Summary: The historical celebration of All Saints Day, combining past and recent martyr’s with Paul’s note that "all living Christians are also to be called saints". The message includes a great story on Grace which no other "religion" offers. the story is from
In Jesus Holy Name November 4, 2007
Text: Revelation 6:9-11 All Saints Day, Redeemer
“The Saints of God”
November 1st was “All Saints Day.” But our culture, our children, our economy celebrated “All Hallowed Eve” with great enthusiasm. What did we gain? Millions of dollars spent on candy and costumes, raised sugar level in every child, a nightmare of frustration for every parent and teacher.
The early Christian believers, as far back as the 3rd and 4th Century set aside one day a year to remember and honor all Christian martyrs.
The word Martyr conjures up scenes of Roman arenas where early Christians were pitted against wild animals. Martyr, the root meaning of the word is “witness”. It was first used in reference to early Christians like Stephen, (Acts 7) and later the apostle James, who were put to death for their confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
In the 2nd century, Polycarp, the Bishop of the church at Smyrna was given a choice. He was unwilling to call Caesar “God”. He was taken to the stake. Before the fires were lit, his captors said: “Come now, bishop, where is the harm in just saying ‘Caesar is Lord’ and offering incense, when it will save your life?”
Polycarp replied: “eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I then blaspheme my King and my Savior?”
Through the centuries countless others have made the same confession. The Apostle Paul was put to death by Nero. One of Martin Luther’s fellow monks was captured in the Netherlands and burned at the stake. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and shot in 1945. Rachel Scott, a devout Christian teen, active in her youth group at Orchard Road Christian Church, was the first student killed in the Columbine High School Massacre, April 20th 1999.
Another new but unfamiliar name, whose soul now rests at the altar of God because of the Word of God and the testimony he maintained was Pastor Bae Hyung-Kyu. Pastor Bae led a medical team from South Korea to Afghanistan. The plan was to alleviate physical and spiritual suffering. But the Taliban terrorist had another agenda. On July 19th 2007, radical Islamic insurgents kidnapped 27 South Koreans traveling by bus through southern Afghanistan.
During 40 days of captivity the team members from Saemmul Community Church, located south of Seoul, Korea were relocated, beaten and made to endure forced labor.
The Muslim Taliban tried to convert the Christian hostages. Pastor Bae Hyung-kyu refused. He was shot ten times, in the head, chest and stomach. Another hostage was also murdered. The others were released after a 20 million dollar ransom was paid. Guess whose taking the brunt of the criticism? It’s not the Taliban. It’s not the Korean government. It’s the Christian community. A Korean newspaper wrote: “religious groups should realize once and for all that dangerous missionary and volunteer activities in Islamic countries…..harm Korea’s national objectives and place other Koreans under tremendous duress.” (Christianity Today November 07 p. 22)
Saints are not only those who confessed Jesus Christ as Lord at the cost of their earthly existence. Saints are also you and I who live and claim Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The Apostle Paul began his letter to the congregation at Philippi: “Paul & Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi.” His letter to the church at Ephesus begins with the same words…..”to saints in Ephesus. The faithful in Christ Jesus.”
He plainly calls all Christians “saints”. The Christian is a living paradox; a perfect saint by justification by faith, a very imperfect saint according to his personal life. Martin Luther wrote: “We are all saints, to call yourself a saint is an act of gratitude and confession to God who blessed us…for God has sanctified you in baptism and adores you with His holy word.”
Last week we heard these words of scripture: “There is a righteousness from God that comes by faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
My Friends. No other religion offers such a message. All others demand the right performance, the right sacrifice, the right chant, the right ritual, the right experience. Theirs is a kingdom of barter and trade offs; you do this and your God will give you what you want.
Those who live in the kingdom of Jesus know that Christianity is different. It is a kingdom where membership is given not purchased. God speaks a word of grace, undeserved, difficult to comprehend, hard to believe. God, because of Jesus, his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave pronounces every believer, “not guilty”. He declares us righteous, at peace with Him, all our failures pardoned, all our sins forgiven.
How can a God who is righteous simply turn his back on all our sin? How can He just dismiss the enormous debt that we had accumulated? Can God just sweep it under the rug? No!