Saturday Sermon: Achieving sainthood
July 6, 2011 at 2:06 a.m.
By Mike Singenstreu
In the New Testament, we often see these words, "to the saints." Who are they? It can't be me, you might say. "I'm no saint." Interesting that we all seem to know that instinctively.
But, I am happy to say today, if you have trusted in Christ, you are a saint. In the language of the Bible, a saint is simply a forgiven sinner. Our salvation . our sainthood . is not, however, about anything we did for God. We did nothing to earn the title, we don't deserve it, and we are not entitled to the title. It is a gift from Jesus, the one who earned it by His perfect life and paid for it with His undeserved death.
I'd venture to say that saint is one of the top 10 most misused terms in Christian language. Historically, some have taken note of outstanding Christians, waited until several hundred years after their death, carefully examined their record of good works, and finally canonized many of them into sainthood. Don't all of us tend to categorize Christians into various levels . maybe the spiritual, the even-more spiritual and then there are the missionaries? Then, there are the ordinary folks like you and me, the ones just bumping along in the Christian life. We need to get rid of such an unbiblical idea once and for all.
Even the saintliest is undeserving of the name; even the vilest sinner who turns to Christ is "as white as snow" in His sight.
But aren't some Christians closer to the Lord than others? It has been my observation, over the years, that the saints who have loved the Lord most, and who have become the most Christ-like, are those who are most aware of their sin. Our sin shows us our need for God's grace.
When the famous missionary Isobel Kuhn applied to work for the China Inland Mission in 1926, a former employer wrote on her reference that she was "proud and disobedient . a troublemaker." Crushed, Isobel complained to a friend, who immediately squelched any desire of protest. "Why, if anyone said to me, '.you are proud, disobedient, a troublemaker,' I would answer, 'Amen, brother. And even then, you haven't seen the half of it. What good is there in any of us anyway?'" John Newton once said, When I was young, I was sure of many things; now there are but two things of which I am sure: One is that I am a miserable sinner; and the other, that Christ is an all sufficient Savior. He is well taught who learns these two lessons."
I've read many biographies, and I've talked to many Christians through the years who echo that thought. The Christian life is not about how good I am; it's about how good He is. The way to get closer to God is to figure out that we are nothing and He is everything. Only in Jesus and because of Him do we become who He created us to be . the saints . His saints.
Mike Singenstreu is pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church.