Are You a Saint?

Are You a Saint?

Are You a Saint?

Comments on the two new Catholic “Saints” from Portugal!

Richard Hollerman

The short answer to our question above is that you are a “saint” if you are in Christ Jesus, if you have been born of God through the Spirit, if you have been forgiven of your sins, and if you have the Holy Spirit living in you. “Sainthood” is not a status for a certain few that a Catholic prelate has designated!

In the New Testament (the new covenant writings), hagios is an adjective but in at least 45 times it is used as a substantive or noun. The singular would mean “holy” but generally it is used in the plural for “holy ones.” (SeeWilliam D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

Paul writes to the Philippians, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus” (4:21a). Paul writes to the Romans, “You also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints” (1:6-7a). The apostle writes to the Christians in Corinth, “. . . to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling” (1 Corinthians 1:2). The same Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (2:19).

It is interesting—and important—for us to realize that three words are related in the New Testament. First, there is the adjective (used as a noun), “saint,” which means a holy (or separated) one. There is the term “holy” which means “separated” or “set apart” from the world for God and His use. And there is the term “sanctified” or “set apart.” Keep this connection in mind as you read through the New Testament.

If every person who has been born of God and is in Christ Jesus is a “saint” according to the Scriptures, why is it that the Catholic Church (as well as other “high” churches) calls certain people saints rather than every Catholic? One writer rightly observes: “The Scripture nowhere countenances the Roman Catholic restriction of sainthood to a few particularly holy people, worthy to be venerated, approved by special supernatural signs, and able to be intermediaries between the petitioning believer and the Lord” (Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms, p. 324.).

What does the Catholic Church say about their practice of sainthood? We may think that the number is only in the hundreds, but actually, there are many more:

. . . the more than 10,000 saints the Catholic Church already venerates. The precise number of Catholic saints will always be debatable. Early Christian communities venerated hundreds of saints, but historical research by 17th- and 18th-century Catholic scholars determined that very few of these saints’ stories were backed by solid historical evidence. Lives of such well-known figures as St. George, St. Valentine, and St. Christopher were based either on a legend that often predated Christianity or were entirely made up. Other saints had local followings. In rural France, St. Guinefort was venerated as the protector of infants after he saved his master’s baby from a snakebite. St. Guinefort was a dog. (uscatholic.org/articles /201310/how-many- saints-are- there-28027).

A long while after the first century or New Testament times, Catholic leaders began to arrogate to themselves the power to make ordinary people into “saints”! One Catholic authority explains:

The prospect of venerating dogs or folk heroes troubled some church leaders. During the Middle Ages, popes began claiming canonization was a power of their office alone. Initially all that was needed was a bishop’s permission for a holy man or woman to be venerated as a saint. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V integrated the sainthood process into the papal bureaucracy, charging the Congregation of Rites and Ceremonies with vetting potential saints.

In 1969 Paul VI created the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to oversee this process. He also suppressed several saints’ cults largely on the basis that the acts and miracles attributed to the saints, or in some cases even the basic facts of their existence, could not be historically verified. People already under their patronage could continue to venerate these saints, but they no longer appear on the Roman calendar, and no new parishes or other institutions would open under their name. (Ibid)

Obviously, instead of regulating who could declare someone a saint and just who was considered a saint, it would have been better to go back to the Scriptures to discover the nature of sainthood. The Word of God must always be our point of reference, our solid foundation as to what is true and what is false. If the Catholic Church had done this during the Dark Ages until the modern era, they would have seen that every single follower of Christ is a “saint” and is to carry this out in their lifestyle of holiness!

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, “Pope” Francis “canonized two Portuguese shepherd children during a Mass on Saturday, a century after the children and their cousin said they first saw the Virgin Mary here.”

Are You a Saint?

The children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, along with an older cousin, Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, told skeptical elders that they had witnessed six apparitions of the Virgin between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917, when Jacinta was 7, Francisco was 9 and Lucia was 10, according to the Vatican (Ibid.)

Because of these purported sightings of the “Virgin Mary” by these three young Portuguese children, Fatima came to be the country’s main pilgrimage site. It is visited by more than 5 million people each year! Many of them crawl on their knees to the shrine of the “Madonna.” The special event this year was attended by some 500,000 people for many wanted to see their “Pope” whom they consider particularly humble and worthy.

Are You a Saint?

We wouldn’t debate the fact that many of these people must be devout and religious, although surely there are many who simply want to be involved in the excitement and relish the idea of viewing the reigning pontiff. But the question for us is not whether these people are devoted Catholics and devotees of Mary, but whether all of this is true or whether it is false. We believe that this is false devotion for several important reasons:

Are You a Saint?

First, although Mary (the mother of Jesus) was favored and the Lord was with her (Luke 1:28ff), she was not considered especially important to the early Christians. She is last mentioned before the day of Pentecost in Acts 1:14—and not after this time! Second, she is not really the “Virgin Mary” for she isn’t a virgin. After giving birth to Jesus, she had four other sons and at least two daughters (cf. Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:3; John 7:5; Acts 1:14).

Third, it is also important to realize that Mary is dead. Presumably, she went to be with the Lord, her Son, but she isn’t able to hear even a single prayer addressed to her, much less one billion prayers prayed by a billion Catholics! Fourth, she was a sinner just like everyone else (Romans 3:23), thus wasn’t preserved from personal sin, in contrast to the false Catholic doctrine of the “immaculate conception.”

Fifth, Mary certainly didn’t bodily rise from the dead and bodily go to heaven, but her body awaits the resurrection like every other body (cf. John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2-3). Sixth, the rise of “Mary worship” or Mariology (or Mariolatry) was far too late to be Biblical. It surely wasn’t taught by or practiced by the true “saints” of the first century!

Are You a Saint?

There are countless false teachings surrounding Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, thus the Roman Catholic Church (and the various Orthodox Churches as well) is totally off on this chief doctrine. This means that the three young children from Portugal really didn’t see Mary as they purported. We don’t know, but either they lied or they were deceived, perhaps by a demonic spirit! We do know that “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14; cf. vv. 13-15).

Are You a Saint?

Although it surely is shocking to consider this, in light of the fact that some four million people journey to Portugal each year to see the shrine devoted to the appearances of Mary to the shepherd children, still we must reckon with the truth. Truth is stubborn and won’t go away, regardless of how many millions of people believe a lie. Even if a billion people believe that Mary is still a virgin, even if a billion people pray the rosary and think they are communicating with Mary, and even if they vainly think that Mary intercedes for them before God, still such people are grossly deceived.

Are you a saint? Even if these three children are not “saints” (other than Catholic ones, proclaimed so by certain fallible “Popes”), you can be a saint yourself! Are you willing to repent of all your sins and place your faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and be baptized in His honorable name (cf. Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; 20:21; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:11-13; Galatians 3:26-27)? Let God make you a “saint” so that you will have access to God directly though Jesus Christ His Son!

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