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Showing posts from November, 2015

FAQ for All Saints - 6, How Do I Know I am a Saint?

A very important question.  Only those who are God’s people, united with Christ, will live with him in the new world to come.  I answer the simple question with another simple question:  What did Jesus say?  "All who come unto me, I will in no wise cast out.  Whoever believes in me has everlasting life and I will raise him up at the last day."  If we have put all our trust for all we need to be a saint in Jesus Christ and all He has done for us and all he does for us and all he will do for us - if we have put all our trust in Him as the trustworthy God who cannot lie - then we have all the assurance we need.  If we have not so believed in Him, then we are in grave danger.  We are not saints.  God has done everything that needs to be done to make us saints through His Son.  The ball is now in our court.  Will we have Him as our King and Saviour?  If so, we have but to receive Him.  If we do, we may rejoice in our union with the blessed company of all faithful people, and w

FAQ for All Saints - 5, What about praying for the departed saints?

But what about praying to God for the saints departed, as we do in the communion service? This is different.  We certainly do not believe we should pray for those saints who have gone before us so that they will be delivered out of Purgatory, which is a lot of the kind of praying that has been done for the saints in the past.  But there is no reason why we cannot pray for God’s blessing on those for whom we have prayed all their lives beforehand.  They are still finite creatures, dependent on the mercy and grace of God, and we can pray for their enjoyment of the blessings of God as a way of identifying with them and continuing to express our love and care for them to God. We pray for all the saints and, in a way that is real, we all meet together before the same throne in prayer.  It’s a way of experiencing what the creed calls the Communion of the Saints.  Even though we are in two different places, we are still all one in Christ, sharing His life, and concerned for His glory in a

FAQ for All Saints - 4, What about prayer to the saints?

What about prayer to the saints, asking them to pray for us to God? Bishop Wright gives us part of the answer in his book For All the Saints.  He explains that the idea of praying to the saints as if they are representatives for us before the throne of God came out of the medieval idea of the royal court.  Someone living in a rural area, miles away from where the royal court may be held, could not petition the king for his needs.  However, if he had a friend at the court, he could ask that friend to plead his cause for him.  You can see how this could lead people to think about the divine court; a friend or a relative has now died and gone to the court of heaven and, perhaps if we ask them to, they will pray for us there. The problem is that this idea of needing others to address God for us in his court is wholly unnecessary.  The biblical doctrine is plain that all the saints, either those militant or triumphant, have the same access to God the Father, through the Lord Jesus Chris

FAQ for All Saints - 3, Where are the saints now?

Spiritually speaking, all the saints are in Christ , thus they are called the Body of Christ. Geographically , in God’s universe, the saints are on earth, and called "the Church Militant."  You find them in "the local church."  Paul’s epistles recognise this.  And they are there with all their imperfections and sins and all that is so prosaic about our lives.  We don’t seem very glorious! C. S. Lewis does a great job describing the blandness, if you will, of the saints we meet in the local church in The Screwtape Letters , Letter 2. You may remember the part, speaking of the man the demons are trying to turn from Christ, Screwtape writes to Wormwood: When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided....  Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like "the body of Christ" and the actual faces in the next pew....  Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have

Debriefing Session 4: Discussing Mere Christianity

Brown's summary of this session in the accompanying book is well done.  I did not find the discussion questions helpful.  What I did this time was to give everyone a printed handout that both summarized where we have been and the two chapters for this session: Book II, 3 & 4.  We spent the first bit of time going over this, up through ch. 3, and then watched the video. Yancey's strength was his illustrations.  Everyone thought them helpful.  It seemed a lot of people could identify with the illustration of his aquarium.  Though he had nothing but good planned for the fish, when he approached the tank, they always hid from him.  If he was going to help them to understand him better and not hide, he'd have to become a fish in the tank with them.  It's a good illustration for the Incarnation, but I think people were especially touched by the recognition that often we are like the fish, hiding from God because we are afraid of him - when we shouldn't be. Yancey

FAQ for All Saints - 2, Aren't "the saints" a special category of Christians?

Are The Saints a special category of believers? We do not find a category of especially su ccessful saints in the New Te st ament , having some peculiar place and privile ge.  All the saints are the sanctified in Christ, righteous by the mercy of God, and all the recipients of the same mercy.  The whole church is called “the saints”; all who are saved are set apart as holy unto God by virtue of faith in Christ. Indeed, we may be mistaken in our own estimate as to who has been a better Christian than another.  Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  Some worked all day, some only worked the last hour or so.  The farmer gave them all a penny. 10: But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. 11: And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12: Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, wh

FAQ's for All Saints - 1, Who are the saints?

All this week, I'll be answering frequently asked questions about "the saints" - hopefully an interesting and edifying exercise. Who are the saints? The people of God; the Church of all the ages.  In the Old Testament, two words are used for the word saint.  They are found most frequently in the Psalms, but elsewhere also, including verses that the New Testament likes to quote or refer to.   In the Old Testament, we have: a.    hasid ; meaning righteous , referring to their character.  It is related to the word hesed for mercy , and well should it be so.  The saints are the objects of God’s mercy toward sinners.  No one is righteous but that God has made him so in a wonderful act of mercy. b.    kadosh ; refers to their being separated unto God: sanctified , which is related to the word saint itself.  This emphasises how the saints belong to God.  They are His people.  In the New Testament, the word used is hagios , which is the word used for translating the OT w