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Sanctified In Christ Jesus

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God for a lesson for all of us to consider. The title for the lesson is, “Sanctified in Christ Jesus” and the text is taken from 1 Corinthians chapter one and verse two.

“To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”
The lesson is about sainthood. Sainthood even among many Christians is often misunderstood. The common belief is that a saint is only a term or a title for a few, a few Christians or of special spiritual status or for select super Christians, only for the exceedingly virtuous, elite people of God. It is even generally believed that you have to be deceased to qualify for sainthood and then only after rigorous, meticulous investigation and scrutiny of one’s lifetime to be officially declared, canonized, beatified as deserving to be called a saint.

For example, consider Saint Christopher, considered to be the champion protector of travelers. His statue or image sometimes is placed on the dashboard of cars. The story goes that Saint Christopher was a giant of a man and after his conversion he stationed himself on a river bank to offer charitable transportation such as carrying travelers on his broad shoulders across the river. It is believed that he was martyred in the third century and by the fifth century became venerated, revered as the official patron saint of all travelers. He even had his own special feast day of July 25th. However, in the year of our Lord 1969 this giant of a saint was toppled from his spiritual height, rejected and removed from sainthood all together. And the reason? There arose great doubt that this giant of a man known as Saint Christopher ever really lived, ever existed, that he was probably only a legend, a myth. That is an example of the concept of sainthood according to mankind. It is simply amazing how so many spiritual truths are never really understood. Even with the clear truth in the Bible for thousands of years it is so that the opinions and traditions of men often override Scripture. Generation after generation, so many remain in darkness on what God clearly reveals it means to be a saint.

For example, how often do you hear even some Christians exclaim: “Well, I am not a saint.” Regarding genuine Christians, God says otherwise and this is not an obscure, vague teaching in the Bible regarding sainthood. For example, the apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Rome in Romans chapter one and verse seven: “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” How many? All in the Church at Rome, not just a select few, not just elite Christians, not super saints, but all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.

Paul also wrote in the Roman letter, chapter 15 and in verse 25 he wrote that he was on his way to Jerusalem in service of the saints there, saints not just in Rome and not just Gentiles, but saints of Jewish ethnicity also in Jerusalem. Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter one and verse one to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus. Paul wrote the Philippian letter to the Philippian church in Philippians chapter one and verse one where it says to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, which would have been Macedonia or northern Greece. And so whether in Europe or Asia it didn’t matter. In Christ there is a saving relationship of obedient faith in Christ, which makes one a saint.

In the first century AD down through the centuries to today in the 21st century, all in the Church, all in Christ are saints, every one that are in Christ by the grace of God through faith, genuine saving faith. And Paul identified all in Christ as living saints. The apostle Paul was not writing to dead saints. Paul did not write only to a select few super Christians, but to the entire Church, to the entire churches or congregations all made of saints. In fact, according to Scripture, all of God’s people are revealed as saints through genuine faith in him.

For example, consider a passage that is often shared at funerals in Psalm 116 and verse 15 it says: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” These were saints in their lifetimes, while they were alive. And there were Old Testament saints, before the Church age. God’s people through faith are all saints, whether pre-Israel, whether Israel, whether the Church or tribulation saints. All are saints of God. The blood of Christ from the cross at Calvary in the first century AD goes back to cover the sin of all who have put their faith in the Lord and goes forward until he comes for his saints, for the Church.

God’s definition of a saint or saints can be summed up very succinctly in 1 Corinthians chapter one and verse two where it says in part those sanctified, that is, made holy or made saints. All that are sanctified are saints. And how are they sanctified? In Christ Jesus. That is, in a saving relationship with Christ through obedient faith, not by ritual, not by regulations of law, but by the grace of God through faith in a saving relationship in Christ Jesus. Those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called, 1 Corinthians 1:2 continues, called by God the Father unto himself, drawn unto the Father, unto himself. The effectual calling of those that respond to the call of God together with all those everywhere, those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called together with all those everywhere, that is, the universal Church of Christ. Here the first century Church at Corinth, but also all those in the 21st century Church today, all are saints and down through the generations, down through the centuries of all believers in the Church. In this case those that have been called during the Church age. They are all saints that have responded and received Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord by the grace of God through saving faith, called together with all those everywhere to our Lord Jesus Christ. Saints in saving faith have proven, validated, verified their faith as an obedient faith in Christ Jesus, because Jesus is our Lord, together with all those everywhere in our Lord Jesus Christ, because he is not only Savior, but Lord and Master, their Lord and our Lord today. Sainthood is by God, not by man.

Let’s consider a case study, the making of a saint. And we don’t even know his given name, but according to Scripture he is officially, according to God, a saint, sanctified in Christ Jesus. The place is Philippi in northern Greece or Macedonia. The setting Paul and Silas were imprisoned and it was about midnight. Listen to the Word of God once again in Acts chapter 16 beginning in verse 26.

“Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up and when he saw the prison doors he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted: Don’t harm yourself. We are all here. The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked: Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They replied: Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household. Then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds. Then immediately he and all of his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them. He was filled with joy, because he had come to believe in God, he and his whole family.”

Now let’s look at this case study and the making of a saint. Note a few important points regarding becoming a saint. The jailer asked in verse 30: Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Undoubtedly this jailer was shaken to his very soul, convicted that he needed salvation. He had heard Paul and Silas proclaim the way of salvation, shaken also by the power of the one true God whom through the earthquake had miraculously caused all the prison doors to fly open and everybody’s chains to come loose. Yet none of the prisoners had escaped.
Paul and Silas gave the answer to what the jailer and you and I must do to be saved, to become a saint. In verse 31 they told the jailer, believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. That is, genuine, heartfelt faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross as his atoning sacrifice, with his substitutionary death he took our place to cover our sin by his blood. It takes genuine, heartfelt faith in Jesus Christ. And notice, not only in Jesus, but in the Lord Jesus, which implies obedience, obedient saving faith. True in the first century Church and still true today in the 21st century Church and down through the generations until today.

In verse 32 it says then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him. Undoubtedly, Paul and Silas further explained according to the teachings of the Lord Jesus the need for repentance, for confession, for water baptism. In verse 33 it says the jailer took Paul and Silas and washed their wounds, part of the proof by good deeds that the jailer’s repentance and faith were genuine. And also in verse 33 it says immediately he and all of his family were baptized. They didn’t hesitate. They responded immediately in obedience to the gospel. They were baptized into Christ, immersed into Christ with all the accountable members of his family who also were convicted of their sin and need of a Savior in Christ Jesus and made him Lord beginning with water baptism.

In verse 34 it says the jailer was filled with joy. Well joy is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, because he was genuinely born again through saving faith. And so he had also the indwelling Holy Spirit and the indwelling Holy Spirit gives us the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which includes joy. He had come to believe in God and, therefore, became saint jailer. We don’t even know his given name, so we refer to him as saint jailer.

Saints are not made by our works or personal conduct. Saints are made by Christ and the cross through faith in him and his saving work on our behalf. Sainthood is not by men, but by God. Sainthood is not by Rome, but by the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Sainthood is not just on stained glass windows, but stained by the blood of Christ in which we are washed as white as snow. Sainthood is not declared after our death. Sainthood is declared as we are in Christ Jesus, as we are alive in Christ, even born again, born from above, born anew by God. Saints are not a select few people of God, but according to 1 Corinthians chapter one and verse two they are all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.

In the 17th century the French mathematician and Christian Blaise Pascal accurately described sainthood when he wrote that to make a person a saint it must be by grace. Whoever doubts this doesn’t know what a saint is, nor does he know man. So very true.
So are you a saint? Are you in Christ Jesus? Have you been sanctified by his blood shed on the cross, which is not effectual to any sinner until they receive Jesus through saving faith, through obedient faith? Are you a saint? If not, you know now, according to God, not man, what you must do to be saved and become a saint. Won’t you do that even today as you repent of your sin, as you put your faith in the Lord Jesus, believing on him as you confess him as your personal Savior and Lord, as you are baptized into him, immersed in water and as you are raised into newness of life to persevere in Christ Jesus? That is what you must do to be a saint.


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10