1 NOVEMBER 2017

FOR ALL THE SAINTS

 

As mentioned in yesterday’s devotional, the festivity of October 31 as Halloween, when demons and evil spirits walked the earth, preceded the celebration of All Saints Day on November 1. But who are all of these saints recognized on this date? What comes to mind when you hear the word saint? Do you, like many, think of various names made popular through various celebrations, like St. Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day? Maybe you grew up hearing about praying to saints for some reason, like St. Nicholas, better known as Santa Claus, or looking to a patron saint who was deemed protective over a specific group, like St. Christopher for safe travel and for soldiers. These venerated individuals, and many more, possibly as many as 10,000, were singled out by the Catholic Church and put through an in-depth process of investigation of their life and virtues, culminating with canonization – being named to sainthood. But what is a saint?  Did you know that you are a saint? How do we become saints? Can we be saints while still living here on earth? We often hear said, at the time of a person’s death, that they “…were a real saint!” Sometimes it’s the devotion they had to their church family, doing charitable work, or even just being a good family person! While it’s true that the implications of being a saint might indicate perfection, not one of us is perfect. The only perfect person was/is Jesus, our Savior. We benefit from His perfection, but regardless of how saintly people around us think we are, in the eyes of the Great Judge, we are all soiled with sin until covered with Jesus’ robe of righteousness.

 
In Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the word hagios is usually translated to “saints” in English Bibles.  In Romans 1:7, Paul wrote “To all who are in Rome, loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (MOUNCE). He used the term saints as a salutation to many of the churches in the then known world. (see 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1).  It is clear that Paul’s intention was not limited to a select few individuals but was meant for all the believers of that time. He speaks of Christians as brothers and sisters, so we are one family in Christ.  The term saint is alternately translated as godly person in other Bible versions or paraphrases. We are linked to godly people from other races and nations, and we are relatives of saints who lived long ago—and of those who will come after us. As saints, we are linked to each other by our faith in Christ.  Saints are people who have been “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 10:10).  Sanctified comes from the same root word as saint (hagios) and means “made holy.”  When the author of Hebrews says that we have been “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ,” he simply means that Jesus Christ has made us holy.  That doesn’t mean that Jesus has made us perfect.  It does mean that Christ has made us holy, our shortcomings covered with His righteousness, and has set us apart for a Godly purpose, calling on us to live holy lives, until He returns. And at that time, He will say, “Let the person who does wrong keep on doing wrong. Let the evil person continue to be evil. Let the person who does right keep on doing what is right. And let the holy person continue to be holy.” (Revelation 22:11 NIRV). This verse means that, when Jesus does return, whatever we have chosen in relation to our spiritual life, is set, done, finished! Each of us must accept, for ourselves, the atoning work of the Savior for our individual sin! “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 TLB). The gift of salvation says ‘anyone’ and that means individuals! Salvation is not a group project or something that we can do for others through a symbolic act; it is a free gift from God, the Father, through Jesus, the Son, which each of us, individually, either accepts or rejects and lives (and dies) with the consequences if that choice!

 
My heart song today is known as a processional in some churches and used for funerals in others. It was originally written specifically for the celebration of All Saints Day, November 1, 1864. I find it inspirational for those of us who believe that all who believe in the Lord are saints, and it gives me hope for the future with my Savior:

 
“For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

 
Thou wast their rock, their fortress and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

 
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

 
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

 
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!”

 
“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12 ESV). Have a blessed day!