Psalm 116:12-15 – “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up
the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in
the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of Zion,
God’s grace, mercy, and peace to you today and always – Amen!
How does someone become a saint? Do you have to do something to be a saint? Do you have to accomplish miracles, perform exorcisms, or experience a mystical, beatific vision? I suppose it’d be nice if you or I could do those things, to have those kinds of powerful spiritual experiences, but those kinds of experiences are few and far between and aren’t normative for the Christian faith. Is there a certain level of holiness which must be attained before one can be considered a saint? According to the Scriptures, the saints of God are already holy. The saints of God are covered in the holiness of Jesus Christ. This is why St. Paul could say to the church in Corinth, a church struggling with rampant immorality, these words: “To the church of God 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…” (1 Corinthians 1:2). The saints of God are already sanctified by the atoning work of Christ. The saints of God are perfect in their heavenly Father’s eyes because they are clothed in Christ’s perfection, bathed in the sanctifying waters of baptism and holy Word of God. The saints of God are declared saints.
To be a saint isn’t a title to earn now or a title to be earned sometime after we die once others truly realize how full of righteousness we were. No, to be a saint is a reality that is declared, bestowed, and given. It is because of this gracious bestowal the deaths of the saints are precious in the sight of the Lord. Death, we must remember, is our enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). The deaths of the saints are precious in the sight of the Lord not because death is a release of the soul from the body, but because the whole person of the saint will be redeemed, resurrected, and made as incorruptible as the body of Jesus Christ himself because Jesus, Saint Paul says in Colossians 1:21-22, “…has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death” you who were once alienated from the Lord.
Precious are the deaths of the saints because the bodies of the saints are precious to the Lord. Precious are the deaths of the saints because God hates death and will one day do away with death in the New Creation, where the Lord himself will dwell with his people (Revelation 21:3). Precious are the deaths of the saints because God himself tasted death, killed death, put death to death in the death of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, so that you would be declared one of God’s holy ones, one of God’s saints, receiving in faith all Jesus is and has.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Chris Johnson