By R.W. McAlister
With the recent declaration of Pope John the XXIII and Pope John Paul the II as saints, it makes one wonder, "What is involved in becoming a saint?" Notice the following from CNN.com:
"To be named a saint involves a series of steps, but the qualifications are straightforward, according to the veteran Vatican analyst John Allen. 'You put a holy life and two miracles together, according to the Catholic system, you've got a saint,' he said.'"
Is that a Biblical teaching?
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes to the church at Rome in Rom. 1:7: "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:" Who are called to be saints? The beloved of God.
In I Cor. 1:2, in writing to the Lord's church at Corinth, Paul penned these words: "…to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:" Who are called to be saints? All who are 1) sanctified (set apart) in Jesus Christ, and, 2) those who call upon the name of the Lord. So, what does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord?
In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter declared: “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). In view of this statement, folks sometimes ask: "Why do members of the church of Christ insist that baptism is a requirement for being saved?" You see, calling upon the Lord’s name, and being baptized, are synonymous obligations.
It's clear that simply “calling” on the name of Christ is not enough to bring salvation since Jesus Himself declared in Matt. 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Clearly, therefore, “calling” on Christ involves more than a mere verbal or mental plea. Calling on the name of the Lord includes repentance and baptism.
In Acts 2, the same apostle who promised salvation to all who “call on the name of the Lord,” also commanded: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (2:38).
Since the “shall be saved” of 2:21 is equivalent to the “forgiveness of sins” in 2:38, it necessarily follows that “calling on the name of the Lord” includes both repentance and baptism.
Note Acts 22:16. Ananias instructed Saul as follows: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
All who wish to enjoy the remission of past sins, and thus be saints, will call on the name of the Lord by obeying the gospel plan of salvation. When Paul addresses Christians, he refers to them as saints (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2; I Cor. 14:33; I Cor. 16:1; II Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; 2:19, and many other verses). In becoming a Christian, one becomes a saint. How does one become a Christian? By hearing the word of God preached (Rom. 10:17), believe it - believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Heb. 11:6), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:36-37), be baptized (Acts 2:38; I Pet. 3:20-21), and live faithfully unto death – (Rev. 2:10).
The Catholic church says John Paul miraculously cured Marie Simon-Pierre, a French nun stricken by Parkinson's disease, several months after his death.
Also according to them, the second miracle occurred when a Costa Rican woman with a brain aneurysm recovered after praying to John Paul.
John XXIII, revered for his role in the Second Vatican Council, is only recorded as having performed one miracle after his death in 1963. (It seems they even violate their own laws, not just God's!)
There's no need to perform even one miracle. None of us can do that anyway. The power to perform true miracles ended upon the completion of the New Testament (I Cor. 13:8-10).
Furthermore, Jesus teaches us to pray to God, the Father (Matt. 6:9), who is alive on His throne in Heaven (Rev. 7:15), not to any mortal who has passed from this life. Let us understand what the Bible says and abide by it in all things.
- R.W. McAlister served as a minister to the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL until his death in October 2021.This was his own home congregation in which he grew up. R.W. was a beloved member of his community and a popular teacher in the agriculture department at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO. To visit the congregation's website go to: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/