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Pastor’s message: November 2019

Dear Friends,

I wonder what thoughts spring to mind when you consider the month of November. Maybe you will have a bonfire party on or near November 5th. On Sunday 10th or Monday 11th many will take time to remember those who have given their lives in wars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. On the third Thursday our American friends will celebrate Thanksgiving, while our Scottish neighbours will remember St Andrews Day on November 30th. In recent years a number of men have grown moustaches for “Movember”; their point being to highlight some of the significant health issues suffered by men.

I wonder how many however are aware that November 1st is listed as All Saints Day. We don’t mark it, because as Protestants we do not acknowledge certain believers with any more significance than others, but the New Testament uses the words ‘saints’ at least 60 times. It is a title that is given to every Christian believer. Notice how Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: – 1 Corrinthians 1:2

He is addressing his letter “To the church of God that is in Corinth”. He calls them saints and yet as a Church they had huge problems, both before and after their conversions. From this we can see that New Testament’s saints are not perfect people. He then goes on, describing Christians as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus”. As Christians, Paul expects them and us to be set aside for the Lord Jesus Christ. All of us as Christians are to be clearly known as followers of the Lord Jesus. Later in his letter he writes “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”(1 Cor. 6:19,20) Our Christian lives are not simply to be spiritual, but the way we care for and use our bodies is to glorify Christ. This is required by all Christians (saints), not just a few who get a day named after them.

Having been set aside by and for Christ, we are “called to be saints”. Before certain churches give a person the title ‘saint’ witnesses have to show that their lives were exemplary, even claiming that they have performed some form of miracle. Few, if any of us, would claim to have performed miracles, but every Christian is a miracle, born again of the Spirit of God, our sins have been cleansed by Christ and we have been given a new spiritual life, by the Holy Spirit who lives in every true Christian (saint).

The big thing about so-called saints is that they are in a separate league from the rest of us, but Paul here shows that there is a special life shared by all saints, when he writes “together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours”. Some Christians, even in our own country, do not have the privilege of meeting regularly for worship, because of health, age or other circumstances, but the essence of being a true saint is that we want to be with other saints. So-called Christians who want to live in isolation from others do not understand what it means to be a New Testament Christian. It is a locally shared relationship – Paul was writing to the Church in Corinth, not all cities. The vital element in the life of a true New Testament saint (Christian) is that they “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. They don’t somehow have special merit in their own lives or effort, but as Paul writes later in this letter, “But by the grace of God I am what I am,” (1 Cor 15:10). Every true New Testament Christian says, I can’t do it on my own. I can’t save myself; I had to ask Christ to do that. I can’t grow and persevere as a Christian; I need the help of the Holy Spirit day by day.

Paul’s final point is that Christ is “both their Lord and ours”. As Christians we don’t write the rules, we live in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as our Lord and God. This month, let us rejoice with all the saints and give thanks that our faith is built on Christ from first to last.

Your fellow saint,

Bernard Lewis

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