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During today's children's story I argued that the title 'saint' doesn't simply apply to the virtuous or those through whom God has done great things. I claimed that the title 'saint' applies to all those who are trying to follow Jesus. 

First Corinthians 1:2 states it clearly: “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…” The words “sanctified” and “holy” come from the same Greek root as the word that is commonly translated “saints.” Christians are saints by virtue of their connection with Jesus Christ. (see "What are Christian Saints According to the Bible?"

Given this connection with Jesus it is expected that we will grow into his likeness and resemble him more and more. At the same time, however, our sin-inclined nature remains part of us. If you spent an entire week with me you would be able to identify this sinful nature in me. I get angry at my kids. I curse when I get frustrated. I'm too easily discouraged and fall victim to despair.

So how it is that I, or any of us are to understand ourselves as saints. Martin Luther argued that it really depends on perspective. From our perspective (or maybe our friends and spouses) we have numerous shortcomings. But because of that great exchange where God offers us Christ's righteousness for our sinfulness, we are simlutaneously recognised as saints.

By God's grace we own this title from the very beginning of our journey with Jesus, even as God continues to transform us into the likeness of Christ.




Dave Gulley over 2 years ago

Some thoughts.
As you may remember I was raised in the Baptist Church. A basic tenet of our faith was “the priesthood of all believers.” This of course means that all Christians are “set apart” to be saints of God. The idea of an ecclesia with any hierarchy is completely divorced from Baptist thinking. Deacons and ministers are appointed or elected by a congregation and do not have any authority but are rather there to serve. Although the Presbyterian Church is close to the Baptists in this regard it was difficult for me to accept any group within the Church that has “legal power” over members. The concept of “ordained elders” whether ruling or of word and sacrament with power over me is an idea that I accept but find hard to understand. A hierarchy of deacon, priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, pope is not about faith but about power, even if it is benevolent.
We are a sanctified and holly priesthood of saints in Jesus. We do indeed own the title of saints. Jesus asks us to live to live in the Spirit with compassion for all. His purpose like ours was/is to Love the Lord our God your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and show compassion for your neighbour as you would for yourself.

Steve Filyk Steve Filyk over 2 years ago

Hi Dave,
I agree that any leaders in the church are fundamentally chosen to serve. However, in this service there are times when such service includes rebuke as much as encouragement. That's my closest guess as to why the term 'ruling' elder is used in the Presbyterian Church. Your post reminds me of Ephesians 4:11-13: "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God..." (RSV). Equipping and building up sounds like service to me!

Dave Gulley over 2 years ago

I think that we agree. My understanding of the idea of "ruling" elder is that Session is a court and the elders make up that court. There was a time when ruling elders held considerable sway over the lives of congregants. This idea is in general patriarchal. So is the idea that only an elder of word and sacrament can oversee baptism, communion and also marriage. The "word" part of the title has become very flexible along with women in the pulpit and indeed women elders. Why not the sacraments and marriage? Like it or not our sessions, presbyteries and courts are hierarchical.

Steve Filyk Steve Filyk over 2 years ago

Yes I agree that there is a hierarchy that is inherent with any type of leadership. What makes Presbyterians more democratic is that their elders are elected and their minister is called, not appointed. We choose our leaders because we realise that we need to delegate certain activities to them.

There are churches that are less hierarchical, less patriarchal, and less formal. I believe the Quakers meet together to pray and wait for the spirit to lead one of them to speak to the group. My suspicion is that where-ever formal leadership isn't recognised, informal leadership is. It would seem to be a necessity for healthy communal life.

Dave Gulley over 2 years ago

Are you sure Presbyterian ministers are not appointed. Doesn't Presbytery appoint after or even before a call? Leadership is required but "position over" gives power. Not a Christ like quality.

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