When the word “Saint” is mentioned, it is often attached to perfection. When someone is called a saint, we think almost immediately about someone without mistakes or faults or someone with a flawless character or behaviors. Well, maybe such people exist, but the truth is, throughout all of my life I haven’t met anyone who fits into this definition of a saint, and neither am I one. If this is the definition of who a saint is then yes, I am not a saint. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Wikipedia describes the word saint to mean “A person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God.” It goes further saying “any believer who is in Christ and in whom Christ dwells”. When I read the latter part of this sentence, I agree completely with Wikipedia’s definition of who a saint is because I had seen over and over again, that this agrees with Paul’s definition of who a saint is in scriptures. He often admonishes the church as saints,
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours;”(1 Cor. 1:2 KJV)
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:” (2 Cor. 1:1)
“All the saints salute you” (2 Cor. 13:13) KJV
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1 KJV)
“May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height (Eph. 3:18 KJV)
“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with all the bishops and deacons: (Phil. 1:1 KJV)
*All emphasis in the verses above are mine*
There are just so many references that space and time won’t allow me to share them all. At the beginning of almost all of Paul’s letters he uses the word to describe the believers he was writing to. He called them saints. We can safely conclude that All Believers are saints. Yes, all believers are saints. We are saints not because of what we do or don’t do but because of what Jesus did. We are a people having the very nature and likeness of Christ, similar to what Wikipedia defines.
Now, it is important to note that not all of the churches Paul uses the word “Saint” to describe at the beginning of his letters were morally perfect people. In fact he wrote to settle quarrels among them, he wrote to put orderliness in their meetings. He wrote to warn them of sinful deeds, he wrote to correct adultery, and many other things that were not befitting of saints.
Oftentimes, I see people get mad because some brother or sister in their fellowship offended them. I notice they were not expecting “saints” to behave in such a way. Their expectancy of the behaviors of their church members is so high that they cannot understand why they would behave in such a manner. But the truth is these people are not perfect people rather they are people on their way to perfection. There is work ongoing in them.
“Being Confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6 KJV)
And while this work is not yet completed, we have to learn to forbear and tolerate the faults of each other in the church without seeing each other as being less than saints. Paul knew this when he encouraged us to,
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13 NIV)
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4: 2-3 NIV)
Some words used in the scriptures give an insight into how difficult it is to love each other in our local assemblies. Words like “Bear, Make every effort”, indicate that this won’t be an easy work to live out amidst saints. Even among saints you have to forgive, you have to make every effort to stay united and you have to make every effort to forgive each other, yet regarding each other as saints because of what Christ has done for us.
One of the elders of my church once said, “If you find a perfect church don’t join them, because if you do, you will make them imperfect”. And the truth is, saints are not people without faults or errors, they are however saints because of what Christ has done. Because of what He has done, of course, I am a Saint.
Written By Samson Afolabi
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