Summary: "Saint" is not a term always well understood. This term looks at this important Bible name for believers, and related words, like sanctification, holiness and dedication, and discusses the importance of biblical separation in the lives of God's people.
Names for the People of God: “Saint”
Series: Names for God’s People
May 15, 2016
NOTE: A slide presentation is available for this sermon upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: 1 Corinthians 1:2 – “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.”
We have been looking at “Names for the People of God,” and our focus each week has been this central question: Are you as a Christian living up to your name We’ve looked at several names so far: Believer, Child of God, Disciple and Faithful. Today, I want us to examine another name: “Saint.”
Joke – There’s a story about two brothers who had terrorized the small town where they lived for decades. They were unfaithful to their wives, abusive to their kids and dishonest in business.
One day, out of the clear blue, the younger brother died. The older brother went to the preacher of the local church and said, “Preacher, I’d like you to conduct my brother’s funeral, and it’s important to me that during the service, you say my brother was a saint.”
The preacher said, “I can’t do that. We both know he was far from that.” The older brother pulled out his checkbook and said, “Preacher, I’m prepared to give $100,000 to your church. All I’m asking is that you publicly state that my brother was a saint.”
On the day of the funeral, the preacher began his sermon this way: “Everyone here knows that the deceased was a wicked man, a womanizer and a drunk. He terrorized his employees and cheated on his taxes.”
The preacher paused for a second and then continued, “But as evil and sinful as this man was, compared to his older brother, he was a saint!”
Paul opens his letter to the Corinthians with the greeting typical of letters in that day by stating who it’s FROM, then who it’s TO. Who was this letter written to?—It was to the “sanctified in Christ, called to be saints” in Corinth. Let’s think about this title for the people of God today.
I. FIRST, WHAT IS A SAINT?
When I say the word “saint,” what image does it conjure up in your mind?
• Many people use the word in a general way to refer to a really good person. – “Oh, she’s such a saint,” we might say.
• To others, it conjures up someone particularly religious or devout – If you came from a Roman Catholic background, the image that comes to your mind is probably of great and holy men and women of bygone days who were especially good and devout people and who the Catholic Church deems to have done at least one miracle in their lives, and who are declared to be saints by the Catholic Church.
• Others think of stained glass windows with people with halos over their head or plastic statuettes on a dashboard.
The word “saint” in the Bible has none of these things in mind. Paul wasn’t addressing some select group of particularly pious or good people, but EVERY believer in the church of Ephesus—the good, the bad and the ugly!
In the Bible, ALL believers are “saints.” The name “Saints” was perhaps Paul’s favorite word for Christians because he used it about 60 times in his letters. And yet “saint” is not a word we use today of one another. We don’t say, “I’m having Saint John and Saint Ava over for dinner today,” or “We’re going with a bunch of saints over to the Chinese buffet. You want to go too?”
But it certainly would be appropriate to talk like that, because if you’re saved, you’re a saint. So from now on, I want you to start referring to me as “Saint Charles.” We used to have a guy in our church in Wiesbaden named “Bernard.” (Saint Bernard, get it?)
Well, what does the word “saint” actually mean? The word “saint” simply means “one who is set apart.” In other places the Greek word is translated as “holy.” If something is holy, it simply means that it is SET APART from common, everyday use for a special purpose.
Illus. – To illustrate, all of you have regular dinnerware that you use for common everyday use. But many of you have special fine china that is set apart for a special use. It’s set apart for those special dinners, like when the preacher comes over for fried chicken (Amen!) and you really want to make a good impression!
Christians are saints because they’re SET APART by God from the everyday life of sin and corruption of the world for a special life apart—someone devoted to the purposes of God.