Sainthood! What is it? Who can make a saint? Have you ever known a saint? Is it possible you could be one? What does the Bible say? Look at the following Scriptures:
"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints."—Rom. 1:7.
"Unto the church of God…at Corinth…called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus."—I Cor. 1:2.
"Sing unto the Lord a new song…in the congregation of the saints."—Ps. 149:1.
"Well reported…if she have washed the saints’ feet."—I Tim. 5:10.
"Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints."—Job 15:15.
"Now concerning the collection for the saints."—I Cor. 16:1.
An Associated Press article reveals that the pope’s selection of saints has aroused some controversy. A book entitled Making Saints has been published by Simon & Schuster. Members of a popular modern cult (Mormons) are called "Latter-day Saints." Catholics believe that only those canonized by the popes after death are saints. But what does God say?
The word saint carries the meaning of consecration and divine claim. The dictionary defines the word as "sacred" or "holy" and, in addition to the Catholic idea of canonization, also explains that a saint is one of God’s chosen ones, "eminent for piety or virtue."
Dogma says people are made saints after death. Truth says people become saints here and now when they are saved!
Dogma declares that saints are advocates and mediators in Heaven. The Bible says Christ is our advocate with the Father in this life, and that He is the "one mediator between God and men" (I Tim. 2:5)!
Catholic dogma says saints are people chosen by men and canonized by the pope. God says that saints are born-again Christians who have turned in faith from their sins to Christ!
Dogma limits saints to a select few. God’s truth is that all true believers are saints!
Rome makes statues of the saints. God says such is "profitable for nothing" (Isa. 44:10). And God condemns such "graven image[s]" in Exodus 20:4.
Rome makes her images, and people adore them, bow down to them, and light candles in front of them; but God says, "Ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth" (Acts 14:15). Saint Peter and Saint Paul expressly refused to be worshipped.
There are no dead bones and relics in the Bible with miraculous powers that should be prayed to, kissed and worshipped. This is fetishism, not Christianity.
The Bible says absolutely nothing about saints’ being created by a church or men’s being elevated to sainthood after death!
Any true, blood-bought, born-again believer is a saint, according to God in His Word. "Saints" refers to the whole company of God’s people.
A saint is one who has received the gift of God and is thus chosen in Christ Jesus to have fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ. He has eternal life now and is as sure of Heaven as if he (or she) were already there.
To be a saint in calling should, of course, lead to saintliness in character.
So, what do saints do? What does God do for them? Where do saints come from? How do you make a saint?
The Bible has many interesting things to say about the saints. In the Old Testament, saints were mentioned by God long before the Roman church existed.
1. Saints are flesh and blood, not bones and relics. Psalm 79:1–3 pictures their being given by the heathen "to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth…about Jerusalem." This, of course, refers to the early martyrs.
Sainthood (true Christianity) frequently cost the early Christians their lives. Weak, worldly believers today know very little of the paths of suffering the saints have trod in ages past. It would be well for us to review Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (or read it for the first time if we never have). Once again the saints are dying for the name of Christ in some communist and Islamic countries. If America does not repent, there may be another bloodbath before the return of the Lord.
2. Saints are people who are in the earth, Psalm 16:3 tells us. No one waits until the next life to become a saint. God here calls the saints His "excellent [portion], in whom is all my [His] delight." Isn’t that some grace that grades us "excellent" and is ‘delighted’ with us! No wonder there was a blessing promised to those who "washed the saints’ feet" (I Tim. 5:10). These people who ridicule fundamental, Bible-believing Christians ought to get a load of that!
God knows that as long as His saints are "in the earth" they are dead-sure not perfect. Job 15:15 records that God puts "no trust in his saints." He knows how slippery and conniving the flesh can be. Jesus told us "the flesh is weak." He knows, as Paul records, that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Gal. 5:17).
Even in devious, adulterous, tongues-speaking Corinth, God had His saints. In Philippi and Colosse He had to warn and instruct His people, but they were His "saints" and Paul’s "faithful brethren" (Col. 1:2), and he greeted them with: "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:2).
So saints are in the world but not of the world.
We are weak in the body, so "the Spirit…maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:27). Isn’t that something!
Since we live on the earth for awhile after being saved, we have needs. In the early days of the church (before insurance, welfare and Social Security), "collections" were taken for the saints.
Many early saints were "poor," though rich in faith (Rom. 15:26). Some early saints had to go to jail for their faith, as we see Paul admitting in Acts 26:10. Paul had been an unsaved religious zealot before his conversion. He had been a religious leader yet had never really known the Lord. When he became a Christian, he became a saint—on the spot! He who had in his religious ignorance put saints in prison later went to prison himself after he became one of them!
3. Saints are people who sing. "Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds" (Ps. 149:5). Yes, they sing in bed—and in a lot of other places. They sometimes cannot contain themselves, for we are "joyful in glory," as David put it. Christians have a song.
The only place I can get away with singing out loud is in the shower. But I do a lot of humming and whistling. Sometimes I cheat and sing a bit when no one is around. After all, God knows what kind of a voice He gave me, and it certainly wasn’t a singing voice! But I have a song, as all His saints do.
4. Saints are people who are taught to fear the Lord. "O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him" (Ps. 34:9). "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111:10). If we fear Him, we love Him, and vice versa. Most people don’t have sense enough to fear the Lord, but the saints are proud to do so and will be ‘plentifully rewarded’ in the long run (Ps. 31:23).
5. Saints are people who have necessities, according to Romans 12:13. Obedient fellow-saints should be happy to ‘distribute’ to their needs. This can be done financially and also in many other ways. Here too we reap what we sow.
Since we have many necessities, as our fellow-saints do also, we are enjoined to engage in much prayer "and supplication for all saints" (Eph. 6:18). Prayer is evidently a product and a source of great power and provision for the saints.
1. They pray (Rev. 5:8). The "prayers of saints" are the very perfume of Heaven! Notice that God here refers to the prayers of the saints, not prayers to the saints! Nowhere does God tell people to pray to the saints. This is just another concoction of man-made religion.
It would be amazing to see how many religions would fall in the dust of ruin and destruction if people would just carefully read their Bibles.
In the Word of God, "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Acts 12:5). Note, the prayer was made by the church, God’s believing people; it was made to God, not to saints; and it was made for a certain need (to get Peter out of jail).
Jesus taught us to ask that we might receive. Just as a baby cries out when he is born, so do saints begin to pray as soon as they are born again. To the child of God, prayer should soon become as natural as breathing.
2. Saints should strive to be saintly; that is, they should act like Christians if they bear the name of Christ. They are "called to be saints" (I Cor. 1:2). Saved people have a saintly calling—a calling to be saintly in behavior as well as in name. "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (II Tim. 2:19).
3. Christians have a duty to go to church not only to serve the Lord but also to learn more about Him from the Bible. What a shame when some preachers do not really feed the people on the Word of God and lead them to "depart from iniquity"!
4. Saints are preparing to judge the world (I Cor. 6:1,2), so we are commanded to "study" to show ourselves approved unto God, "rightly dividing the word of truth."
5. Saints are to abstain from fornication, uncleanness and covetousness, "as becometh saints" (Eph. 5:3). So pastors had better "preach the word" so they will be ‘cleansed by the washing of the word,’ and not get into such terrible sins.
6. Saints welcome others into the family. Ephesians 2:19 says that in Christ we are "no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
1. Their faith is assaulted. Jude 3 reminds us that we are to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." True saints will be criticized and lambasted for believing in this old rugged faith of our fathers. They will be maligned for standing in the "old ways" and will be called "fundamentalists," "narrow" and "old-fashioned."
2. War will be declared on the saints until the time when the ‘saints possess the kingdom’ (Dan. 7:21,22). Daniel 12 and the closing chapters of Revelation tell us how it will all turn out! Until then, the saints can expect conflict. The Christian life is a battleground, not a playground! Peter reminds us that we have to be sober and vigilant because the Devil comes as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
3. Saints get worn out! Some preachers complain of burnout, but the malady is not confined to the ministry. Daniel predicts a time when the evil one will "wear out the saints of the most High." I can assure you he is already at it.
I’ve been an evangelist almost as long as I was a pastor, and I know that old Satan never lets up. He may pretend to, and will often change his tactics, but he still connives to wear out and discourage God’s saints—all the true people of God, not just the preachers!
Daniel is speaking of God’s saints when he says, "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried…the wise shall understand" (Dan. 12:10).
Stay in the Book. Rest in the Lord. Don’t give up! Claim the victory. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you"!
Even after the thousand-year reign of Christ, when the Devil is loose again for a season, we see that he will still compass "the camp of the saints about" (Rev. 20:9). We will not be completely "shed" of him until he is finally cast by God "into the lake of fire and brimstone." But, thank God, that day is coming! Meanwhile, see the key to victory over him in Revelation 12:11. One day we will reign with Christ forever and ever.
1. He keeps us in His hand. Deuteronomy tells us that God loves His saints and keeps us in the hand of the Saviour. This corresponds beautifully with what Jesus said in John 10:28: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
Just think! We are in the strong and able hand of the very One who flung the world into existence by His mighty power! How could you be any safer than that?
2. He keeps the feet of His saints, we’re told in I Samuel 2:9. As the diligent dad watches carefully to make sure his toddler-son doesn’t fall into danger, so God carefully guards the steps of His saints. David cried, "Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not" (Ps. 17:5). He is able to keep us from falling, as Jude tells us later on.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:1). We can deliberately rebel and choose paths of disobedience; or we can "trust and obey," as the old hymn says, and He will surely keep the feet of His saints.
When a little boy was caught standing on a stool in the pantry with a cookie in his mouth, he explained, "I climbed up here to smell the cookies, and my tooth got caught." Now his tooth was not all that "got caught." He was still the child of his mother. As he got his spanking for disobeying, he was for awhile out of fellowship. It is so much easier just to do right and not have to "get caught" in the forbidden cookie jar!
3. He forsakes not His saints. The psalmist said, "For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever" (Ps. 37:28). Others may forsake us, but not the God of all saints. He preserves us!
My wife often puts up preserves in the summer. It is sealed in nice clean jars, and you can see that good stuff peering out at you. But it is preserved, and you don’t just grab one off the shelf any old time and pop it open. It is preserved until next winter when the fruit is scarce and the jam runs low. Having been "preserved," they are there for our delight later on. Some preserves you might not open for two or three years, but they still belong to the "preserver" to be used and enjoyed at just the right time.
Remember, God doesn’t forsake His saints. Your dearest loved ones might forsake you, but not the Lord.
In one place Paul told Timothy, "all men forsook me." But then he exclaimed, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me." You can bank on that!
4. He counts our death a precious thing. Psalm 116:15 tells us: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Human beings do not generally think of death as something "precious." Sometimes people say, "What a sad thing for So-and-so to die like that—and he was such a good Christian." And all the while God is saying, "What a precious thing this is to have another of My saints come Home!"
Remember when Christ stood up to welcome Stephen Home? The unsaved religious rascals stoned Stephen to death while Saul of Tarsus kept their clothes. Now the Bible usually speaks of the Saviour "seated" at the right hand of God. But notice in Acts 7 that as Stephen entered Heaven, he could see Jesus "standing on the right hand of God." It was like the Lord was saying, "Come on, Stephen. We have been expecting you. We’re glad you’re here at last. You have done a bang-up good job down on earth. I’m even going to save the great rebel Saul and make him a soul winner too. Come on in. Welcome Home!"
So, indeed, death is a precious thing for God’s saints.
5. God will even allow His saints to share His triumph. He had promised that "the meek" would one day "inherit the earth."
Maybe Ted Turner or Donald Trump or Bill Gates thinks he is about to inherit the earth. But no, God says it will be His saints who appear so "meek" down here who will really cash in on this thing one day!
Now listen! When Christ returns to this old earth, it will be "with ten thousands of his saints"! When the world is on fire, and the Lord is about ready to wrap the whole thing up, He "shall come to be glorified in his saints" (II Thess. 1:10). King Jesus will be triumphant, but He shares the victory with His saints!
So the saints are not to be trifled with. You are somebody if you are saved! You become a saint the moment you trust Christ and your name is written down in Glory!
Can the pope make a saint? Not on your life! But God can and does every time an old sinner repents and turns to Christ for salvation.
You can make a saint; at least you can surely have a part in saint-making! "He that winneth souls is wise."
Andrew was a quiet disciple, but he was a saint-maker. After the Lord saved him, the Bible says Andrew "first findeth his own brother Simon…And he brought him to Jesus" (John 1:41,42). The great Apostle Peter was in a way made a saint by his own brother, Andrew. He was never Pope Peter, as some have imagined, but it certainly is proper to refer to him as Saint Peter.
Do you have a brother who needs to become a saint, who needs the Lord? The humblest soul can become a saint-maker. It is royal fun to bring people to sainthood in Christ!
You can become a Saint today, right now, right where you are!
The thief on the cross became a saint the moment he turned to the Saviour in faith. Jesus said to him, "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." It was settled. The thief became a Heaven-bound saint!
Can Mother Teresa become a saint? No. The lady in question died a few weeks back, so the pope or no one else can make her a saint now. If she is a saint, it is because she trusted in the finished work of Christ and His glorious resurrection and was made a saint just like the rest of God’s people become saints.
The Bible says:
"All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," God tells us. But, good news! "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
Paul did many good works and was zealously religious. But he admitted that he was "the least of all saints."
Revelation—the last book in the Bible—tells us in chapter 19 about the marriage of the Lamb. The Lamb, of course, is God’s Son, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The marriage speaks of uniting His bride, the church (saved people, true saints), with the Son of God, who is called not only the Lamb but the Bridegroom.
Verse 8 of Revelation 19 pictures His bride as "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." Christ the Lamb, He who knew no sin, was made to become sin for us "that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Cor. 5:21).
The righteousness of saints that all must have in order to be sure of Heaven can be yours now, but the miracle must take place in this life. God says, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2). Take Jesus as your Saviour now and become a saint for all eternity!
You have read the fine message above by Dr. Hugh Pyle, "Can Mother Teresa Become a Saint?" If you are not a born-again child of God, you should settle that right now.
Are you willing to admit that you are a lost sinner who needs forgiveness? Are you willing, like the publican Jesus told about in the Bible, to call on God for mercy? If you are, He stands ready to save you.
Jesus promised, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). You are not good enough to be saved, nor is anyone else. You may have done many good things, like Mother Teresa, but our goodness is as "filthy rags" in God’s sight. None of us is good enough to be saved. But Jesus died for you and for me. Oh, make sure today that you are on your way to Heaven!
Will you here and now trust Christ to forgive you and save you? If you want forgiveness and salvation, then I suggest you pray the following prayer:
Dear Lord, I know I am a sinner. I do believe that You died for me, and the best I know how, I trust You as my Saviour and depend on You for full forgiveness. From this moment on, I am trusting You to take me to Heaven when I die. Amen.
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