When is a saint not a saint?
A word that has suffered badly at the hands of the church through the ages is the word “saints.” This word is used all through the New Testament. Most people think it means either a very pious and good person or someone who’s died and been declared a saint by the church because of his exemplary life.
But neither of these is the Biblical definition of a saint. The Bible teaches that every true believer in Christ, whether living or dead, is a saint in the sight of God, whether he acts like it or not (Romans 1:6,7; 1Corinthians 1:2).
(Teacher: Robert H. Kreger)
Christianity and Sainthood:
What Does the Word Saint Mean?
Who are the Real Saints?
How does One Become a Saint?
The English word “saint” is a translation of the Greek word “HAGIOS.” Meaning, “saint, or the set apart one.” The Greek word translated “holy,” is a form of this same word, HAGIOSUNE. And the Greek word translated “sanctification,” is also a form of this word, HAGIAZO.
HAGIOS is usually used to refer to believers and is usually translated “saint.” It is found 233 times in 221 verses in the New Testament. It actually means, “the set apart ones.” This means that the believer in Jesus Christ is “set apart” for the greatest privileges and greatest opportunities that have ever existed for believers in all ages.
(1) We are “set apart” in the sense that we have the indwelling of all three members of the Godhead as of the moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ.
(2) We are “set apart” in the sense that we are members of the royal family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
(3) We are “set apart” in the sense that we have all been designated royal priests as of the moment we placed our faith in Jesus Christ.
(4) We are “set apart” in the sense that we have been appointed ambassadors for Jesus Christ as of the moment we placed our faith in Him.
(5) We are “set apart” in the sense that we have been given the completed canon of Scripture whereby we have all the directives and plan of God in written form for the first time in history.
These are only a few of the privileges we receive as “the set apart ones” in the Church Age.
The Greek word HAGIAZO means “to be set apart,” but in the New Testament it means much more than just setting apart. It means, “to place in a relation to God answering to His holiness.” Therefore, it carries the connotation, “to be set apart for God.” In other words, the worshiper of the God of the Bible partakes of the character of the God for whom he is set apart. This is positional sanctification, which is an act of God the Holy Spirit performed at the moment of salvation. I Corinthians 1:2, ” To the church of God in Corinth, to those SANCTIFIED (HAGIAZO) in Christ Jesus and called to be holy (HAGIOS, “saints”) together with all those who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:” I want you to notice “All those who call upon the name of the Lord” are saints. A saint is not someone whom the church leaders decide should be qualified. Sainthood is between the believer and God, and church leaders have nothing to do with it.
HAGIAZO also refers to the work of God the Holy Spirit in the believer after salvation in the experiential Christian life, by which He sets the believer apart for God in his living through the process of spiritual growth. But this process of “sanctification” or “being made holy,” can only occur with the believer’s permission. He must be positive to the teaching of the Word of God and must consistently place himself under its teaching. When he does that, God the Holy Spirit gradually “sanctifies” or gradually “sets him apart” in his life. I Thessalonians 5:23, “May God Himself, the God of peace, SANCTIFY (HAGIAZO) you through and through…..” This refers to a process.
The word “saint” was used in the Old Testament to refer to Israel. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word used for saint is KADASH, which means, “To make or pronounce or observe as clean, either ceremonially or morally. To dedicate, to consecrate, to purify.” Most of this was associated with the Mosaic Law or with some overt action of purification. But in the New Teatament the word “saint” is used to refer to the individual believer. Therefore, the word “saint,” which designated the nation of Israel, now is used to designate the individual believer in Jesus Christ. In this dispensation we occupy a much higher position in the plan of God than ever before.
The word “saint” never indicates any personal worthiness. Being already “set apart” unto God in Christ as of the moment of faith in Him, all Christians are “saints” from the moment of their salvation. In other words, sainthood is not a future prospect, but a current possession of all who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior. Sainthood belongs to all those who believe in Jesus Christ. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS!
No one is a “saint” because the church decrees it. No church, and no ecclesiastical organization has the power or authority to declare anyone a saint. Nor does any church or ecclesiastical organization have any power to remove sainthood from anyone.
Sainthood is the sovereign decision of God the Holy Spirit based on the individual’s faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Holy Spirit declares all those to be “saints,” “Set apart for God,” who have placed their faith in Christ as Savior.
Sainthood is not limited to certain individuals who have done great things for God. Sainthood belongs to all believers who have personally placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Some saints are great people, some saints are not so good, and some saints are a disgrace to God. But they are still saints. They are all “set apart for God.”
Therefore, don’t be misled by false teachers, and false religions who claim that they can make the decision to make someone a saint, or remove someone from sainthood. They are superimposing their authority over God’s authority. When it comes to sainthood, it is a matter strictly between you and God. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, then the Bible says that you are a saint. There is nothing else to do to qualify. Are you a saint? Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ? If you have, then you are a saint. But if you haven’t, then you are not a saint. In fact, you aren’t even a child of God. So therefore, I challenge you today to “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved….” and at the same time you will become a saint.