>A lot of time and attention is focused on teaching and discussing the roles of biblical church leaders and ministry offices mentioned in the New Testament, such as the five-fold ministry offices, as well as bishops, deacons, and elders. Apostolic ministry depends greatly on the operation of these gifts and the biblical application of authority.
However, the real question is who should be the focus? Is the church’s role to produce outstanding apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers? Most certainly, the church that is alive and producing fruit will identify and train those upon whom these gifts and callings rest. But the mandate to the church is to create disciples, or saints, and I think we sometimes turn the picture upside down and backwards.
Consider this: The word “saint” or “saints” appears in the Bible 101 times in the King James version of the Bible, with definitions including holy, holy one, pious, godly, and good. The book of Psalms has the most mentions of the word “saints”, as this is the group that is exhorted over and over again to worship and fear God throughout the holy songs of Israel.
While I am not Catholic, I think looking at what sainthood requires in the Catholic church would put some perspective on what is should mean to be a saint. One is considered for sainthood only after death. The candidates life is scrutinized very carefully by the local bishop to make sure the life was pious and the teachings or writings of the candidate were doctrinally pure. The candidate is then referred to a council at the Vatican for consideration, and after this group agrees that the candidate is worthy, the individual is considered “venerable” and eligible for the second step. “Beatification” of a candidate is achieved when one miracle occurs after death that can be attributed to the candidate as a response to prayers offered to that individual, and then the candidate can be venerated on a regional basis. Only after a second miracle is attributed to the candidate can the individual be “canonized” and venerated by the entire Catholic church.
I do not believe in praying to the dead in Christ, and I believe miracles are only attributable to Christ. Theological differences aside, a Catholic can be a priest, bishop, cardinal, or even the Pope, and never even be considered to be a saint. Meanwhile, we talk about saints as if anyone who has their name on a church role book can carry the title. Sainthood should be a life-long pursuit that carries the most serious responsibility in winning the lost world for Christ.
In future posts, I will be sharing the results of a study on the priesthood of New Testament believers, as I believe this will help everyday, extraordinary saints carry out spiritual, biblical leadership in the home, school, work, and community spheres of life; after all, those are the areas of life where all the lost and hurting reside, right?
(information on Catholic priesthood was obtained from http://www.catholic.org/saints/faq.php#choose)