Bible a saint is someone who is very much alive. They send greetings, they receive letters, they form the congregations.

• In the Bible it is God who declares people to be saints. The word ‘sanctify’ and ‘saint’ come from the same Greek word. Sanctify means ‘to make holy’, and saint means ‘someone who is holy’. In Hebrews 10:10 we read, “we have been made holy (made saints) through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ.”

• In the Bible a saint isn’t perfect – the people Paul wrote to had many problems, but what made them saints was the fact that God had chosen them, and he was working in them and making them holy. Instead of us having to climb up the ladder to sainthood, God reaches down and lifts us up, removing our faults until in Heaven we will be perfect.

• In the Bible a saint isn’t someone who does miracles, it is God who works the miracle in making someone a saint. Despite their badness, God set his love on them and determined to make them saints, that is, to make them holy. The great miracle is that God is willing to put our sin on his Son, and to take the perfection of his Son and put it on us.

So the picture in the Bible of a saint is not one of a special person, but one of a special relationship with God. How does this relationship come about, how do we become saints? We need to ask God for forgiveness, and ask him to make us holy.

For every believer whose trust is in God alone for salvation God has worked a miracle, he has declared them holy, he is at present making them holy, and one day he will finish his work. They are all saints.