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Who is a Saint?

by Bill Wong

 

 

The Roman Catholic Church has a special commission that declares a Catholic believer to be a saint at least 5 years after the candidate’s death. This process of determining who is a saint is called the canonization process and it has three parts.

 

The first part is the ‘Veneration’ stage. If a candidate’s life and works are considered holy enough, this person can be recommended for sainthood. This part of the process starts with the bishop, then a panel of nine Vatican theologians and finally a special group of cardinals and bishops. If the candidate passes, they are declared “venerable” and heroic.

 

The second part is the ‘Beatification’ stage. As a test to see if the deceased can intercede for those who pray to them, there must be proof that a miracle has been fulfilled upon a request to this deceased person. This stage applies only for a non-martyr (not someone who has died for the faith). If the candidate passes, they are declared “beatified”.

 

The third part is the ‘Canonization’ stage. All candidates, martyrs or not, must have evidence of at least one more miracle in their name after they have been beatified. If the candidate passes, they are “canonized” as a saint. This deceased person can now be celebrated as a saint. Some examples are: days or churches can be dedicated to them, the remains of their bodies can be considered holy relics and they can be mentioned in public prayers.

 

 

However, is this what the Bible teaches about saints?  

 

No.

 

The Bible teaches that ALL believers are saints. The Bible also teaches that miracles can be false or demonic, only Jesus’ life is worth emulating and all things are done for God in Jesus’ name only (there is no other mediator).

 

 

The Roman Catholic Church’s un-Biblical view of what sainthood is not only goes against God’s Word, but it is completely opposite of it.

 

The Roman Catholic Church says the canonization process is not “making” a saint, but only “recognizing” a saint. But let us not deceive ourselves. This teaching impresses upon people the idea that no one is a saint except those who are selected by this process. In truth, the very existence of some who are called saints while the vast majority of believers are not called saints means that some are saints and the others are not.

 

However, when did the Roman Catholic Church ever call or treat their parishioners sitting in the pews as saints? Instead, its history reveals it treated the masses lower than slaves – to be abused and to have the Word of God withheld from, but instead fed un-Biblical traditions and doctrines of men that go against God. And through time, these false teachings become accepted as truth and are passed down to this day.

 

 

The Bible says we are all saints.

 

So just who is a saint?

 

The Bible says that a saint is simply anyone who has come to faith as follows:

 

Acts 2:

38   Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;

     and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.   (NASB)

 

 

In other words, a saint is a true believer.

 

This believer must know what sin is, that he is sinful and must stop sinning – change his ways (repent). He must know that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah who has atoned for our sins with His sacrificial death and it is only through Him we can be forgiven and reconciled to our Heavenly Father. Only after these first two requirements does this believer now must be baptized in the name of Jesus and receive God’s holy spirit as a gift.

 

People who come to faith in Christ must make a commitment to God in Christ. This commitment is being baptized in the name of Christ and must be taken very, very seriously. Indeed, it is the betrothal to Christ where believers are the bride who anxiously awaits His return for the wedding. The gift of God’s holy spirit is like an engagement gift that we keep to always remind us that we belong to Christ – and therefore we must be holy and not sin, and be about our Father’s business. God’s holy spirit is also a gift that empowers us to do our Father’s business.

 

It should be noted that the gift of God’s holy spirit is given upon the laying on of hands after baptism:

 

Acts 19:

5        When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6        And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them,

        and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.   (NASB)

 

2 Timothy 1

6       Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (NKJV)

 

 

There is no distinction between a believer and a saint, but they mean the same. Here are just a few places in the Bible that tell us all believers are saints:

 

Romans 1:

7        to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:

       Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.   (NASB)

 

Comment: All who are loved by God in Rome includes ALL believers, and they are called as saints.

 

 

1 Corinthians 6:

1        Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor,

        dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?

2        Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you,

        are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?

3        Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?   (NASB) 

 

Comment: Paul makes it abundantly clear that all Christians are saints.  In verse 2 he says "saints will judge the world" and then says "If the world is judged by you".  In verse 3, he says "we will judge angels".  He is addressing every believer in Corinth which means all are saints.

 

 

Ephesians 4:

11      And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

12      for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

13      till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man,

        to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

14      that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine,

        by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

15      but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head --- Christ ---

16      from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which

        every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.   (NKJV)

 

Comment:  Though some may have different roles, all believers are saints for the work of ministry and everyone is part of the body of Christ.

 

 

Philippians 1:

1       Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi,

       including the overseers and deacons:   (NASB)

 

Comment: Note that everyone is a saint and NOT just the overseers or deacons.

 

 

1 Corinthians 12:

12      For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body,

        though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

13      For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free,

        and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14      For the body is not one member, but many.

15      If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.

16      And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,"

        it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.

17      If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

18      But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

19      If they were all one member, where would the body be?

20      But now there are many members, but one body.

21      And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."

22      On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;

23      and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor,

        and our less presentable members become much more presentable,

24      whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body,

        giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,

25      so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

26      And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27      Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.   (NASB)

 

 

Comment: Paul is telling us that all believers are members of the same body. This means that all believers are saints, because clearly saints are included as members of the body. The Bible truth is that believers and saints are synonymous – they mean the same thing. We must note also that God gives us many different gifts of His spirit, so any teaching that says only one gift of the spirit (like speaking in tongues) is the only sign of a true child of God is not teaching from God, but something else.

 

However, the Bible does not stop there. The Bible also tells us that believers/saints are priests and destined to reign with God forever.

 

1 Peter 2:

4        Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,

5        you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood,

        to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6        Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, " Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,

        And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame."

7        Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,

       " The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,"

8        and " A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word,

        to which they also were appointed.

9        But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people,

        that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;   (NKJV)

 

Revelation 5:

10      "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth." (NASB)

 

 

 

Just think: the Bible shows ALL believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are called saints. Since this is the Bible truth, why is there any need for a saint canonization process? Since all believers are saints, why do we have to “recognize” some of them?   We are all the same in the eyes of God as the Bible declares, so we should all be recognized or all not recognized, not just a select few.

 

The answer, of course, to a need for a canonization process is the fact that the Roman Catholic Church does not follow the Bible’s truth and believe that everyone is a saint. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church is creating their own tradition and hierarchy of believers. The Roman Catholic Church does not believe we are all saints, but only some of us whom they choose.

 

The truth is that the Roman Catholic Church has always taught that there is a huge, unbridgeable gulf between the clergy and everyone else – the laity.   It taught the clergy was “holier than thou” and more to be considered saints while the laity, everyone else, were supposed common people, lowly and subservient, and not “educated” in the ways of God.

 

The Roman Catholic Church idea of sainthood is just another example of many of its false traditions now passed down as truth. This indoctrination is so deep-rooted that many believers defend these false practices and the Roman Catholic Church which spawned them. But they do not understand that a saint canonization process is just another and higher level of the clergy vs. the laity and even a whole lot worse.

 

For example, some say they are not worshipping or praying to the saints, but are “praying with them”.

 

However, no matter how much one tries to make it sound good and acceptable, people should not be fooled – it is a lie (note that praying to the dead itself is not Biblical). In practice, people are praying to the saints and asking them to intercede for them. So not only are they not praying with them, but praying to them, they are asking them for intercession when the Bible says there is only one mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

1 Timothy 2:

5      For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;   (AKJV)

 

 

The Lord Jesus is the only one who is our mediator and the only one we will ever need, because He lives forever to intercede for us:

 

Hebrews 7:

25    Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him,

      since He always lives to make intercession for them.   (NASB)

 

 

As the Lord Jesus is the ONE AND ONLY mediator between God and men who LIVES FOREVER, why do we need to give prayers to the deceased?

 

Additionally, praying to the dead promotes idolatry. It is an ungodly and unbiblical attachment to people and the deceased which leaves the door wide open to the demonic spirit realm which takes advantage of mankind’s thirst for the “unknown”. But God is known and it is through His son alone that we know Him.

 

Also, the Bible does not teach that after we die, we continue to live as disembodied spirits. God’s Word teaches that we sleep the sleep of death and await our resurrections. Please see the articles in the section: ‘Truth about Death’.

 

 

The fact of the matter is that the Roman Catholic Church teaches a lie about who is a saint and how one becomes a saint. It elevates and glorifies a chosen few through its canonization process which is contrary to God’s Word that says all believers are saints.

 

Sainthood is not regulated posthumously and on account of your works or miracles. There is no second class citizen in the body of Christ. One may be an overseer, but it is a job responsibility. He is as much a saint like the ones he oversees. Besides, a leader serves and never sees himself as above others which the Bible also teaches repeatedly.

 

In truth, the Bible praises humility all the time and always frowns upon those that exalt themselves. God does not like pomp and circumstance and people lording over others.

 

The Bible does not teach a clergy vs. laity structure where there is a power structure that keeps certain “unlearned” believers in one class separated from a “learned” class. This leads to the example of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” where everyone is supposedly equal, but in reality there are some who are “more equal” than others.

 

 

The Bible tells us instead that we must look to the Bible only for truth and instruction and not the traditions of men; what the Bible teaches is the faith which was once for all given to the saints:

 

Jude 1:

3   Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation,

    I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith

    which was once for all handed down to the saints.   (NASB)

 

Comment: Please note the sufficiency of the Bible alone for our faith. The faith it teaches is sufficient since the completion of the New Testament – it was delivered once and only once to be handed down to everyone. The Bible says that all believers are saints so this is the faith once delivered. Anything that is not in the Bible, such as a canonization process, is adding to God’s word and is a tradition of man – and should not be followed.

 

 

Many Christians are told directly or indirectly, that they cannot understand the Bible without another person’s help or must rely on their traditions of what people did before. This promotes dependency on a person or institution instead of having faith in and leaning on God for help. It also promotes false doctrines, because many can be taught things that are not Biblical and outright lies; this is why God says everyone is accountable to search the truth for themselves:

 

Acts 17:

11   Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica,

      for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.   (NASB)

 

 

God demands we test all things we hear and read to see whether it is Biblically true. Some, because of misconceptions about the Bible and a lax attitude feel the Bible is difficult to understand or confusing. But God would not tell everyone to search the Word of God for His truth if this was the case:

 

2 Timothy 3:

16   All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,

     for instruction in righteousness,   (NKJV)

 

 

The Bible says anyone who really wants to understand can by just reading it. If someone needs help they can ask God.

 

Ephesians 3:

2        if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;

3        that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.

4        By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,

5        which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men,

        as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;     (NASB)

 

 

To highlight the fact that anyone can understand the Bible and its truth and there are no people who are more special than others, the Bible says that all true believers are saints.

 

 

We must go by the Bible only; it is the only source of God’s truth. When we stray from or add to God’s word, then we are no longer walking in God’s ways and His, but our own which is not truth. Then we are in danger of living by the tradition and teachings of men instead of God’ will.

 

The inevitable conclusion we reach is that the Bible clearly teaches all members of the body of Christ – all true believers, are saints. Of course this is the case, because all members of the body of Christ is the Lord Jesus’ bride! The Lord Jesus’ bride are all believers – therefore all are saints.

 

Anything that contradicts this Bible truth, such as the Roman Catholic Church practice of a canonization process to see who is a saint, goes against the Lord Jesus, the Word of God, who is the head of the body. The Word of God makes it plain that His bride – all believers, are saints. Please also see the articles ‘Bride of Christ’ and ‘Baptism – What does the Bible say about Why, When, Who, and How?

 

 

Who dares to claim authority to change or override the groom about who His bride is?

Should we obey the traditions of men or should we obey God? God tells us:

 

Acts 5:

29     Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.   (AKJV)

 

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