Christianity 201

November 1, 2015

For the Unity of Christians of all Ages, Countries, and Races in Christ

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
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For All Saints Day, a post from this day in 2013 by Alex Crain, Editor of Christianity.com from Crosswalk.com

Click the title below for additional content:

All Saints’ Day – Crosswalk the Devotional

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
(Hebrews 12:1)

…There’s a yearly reminder of our connectedness as Christians to the church. It’s called “All Saints Day” and is commemorated every November 1st. Perhaps, you were taught to think of saints as statues in a church building. But the Bible teaches something completely different. Who is a saint? You are. That is, if you’re a follower of Jesus. God calls a “saint” anyone who trusts in Christ alone for salvation (see Acts 9:13, 26:10, Romans 8:27, 1Corinthians 1:2).

Sainthood isn’t given by a group of religious leaders. It’s granted by God Himself to any common, salt-of-the-earth person who simply trusts Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2). Words matter. And sowing confusion about good, biblical words like “saint” is not from God. The gospel message is that God the Son came to earth, lived a perfectly obedient life, died on the cross to pay for our sins (Romans 5:1), and rose again proving His atoning work was complete (Romans 4:22-25) . Those who will give up the useless work of trying to please God by “good deeds” and, instead, trust Christ alone become the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). If God calls even those erring believers in Corinth “saints” (and He does, 1 Corinthians 1:2), why argue?

Anyone who trusts in Christ alone for salvation is a saint in the sight of God. Now that we have that cleared up, how should we think of All Saints Day? Well, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer says that the holiday stands for “the unity of Christians of all ages, countries, and races in Christ, and the perfection of that unity in heaven.” It dates the holiday back to about A.D. 610 when the Pantheon in Greece, turned into a Christian Church, was dedicated to all saints. Sounds like the prayer book has the right idea.

The Bible doesn’t teach us to pray to the saints (Matt. 6:6), through the saints (1 Tim. 2:5) or for saints who have already gone to heaven. Instead, we remember the saints and to allow the testimony of their faith spur us on to deeper worship and greater service to the Lord. Hebrews 11 gives us examples of the great cloud of witnesses who are called so, not because they are watching us, but because they testify of God’s grace to them. These saints of the past remind us:

“God is faithful.”

“The Lord is good, trust always in Him.”

“God’s grace was sufficient for me and it will be for you too.”

There’s a hymn that’s traditionally sung around this holiday called “For All the Saints.” It encourages believers to look back through the years of Christian history and think of the millions now enjoying rest and salvation in the presence of God. It’s also meant to provide encouragement to believers here and now to press on, looking forward to the glorious day…

“…when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!”

Intersecting Faith & Life:
How about you? Do you tend to view yourself as an isolated Christian? Consider your connection with the rest of the saints by reading through the words of “For All the Saints.” If you’ve never heard this great song of the faith, click on the link to listen as you reflect on the lyrics. (“For All the Saints” performed by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.)

January 13, 2011

Worship Around the World

There’s a line in the Apostle’s Creed that says, “I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church.”   Most people reading this recognize that this not a reference to The Vatican, but rather a statement of the “universal” or “worldwide” church.

But it’s easy to forget this.

Most of us in North America and even Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Western Europe are saturated with our own brand of Christianity.  We forget that God has a people working and serving and teaching and worshipping around the world.

Consider the following worship song with which most of you are intimately familiar.  Then catch a few bars of the same song in French.  I always find listening to foreign language versions of hymns and choruses — though I might only catch a few words I actually understand — enlarges my perspective on what it means to be part of a Church that is alive and well and sharing the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ around the world.