During my last post I wrote about the disciple’s pursuit: holiness. I suggested that as disciples of Jesus, we should pursue holiness; that is, we should desire to be more like Him. Paul expresses this desire in Philippians 3:10, notice what he says, “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.” Paul’s determined purpose is to know Jesus—to know Him in a deep intimate way. In fact, he wants to know Christ so well his desire is to “become like Him in His death.” That’s what pursuing holiness is all about, becoming more like Christ!
As I began to study Scripture and what it says about holiness, I noticed that holiness has two distinct aspects: positional holiness and practical holiness. During this post I will talk about the believer’s position as holy.
Believers are Called Saints
As I read and studied the Bible, particularly the epistles, I saw that when the writers address the church at large, they call believers “saints.” Now that confused me at first because being raised in the Catholic church, I never considered all believers to be saints. I thought that only a few “super Christians” were saints. And besides, they were all dead now! As I began to study more, I realized that all believers were saints. The writers of the New Testament called them saints because they were sanctified or “set apart” unto God. Notice Paul’s salutation in 1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours.” Notice that he calls these believers “sanctified in Christ Jesus,” and “called to be saints.” Now this is really interesting because as you study the book of 1 Corinthians, you discover that by their conduct and carnality, these believers at Corinth should be called anything but sanctified or holy. It becomes obvious that Paul is talking about the position, not their practice.
Believers are in Christ
As we have seen, the word saint (set apart ones) refers to all authentic believers. Why is that? It is because every believer is “in Christ.” All believers as saints are the “called out ones,” we have been called out of the world and into fellowship with Christ and His people. When we came to know Jesus, we were baptized (placed) by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:13.) Not only that, but God the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. What’s that mean? We are in Christ and He is in us in the presence and power of His Holy Spirit, and because of this, we are sanctified or set apart unto Him. We belong to Him and we are His! As the writer of Hebrews says, “…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Because of the power of the gospel we have been set apart unto God through Christ! This is our position. In the next post we will talk about the believer’s practical
If you’re really ready to take the plunge you could consider starting a discipleship group! The D-Group Starter Guide will help you get things rolling!
Pastors, equip your church members to disciple their kids and develop every other aspect of your discipleship ministry by checking out the Replicate Network.