God Makes Saints
All Saints
1 November 2018
The word "saint" comes from the Latin word that means holy, sanctus. Thus, saints are the holy ones. The Bible consistently ascribes holiness to those who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14) and calls them saints. The Bible's view of what makes a saint runs completely counter to the world's view. To the worldly-minded saintliness is a personal attribute displayed by external works or words. When someone displays extraordinary sacrifice, we might say to them (even sarcastically), "Aren't you a Christian saint?" But often saintliness is hidden under suffering and the cross; seen only by God.
Ultimately, saints are not self-generated. Saints are made by God. Only He has ultimate holiness. In fact, Luther calls Christ "the saint of saints." If we are to be in that number when the saints go marching in, we will need to be in the number of those who have been set by God under those things that make holy, His Word and sacraments. These are the very things ordained by God to bring us into Christ, the Saint of saints. The saints have no consciousness of a holiness of their own (Mt 25:37-40), but only of the gift of holiness that comes from Christ Himself. God makes saints, not any human.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Only God is holy, as the church sings [in the Gloria in Excelsis]. Those whom we call 'holy' are made holy by an alien holiness, through Christ, by the holiness of free mercy. In this holiness the whole church of the faithful is the same, there is no difference. As Peter is holy, so I am holy. As I am holy, so the thief on Christ's right hand is holy. It does not matter that Peter and Paul did greater things than you or I. On both sides we are sinners by nature, and we have need of steadfast love and abundant mercy. Although the Apostles had fewer outward sins, still in their hearts they often felt presumption, loathing, thoughts of despair, denial of God, and similar defects of human weakness. So you see nothing holy, nothing good in man, as the Psalm says (Ps 53:2-3), 'God looks down from heaven upon the sons of men.... There is none that does good, no, not one.' If there are not good people among the sons of men, where else could they be? Therefore, let us keep quiet about holiness and holy people. We know that those have been made holy who have become conscious sinners instead of unconscious sinners. They do not presume to have any righteousness of their own-for it is nonexistent-but begin to have an enlightened heart. Thus, they know themselves and God. They know that everything that is ours is evil before God and is forgiven by the free forgiveness of mercy. We and all 'saints' must take refuge in this bosom, or we must be damned. God sent His Son to reveal these abundant mercies to the world and to make known this teaching, which the human heart and reason do not know."

 Martin Luther, Exposition of Psalm 51, 51.1
1 John 3:1-3

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (ESV)
Collect for All Saints
O Almighty God, by whom we are graciously knit together as one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Jesus Christ, our Lord, grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those unspeakable joys which You have prepared for those who unfeignedly love You; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
For the members of Lamb of God Lutheran Church, Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, that God would be with them and bless them
For those who are despondent in the face of illness or aging, that God the Lord would send His Holy Spirit to them and encourage them with the certainty of their blood-bought value in His sight
For Chaplain Donald Ehrke as he works in Japan in the service of his country, that God the Lord would send His holy angels to watch over him
Art: Hubert and Jan van Eyck,  The Adoration of the Lamb (15th c.)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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