Summary: The Roman Catholic Church has a 3-step process to being recognized as a saint. Daniel 12 shows the Bible’s 3 steps to sainthood. Saints aren’t extraordinary Christians who do miracles. Saints realize their sins, trust their Savior, and share their Savior!
Maybe you have heard the buzz these days in the Catholic Church about saints and sainthood. As I’m sure you’ve heard, the current pope isn’t doing too well health-wise, and before he passes away, one of the things he’s determined to do is to get this woman called Mother Teresa canonized as a saint. Mother Teresa was a nun who passed away in 1997, but not after winning the Nobel Prize for her many works of charity with the poor and downtrodden people of the world.
Do you know how a person gets to be a saint, at least in the Roman Catholic Church? It’s a three-step process. First of all, you are “venerated,” or honored for living a holy life. The second step of sainthood is called “beautification.” You are beautified after it has been proven that you performed a miracle. And the third and final step, “canonization,” that sometimes takes centuries, is when another miracle has been proven. You complete those three steps, and you are considered a full-fledged saint.
Today, we aren’t going to talk about church law procedures and miracles and whatnot. But we are going to talk about saints. Let’s study these three verses from Daniel 12 and read the Bible’s Three Steps To Sainthood. Saints Struggle. Saints Rise. Saints Educate Through Christ.
Daniel wrote 25 long centuries ago, but he wrote about the very days in which we 21st Century Christians are living. Daniel writes about these days, “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.” Did you notice what days will be like for saints of God? One word here in Daniel really sums it up: distress. Saints don’t live easy lives. They fight against enemies in the world, who want to rob them of their faith and then also their sainthood. I spent a couple of years on the campus of a public state university. And there, I saw part of this great distress that Daniel said would come. In class, saints are assaulted with anti-biblical ideas. Outside of class, saints are confronted with anti-Christian enticements. And this great distress that Daniel speaks of is not only in schools, but it’s in our workplaces, or neighborhoods, our get-togethers, our televisions and on the internet. It surrounds us so much that oftentimes we don’t consider just how much spiritual danger there is out there.
But we don’t have to look out there for things to struggle against. All you need to do is look right here, at your own heart and desires, and see that you do live in a distressing time. So often when we find ourselves in trouble, it’s because we are mostly responsible for that trouble in the first place. We can be our own worst enemies. Ever have times when you don’t feel like much of a saint? There’s a battle between good and evil in your heart, and too often the evil wins out. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that saints aren’t alone in their struggle. The first verse of our text reads, “at that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.” There are two angels mentioned by name in the Bible: Gabriel, who appeared to Mary, and Michael, who is found here and a couple other places in the Bible. The point of this verse isn’t so much for us to focus on Michael and who he was. Instead, God wants his saints to take comfort, knowing that there are powerful angelic forces on our side. Soldiers outnumbered on the battlefield are given confidence to fight on because they know that huge numbers of reinforcements are on the way. Saints battle evil in the world and in their own hearts, knowing that God’s army just isn’t on its way, but it is fighting right now alongside the saints, against all that evil.
Daniel goes on, “At that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered.” Daniel comforts the struggling saints with the concept that their names appear on God’s guest list. He is having an eternal celebration in heaven, and God knows the name of every saint. He’s written down your name in the invitation slate. We aren’t just detached numbers to the Lord. We are treasured names.
Why? Why should God love you and me? When we talk about saints, those glorious ones who will inherit eternal life, are we really talking about people like us? Or are only those who travel to far away countries to help the poor called saints?
Saint comes from the Latin word Sanctus, which means holy. A saint is a holy one. When you think of saint, you probably think of Jolly old St. Nick, that nice guy whom we remember at Christmas. Some folks have in their cars a statuette of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. Maybe you think of saints in the Bible: St. John, St. Peter, St. Paul. How does one get to be recognized as a saint? To be a saint, a person had to be very kind, very confident, a very strong believer. Saints were Super-Christians, right?