Study 2 SAINTS
CALLED BY A NEW NAME
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Ephesians 1: 18 – 2: 22
Over and over again God describes His people as ‘saints’. Many of the New Testament letters are addressed “To the saints…” (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1). The word ‘saint’ simply means ‘holy one’, and it occurs over one hundred times in the Bible; for instance, 1 Samuel 2:9; Psalm 116:15; Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 6:2. But who are the ‘saints’? Every Christian is a saint. It’s impossible to be a Christian and not be a saint. What is a Christian? – he is someone into whose life the Lord Jesus Christ has entered (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27; Revelation 3:20). In the same way a saint is someone into whose life Christ Himself has come to live.
There is a great difference between God’s way of making a saint and man’s way. Man chooses someone who has lived a good life or performed good works, and years after death that one is canonised. We have no scriptural authority for this. On the other hand, when a sinner comes to Christ, abandons his old way of living, and trusts in the Lord Jesus alone for salvation, God makes him a saint. Take a Concordance and go through the Bible to study this.
What then does being a saint mean? What are the characteristics? Three are mentioned in the Letter to the Ephesians: Ephesians 1:18; 2:10 and 2:22.
1. THE SAINTS ARE GOD’S PROPERTY (Ephesians 1:18)
This verse could read, ‘We are Gods possession…’ or ‘God’s investment’. In a sense this is true of all people everywhere, as Ezekiel 18:4 tells us. But God has a great deal of lost property, and there are many who belong to Him in that He is their creator, provider and sustainer, who have never returned to Him and acknowledged His ownership. All men are God’s property in a creative sense, but the saints belong to Him in a redemptive sense as well. A little boy made a boat and then lost it. Later he saw it in a shop window and went in and bought it. He was then heard to say to his boat, ‘You’re twice mine – first because I made you and then because I bought you!’ This is exactly what the Lord says of all His saints. We are doubly His – His by creation and His by redemption – look up and compare Genesis 1:26 with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
2. THE SAINTS ARE GOD’S WORKMANSHIP (Ephesians 2:10)
God is working in our lives, and four pictures are suggested from the Old Testament:-
- (1) A picture of the METAL WORKER (Exodus 39:3), where we read, “They hammered out thin sheets of gold…” That is exactly what God is doing with us. He is taking our lives and making them into something useful and worthwhile.
- (2) A picture of the CORN GRINDER (Leviticus 2:14). How very worthwhile it is to grind the corn to make flour! In the same way God is working in our lives to produce something worthwhile for His glory.
- (3) A picture of the EMBROIDERER (Psalm 45:14). God is seeking to put a pattern upon our lives. When He first makes saints the material of our lives is very plain, but as we yield to Him He puts His pattern upon us, stitch by stitch, and so He forms the design which will one day be completed (Philippians 1:6).
- (4) A picture of the POTTER (Jeremiah 18:1-5). He sits at the wheel with the shapeless clay in His hands, intending to make an article that is both useful and beautiful that He may possess for His glory. We are the clay and He is the Potter and He wants to shape us into something beautiful and useful.
3. THE SAINTS ARE GOD’S DWELLING (Ephesians 2:22)
Every saint is one in whom God lives. Look up John 14:23; Ephesians 2:21-22, so what is the practical result of all this?
- (1) If I am God’s property I must take great care of it. My life, my body, all that constitutes ‘me’, belongs to the Lord now, so I must not wilfully or carelessly damage or hurt it because I am only the tenant and He is the owner (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Notice the word ‘therefore’ and the words which follow. You see, there are usually certain restrictions with property! When you buy a house there are things you cannot do with it, and this is also true with God’s saints. There are restrictions of love He imposes on all who belong to Him, and our desire should be to do only those things that please Him (John 14:15).
- (2) If I am God’s handiwork I must not hinder His work in me. He may be working in my life as the Metal Worker: this surely will involve a good deal of hammering which might not be pleasant; He may be working as the Corn Grinder, and this will be a very humbling experience. His particular work just now may be more like the Embroiderer – gentle and quiet. Or, it may be that the pressure of His hands is upon me as He works as the Potter at the wheel… It is not pleasant to be beaten out, to be ground, to feel the pinpricks of the needle, or to be moulded – but it is always so worthwhile when the Lord Himself is the worker! Are we completely yielded to Him so that we may work out His good design in us and upon us?
- (3) If I am God’s temple I must keep it clean and give Him full access to it. Look up 2 Corinthians 6:16-17. God’s temple is holy and must not be polluted. Is there any pollution in you? Do you have a clean heart for worship (Psalm 51:10); clean feet for walk (Isaiah 52:11); clean hands for work (Psalm 24:4); and clean lips for witness (Isaiah 6:7)?