Hello and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray that you are encouraged by this teaching. If you are, we'd love to hear about it. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. The idea most people have about saints is that they've died and attained special status because of their unusual accomplishments while they lived on the earth. As we continue the series "Technicolor Joy," we learned that nothing could have been further from Paul's mind when he wrote to the living saints in Philippi. Now we invite you to turn in your Bibles to the Philippians chapter 1 as Skip begins the message, "Newsflash, You're a Saint."
Philippians chapter 1. Let's pause and pray. Father, we do pray that You would help us now. Help us to understand the words that have been written by Paul, ultimately by Your Spirit. And Father, we pray that You would speak to each one who has come, those who are watching on the internet, or listening by radio. Father we do pray that we would be changed into the image, Lord, into Your purpose, Your plan for us, in Jesus' name. Amen. Philippians chapter 1 verse 1 and 2 read, "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons; Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the most misunderstood words in all of the Christian language is a word found in verse 1. It's the word saint. Now I grew up hearing a lot about saints in the church that I was raised in. But I always thought a saint was a dead person who was made into a statue.
I didn't understand what the biblical significance or definition of a saint was. Now the way it turns out is you won't get much help from the Webster's dictionary. If you want to find out what a saint is, according to Webster's dictionary, it is not the same according to the New Testament. Webster's dictionary defines a saint as someone officially recognized through canonization as being preeminent for holiness. Second definition according to Webster, it's one of the spirits of the departed who are now in heaven. In other words, according to Webster's dictionary, a saint is a near perfect person now dead in heaven. Well how did all that come about? It came about throughout church history when early on, third century, fourth century a.d., because the persecution was so rampant. The killing of Christians was so rampant that it was believed that anybody who died as a Christian martyr would be declared a saint. But then as time went on the Vatican in Rome decided there needs to be a process so that unworthy people don't get declared saints. So they came up with a process of canonization.
Now if you want to become a saint, according to that process, there's a few things you have to do. Number one, you have to die and wait five years. During that time, a local devotional group grows up around your memory. They discuss your life and they want to emulate things about you. That's number one. Number two, your life is then investigated by local bishops to see if you are worthy of the title saint. Number three, your case is sent to the Vatican to a special group called the congregation for the causes of the saints. There is a group called that. They will review your case.
Number four, people start praying to you for a miracle, so you better cough one up. They start praying to you for a miracle. If the miracle occurs, it is investigated. Fifth, the Vatican, if the miracle is legit, the Vatican then declares you blessed and officially declares that you are in heaven. Though, by now, you've known that for some time. And you are then given a feast day to celebrate your life. A special note, if you were a martyr, you will skip all the intermediate steps and just be declared blessed. And then sixth, if you can do another miracle, that'll push you over the edge. Now you will be canonized a saint, declared officially a saint, and you will be in what is called the great communion of the saints. That's how you become a saint according to the Vatican. That's an elaborate process. It's going to take you some time. I've got a better idea. Trust in Jesus Christ now and skip the line.
That is a New Testament idea of a saint. The New Testament-- the New Testament knows nothing of canonizing a dead person. It knows everything about recognizing a living person. You see, Paul the Apostle writes to saints in the book of Philippians chapter 1. He writes to saints in the book of Romans chapter 1. He writes to saints in the book of Colossians chapter 1. And he writes to the Corinthians and he calls them saints. If you know anything about Corinth, or the Corinthian church, you know that the term saint has a latitude then. Saints who are at Corinth. When Paul was writing these letters, he wasn't writing the dead people. It's not like he's the kid in Sixth Sense who said, "I see dead people." Paul was writing to living, breathing saints, those who are on the earth and declared to be God's people, set apart as God's people.
Not only is there an elaborate process of canonisation in that church, the church I grew up in that I have just mentioned, but there are saints that are given sort of jurisdiction over special areas in life. They're called patron saints. They're guardians of special areas. I grew up with us knowing about St. Christopher, the patron saint of travel, Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, St. Jude, the patron saint of difficult circumstances. But if you do a little research on this, and you'll find it interesting, you will find hundreds and hundreds of patron saints over virtually every possible category in life. Some are quite surprising. For example, there is saint Barbara, who is the patron saint of fireworks. There is saint Isidore of Seville, the patron saint of the internet. I kid you not, I had to triple check this at a few different sources to make sure I was accurate.
There is saint Drogo who is the patron saint of unattractive people.
Hey, everybody needs a saint.
And then there is saint Genesius of Rome, who is the patron saint of actors and comedians. And we all know they need a lot of help.
Now most people do not associate sainthood with what we noted last week as the theme of this letter which is joy. When most people think of a saint, they think of somebody sort of gloomy and sad and serious, like all those saints portrayed in ancient Christian art. So allow me, with you, to look back at Philippians chapter 1. And let me give you some qualities that describe a Biblical saint, a Biblical saint. First quality Is this, a saint is somebody who belongs to two spheres, two spheres. Look at, in verse 1, "Paul and Timothy, bondsman's of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi." They are in Christ, that's the first address. They're in Philippi, that's the second address.
So think of it this way, God's people have dual citizenship. We live here. We live here on this earth. But according to Paul, we live and move and have our being in Him. So I have a physical address here in town. I also have a spiritual address in Christ. And because of that I have an eventual address in heaven. So you may live at 1611 Comanche Court Northeast. That's your physical address. Jesus said, "In My Father's house there are many mansions, and I'm going there to prepare a place for you. So you might live on earth, but you long for heaven. You dwell on earth, but you're destined for glory, as we will read about when we get to chapter 3, whenever that will be. In verse 20 Paul will say, "for our citizenship is in heaven. " So it's good, and we'll look at each address a little deeper in a moment. But it's good to think of yourself as having two addresses, living in this world with two different spheres, in Christ, but in wherever I live, Albuquerque.
Now let me say a word to those of you who consider yourself as living only in one address, a physical address. You're bound to this earth. You live for the pleasures of this earth. You are not in Christ, and you have no intention of ever being in Christ. You are content to go to church from time to time to take part in whatever your family wants to, but you're not weak like those members of your family that have accepted Jesus Christ. You're content with just living for the here and now. If that is your stance, if that is your posture, then let me just encourage you to make sure that you suck all of the pleasure you can out of your earthly address because it's the last good time you'll ever have. You might as well get all the gusto right now, right here, and just take every ounce of fun you can out of it. But Paul believed that he could live in the sphere of the here and now, but also in Christ, knowing that he would be in heaven and it would add a fuller life. And that's what brought him joy.
Look at the spiritual address mentioned in verse 1, "to all the saints in Christ Jesus." Now 87 times in your New Testament is that phrase "in Christ Jesus." It's repeated over and over. We are in Christ Jesus, which means simply, we are united to His life. The life of Jesus Christ is in you. And so when Jesus prayed in John 17 to His Father He said, "Father, I in You and You in Me that they," his followers, "may be one in Us." It's very unique to the Christian life to say you are in Christ. You will never find a Buddhist saying I am in Buddha. They'll follow the teachings of that leader, but they're not in Buddha. You'll never hear a Muslim saying I'm in Mohammad. Or a Mormon saying I'm in Joseph Smith or I'm in Brigham Young. Or a Jehovah Witness saying I'm in Charles Taze Russell. Or a Christian Science saying I'm in Mary Baker Eddy. But you'll find a Christian, like Paul, saying you are in Christ Jesus. You share the same life as Him.
Galatians chapter 2 verse 20 Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me." So what that means is though we are in this world we're not of this world because we're in Christ. You see when you're in this world and you're in Christ, you're in this world, but not of this world. Which means as you live in this world you live with a light touch, a light touch in this world, because you're only passing through it. It's not your permanent home. It's simply transitory. It's temporary. You're on your way to something far better.
I want you listen to a portion of a letter written from the second century a.d. to a man by the name of Diognetus, who was actually the tutor of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor. And this letter to him was describing Christians that were the new phenomenon in the Roman Empire. This author says to this unbelieving Roman government official these words, "Christians are not marked out from the rest of mankind by their country, or by their speech, or by their customs. They dwell in cities both Greek and barbarian, as each has his own lot, following the customs of the region in clothing and in food and in outward things of life generally, yet they manifest the wonderful and openly paradoxical character of their own state. They inhabit the lands of their birth, but as temporary residents thereof. And they take their share of all their responsibilities as citizens and endure all the disabilities as aliens. Every foreign land is their native land, and every native land is as a foreign land. They pass their days upon the earth, but their citizenship is in heaven." What a testimony. They live responsibly here, but their citizenship is in heaven.
That's important because some have accused Christians of being so heavenly minded they're no earthly good. And to that Paul would say, well you haven't understood the next part of the address. They're not only in Christ Jesus, but notice what it says in verse 1, who are in Philippi. In other words, on this earth, you happen to be citizens of the Roman Empire in the Roman colony called the city of Philippi. So we are residents of two realms. In this case, if we were in Philippi, we're in Christ, but in Philippi. So because we're residents of two realms, we should live responsible in both realms. Be responsible citizens in Christ and in Philippi. Jesus prayed this, "my prayer--", praying to his Father in John 17, "my prayer is not that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one." Please understand his heart cry. Father, don't take them out of this world, just keep them from the evil one while they're in this world. In other words, Jesus never intended for you to live in a cave, or a monastery as a hermit, and to be un-involved and disassociated from your world and your society.
In fact, Jesus said this, and it must have startled his disciples. Jesus said, "behold, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves." if I heard that, I would have said, "why?" You don't love me very much if You want to send me You sheep in the midst of wolves. You must-- You must be cruel. No, He's kind. He loves wolves so much that sending His sheep out in the midst of them may turn some of those wolves into some of His sheep. That's the purpose of it.
But this then becomes a struggle to us. Part of our struggle is knowing how to balance both passports. I'm in Christ, but I'm in Albuquerque. I'm in Christ, but I'm in Philippi. So we have responsibilities to both. How do we balance that? One of the ways we balance it is make sure that you are talking to Christ about your Philippi, and talking to Philippi about your Christ. When you talk to Jesus, when you pray to Him, tell him about your neighbors, your neighborhood, your city, the problems in your city. Pray about where you live. And then tell your Philippi about your Christ. Tell people who don't know the Lord about what following Jesus is like. That will keep you and I in the balance of carrying responsibly two passports in this dual citizenship in which we live. We're responsible to him, but we're responsible in our culture.
Back in the days of what is called the Jesus movement, I always feel like I need to explain that nowadays because that's so old from memory, the Jesus movement was a phenomenon in the 60s and 70s were by thousands upon thousands of young people were coming to Christ in droves, especially on the west coast. It was a phenomenon. But we all believed that Jesus was coming soon. I still believe that. But we believed what that man is He's coming so soon, might as well just do nothing, just sit around and wait for him. Just enjoy yourself because He'll be here, well, any minute. So it created a lot of people who were irresponsible. And I remember when I announced to some of my friends that I was going to go to college. And they go, college? Jesus will come back before you graduate from college. I said, well, if he does He'll find me a college. And last time I checked, colleges need to hear about Jesus. They're not like the bastion of righteousness and goodness. I feel colleges need a good witness, so that's where I'm going to be. And if He comes back before I am done, fine.
Jesus said He was coming, but He also said occupy until I come. Stay responsible. Stay busy. Stay involved. Stay engaged. So we are in Christ, but we are in Philippi, a saint belongs to two spheres. There is a second quality of a saint, a New Testament saint, a saint behaves submissively. In other words a saint is a servant. Again notice in verse 1, I know I touched on it last week. But there's always more in a verse, you know, so I did one verse last week, I'm doing verse 1 and 2 this week. But just look at that word. Paul and Timothy, bond servants of Jesus Christ. Don't you love how Paul introduces himself? He didn't say, Paul and Timothy, big wigs. Or Dr. Paul and Dr. Timothy, eminent theologians writing to you low lifers in Philippi who really don't know theology like I do. He came as low as you can get. We are bond slaves of Jesus Christ.
Now Paul is writing as a slave, as a servant, to saints. But look at it this way, he's writing as a servant to servants. You see throughout this book he is going to encourage them to become like Him. Chapter 2 he's going to say let this mind be in you which was also even in Jesus Christ, who being in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be the same-- on the same par as God. But He emptied himself and became a bond servant. So be servants like Jesus was a servant and like I am His servant. So he's writing as a servant to servants.
Now when they heard the term bond slave or bondservant, it sounded different to their ears than it does to our ears. We have eradicated slavery in our culture. In the Roman Empire slavery was 40% of the population still. 40% of people in the Roman Empire were owned by other human beings at that time. But it was an enforced kind of a slavery. They were often despised and slaves were regarded as simply a piece of property. Now there was a slavery even in Judaism in the religious sector. But if you know your Old Testament you know that you could have a slave for six years. You had to treat them very kindly and then on the seventh year you released them.
But if the slave loved the master, you remember there was a ceremony? The slave could say no, no, no, I want to serve my Master for the rest of my life. Well the ceremony was you take your slave to the doorpost and you run a spike through his earlobe. Or an awl, like you'd get an earring, you pierce it. And you would designate that person is a servant voluntarily for life. That's the idea of a New Testament bondservant. I'm a bondservant of Jesus not because I have to. I signed up for this, I want to. A voluntary bondservant bound willfully to Christ.
Now this is important terminology because there is another New Testament term that you hear a lot, or read a lot in the New Testament, is the word redeem. Christians are fond of saying, "I'm redeemed." We don't always understand what it means. Redeem, used 20 times in the New Testament, means to go to the slave market, and pay a price for that slave, releasing that slave from the slave market to be your slave. So here's what redeem means. When you say I'm redeemed by Jesus, it doesn't mean I'm set free to be me. I'm set free so I can do whatever I want, no. You are redeemed from the slave market to be a slave of Jesus. You're called to a higher slavery, that's what it means.
Romans chapter 6 Paul says, "Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching that God has given you. Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness." So being a believer means you've defected. You ran away from your old master, sin, used by Satan to keep you bound, keep you in fetters. You ran from that to a higher form of slavery. To willingly obey Him, that's what surrendering your life to Jesus means. You are free to be His slave, bondservants of Jesus Christ.
I've always loved the story about the husband and wife, they were talking about going to the Holy Land on a tour, and the husband got all amped, got so excited. "Say, I can't wait, let's go, come on let's go to Israel, let's go to the Holy Land." And he said, "can you imagine standing on Mount Sinai and just shouting the 10 commandments." And his wife, not so excited to go and wanting to save a little bit of money, she goes, "I think it would be better if we just stayed home and kept the 10 commandments." Now I don't want to give that little illustration to dissuade you if you want to sign up for our tour going to Israel.
Now I think you can do both. I think you can obey them at home but then go see it and shout it from that mountain. So being a saint then is not having an emotional goosebump. Being a saint is having a submissive heart. That's part of sainthood. It's a living, breathing person who lives in two spheres, in Christ, in Philippi, but is submissive to the commands of Christ. Jesus said, if you love Me, you'll keep My commandments.
You know one of the things I love about you is your excitement and worship. Some of you are very, very excited and emotional in worship. And I always think that God is the most worthy being in the universe and should be told so, and our expression shouldn't be lackluster, it should be all in. However, it's not how high you jump, it's how straight you walk when you hit the ground. It's wonderful to get all excited about worship, but it's better when you get more excited about doing what He said to do. That's a saint. A saint behaves submissively.
There is a third quality I want you to notice. A saint believes in the Scriptures. A saint believes in the Scriptures. Now N not going to refer to a particular verse in verse 1 and 2, or word. I want you to step back for a moment from these two verses and consider the whole book of Philippians, for just a moment, the whole book, a letter. Paul wrote four chapters, 104 verses to be exact, in our bibles. And that is the letter to the Philippian church. It's a short letter, or a moderately sized letter, piece of correspondence. Now when they received the letter, you know what they did? They read it. Ah, but they didn't just read it, they obeyed it. And then they did something else, they circulated it to other congregations. You know why they did that? It wasn't just because Paul wrote it. They actually believed that what Paul was writing was from God. That it was the Scripture. That we apply it and we share it and we use it in discipleship. Because we believe that the writings of Paul, they believe from an early stage on, was directly from the Lord.
So when Peter writes his letter in 2nd Peter, he refers to Paul's writings as Scripture. The Thessalonian church, Paul noted to them, when you received my teaching you received it not just as human words, but as it is in fact, the very Word of God. And Paul believed, he was confident, that he wrote with God's authority. Now look at verse 2, "grace and peace to you," notice the authority base behind him, "from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Now all of that to say this, saints are not people who glow in the dark. Saints are not people who live perfect lives. Saints are not people who go through an elaborate canonization process over years. Saints are people who believe that God has no problem superintending the writing of a book. God has no problem making sure that human authors like Paul and Peter and John wrote what the Divine Author intended. So that the words of these authors can at the same time be the very Word of God. Because that's how the early church took it, this is God's Word to us. A saint believes the Scriptures.
Now I know there are no patron saints, but if there were, I'd want to be the patron saint of Bible readers. I love people who love their Bibles. I love people who ask Bible questions. I love people who are always immersed in the things of God and the Scriptures. I've been reading the Bible now for 44 years, and every single time I open my Bible I find something to wow over. I didn't notice that. Look at that. Or trying to reorient myself to understand how it all fits together.
I did a funeral sometime back of a former staff member who was a former member of our pastoral staff. And he was a leader of a great group for years, a leader of the navigator's, great, great discipleship ministry. And he memorized whole portions of Scripture. I was always amazed sitting and talking to George and having him counsel, or just how well he knew the Scriptures. And it was a part of his everyday life. And he spent so much daily time, not only memorizing, but being able to communicate them. So I did his funeral, and after I was done with the funeral, his family walked up to me and handed me this-- his Bible, his Bible. I thought, oh man, this is-- you sure you want me to have it? He goes, oh George would want you to have it. So I have his Bible and as I received it with humility I thought how much of this Book was stored in that man's heart? It was just a part of the fabric of his life. Which leads me to ask us all a question, what is your attitude toward the Book? Does the Book occupy a prominent position in your life? Is it the Book or is it a book? How important is it?
Now I will say this, your love for the Bible is directly proportional to your relationship to Its Author. Your love for the Bible is directly proportional to your relationship to Its Author, to God. Here's an example, there was a woman who bought a book from her bookstore, a local bookstore. She started reading a few pages, then a chapter. She couldn't make it past a chapter or two. She put the book down because she said it was dull, it was boring, she was done with it, until she met the author. She met the author, a friendship struck up, then a romantic relationship developed. They were both unattached, now they're romantically attached. Suddenly, she was looking for that book. And when she read that book it was a different book. She wanted to turn over every phrase and every sentence and wonder what did he mean by that and what's that experience about. What made the difference? Love, a love relationship, love was now the interpreter of that book.
And so let me just say this, what if from now on you saw the Bible as a love letter from God to you? If you started seeing the Bible as a love letter from God to you, I dare say we would all read It differently. We wouldn't just read in the Bible, we would feed on the Bible. What did He mean by that? What is that phrase all about? What's this experience? So a saint believes in the Scriptures.
And here's a fourth and final quality. A saint benefits spiritually, that's the second verse. Paul writes, "grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." He is wishing that they will experience God's grace and enjoy God's peace. Now I know, I know, this is a typical salutation. It's a typical ancient salutation. You could look up thousands of letters from antiquity, thousands of papyri fragments. And you will find a very similar orientation, which by the way, I like the way old letters were written like this. And here's why, it's going to sound kind of dumb, but they put their name, the author puts the name, at the beginning. You know when we write a letter we say, dear so and so, we write the letter, and at the very end we go, signed, and put our name. So what I do whenever I get a letter, what's the first thing I do? I turn it over to find out who it's from. So it's just awfully nice that we begin Paul and Timothy. Okay, now I know who wrote it. To the saints at Philippi, okay now I know who it's addressed to. It's all there in one little sentence.
But what Paul does is Paul combines greetings from the Western world and greetings from the Middle Eastern world, and combines them into one greeting. And then he tweaks it a little bit. Let me explain that. The common Greek greeting 2000 years ago in the Greek speaking world was the word rejoice. Rejoice. Chara they would say in Greek. Chara, you'd see somebody, chara, rejoice. In the Middle East, in Israel, when you saw somebody you'd say peace. Shalom. Hello and goodbye. Shalom. Shalom. So what Paul does is he combines the Western chara and shalom, puts them together, but he changes the word rejoice chara into a very similar word, charis, which is grace.
Not just rejoice, but grace and peace. These are called the Siamese twins of the New Testament, because you always find them together. You always find grace and peace together, and the order is never reversed. You'll never find peace and grace. You know why that is? Because it's grace that produces peace. God's grace produces peace. When you have experienced the grace of God you start experiencing the peace of God. Grace is the fountain, peace is the stream that flows from the fountain of grace.
So let me ask you, do you have peace today? Is there peace in your heart? Because if there is not peace in your heart could it be that you've not experienced the grace of God? Did you know that Caesar Augustus, the Emperor of Rome, once heard that there was a man in that city of Rome who, though he had many problems in life and was sky high in debt, slept like a baby every night. And that intrigued the Caesar. So he demanded that that man be brought before him. And when he did, Caesar offered to buy that man's bed.
He thought that was the answer to a good night's sleep. It's a Tempur-Pedic mattress. It's the right Sleep Number. But that is not the answer. The ability to sleep with a clear conscience and a heart at ease comes from understanding the grace of God. And that settles the peace. Romans 5 verse 1, "Therefore, we have been justified through faith," that's God's grace, "and so we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," grace and then peace.
So news flash, if you're a believer in Jesus Christ this morning, if you belong to Christ, you are saint. You can nudge your wife and go I'm a saint.
Remember that, husband, I'm a saint.
So it's perfectly appropriate if you want to call me saint Skip from now on.
Just saying, it's got a ring to it.
Biblical. Somebody asked a little boy if he knew what a saint was. And the little boy was raised in a traditional church and all he knew were stained glass windows. He goes I know what a saint is, it's a person the light shines through. He's on to something, isn't he? The light of the Gospel, the light of Christ, shines through you. Imperfect perhaps, certainly, but the light shines through. So you and I, we are saints in Christ Jesus, in Philippi or Albuquerque or wherever we might live.
Now the word saint means holy or the most holy thing. Hagios. And I know you're going, "yeah man I don't feel that way." And your wife's going, "and you don't act that way." But I want you to know God sees you that way. And the reason God sees you that way is because you are in Christ. So you might want to think of it this way, God sees you through rose colored glasses. God sees you through blood stained glasses. Because of what Jesus did for you on the cross, He sees you in Christ, and He sees you as righteous. Not because of what you've done, but because of what He's done. He sees you through rose colored glasses. And He says you're a Saint.
So when you think about it then, there's really only two kinds of people in the world, saints and ain'ts. You're either a Saint or you ain't. And I hope He is.
Father, thank You for the clear and uplifting reality that those who trust in You are regarded by You as saints, set apart, wholly different, unique. Because You see as in Christ Jesus, You see us through blood stained glasses. We are Yours. Imperfect, yes. But we are Yours. We live in two spheres, carrying two different passports, submitting willingly to You, believing Your Word in the Scriptures, and enjoying the benefits, great peace brought on by great grace, amazing grace. And that produces a joy.
Lord, I pray that You would show us more and more that being indentured servants to You, being slaves of Christ, brings the highest freedom possible. In Jesus' name, amen.
As believers, we're living saints too. Did the message impact your relationship with Christ? Let us know. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calgary Albuquerque.