A People Called: The Story of Church from Ephesians (week 4)
We just came to the end of Ephesians 1 in the sermon series. By the time we got there, Paul had already used the word, saints, three times.
In 1:1 he began, “Paul… to the saints in Ephesus.”
In 1:15, he continues, “[H]aving heard of… your love for all the saints…”
And, in 1:18 we read, “[T]hat you may know… his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
By the time he signs out of the letter, he would have used saints nine times in total.
That is an intimating word. It feels unreachable. I certainly feel inadequate for it. Yet, it was one of Paul’s favorite names for believers in Christ – given how he seemed to prefer it across his letters.
Paul’s reference to us as saints stands in juxtaposition to what we, today, think about when we think saint. We think about the summa cum laude of the faith who have gone to be with the Lord. Yes, that word has come to be adapted in other technical ways down history.
But, Paul uses it to address the church. Basically, church folks like you and me who profess faith in Christ! My instincts almost want me to chuckle at what I fear is a belittling of that title. But I get a hold of myself. Paul repeats it so often, inspired by the Spirit. I need to listen again.
Saints literally translates – holy ones. Holy, on the other hand, was originally used in Scripture to describe God. The concept of holy is deep and vast. However, it unfolds primarily out of God’s uniqueness and singularity. God’s “one-of-a-kind-ness”! When God began to teach Israel the concept, He built in practices and customs that taught them to decipher between what is common and what is not – but rather separated out (or holy). Therefore, when holy is used with reference to persons or things in Scripture, the basic idea is ‘set apart’. Set apart for God. No longer commonplace.
A holy people are a people called to unique relationship with the Holy God. A relationship, therefore, that sets them apart. Paul loves to call us a holy people, called apart unto God. Saints. The sanctification process that set us apart was executed through Christ.
Yes, I agree! It’s still intimidating sometimes. Paul’s not second guessing though. If that’s truly who we are, having become one with Christ, why would he think any less of us?
To listen to the most recent sermon preached in this series, please click on sermon.
The Light of Christ Anglican Church
4000 W. Yale Ave.
Denver, CO 80219