Revelation 7:9-17 (GW) … I saw a large crowd from every nation, tribe, people, and language. No one was able to count how many people there were. They were standing in front of the throne and the lamb. They were wearing white robes, holding palm branches in their hands, and crying out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the lamb!”
All the angels stood around the throne with the leaders and the four living creatures. They bowed in front of the throne with their faces touching the ground, worshiped God, and said, “Amen! Praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength be to our God forever and ever! Amen!”
One of the leaders asked me, “Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I answered him, “Sir, you know.”
Then he told me, “These are the people who are coming out of the terrible suffering. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.
That is why they are in front of the throne of God. They serve Him day and night in His temple. The One who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them.
They will never be hungry or thirsty again. Neither the sun nor any burning heat will ever overcome them.
The lamb in the center near the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs filled with the water of life, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Are you ‘saint’? We often hesitate to call ourselves ‘saints’. We are sure not to write the word ‘saint’ in front of our name when we sign things. We would more often answer, “I’m no saint.” We often think of people beings saints when they do something that involves great sacrifice – like going to a poverty stricken place and dedicating their life to helping others. Or we think of saints as especially good people. But not me!
Today we observe ‘All Saints Day’. We might remember people who were leaders in good causes. We might recall from the past the lives of great examples of the Christian faith. That would be a good thing.
But then, there are those who honor saints by thinking they have some special position in Heaven that makes them able to help us in times of need. Instead of praying to Jesus, people may pray to those saints who they think could handle a special need for them without having to bother Jesus. This leads to a trust in those saints more than in Jesus. Not many will admit worshiping a saint, but if you are praying to someone and trusting in someone other than the true God, that is worshiping others.
So a ‘saint’ is thought of as one of those really good Christians from the past who still have special powers to help you through your problems. All kind of saints have been developed for all kinds of circumstances.
That is why we resist the idea of being called a ‘saint’, and say, “I am definitely not a saint”. But when we examine the way the Bible uses the word ‘saint’, I can say you ARE a saint. We find the Bible using the word ‘saint’ in a way different from the way the rest of the world uses the word.
In the eyes of God how does a person become a saint? Maybe we should form a committee here at church to do the job of determining if you should be called a ‘saint’, They might come to your house and set up surveillance equipment, or follow you around and take notes on everything you say and do.
Then after gathering all this information, they could meet to decide “Is that person a saint?” What do you think they would say about you, after observing you life closely? One of them might say, “He’s no saint. He’s a sinner!”
That would be true of any of us. We are sinners. We have earned that title in our lives. If we were all watched like that we would be embarrassed by what other people would see in our lives. This is not how a person becomes a saint. If it were, then there would be no such thing as a saint. Everyone is sinful, and even so called ‘good people’ have sins hiding in their closet. No one deserves to be called a saint based on the sins they have committed in their lives.
The strange thing is that God does call you a saint! The word ‘saint’ appears in the Bible over 60 times. And every time it is used, it does not refer only to especially good people. Every time it refers to those who are Christian. In Romans 1:7 it says: To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints. If Paul was writing this letter to us he would write, “To all those at Angelica who are loved by God and called to be saints.”
So how does a person become a saint in the eyes of God? We do not have to do something super special like dedicating our lives to take care of unfortunate people. That is a fine thing, if that is what a person chooses to do. But if you want to become a saint, the answer can be found in the passage for today in Revelation 7. In this chapter you find a picture of the saints in Heaven described as … a large crowd from every nation, tribe, people, and language. No one was able to count how many people there were. They were standing in front of the throne and the Lamb. They were wearing white robes, holding palm branches in their hands. Then someone asked about the saints “Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”. The passage goes on to say … “These are the people who are coming out of the terrible suffering. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is how you and I become a saints – by washing our robes making them white in the blood of the Lamb.
In the Bible “your robe” is your life. Do you realize that you have already washed your life once today? When? You might ask. At the beginning of the service, when you confessed all of your sins to God. After confessing your sins, what happened? You received forgiveness of your sins. It was not some general statement about how nice God is who loves and will overlook our faults. The forgiveness of sins you and I received was earned by Jesus Christ, when He shed His blood on the Cross. This morning you heard that your sins were taken away by the blood of Jesus Christ. You put your faith in that. With your life washed in the blood of the Lamb, in the eyes of God, you became a saint.
A saint, as the Bible defines it, is not one of those good people that you and I could never be. A saint is someone who realizes and admits that he is a sinner, and then washes his robe in the blood of the Lamb. That is how you become a saint – by God’s undeserved love toward us through faith that the blood of Jesus Christ paid for all of your sins.
Some of us became saints when we were baptized. At that moment, God cleansed sin’s stains from you by connecting you to the blood of His Son. An infant, baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, right before your eyes, becomes a saint.
When you receive the Lord’s Supper – what are you doing? You are receiving the true body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. At that moment, you are washing your robe in the blood of the Lamb. And then you turn around to walk back to your seat. As you walk back you are a saint in the eyes of God. It is not because of something you did that was so good, but because your sins have been taken away by Jesus.
Every one of us, when we get up after the service, talk with others, and leave this house of God, each of us is a saint in the eyes of God. The reason why is because in your heart you believe that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed you of all your sins. Each of us, through faith, has washed our robe in the blood of the Lamb.
There are saints in Heaven, and today especially, we thank God for them. We remember their example of faithfulness that they left behind for us. It is worthwhile for us to recall and talk about the saints who are in Heaven. It is also useful to remember that there are saints on earth – those who believe in Christ right now. So today we also give thanks to God that He has made even us saints in His kingdom.
So if someone asks you, “What is a Christian here on earth?” just remember two S’s. A Christian here on earth is one who admits that he is a Sinner, and a Christian is a Saint. What does that mean? I am a Sinner – that is no secret to anyone who knows me. But I am also a Saint because Jesus has paid for my sins and forgives me every time I repent. I am a saint because of Jesus.
As you believe in Christ alone who sacrificed Himself for us, you are a saint. Thank God for all that He has done for us. What a blessing it is that we are saints by God’s grace through faith in Jesus’ name.