Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)

The apostle Paul opened up his letter to the Ephesians by saying, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God to the sinners in Ephesus..."  Hmmm?  What did you say?  Oh, you're telling me he wrote to the saints in Ephesus?  Okay, so he was writing to the super-spiritual people in that city who performed miracles and were eventually recognized by church authorities...  No?  Okay, so Paul was obviously writing to the pastors and elders in that church, right...?  No?  Well then who was he writing to?

You're right!  Paul was writing to the rank and file, those who sat in the "pews" every Sunday morning, believers in Christ, followers of the Lord like you and me.

Most people don't see themselves as saints, so I like to have fun at the conferences I do.  I encourage people to take off their name tags and write St. in front of their name, if they are sure they are one of Christ's followers, and then I have them put their name tags back on.  I jokingly caution them not to put the St. after their name, or they'll become a street!  After wearing that name tag for a day or so, it is exciting to see people become more comfortable with viewing themselves as saints...even calling themselves St. Melanie or St. Frank or whatever.

So what is a saint?  A saint is a holy one, one who (as Colossians 1:13,14 tells us), has been "rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought...into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  A saint has been set apart from sin and set apart for God.  Saints have been bought out of slavery to sin.  Saints have been forgiven.

Saints, however, aren't perfect (just ask your spouse or a close friend!) but saints do have a new nature and a new identity.  Saints have become partakers of the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:4), which doesn't mean we become gods, but it does mean we have the capacity to become godly, more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ in our character.

So the next time some well-meaning preacher in a sermon shouts to everybody at church, "Well, we're just dirty, no-good, sinners saved by grace, headed to heaven someday!" you might want to say to yourself, "Well, I was a dirty, no-good sinner.  I have been saved by grace.  But I am now a saint who still sins, but doesn't have to.  And that's the truth!

No comments:

Post a Comment