Much ado is being stirred up in the media about the canonization of two popes into sainthood. Although they have a whole list of “salvation-by-works” accomplishments to declare someone a saint for their version of church, in reality God is gracious and merciful enough to cut us a lot of slack when it comes to how someone really becomes a saint.
The only requirement for sainthood is believing, or having faith in, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16). This faith is based on the acknowledgement that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), that we want to repent of our sins, and that the only one who can accept our repentance to forgive us is Jesus. “…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” Romans 10:9.
Believing in Christ includes faith in his doctrines and is how we establish an everlasting covenant with him. The word “saint” simply means one who is sanctified, or set apart, by God in a God-initiated, God-founded, God-preserved agreement. Here is a saying that bears repeating, as I’ve done many times before at this blog, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9. As Jehovah proclaims in Psalm 50:5, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
You don’t even have to jump through a hoop of being a miracle worker for God to call you a saint. John the Baptist never did any miracle, but Jesus said of him, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he,” Luke 7:28.
We don’t have to sit back and wait for any church leader to tell us how we can tell who is truly God’s saint. All that is required to determine who is a saint is a spirit of discernment from the Holy Spirit, who is given to all believers, to tell us based on God’s word. A true saint follows up their belief in Jesus Christ with a life of good works, which are a result of their salvation. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” Ephesians 2:10. There may be times when we as saints fail, like Peter did on several occasions, by not following Christ’s teachings, but also like Peter, we realign ourselves with God whenever we are confronted about our failures (Proverbs 24:16) because we know that “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” Mark 13:13.
So if you have already fulfilled these things, take heart and rejoice. If you are never canonized by men, it’s no big deal. God has already declared by his infinite wisdom, knowledge, grace, and power that you are his saint.
Harry A. Gaylord