YOU BEEN CANONIZED YET?”
1. If you have your Bible with you, turn to Revelation chapter 19. When you find the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book of the Bible, and then when you find chapter 19, I would like you to stand for the reading of God’s blessed Word.
2. In Revelation 19.11-21 we read John’s vision of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, in power and in great glory:
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
3. My friends, John’s description of this astonishing event, as yet future, will be glorious for those who are Christians, and will be horrifying for those who are not Christians. Victory for Christ and His Own, destruction for His foes and those who tried to pretend they were neutral.
4. But I am most keen, this morning, for you to look at the passage leading up the one we have just read, verses 5-10:
5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
5. We have read a great deal of scripture this morning, but I wanted you to see with your own eyes, as well as hear with your own ears, what God’s Word says leading up to the second coming of my Lord Jesus Christ. Pay particular attention to verses 7-8, the marriage of the Lamb, and his wife. The bride of Christ is in this passage the wife of the Lord Jesus, “arrayed in fine linen,” which “is the righteousness of saints.”
6. My friends, those who are Christians in this present era in which we live comprise that group of individuals termed by John the Baptist and the apostle John “the bride of Christ.” But once “the bride of Christ” is actually married to the Lord Jesus Christ (understanding that this is all figurative language describing certain aspects of Christians’ relationship with the Savior) that same group of people are become the “wife” of Jesus Christ.
7. What else do we notice in Revelation 19.8? We notice that the wife of Christ is arrayed in fine linen, which is also referred to as the righteousness of saints. Thus, Christians (who make up the bride of Christ) will be in heaven with Jesus Christ just before His second coming. They will then have become the wife of Christ. And they are also designated saints. This word “saint” is a word you need to be familiar with.
8. Did you know that the word “Christian” is found only twice in the Bible? The plural, “Christians,” is found once. The most frequently used word to describe those who are right with God, whether they be believers during the Old Testament era, or so-called Christians of the New Testament era, is this word “saint,” which translates the Hebrew and Greek word for holy.
9. Please set your Bible aside so I can have your undivided attention. I will read the remaining verses I refer to this morning to you. Some people think only super Christians are saints, but the Word of God shows that all Christians, each and every person who is a real Christian, is actually a saint of God. The extended passage we have just read clearly shows this to be true.
10. I illustrate the truth of this using some old fashioned common sense. In Romans 1.7, Paul wrote, “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus, since a person is shown by this verse to be called to sainthood at the time he is called to the Christian life, it is clear that a person does not become a saint by living a life superior to all other Christians. O, no. Every real Christian is a saint from the moment he enters the Christian life, otherwise Paul’s words here, and in other verses I do not have time to read to you, make no sense.
11. Here is another illustration: In Romans 12.13, Paul encouraged good Christian conduct when he wrote, “Distributing to the necessity of saints.” Either the apostle Paul is advocating that the Christians in Rome meet the material needs of only the super Christians in their midst (which would show favoritism and would be very unchristian behavior), or every Christian is a saint who deserves help in time of need.
12. Let me give you one more illustration, from Romans 15.25, where Paul mentioned his planned relief effort to take money to feed starving Christians. He wrote, “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.” Was Paul going to feed only the super Christians and letting the ordinary Christians starve to death? That would be the meaning of the verse if only super Christians were saints. But if every real Christian is a saint, then Paul’s words make good sense, and his relief effort was aimed at all the starving Christians in the region.
13. Why do you think there is such confusion about who is and who is not a saint according to the Bible? I am sure that much of the confusion arises from the fact that since so many people think you get to heaven by being good, they must also think that saints are those who arrive in heaven flying first class while the rest of us fly coach. But the bottom line is that people’s beliefs do not come from the Bible. Instead, they take the word of a religious teacher who is not loyal to God’s Word.
14. Allow me to address this issue of sainthood for a few minutes, before I bring this morning’s sermon. Because of time constraints, it will be needful for me to limit our focus to only four aspects of sainthood found in the body of Scripture.
1A. First, THE NATURE OF SAINTS
Can I put to rest a couple of false notions about what saints are like? Four verses, three from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament:
Job 15.15: “Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.”
Psalm 132.9: “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.”
Psalm 132.16: “I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.”
Revelation 14.12: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
1B. How are we to reconcile the fact that Job tells us that saints are untrustworthy and not truly clean in God’s sight, yet John informs us that saints keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?
2B. Simple. And also the reason why the saints shout for joy, Psalm 132.9 and 16. A saint is a sinner who has been blessed by God to become a holy one, a saint. But holy, when the word is applied to one of God’s creatures, has to do with being set aside for God’s use. Only when the word holy is used to describe God does the word refer to innate purity and cleanness.
3B. So you see, while a saint is a person who is sinful by experience just like everyone else, he is also a person who has been so affected by God in some way that he keeps God’s commands (albeit not perfectly). So thrilled is the saint that he is experiencing the undeserved blessings of God, that he is allowed to worship God in a way that those who are not saints are not privileged to worship God, that he shouts for joy at the thought of it. Amen. Do you ever shout for joy at the thought of it?
2A. Next, THE CONFIDENCE OF THE SAINTS
It is not unusual for saints to be judged as arrogant or cocky by unbelievers. But such conclusions about saints are oftentimes wrong, not because the child of God is self-assured, but because the saint is God-assured. Listen to the numerous reasons for a saint’s confidence given in scripture:
1B. First Samuel 2.9: “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.” No one succeeds in anything by personal strength, least of all the saint. On the contrary, the saint knows that God will keep his feet from falling.
2B. Psalm 34.9: “O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.” Of course, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. But this verse reassures the saint that God supplies their every need.
3B. Psalm 37.28: “For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” Two things in this verse: First, the LORD will not forsake His saints. What a great comfort to get you through discouragement. And second, saints are preserved forever. “The seed of the wicked,” on the other hand (those whose are not saints) “shall be cut off.”
4B. Psalm 97.10: “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” Another wonderful verse. The souls of saints are preserved by God, and He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
5B. Proverbs 2.8: “He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.” Yet another verse that shows God as the One responsible to watch out for His saints.
6B. Romans 8.27: “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” As if the saint does not already have good cause for feeling eternally secure and spiritually safe, this verse shows the Holy Spirit’s ministry of intercession on his behalf. Imagine, the Spirit of the living God interceding on your behalf if you are a saint.
7B. Finally, Revelation 13.10 refers to “the patience and the faith of the saints.” Faith has to do with confidence and trust. Patience has to do with courageous endurance of difficult circumstances. Bottom line? Saints are not self-confident. Rather we are confident that our God, our heavenly Father, works on our behalf to protect us and to deliver us from harm.
3A. Third, THE GATHERING OF THE SAINTS
Some people have the naive delusion that saints are isolated and independent fellows, who commune with nature and not each other. But saints have always been those who gather together. It is our history, our present practice, and our future destiny. So, while God’s general will for lost mankind is to spread out over the earth, His plan for the saints has always been to congregate.
1B. Psalm 89.5: “And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.” This verse shows that God is faithful to His Own, but of interest to us now is “the congregation of the saints.” Saints congregate. That is, we gather together.
2B. Psalm 89.7: “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” Again, a verse about assembling. But notice that the assembly is “about him.” That is, God is at the center of our assembly, the focus of our attention and worship.
3B. Psalm 116.15: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Why is the death of a saint precious? Because death ushers the saint into the presence of God, because death removes the saint from the presence of sin, because death is the door for the saint to the fulness of his salvation, and because death is the means God has chosen to finally and completely gather all His saints together in one place in heaven.
4B. Psalm 149.1: “Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.” Again, a verse showing that God’s plan for every saint is the assembly, the gathering, the congregation.
5B. Psalm 149.5: “Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.” The reason saints sing aloud upon their beds is because their own deaths will transport them to glory. And in glory we will be gathered around God and gathered with the other saints.
6B. Daniel 7.18: “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” You see, heaven is not the eternal destiny of the saints, but is only the temporary gathering place. In eternity we will “possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”
Finally, THE COMING OF THE SAINTS
Saints have always died. And until the Lord Jesus Christ comes, saints will always die. Only those caught up in the Rapture and those alive at the second coming of Christ will bypass the portal of physical death. And when a saint dies he goes to heaven. But will saints remain in heaven forever? No.
1B. Zechariah 14.5: “And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.”
1C. This verse sounds very much like the Lord Jesus Christ’s prediction of His Own return in Matthew 24. And it should, because Zechariah 14.5 has for its subject the coming of “the LORD my God” with all of His saints.
2C. But who will come with all of His saints? The Lord Jesus Christ, of course.
2B. Jude 14-15: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
1. Saints are not super Christians. Whether they lived on earth during the Old Testament dispensation, or are what we normally think of as New Testament era Christians, saints are quite simply God’s children.
2. Not everyone is a saint. Saints have a relationship with God that others do not have. And though saints are not sinless, we do tend to keep God’s commandments, however imperfectly.
3. We have also seen that saints have a confidence that those who are not saints do not have, a confidence that sometimes provokes us to shout for joy. Ours is a confidence in God that those who are not saints do not have, while those who are not saints have a confidence in their own selves that we saints do not have.
4. The third thing that we noticed is that saints are all about gathering. These days saints gather in the assembly of the New Testament Baptist church. In the future saints will be gathered into heaven.
5. And when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth in power and great glory His saints will return with Him, something Enoch began to predict more than four thousand years ago. That was the fourth thing we noticed about the saints.
6. So, you have now been through the short course on the subject of sainthood. Saints are Christians. Christians are saints. Our nature is different from non-Christians, in that we obey God. Our confidence is in God and not ourselves. We predictably gather to worship and serve, and we who are saints will all be gathered in heaven someday. And then we will come again . . . with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus will come again, and we who are saints will come with Him.
7. Now, brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song before this morning’s sermon.
1. There are two distinct classes of people in God’s economy, those who are saints and those who I will call aints.
2. A saint is by definition a holy one, set apart for God’s exclusive use. As Peter reiterated in First Peter 1.16, “Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
3. But if holy has to do with separateness, does that mean a saint can and will indiscriminately sin like the hypocrites do, like the unsaved do, like those who are damned do, like those who are not saints do?
4. No. The writer to the Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 12 that we are to be “partakers” of God’s holiness, Hebrews 12.10, and that we should “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,” Hebrews 12.14.
5. So, my holiness, my saintliness, only gradually moves toward a likeness of God’s holiness over time. It is never perfected during this lifetime, making it impossible for sainthood to be anything like it is typically envisioned by the liturgical religions in all their formalism and tradition.
6. How clearly this is illustrated in the apostle Paul’s own experience, where, in Philippians 3.12-13, he makes reference to his own life experiences with these comments: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” and “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended.”
7. So you see, the difference between the typical conception of sainthood and what the Bible teaches is inescapable. Therefore, I suggest that you consciously wipe the slate of your mind clean and consider this subject of sainthood afresh and anew:
1A. First, CONSIDER THE DESTINY OF THE SAINTS
1B. Saints are distinguished, among other things, by their destiny. Saints are bound for heaven. All saints are bound for heaven. There is no such thing as a saint who is not heaven-bound.
2B. Remember from Revelation 19.8, the wife of the Lamb of God, saints, will all someday be in heaven. In heaven, where the bride of Christ becomes the wife of the Lamb, is not the final destiny of the saints.
3B. You see, the Lord Jesus Christ will someday return to earth to reclaim from the devil what is rightly His . . . everything. And when King Jesus returns the saints will return with Him.
2A. Next, THE DESTINY OF THE AINTS
1B. Only a few will ever be saints, but those few will be every Christian, since a Christian is, by definition, a saint. The reason there will be so few saints is because there will be so few Christians. Remember, from Matthew 7.14, that the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking of eternal life, declared, “few there be that find it.” So, only a few of all those who have ever lived, will be Christians, will be saints.
2B. What then of the aints? The aints are those who are not saints. While the saints are few, the aints are many. While the saints go to heaven, the aints go to Hell. And while the saints will come from heaven back to earth to rule and reign with Jesus Christ, the aints will descend even further, from Hell all the way down to the lake of fire, to be tormented forever.
3A. BUT WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SAINTS AND THE AINTS?
1B. Second Thessalonians 1.10 clearly shows us. It reads, “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.”
1C. The Lord Jesus Christ will come to be glorified in His saints, to be admired in all them that believe. This verse is saying the same thing twice.
2C. As glorifying the Savior is the same as admiring Him, so the reference to saints is the same as the reference to them that believe, or to them that have faith.
2B. Second Thessalonians 3.2 clearly states that not everyone has faith. Thus, the real difference between the saints and the aints is a matter of faith. Saints have faith in Christ and aints do not have faith in Christ.
3B. But that is only the starting point:
1C. Saints have faith in Christ, it is true, while aints do not have faith in Christ.
2C. Additionally, saints experience the love of God in a way aints do not.
3C. Being indwelt by the Spirit of God, saints know the joy of sins forgiven, while aints do not.
4C. With sins forgiven, saints live lives that are relatively guilt free, while aints are weighed down by their sins and afflicted by both a seared conscience and a hardened heart.
5C. Saints know the utter delight of communion with God and fellowship with other saints in the congregation, while aints are like those far away from a winter camp fire . . . bystanders who are too far away from the warmth of communion to experience it, but close enough to crave it.
4B. If you go back to our text for today, Revelation 19.6-9, you will be reminded that the saints “are arrayed in fine linen, clean and white.” The linen speaks of righteousness. And it is a garment that is worn. Here is the explanation:
1C. No saint is clean in and of himself in the sight of God. No saint is righteous and holy by personal experience. The righteousness the saint enjoys comes from Another, for it is the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
2C. Imagine the sinner as naked and foul, defiled by his own sins. That is you. Wretched from the stench of your own sins.
3C. If you come to be so persuaded of your sinfulness that you will look outside yourself for relief, fixing your faith on the One Who shed His blood for sins, He will forgive your sins and will clothe you in His Own righteousness as He washes your sins away in His Own blood.
4C. This experience is such a miracle, is so transforming, that old things are passed away and a saint comes to be from what was an aint, with a new status before God and a new destiny for all eternity.
1. Liturgical religions, with all their rituals and hide bound traditions, pretend that saints are the result of a long procedure of formally recognizing someone who was so much better than anyone else. That formal recognition they call canonizing.
2. In the Bible, however, an aint becomes a saint through simple faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, there is no formal ritual that needs to be dramatized, no court of canon law that needs to adjudicate any intricate ordinance, and certainly no bureaucracy that passes judgment on your qualifications for sainthood.
3. The necessary qualification for sainthood is sinfulness! You see, it is sinners that Jesus died for, and it is sinners that come to Christ and are made saints. This means that the true canonization, the Bible canonization that makes an aint into a saint is the new birth.
4. Have you been canonized yet? If not, why don’t we sit down with an open Bible and see what God says about you coming to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of all your sins, so you might become a saint, and so you will no longer be an aint.
1  John 3.29; Revelation 21.9; 22.17