What's A Saint?

All the problems of the “backslidded” state of the Evangelical American church can be understood by answering just one question: "What’s a saint?" Christians in the New Testament are called sinners only twice. They are called “saints.”in almost every other instance. It was such a common description of Christians that the writers of the New Testament used the word sixty-two times. A saint is nothing more or less than a holy person. The word translated “saint” just means “holy.” It’s the exact word used in conjunction with the word for Spirit to make the name Holy Spirit. It’s the same word used in Revelation 4:8 when the heavenly host worship God saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty...” It’s the same word used by Peter when he said, “He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16 As far as the Bible is concerned, all Christians are saints, all Christians are called holy.

Holistic or Gnostic Christian?

Modern evangelism requires only that seekers acknowledge the historic fact that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. This knowledge or “gnosis” in the Greek is considered to be saving “faith.” According to pre-20th century theology, a Gnostic Christian who hasn’t repented of sin cannot be saved from the consequences of it. As Charles Finney said, “What good would it do to forgive you while the sin still rules your heart?” 1 Gnostic Christians in the first century were excluded from fellowship because they excused a lifestyle of sin by saying Christians could sin in their flesh and remain pure in their spirit. Their salvation was wholly dependent on their knowledge or “gnosis.”

The Reformers excluded Gnostic Christians in the 16th century for the same reason. They were called “antinomianists” which means “people against the law.” Antinomianist Christians believed they were saved regardless of whether or not they kept the laws of God.

When Luther nailed his Ninety-five Thesis to the Wittenberg door, The first four thesis refuted Gnosticism.
“1. Our Lord and master Jesus Christ is saying “Repent ye, etc.,” meant the whole life of the faithful to be an act of repentance. 2. This saying cannot be understood of the sacrament of penance (i.e.,of confession and absolution), which is administered by the priesthood. 3. Yet He does not mean an interior repentance only; nay, interior repentance is void if it does not externally produce different kinds of mortifications of the flesh. 4. And so penance remains while self-hate remains (i.e., true interior penitence); namely, right up to entrance into the kingdom of heaven.” 3

Charles Finney On Becoming A Saint

Finney was understandably concerned about spurious conversions. More than any other man in history, he was responsible for the “new methods” that evolved into the spiritual abortion machine we call modern evangelism. Finney spoke more on the subject of dividing soul and Spirit than any other evangelist for obvious reasons. He knew his methods would produce an unacceptable number “false appearances” unless the safeguards of personal counseling were rigorously employed.

Here are some of the things he taught about awakened sinners: “ Many think that remorse, a sense of guilt, is repentance. Then hell is full of repentance, because it is full of unutterable, eternal remorse. Others feel regret over something and call that repentance. But they regret their sin because of consequences, not because they hate sin. This isn’t repentance. Others believe conviction of sin and strong fears of hell are repentance; they claim they never do anything wrong without repenting - and they always feel sorry for it. Show sinners that none of these things are repentance. They are entirely consistent with the utmost evil-the devil could have them all and yet remain a devil. Repentance is a change of mind regarding sin itself.” 2

Here are some of the things he taught about new converts: “I don’t need to run around informing new converts that they are converted. If a person has obeyed God, he will know it. Telling someone “You’re converted” before he discovers that fact himself easily breeds false hope. It is usually best to let the hope or belief that he is converted spring spontaneously from the young converts own mind.” 3

When I was a young evangelist struggling on my road to Emmaus, I thought about what true repentance might be. One day, I realized saving faith and repentance is simultaneous and interdependent. Faith in God that He will keep the repentant sinner from sin is saving faith. To have this faith, a person must believe Jesus not only was crucified for their sin, but ever lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25) The Holy Spirit living inside the saint also makes intercession. (Romans 1:26) If people truly repent of sin, they have saving faith because faith in God to overcome sin is evidence of salvation.

Finney said,” Willing and wanting are two different things. People often want to be Christians when they don’t will to be. When we see anything that looks good to us, we naturally want it-we can’t help wanting it in proportion to it’s goodness. But we can still be unwilling to have it, all things considered.” 4

I’ve often dealt with sinners that were willing to say a salvation prayer, but not give up their sins. I remember vividly dealing with an alcoholic at a Teen Challenge Meeting. He was convicted of his sins, but wasn’t willing to give them up. Because he was used to modern evangelism customs, he said “I want to say the prayer.” We refused to lead him in still another worthless prayer. He needed to repent.

Saints Are Intimate With God

Being a saint involves far more than forensic salvation. Look at the way Jesus described how intimate saints are with God. How can we understand such promises such as “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13 unless we read a few versus on...“ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”John 15:4-8.

The saint is one with God and obeys the Holy Spirit. It pleases God to grant the desires of a saint’s heart precisely because he asks for what God has placed in his heart. ”And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” 1 John 5:14

I’ll always remember the night I visited my girlfriend after I was newly saved. Her mother hated me for choosing the seemingly anti-intellectual path of complete submission to God. As I explained to her the completeness and symbiosis of the Christian life, she said something like, “You mean all those little people are right?”

The gospel requires nothing if not that we become little so that Jesus can become big. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20
If you read the chapters five through seven in Mathew, you realize that Jesus is talking about a lifestyle and worldview that’s absurd and illogical to the natural mind. Not only does He ask his followers to resist the temptations of the the eye, temptations of the flesh and the pride of life, He actually expects us to rejoice in it! The Christian life is absolutely impossible without intimacy with God. Being a Christian is nothing less than a living, breathing, walking , talking miracle of the Holy Spirit.

Saints Have Clean Consciences

“...my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost” Rom 9:12 “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience...” 2 Cor 1:12 “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience....” 1 Tim 1:5 ”Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” 1 Tim 3:9 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” Heb 10:22 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)” 1 Peter 3:21

Saints Don’t Fear Death

1 Pg 76, Charles Finney, Lectures on Revivals, 1988
2 Pg 227-228, Ibid
3 Pg 186, Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents Of The Christian Church, 1963
4 Pg 238, Charles Finney, Lectures on Revivals, 1988
5 Pg 233, Ibid

Home Page