"Called To Be Saints"
By Lois J. Stucky
In writing to churches which God had used the Apostle Paul to start or edify, Paul addresses the believers as "saints." Those in Rome Paul addressed as "…beloved of God, called to be saints" (Rom. 1:7). To the church in Corinth he wrote "to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints" (1 Cor. 1:2), and writing again he addresses them as well as all those in Achaia as "saints" (2 Cor. 1:1). Paul writes "To the saints which are at Ephesus" (Eph.1:1) and "To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi" (Phil. 1:1) and "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse" (Col. 1:2).
All believers Paul called saints! Now that does not mean that all the behavior of these believers was what we would call saintly. The Apostle Paul was grieved and sometimes wept about some of the lax and sinful behavior of the believers in these churches. He regretted that some were fleshly babes in Christ who needed "milk" when they should be Spirit-filled and feasting on the "meat" of the Word of God. But Paul’s addressing them as "saints" is a solemn reminder to them of what God’s calling to them is. "Saint" has the meaning of pure, consecrated, holy.
The Apostle Paul sets the best of examples for those who highly esteem and greatly desire to live up to their calling of God. Paul expresses his heart passion thus: "I press toward [am in earnest pursuit of] the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). To Timothy Paul wrote of it as a "holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9). To the Thessalonians Paul "exhorted and comforted and charged every one of [them] as a father doth his children, that [they] would walk worthy of God, who hath called [them]unto His kingdom and glory" (1 Thes. 2:11-12).
The writer of Hebrews speaks of it as a "heavenly calling" (Heb. 3:1). Hearken to the Apostle Peter, who heard words from the very lips of Jesus and who saw firsthand His day-to-day life for about three years. Peter wrote, "…as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [behavior]; because it is written, ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy’" (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Again Peter wrote, "His [God’s] divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue." Peter further exhorts, "…brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Pet. 1:3, 10).
The beloved Apostle John, whose eyes had seen and his hands had handled the living Word of God, which is Jesus, wrote: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: ...Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him…And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).
Oh, fellow believers, is it not wonderful that God calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light! (1 Pet. 2:9). How thankful we can be to have "ears" to hear that call of God! How vital that we respond positively to the call! How clearly He lets us know that His call is to holiness, to purity, to readiness to meet the Lord when He comes, to be part of His "glorious church…holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). God purifies our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). What God has wrought in us we must live out in our walk, mortifying the old man by the indwelling Spirit, putting off the "old man" of sin and putting on the "new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col. 3:10).
Like the Apostle Paul, let us strive to walk worthy of the Lord for His sake, for His purpose and pleasure. We do not seek to be a saint on a pedestal revered by man, but a saint full of the Holy Spirit, humbly serving in the home, in the church, at the work place, on the mission field, wherever God may lead us.
Let us pray one for the other and for God’s beloved, blood-washed church worldwide, for a clear and burning vision of the holy people God has called His saints to be. Putting away sin, might we make continual and fervent effort to press into the fullness of His high and holy and heavenly calling – for His glory, and for further fulfilling of His purpose that perishing multitudes over whom He yearns may enter with us into eternal glory (1 Pet. 5:10).