Summary: As Christians, we are saints who are just sinners saved by the grace of God.
"Saints and Sinners" (1 Cor.1:1-9)
Rev. A. LaMar Torrence
Pastor of the Cross of Life Lutheran Church
For a little while, I want to talk on the subject Saints and Sinners. I want to dialogue on the dichotomy of the saved and the sanctified, the holy and the justified. We want to explore this relationship between saints and sinners. Paul in all except two of his epistles address the congregations with the salutation “called to be saints”. The term saint in common use is limited to certain classes of holy people. It is applied to the inspired evangelists like Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is ascribed to apostles and the early church martyrs like Paul, Saint Anthony, Saint Justin, and St. Mary. It is a term attributed to the great doctors and missionaries canonized by the holy Catholic Church like St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Benedict. It is a term that is not taken likely. To say someone was or is like a saint is to classify that person in an exclusive class of holiness or to make that person super or ultra human beyond the dark realms of sin. It is to place of halo above their head and angel wings on their back. The application of sainthood to a person or group of persons is nothing that is taken likely.
That’s why it is puzzlement that Paul uses this term to address those at the church of Corinth. Those of us, who are familiar with our biblical history, know that the Corinthian Church was not a church that behaved like saints of God. For even Paul, himself said that they were still of a fleshly nature. We know that the Corinthian church caused Paul to write sixteen chapters of Greek text correcting the mistakes and the wrongs that these so-called Christians at were committing. We also, know that this was a church in the midst of Satan’s strong hold. The city of Corinth was considered the ‘pleasure city’ of the Roman Empire. It was rich and lavish, wealthy and wicked. It was a den of iniquity, a kingdom of degradation and a place of debauchery. The Corinthian church was a church placed at the gates of hells. Christ was its head and the cornerstone of its foundations; yet, it was a strange church. It was mixture of Roman citizens, Heathen Greeks, and oppressed slaves. There were fractions and divisions, cliques and groups - Everybody in their own corner trying to do their own thing - Everybody with their own program and their own agenda. Council members didn’t like the pastor and treasurers wouldn’t give up any money. Young adults were tired of the old folks. The old folks complained about the rebellious behavior of ‘young-ins’. Worship was more centered on melodies and beats rather than godly praise and adoration. Instead of spreading the Gospel of Christ, they talked about the latest gossip of the day. They prided themselves in having spiritual gifts yet showed no interest in giving tithes back to God. They knew how to talk about the word but rarely came out to bible study. They were people fighting over titles and positions - getting jealous because pastor never visit their house or called their name from the pulpit. The church at Corinth was a strange church but nevertheless Paul says that they were called to be saints.