Summary: What does it mean to be a saint?
A Saint - 1 John 5:9-13
Story: In a small country village in Sicily, there were two brothers, renown members of the local Mafia. They were mean, bad and very rich.
No one had a good word to say about them. Indeed, everyone seemed to have a story about how they had either been cheated or maligned by the brothers.
One day, one of the brothers, Dan died.
The surviving brother, Jo - with a rare touch of conscience - felt that something nice should be said about his brother Dan at the funeral.
So he went to the local Priest and said:
“I know that folk in the village hate us, and they don’t know the half of what we have been up to. However, I want you to say something nice about Dan at his funeral.
I want you to say that Dan was a saint when you preach.
If you will agree to do that, Ill show my gratitude by giving 100,000 Euros to the church restoration fund. If you don’t, there will be consequences.”
The Priest thought about it for a minute, agreed and took the cheque.
A week later, the whole village turned out for the funeral. Everyone had heard of the deal with Jo and was wondering what the Priest would say.
After the opening hymns had been sung and the readings had been read, the Priest climbed up into the pulpit and delivered his sermon.
Eyeing Jo, sitting in the front row, the Priest said how evil the pair of them had been. He went on to say
how Dan had cheated, not only in business but on his wife,
how he had lied and how had had no concern for anyone but himself.
In fact he went on to say what a downright scoundrel Dan had been.
After ten minutes of preaching in this vein, the Priest, being the man of integrity, ended his sermon with these words:
"But compared to his brother - Dan was a saint.
Have you ever thought what the term “saint” means. Did you realise that St. Paul uses the term “saint” a lot in his letters. For example in Ephesians 1:1 we read:
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.
To the saints in Ephesus in Christ Jesus”
What did he mean by the term “Saint”
Imagine if St. Paul had written you a letter, Paul’s
Epistle to the “Morstonians”. And in Morstonians
1: 7, we would find these words:
“To all in Morston who are loved by God and called to be saints,
Grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And as you will probably guess I have taken a bit of liberty in my paraphrase edition of Romans 1:7
Perhaps that gives a new meaning to “All Saints, Morston” (the name of our church!) .
What is a saint? Well the term has a multitude of meanings:
1. Someone who is long suffering is called a saint. I am sure you have heard the expression; “She was a saint to put up with him so long. “
2. Others see it as the church’s Victoria Cross – for people who have done something special – like Maximilien Kolbe who sacrificed his life at the concentration camp in Auschwitz so that a polish sergeant might live.
3. But Saint is a biblical term. The Oxford
Illustrated Dictionary gives the biblical
definition of the term “saint” as being
One of God’s chosen people,
A member of the Christian church.
A saint is someone who has been sanctified by the Blood of Christ.
Or to use the words of St John in our epistle
Reading A saint is some one who has accepted “the testimony of God” and who “believes in the Son of God” (I Jn 5:10)
In other words, the biblical term “saint” applies to YOU and ME.
And with this in mind, I would like to focus on three verses from the first epistle of St. John this morning
11 God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have life
13I write these things to you who believe in the
name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5: 13)
What does the Bible mean by belief - is it simply intellectual assent?
Well it wasn’t in Jesus’ day.
In New Testament times, belief affected HOW YOU LIVED.
The apostle James, in one of my favourite passages in his epistle, puts the matter well when he says:
“What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds.