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All The Saints

What makes us all Saints is Jesus. Being in Him, knowing Him, being known by Him. We do that together.

Corby Stephens
Corby Stephens
12 min read
All The Saints
Photo by Hal Gatewood / Unsplash

Table of Contents

The following text is the raw, unedited transcript from a sermon given on Nov. 6, 2022. You can also listen to the audio. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast! :-)

Well, good morning Saints. All the Saints. You know that's you, right? We are all in trouble. We are all the Saints. Especially me! Why do we mark All Saints Day? Well, it depends on who you ask and what tradition they come from. For myself, I was not raised in a church environment until I started, it was in middle school, high school age. And even then it was a very nondenominational, not traditional world and I don't think I heard the term All Saints Day until maybe my thirties, I probably saw it on a calendar, but it was, you know, well, that's November 1.

Why do we mark it?

It's the day after Halloween. What? I don't know what it is, no idea. Some emphasize those who met certain requirements to be given the title of ST, you have to do so many miracles or you have, it depends on the tradition what that meant. And, and even then it was, it was a title to be bestowed bestowed in some traditions. Some will emphasize those who were martyred, those who were killed for their faith are called saints. Even those, even from the tradition, whether it was a title given there became so many of them that they wanted to give one for every day of the year.

Well, there's 365 or six days in a year. There were more saints than that, so that somebody said, Let's come up with All Saints Day. So we'll celebrate them all on one day. The commonality is celebrating our unity as the church here on earth with those who are the church in heaven. Now notice, I didn't say those who have died because really one can argue that the saints in heaven are more alive than we are here on earth. They're experiencing more than we can imagine one day. We will all graduate to, to be with them, those who are saints, but really, I don't think the, maybe the focus shouldn't be, they are a part of us, but rather we are a part of them, right?

All states, it's there. I think I could imagine something in school and you guys are so cute down there, you're you're you're part of us. But okay, well, we'll let that go. When, when Jesus is speaking to some of the Pharisees and the Sadhu sees about who's who's married to who in heaven because they have these weird questions about the living and the dead and and how that that went down, Jesus talks about Abraham Isaac and Jacob and referring to them, he says about God, God is not the god of the dead, but of the living.

Abraham Isaac and Jacob are not dead and gone, they are dead and alive, they are living. One could say Saint Abraham, Saint Isaac, Saint Jacob. We don't often talk about saints, those who were before Christ as Saints, Saint David, you could call them Saints. If this is the case if what makes one a saint both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. If we are And we are gathering together to remember those who have gone before us and share their stories, we have lots of stories from scripture.

What makes one a Saint?

We have stories of those we have known who have gone before. Many books written about saints who have gone in various circumstances. What makes us all one what is the thing or the things that, that make us all saints in this way? Well, let's take a little bit, let's let's take a step back from the, the word saint and how we use it today. And let's go back and see how it's used in scripture and then coming back forward, maybe we'll we'll see a few things.

The word saint comes from Something that is holy a Holy one, whether it's a thing or a person now in, in this church, in this tradition, we have lots of things that are holy that are set apart. That's what this is largely about as I am still learning everything up here has a weird name why? Because it's holy, this is not a tablecloth. What is this altar linen? Two words still tablecloth, altar linen, I guess that works. But everything has, especially it's set apart. We're not gonna take the altar linen and use it for a picnic outside because it is, we we have set it aside for this, right?

When God had Solomon build the temple, the first room in the temple was called the holy place and then beyond it was called the Holy of holies. One place was set apart as special. The next place was set apart as extra special. When Jesus was talking to some of the Pharisees about taking oaths, he says don't swear by the gold in the temple because it's not the gold, that's the valuable thing, it's the temple, it's the holy Place, something that God has decided to make his presence known, even though he's omnipotent and omnipresent, he has chosen to make his presence known as special way there these are holy things and those tend to be passive passive meaning.

We call it holy. So it just, it is now it's inanimate. So it has no sense of what it's supposed to do on its own. But it is holy when God called Israel, he called them as a nation. These are my special people. This these are my treasure, these are my holy people. He endows on them holiness. Saint Nous set apartness now whether they actually walked in, that was very different. Right? So there is this this passive sense in which God's people are called saints. But then there's this active sense in which the individual chooses to walk according to God's ways, right?

In the Old Testament. The word Saint came to be used in the sense of a remnant of people, not just all of Israel, but those within a subset of Israel who maintained walking with the Lord walking according to his law. And I don't really like calling it the law, even though that's generally generally what it means Torah, it really means a path, it's, it's not a judge and jury sentencing kind of law, it's it's guide rails like walk between these two things, this is the path, this is the way, is it interesting interesting that Jesus is called the way and so was the Torah, the path the way walk in this way.

Those are what made people God's saints in the Old Testament and it's really true over into the New Testament because guess what, who made up the first Christians Jews all of them, they were all Christians in the very beginning were all jewish people and then eventually it opened up to the gentiles and and now it's all one. But the first time we see the word saint in the New Testament, it's gonna be one of my top four questions for God when I get to heaven because it's weird and you might remember it in Matthew after Jesus resurrection, this is the first part I get it says and behold the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The curtain in the temple was that, which separated that holy place that I mentioned before from the holiest of holies and the symbolism of it being torn from top to bottom is God himself making a way for us to have access to him through Jesus. I understand that but then something really weird happens. The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they went into the Holy city and appeared to many and that's it.

That is all this said about that I need closure, I don't get it. Who who were they? Did it happen all over? Israel did all this, all the Old Testament's, I just want to know but I don't because that's all it says. So I'm not gonna guess but there it is Saints, the Old Testament. Saints moving forward in the New Testament the next time it's mentioned is in the Book of Acts when one person is referring to the saints in another church. That's it's it's a name, they adopted for themselves the Saints.

What are the marks of a Saint?

So to be in Christ, to be a follower of Christ is to have the ability to call yourself a saint. What does that mean? What does it look like? It's is it just is it just us saying I believe X, Y and Z about Jesus and the gospel, therefore I am a saint, I think it's more than that because again those people Jesus was talking to about Abraham Isaac and Jacob, he says you call yourselves Children of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. So what God can raise up Children of Abraham from these rocks, that does not make you special simply having that title.

It is how one lives. It is how one walks the doing some digging around the baker encyclopedia of the bible. Had a great little sentence on this. In talking about using the term saints that Christians apply to themselves. The emphasis is not on holiness as such. It's not just saying I'm I am holy, I'm going to be Holy holiness is important. It's not setting aside holiness but that's not so much the facet that's focused on but rather on the facet that as a member of the elect group, one must follow the laws of the kingdom separating oneself for God, which sounds like what holding this is but its active holiness.

It's not passive holiness, right? There is a difference. It's not holiness for the sake of Holy the Pharisees thought themselves as Holy thought of themselves as holy. In fact, Jesus said you have to be as righteous as the Pharisees to get into God's kingdom. People were like I'm out. I can't do that, that's not me. But that wasn't the point, it was this idea of living for God on purpose, being a special people for him on purpose. Now many of you know I'm married, I've been married for 28 years.

And for me this little tip for husbands. Don't do things to get your wife's attention or affection, do them because you love her. That would be a wife saying that the same is true for God, don't do things for God. Set yourself apart to God, give your adoration to God to get something back from him. Do it because you actually love him. And maybe that's a foreign concept to you. Maybe your relationship to church and to God has been to come and sit and listen and receive and be with some really great people and then leave.

I don't know, but there is a difference. I just remembered something. I did this illustration once in a church and it ended well but it also ended poorly. I had a package of Oreos. I love double stuffed Oreos. Clearly I love double stuffed Oreos. And I had a package up front and I was talking about this idea of of as individuals and I still believe this every individual needs to receive Jesus. So what I did was I had an Oreo in my hand and I said if you you can have this Oreo, but what do you have to do?

Anyone you have to come up and take it. I can hold it up here all day long and you can sit there all day long and say there's an Oreo that's mine. But until you come and get it you haven't received it. Have you? You haven't taken it have you, That's what it is with Jesus. He offers this gift the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord, he offers this gift and you can say I believe he has offered me the gift.

I agree with that gift, but until you receive that gift and take it and dunk it in milk until the bubbles stop and then eat it delicious, Oreo double stuff until you do that with the Lord. I apologize. You're not doing it, are you? I don't know, I'm not trying to sound harsh but that's really the difference isn't it? I could stand up here all along all day long and say I play football for the Seahawks, but until I go do it, I'm fooling myself, I'm not fooling anybody else just me.

Not to deserve, but to demonstrate

So not being holy to earn or deserve, but to demonstrate with the mindset that I still don't deserve. Like I'm I'm a servant and even the grace that I have, I don't deserve. Not false humility, genuine humility. Godly humility in other words. Do it for love, not to manipulate. If you ever catch yourself saying to God or to anyone that you say you love, you owe me, that's not love that's not coming from love this. The statement you owe me never comes from love all the saints in heaven and all those who are not in heaven, There is no one in hell who disagrees that they deserve to be there and I believe that there's no one in heaven who agrees that they do deserve to be there.

Once we cross that cross that threshold of heaven or hell, everyone in hell, yep, I totally deserve to be here while those saints who are in heaven, like I do not deserve to be here and that's why the scripture talks about them throwing their crowns down at the feet of God saying I'm not worthy part of being saints is that humility, That genuine humility, that genuine mindset, because really Jesus talks about this and this to me, this is one of the scariest passages in the bible when Jesus talks about those who serve him and bring him cold water and visit him in prison and visit those who are sick into some, he says, I never knew you, but God didn't we do this for you and didn't we do that for you?

I never knew you. And those who were like, when did we see you sick? When did we see you in prison? When did we see you suffering? I know you guys because you were doing it for the right reasons. That's scary to me anyway, I don't know what that is for you, but that's that's what it is for me. To know God and to be known or to be known and to know him, those are both sides of the same coin. You need both to know him and to be known by him is I would say is a passive versus the active would be to be known And then to know him.

Kingdom living

There's a lot of chicken and egg and Christianity which comes first. I don't know but we need both. So let's just be happy with both. So again, what does this mean? What do we do? How do we how do we do this as saints? I think today's gospel reading points to a lot of examples of what that looks like. The Beatitudes there in Matthew there here in Luke six. And it's these radical statements by Jesus about loving your enemy, love those who hate you, bless those who curse you.

Somebody wants to take something from you, give them even more than they want to take. That's radical to them. That would have been extra radical. Me being a very literal thinker that I am usually read that and I like does that mean that every person I see on the side of the freeway, I'm supposed to give them something every time. That would be a very literal interpretation? I don't know if that's what that means. But if nothing else. It makes me examine my heart. What is my heart towards those in need?

Is it whatever Who's got time for that. Don't look at me, don't make eye contact. I gotta go. I have to be somewhere I have to go by myself. Food. I can't help this hungry person. What's my attitude, what's my heart when this happens? And and maybe maybe God will direct me to do some things or direct you to do some things differently. I don't know. But this living this out, living out the gospel, living out the example that Jesus gave for us not just in word but absolutely indeed in death and resurrection, that's how we live it out.

The more you get this in you, the more will come out of you. The  weird version of that would be in the I. T. World, we say garbage in garbage out Gospel in Gospel out right? So don't just study it, don't just know it, let it shape you. That's what it does. It's this weird, it's this weirdly weird thing when I first took the bible seriously and started studying it. Those who knew me and who knew the Lord better than I did because they were further down the road actually said something like are you studying romans?

Like how did you know? Because I was I was studying the book, I finished romans, I I've started to study hebrews. Are you studying hebrews? Come on, How can you possibly know that? Because they knew the Lord the Lord and they knew the word the more that you get into you, the more that the more will come out of it, even if you don't get it at first, that's fine. Just keep going because we all grow from milk to meat. So what makes us all Saints Jesus being in him, knowing him being known by him and we do that together.

That's fun. That's really to look at those who go before us. But then to stop and think about who's behind me, who do I get to be an example to my kids? Is that my co workers, who who's somebody's, somebody's watching you right now. I'm not talking about God or the holy spirit or Santa. Talking about somebody in your family. Somebody you work with, a friend of yours, a sibling, I don't know, somebody's watching you. Let's genuinely learn how to live like Jesus as a saint. I've never heard Jesus called Saint Jesus, but I think while he was here on earth, I think he qualified Saint Jesus.

Lord Jesus. Let's stick with Lord. But you get the idea anyway. Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul and love your neighbor as yourself. And these two things are all the all the law and the prophets established.



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