Who Is a Saint?

Rev. Donald C. Elifson

The answer to this question must be from the Bible, because God alone has the right to state the qualifications for sainthood. When we say the Bible has the answer, we do not mean merely the Protestant Bible, but the Roman Catholic Bible as well. Every Bible teaches the same on this subject, if we confine ourselves to the text itself.

A saint is not a person who is now dead and declared to be a saint by a religious organization because he did so many good works and performed miracles while he was alive on this earth. First, no one can do more good works than God requires: "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'" (Luke 17:10). In the light of these plain words from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ, how can anyone say that any person can do more than God requires? It is impossible for man to fulfill God's holy law, because man is a sinner by nature and practice. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). In the text of Luke 17:10, our Lord is speaking to the apostles who had believed on Him as the Son of God. Even the apostles could not do works of supererogation, that is, more than Christ required. So if the apostles could not do more than God commanded, how can any person today do more?

Second, if the performance of miracles is necessary to become a saint, then no one can qualify today. As recorded in the Bible, there are no miracles being performed today. Notice what Christ commanded the apostles to do: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8). No one today can do the miracles listed above. It is true that some claim they can, but their claims have been proven fraudulent. The sign gifts of the New Testament have passed away (1 Cor. 13:8). The Apostle Paul tells us that "lying wonders" will be performed to support a false worship (2 Thess. 2:9). Satan has been supporting a false worship by means of lying wonders ever since the magicians opposed Moses back in Pharaoh's palace (Ex. 7:10-12). The climax of Satan's religious deceit will be in the future, when the Antichrist will be reigning on this earth (Rev. 13:13-15).

No, a sinner does not become a saint by performing more good works than God requires and by performing miracles. He becomes a saint by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The great word of true Christianity is, "It is finished" (John 19:30). This word was spoken by Christ from the cross, after He had suffered for our sins and completed the necessary payment for sin that a holy God demanded. In the six hours Christ was on the cross, He fully satisfied the demands of a holy God, which we could have never satisfied even if we had suffered in hell forever. "He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities" (Isa. 53:11). If God the Father says that He is satisfied with the work Christ did on the cross, then every human being should be satisfied. Yes, woe to the person who has the audacity to deny that Christ made complete satisfaction for all sins--past, present, and future--of the true believer (Gal. 1:8,9).

The book of Hebrews teaches that Christ is the only High Priest whose once-for-all sacrifice makes the believing sinner a saint, that is, makes him holy in the sight of God. "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Heb. 13:12). Our Lord willingly went to the cross for our sins; and through the act of His will in dying, believers are made holy: "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).

I have spoken to people about their eternal destiny, and some have said, "Well, I would not call myself a saint." I have replied, "You better, if you want to be in God's heaven." If we are not a saint before we die, we never will be one after death. The New Testament epistles were written to living people who were addressed as saints by the apostles. Notice several instances: "Called to be saints" (Rom. 1:7); "To the saints at Ephesus" (Eph. 1:1); "To all the saints" (Phil. 1:10. The Apostle Peter wrote to those who were "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:2). These people were once lost, guilty sinners, but had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11).

Thus we see from the Bible who is a saint. According to the Bible, the writer of this article is a saint, and that by the grace of God, having been made holy, not by works, but by the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. You too can become one of God's saints in the same way.

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