Christians are called saints (Ephesians 1:1); it isn’t some special designation given by men to other men because of what they have done. The Bible says that even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Those who are saved are all saints on account of Jesus Christ and His righteousness. All our good deeds are because of what He has done not what we have done.
Grace and peace to the saints; this is a standard opening of Paul’s. He states the fact that those who have been called saints are also called to be saints; that is those whom God called Paul knew by their faith – they acted like saints, not like aint’s (Romans 1:8 / Colossians 1:2-4). He calls them saints corporately, the group of individuals that God has called out for Himself, the saints.
These days we are committed first to results and relationships. But here Paul declares that we are first called to be saints, to God and His kingdom, not first to results or relationships, but to God. Of course this falling away started all the way back in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve chose results by Eve wanting what the fruit supposedly offered. Adam still had a choice to make, even after Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, but Adam chose his wife (relationships) rather than God (obeying His Word). This is why Christ said that we must put our relationship with God and His Word above any other relationship; He even described it as “hating” you father and mother as compared to God.
Jesus reversed this human tendency toward results and relationships by denying Himself. In His testing in the wilderness (Matthew 4 / Luke 4), imagine if He had turned the stones to bread. Satan would not have said, “aha!” he would have told Him to feed the world – results to the glory of the devil. But Christ knew the Word comes before the bread – John tells us that Jesus first taught them then fed them (John 6). Satan tempted Jesus in His relationship with the angels, and also with the results of gaining the world. But what will it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul (Mark 8:36)? Jesus knew the discouragement of having a ministry that didn’t seem to meet its goals (Isaiah 49:1-6), but He with was more interested in faithfulness than results, and He knew that God would reward Him (Philippians 2:9-11 / Hebrews 12:2).
The quest of results and relationships has clouded the judgment of the Church, and of individuals that ought to know better. The world in the church – look at the fruit of the Church Growth Movement – has the Church changed the world, or has the world changed the Church? They may get the whole world into their churches, but are the people transformed, or does that church become transformed? The churches are bigger than ever but full of unregenerate, unrepentant unbelievers. Instead of tares among the wheat we now have wheat among the tares.
We have got it backwards. They even speak of “transformational churches” these days. The Bible says that we are not to be conformed to this world, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. The people are to be transformed by God, not the church being transformed by the world. They say that if we don’t adapt we will be left behind, but I say that if we do adapt we will be left behind all right, when the trumpet sounds at the Rapture, where the unspotted bride of Christ will be taken away (Ephesians 5:27 / Colossians 1:22). They say that if we don’t get with it that we will fade away. But my Bible says, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever (Isaiah 40:8).” Again, I say, what profit a man, and we could say, the Church, to gain the world but lose its soul?
You are called to be a saint; how long before you answer the call?