When the Saints Go Marching In [Part 1]
By Alan Wright — September 03, 2018
Are you ready for some good news?
If you’re in Christ, you’re a saint.
Today’s Text: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:2, ESV)
When you hear the word “saint” you might think of an especially generous or morally upright person. Or, you might think of the Roman Catholic tradition of canonizing people who have lived virtuously and had at least two miracles through their prayers. Or you might just think of Louis Armstrong’s rousing rendition of the old spiritual!
But, in the New Covenant, a saint is literally a “holy one.” In the New Testament, “saint” is another word for “Christian.” It’s Paul’s favorite term for the people of God:
“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints….” (Romans 1:7, ESV)
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi….” (Philippians 1:1–2, ESV)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae….” (Colossians 1:1–2, ESV)
If you wonder how you can be called a saint when you know you still have so many problems and sins in your life, I have an even more puzzling question: how could Paul call the Corinthians saints?! After all, in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addressed such heinous sins as sexual immorality, drunkenness and greed. And, within the church, even their expression of the spiritual gifts had become laced with pride and insensitivity.
The Corinthians were a mess – and, yet, in Paul’s eyes (and, more importantly, in God’s eyes) they were saints. You’re a “holy one” when you’re in Christ not because you are morally better than others. You’re a holy one because you have been declared clean and you belong to God. As William Temple once said, there is no such thing as a Christian who isn’t holy and there is no such thing as a person who is holy who isn’t a Christian. If you’re in Christ, you’re a saint because God has made you holy. And that’s the Gospel!