Monday, February 24, 2014

You Are a Saint

I am stuck at home today with a not-really-sick sick kiddo (boy did he fool mom)!  So between entertaining him and trying to study I am ready for a break!  How about a quick trip to Corinth?

I only made it through the first verse in 1 Corinthians with my last post "A Walk Through Corinth".  So how about we cover the whole salutation today, verses 1-3! So pull out your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (I told you this would be an easy Bible study)!

Verse one tells us who the letter is from, the apostle Paul and his brother Sosthenes.  And verse two tells us who the letter is to, the Church in Corinth, to all the people in Corinth who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus.  Let's just stop right there for a second.  

It wasn't very long ago that I had no idea what it meant to be sanctified.  So just in case you are in that boat, let me help you out.  Being sanctified means being made holy.  This is a tricky translation when you move from Greek to English, because we don't have the proper grammar to support it.  But in Greek this refers to something that happened in the past but still continues to happen today.  Sanctification is not a once in a lifetime event, but something that continues on throughout one's lifetime.  

The people in Corinth, just like you and I today, are sanctified (or made holy) in Christ Jesus.  Even though we continue to make mistakes and sin, Christ is continually saving us, not just once, but over and over again.  It is a continual process.  THAT is why Paul called these people - whom he was about to reprimand for all their sin - sanctified.  That is why he called them  holy, or in some translations (NASB) "saints".  Not a term I would have used to describe them (or me), but it turns out Paul is much smarter than I am.  He understands that God has called all of us to be saints.  God has "set us apart for participation" (that is what it means to be "called" in Greek).  We are called or set apart for participation in holiness or sainthood.  This is clearly something we can not accomplish on our own, but IN Christ, BECAUSE of Christ, we are ALL holy, we are all saints.  At least all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to be their Lord.  

How do we participate in this?  Through being part of a body of believers, an active participant in a body of believers.    Being part of the body of Christ, an active participant, will make you holy because Christ is holy.  

Paul then gives the entire church grace and peace on behalf of God the Father and Jesus the Lord.  Shalom peace.  Peace that isn't just inside you but through you to another person.  The kind of peace that erases division, unites hearts, and tempers hurt.  Peace that passes individual peace of mind and encompasses a community.   Peace that only comes from Christ.

In these quick 3 verses Paul established his authority of someone of influence.  He reminded the church (and the individual members of the church) that they are holy, sanctified in Christ Jesus and set apart to participate in the body of Christ.  And he offered them peace and grace.

Paul had essentially one goal for the first ten verses of 1 Corinthians and that is to define the identity of the Church of Corinth.  His goal is to tell them who they are.  And he starts with … you are holy, you are a saint.  This was a message for the first century Corinthian church and it is a message for us today.

You my friend are holy.  YOU have been called, God has set you apart for participation in the body of Christ.  Believe this, embrace this, live this.

You my friend, are a saint.