Open your Bibles to Philippians 4:20-23. Today is our final sermon on this wonderful book of Philippians. As we move from Philippians into other parts of God’s Word, I wonder how much of what I have preached has had and will have an effect on your life. Likewise, I wonder how much will end up on the editing room floor of your life.
If I was to pick a theme for our Church over the last two years, I think it would be “Let Us Be Doers of the Word.” This phrase comes from James 1:22-25.
- James 1:22-25 – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
Will you forget what it means to be a slave to Christ Jesus? Will you forget about God’s promise to complete the work he began in you? Will you forget about the call to partner in the spread of the Gospel? Will you forget that your life is to be 100% about Jesus Christ. Will you forget that dyeing is not punishment, but a reward, for to be with Christ is far better? Will you forget about the powerful unity of the Spirit that holds our church together? Will you forget about the command to not do anything out of selfish ambition? Will you forget about working out your salvation with fear and trembling because God is working in you? Will you forget about God’s command not to complain? Will you forget about the deep bond and love that is forged between fellow soldiers for Christ? Will you forget that our salvation has nothing to do with works? Will you forget the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus? Will you forget that we must press on and strain to become like our King Jesus? Will you forget that this is not our home, but that our home is in heaven? Will you forget to pray when you are worried? Will you forget to be content through the power available to us through Christ? Will you forget that God will supply all your needs? Will you forget about the blessed fruit of giving to those in need?
My prayer is that you will not, and my encouragement as we end this sermon series, your study of Philippians does not end, but it merely begins. That every year you will spend time in this beautiful book and let these truths sink deeper into your soul. With that said, let us read our text for today, pray, and see what God has to say to us this morning.
- Philippians 4:20-23 – “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
In these closing remarks of Paul we see specifically who Paul is addressing his letter to, every saint in Christ Jesus. We saw this same language in the opening of Paul’s letter.
- Philippians 1:1 – “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you go to Google and type in “What is a saint?” your search results will predominantly point you to the Catholic religion, for they have made much of this title, and they have made an absolute mess out of it. And it is because of this, I am going to have to spend today cleaning up after their mess. Now, please know I don't do this to pick a fight, but to proclaim Biblical truth, for many Catholics, not all, but many, have no clue why they do what they do. They have no clue as to the unbiblical positions that are very common within the Catholic Church, the aspect of saints being one. In addition, today because of this mess I am attempting to clean up, we will be taking a few intentional rabbit trails.
First, a saint, according to the Catholic Church is determined by man, and not by God. I found this quote interesting by Pope Alexander in 1173, "You shall not therefore presume to honour him in the future; for, even if miracles were worked through him, it is not lawful for you to venerate him as a saint without the authority of the Catholic Church.” Generally, it was at this point that the powers that be within the Catholic Church would begin determining who deserves the special designation of sainthood, and this man centered authoritarian declaration continues to this day.
The Catholic teaching stands in stark contrast to the verses we have read today, and the 68 different times in the Bible the word saint is used. It is obvious in our text that Paul, who is inspired by the Holy Spirit, sees all men and all women who are in Christ to be saints. In Paul's life, there is no such then as a Catholic saint. There is no such thing as a superior Christian. If you are in Christ, then you are a saint. As I said, this phrase is used approximately 68 different times in the New Testament, not once does it refer to some super holy Christian, in fact verse 21 is the only time that the word saint is used in its singular form. All other times it is used in its plural sense.
So what does saint mean? The word saint in Greek is, “hagios” which means to be consecrated or set apart for God. Perhaps the best verse I could find that points to this reality is 1 Corinthians 1:2.
- 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: “
Since the time of Pope Alexander, the process the Catholic Church has imposed to determine who is a special Christian, and who is not is somewhat shifting sand. It continues to move and change beneath the Catholics feet. Currently, as best as I can tell the process includes four stages. Stage one is called “Servant of God” which includes interviews, reading of papers, and even digging up the dead body and examining it. If the “Servant of God” passes the man made test they are then declared “Heroic in Virtue.” When that occurs material can be printed about the person and Catholics are encouraged to pray to this person, specifically for a miracle. According to the Catholic religion this is proof that God approves of the person actually becoming a saint.
At this point, I want to be as serious as possible. This is not only wrong, but it is encouraging the wrath of God. Praying, or attempting to speak to dead people is unbiblical, inappropriate, and an abomination. I realize those are strong words, but they are not mine, once again they are Gods. When reading the old testament, God makes it abundantly clear that he does not want humanity to mess around in talking with dead people. A person who attempts to talk to dead people is called a necromancer. Listen to these two verses.
- Leviticus 20:27 - “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”
- Deuteronomy 18:10-13 - “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering,5 anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or cone who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.“
Never once in the Bible does God encourage his children to ask dead people to intercede for them, as if God want to play the child's game of telephone. Not once. When prayer is mentioned in the Bible we see things like Matthew 6:9
- Matthew 6:9 - “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.”
- 1 John 5:14-15 - “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.“
- Philippians 4:6 - “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God “
The next step for the Catholic Church after the designation of “Heroic in Virtue” is to put the matter to another vote to determine if the person can be declared “Blessed” which is a designation that the person is really in heaven. Why is this an issue for that Catholic Church? It is an issue because of another false teaching, which is purgatory. Purgatory is a fictional place where Catholics believe they go to be punished for sins that Christ didn't actually pay for. Teh reason that this is an issue for the process of Catholic Sainthood is that they don't want to encourage people to ask a person to talk to God on their behalf if they are still in purgatory working off their debt.
Purgatory is absolutely not Biblical, and really deserves a sermon in and of itself, for it is a extremely dangerous doctrine. First of all, what does the Bible say about Christians that die? First think about the thief on the cross, if anyone deserved purgatory it was him, and what does Jesus say, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” The Catholic doctrine of purgatory where you are punished for unpaid for sins does not sound like Jesus' description of Paradise.
- 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 - “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
- Philippians 1:23 - “ I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
- Romans 3:23 - “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. “
So hopefully, I have effectively convinced each of you, that the sainthood of the Catholic Church is not Biblical, and should be refuted openly when we encounter it. For it is a highly dangerous false teaching that so many of our loved ones have bought into.
Predominantly when the word saint is used in the Bible it is speaking about living people who have placed their faith in sufficiency of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They are the called out ones, set apart consecrated to the Lord. Which leads us to this question, set apart for what purpose?
- Philippians 4:20 - “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen”
A saint is not some concrete statute buried in the back yard, so that you can sell your home. A saint is a worker, a solider, a dulous of Christ Jesus. A saint is someone who counts their life as garbage compared to knowing the surpassing worth of Christ Jesus. A saint is someone who cries out, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is a saint, and it is what God is calling each of you to be. It is the end in which you were created.