What It Means To Be A Saint

Introduction:......Mother Theresa??? Made Saint??


1. Some religious words in modern

A. Examples would be - the word "baptism, pastor, church, fellowship and saint."

B. All of these words are used in modern religious circles, and all of these words are used in the Bible - but the modern use and the Biblical use are quite different.

2. I would like for us to take a few moments to think about the word "saint" and the concept of "sainthood."

A. In modern religious use - a "saint" is an extraordinary person, so far and different from the rest of us - they deserve the special title as a "saint."

B. "Sainthood," in modern use - is a human religious concept; a commendation awarded by men, where some person is forever exalted above others . . . almost as an object of worship.

3. I believe it is important for us to know what the Bible says about being a saint. This is a fundamental New Testament concept - very different from what you hear in the world about "sainthood."

4. I want to begin our study, now, by calling attention to a simple fact of Scripture: In the New Testament - being a saint is not a status reserved for a few, who are exalted above other Christians! In the New Testament, being a saint is a way of life available to all who are willing to obey the gospel and serve the Lord. Would you consider these passages:

A. In Acts chapter nine:

(1) In verse 13 - Ananias answered the Lord, when the Lord spoke to him about Saul of Tarsus; Ananias had heard about Saul, and so he said in verse 13: "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem."

a. Saul of Tarsus, we know, had been busy persecuting Christians in Jerusalem. b. Ananias called the Christians in Jerusalem "saints."

(2) Still in Acts nine - check verse 32: "Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda."

a. Lydda was the Greek name for the Old Testament city of Lod - about 10 miles from Joppa.

b. There were Christians there, and Peter called all of them "saints."

(3) Once more in Acts nine - look at verse 41; this is the report of the resurrection of Tabitha or Dorcas ~ Peter took her by the hand and "lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive." Again - Christians were called "saints."

B. Outside of Acts nine - there are dozens of passages confirming this: SAINTS ARE CHRISTIANS.

(1) In Heb. 13:24 - "Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints."

(2) Philippians 1:1 - "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."

(3) Col. 1:2 - the Colossian letter was sent to "the saints" in Colossae.

(4) Ephesians 3:8 - Paul made humble reference to himself as "the least of all the saints."

(5) And in Rev. 11:18 - the 24 elders around the throne of God fell on their faces to worship God, and they praised God because He will reward all the saints, "small and great."

C. In the New Testament - saints are Christians; all Christians are called "saints," and in fact In the New Testament -- the word "saint" is never used to describe just one person!!

(1) There is not a single saint in the entire New Testament; there is no instance where one Christian is exalted above others as a "saint!"

(2) In fact - the only verse in the New Testament where the word "saint" is used in the singular is Philippians 4:21 . . and there it says, "Great every saint in Christ Jesus."

(3) The NIV translates it: "Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus."

D. Every soul in Christ Jesus - every Christian is a saint . . . and there is no evidence in the New Testament of any individual Christian being awarded "sainthood" above his or her brethren.

E. Therefore, the modern concept of "sainthood" is not taught in the New Testament at all.

5. But, let's not stop here. While we are talking about all this - this may be a good time to answer the question: What does it mean to be a saint?

It Doesn't Mean A Trouble-Free Life. Acts 9:13; 26:10

A. We read, a few moments ago, the words of Ananias, who had heard about the evil works of Saul - who did "much harm" to the "saints in Jerusalem."

1. Earlier in Acts 9, Luke tells us - Saul was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord."

2. Before he arrived at the home of Ananias, and before the Lord's appearance to him, Saul of Tarsus was in route to Damascus to seize Christians.

3. In Acts 26:10 - Saul of Tarsus, who was now known as Paul the apostle - spoke of his life before obeying the gospel; he said, "many of the saints I shut up in prison."

B. Being a saint does not mean - a completely trouble-free life.

1. There may be sickness during your earthly sojourn; you may become a victim of injustice - and as you remain steadfast to the Lord, some kind of persecution will be experienced.

2. Paul said, "in fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Tim. 3:12).

C. Saints do not enjoy a trouble-free life here on earth, but saints believe what the Lord said: "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you," (Matt. 5:11,12).

D. That's what it means - to be a saint.

It Doesn't Mean You Will Never Be In Need.

Rom. 12:13; 15:25,26; 2 Cor. 9:1,12

A. It is of some interests - often when we read of saints in the New Testament, they are needy people!

1. In Romans...........

a. 12:13 - one duty we have is to distribute to the needs of the saints.

b. 15:25,26 ~ " But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem."

c. Paul had a lot of work to do and made long trips - to take benevolent contributions from saints to saints; in this case, "the poor among the saints in Jerusalem."

2. In 2 Cor. 9:1,12 ..........

a. Paul wrote to the saints at Corinth - "concerning the ministering to the saints"

b. And in verse 12 - "For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God"

3. The apostles, local churches, individual Christians were often involved in benevolence for needy saints.

B. So - in the New Testament, being a saint does NOT MEAN a trouble-free life; it is no guarantee of wealth.

It Means - You Have Responded To God's Call.

Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2

A. In the New Testament - you do not become a saint by distinguishing yourself as a humanitarian. It is not a matter of spending a life doing good works, and then being rewarded by this title, "saint."

B. In the New Testament - you become a saint by admitting you are not one (as the world uses the term)!!

1. You become a saint - by admitting your sin, and asking the Lord to forgive you by the power of Christ's blood.

2. You become a saint - when you hear the gospel, believe in Christ and obey Him in baptism - having made a personal decision to sin no more!

3. You become a saint - when you respond to God's call - and when faith produces obedience to the gospel, THEN you become a saint!

C. So Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome, and he said, in Rom. 1:7 - "to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints . . ."

1. God calls sinners through the gospel; those in Rome who heard the gospel and responded WERE NOW SAINTS.

2. They became saints when their faith expressed itself in obedience - you will find the phrase in Rom. 1:5, "obedience to the faith."

D. Likewise - in 1 Cor. 1:2 - Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Corinth; and he said, "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

1. The same process as applied to the people in Rome.

2. People in Corinth heard the gospel and responded, and in their response of obedience - they became what God called them to be: "saints."

E. And the same message, the same plan is effective today - with people who have good and honest hearts.

1. The gospel is preached.

2. People realize they are lost; they believe in Christ, repent of their sins and in baptism, their sins are washed away - and they become what God called them to be: SAINTS!!

F. Once you become a saint - there are good works to do, as you engage your whole heart and life in service to the Lord . . but sinners become saints in obedience to the gospel of the grace of God.

And To Be A Saint Means - Being Faithful In Christ Jesus.

Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:2

A. Paul, in his letters, would sometimes describe saints as loyal to Jesus Christ - or "faithful in Christ Jesus."

1. So in Ephesians 1:1 - "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus."

2. Or in Colossians 1:2 - "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse"

B. If I believe in Jesus Christ and I've pledged by life in loyalty to Him - and I live our that loyalty from day to day - - that's what it means to be a saint.

1. You don't have to perform two miracles or even one.

2. You don't have to wait until after you die.

3. You don't depend upon the decision of any man or group of men.

C. You just love the Lord . . do what He says . . put Him first . .

1. And many may not notice or give much attention to your life.

2. Your name may not be known by more than 100 people - but He knows your name and your life, and He is with you - in your struggles and temptations.

3. To be a saint means - to be faithful to Jesus Christ.

It Means - Membership in the Household of God. Eph. 2:19

A. Paul wrote to the Ephesian saints - remember, he called them "the saints who are in Ephesus," and he said - "you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."

B. If you are a Christian, faithful in Christ Jesus, you are a saint and a member of a good family - the household of God.

C. Stand Tall!!

Being A Saint Means - Being Partakers of A Great Inheritance.

Col. 1:12; 2 Thess. 1:10

A. Not only can you stand tall now - you have something great to look forward to.

1. Colossians 1:12 calls upon saints to give thanks to the Father, "who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light."

2. 2 Thess. 1:10 teaches - when the Lord comes, He will be "glorified in His saints" and "admired among all those who believe."

B. An Inheritance Is Something Granted, By Virtue Of A Relationship - and it means, you have been named and specified to receive a great reward.

1. You may never be named in the wills of men - but as a saint, faithful in Christ Jesus. . . you have great hopes of good things after you die.

2. And that which is held in store for us - suffers from no loss in time.

3. Peter wrote of this when he said . . . Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. {1 Pet. 1:3-5}

This is the hope enjoyed by all God's saints.

Being A Saint Means - Contending Earnestly for The Faith. Jude 3

A. Are you on God's side? Are you willing to say so?

1. When the conflict between right and wrong confronts you in the form of people or temptation or opportunity . .

2. Are you willing to stand up and tell people what God's Word says?

3. When God's people are persecuted . . . when sin is promoted and error is in fashion, are you willing to use the Sword of the Spirit?

4. This is part of what it means to be a saint.

B. Jude wrote of this . . "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

C. Many in modern religious circles are willing and ready to feed the poor, help the sick and homeless . . comfort the dying and speak up for those who have been silenced by injustice - - but when God's Word is rejected and thrashed, they say nothing!!

1. There are people who receive great applause and attention in the media for their works of charity and sacrifice.

2. But when somebody stands up against the devil, quotes the Word of God and rebukes gainsayers, they are taken to court by the ACLU.

D. Saints, in the New Testament, not only do good works; they speak up, they oppose sin like the prophets - and they are willing to earnestly contend for the faith.

And Being A Saint Means - Patience & Faith In Trials. Rev. 13:10

A. The apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos; that's where the Roman government often sent trouble-makers . . and on that island, the elderly apostle was not left there just with his own thoughts.

1. One Lord's Day - John was alerted by a sound, like a trumpet.

2. Then a voice from heaven: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last."

3. The Lord said to him: "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches" in Asia, "things which must shortly take place."

4. The saints in that age were suffering under the cruel hand of Roman persecution - and John would write to them and tell them: It is bad now, and it will get worse . . .

B. But God is in control; you can be faithful until death; Jesus has the keys to Hades and of Death . . and even though the mother of harlots will do battle against the church, the Lamb will overcome them - for He is Lord of lords, and king of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful.

C. In the midsts of these impressive visions of the conflict between good and evil - this promise in Rev. 13:10 - "He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."

1. This is about THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMY, THE DRAGON: "He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity, he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword."

2. Then John said, "Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."

3. Our patience and faith lies in our knowledge of how the battle will end!!

D. We believe God will achieve victory, and He will do it His way, in His time! So, we endure hardship now - but we know how everything will turn out!

E. This is the basis of our patience, and our faith.


1. It may be - there is no terminology used in describing God's people that is more misunderstood than the term "saint."

A. Disciples, Christians, Brethren, Children of God, Followers of Christ - - not much difficulty.

B. But that word "saint" seems to immediately provoke thoughts of being canonized by a body of men after you die.

C. No - - if you've obeyed the gospel and you are faithful in Christ Jesus, you are a saint; that is your status, your relationship and your manner of life.


Adapted from a sermon by Warren E. Berkley