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What’s In A Name?

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” – 1 Corinthians 1:2 (NKJV)

Christian, believer, and disciple are all titles that speak of those who have put their faith in Jesus as Savior. However, the title that is used the most in the New Testament is that of “Saint”.

The title “Saint” comes from the Greek word meaning holy, sacred, set apart. In I Corinthians 1:2, Paul defines a saint as anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus. In 2 Thessalonians 1:10, Paul further clarifies the definition of a saint as “all who have believed.” So, any believer in Jesus is defined as a saint by God – one who is set apart and holy. Ephesians 1:4 helps us further understand how God sees us as saints. In your relationship with Christ you have been chosen by God to be “…holy and without blame before Him in love.” Your designation as a saint does not have anything to do with how good you are. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” You are set apart as a saint, holy and blameless because of the work of God through Christ.

In spite of the biblical truth that believers are called saints over 60 times in the New Testament, it is still common for believers to refer to themselves as sinners. The title “sinner” appears in the New Testament 42 times. In 41 of those occurrences the title relates to a person who is not a believer. Only James 4:8 appears to use “sinner” to address a believer. That is a 60-1 ratio! Even a casual reading of these references demonstrates that God’s primary title for believers is that of saint. Thus, God refers to believers not based on what they do (their imperfect or good behavior) but rather on who they are in Jesus Christ.

So what is in a name? If you see yourself as a sinner who God just tolerates, will you be inclined to trust Him? Will you love Him? Will you serve Him with joy? Probably not! But if you see yourself as a saint, as one set apart, holy, blameless and loved, you will trust God, and you will joyfully submit to Him who accepts you. So, instead of seeing yourself as a sinner saved by grace, see yourself as a saint who sometimes sins – someone who is already seen by God as holy, blameless and loved. Live in light of who God says that you are!

Jeff Barbieri

About the Author

Jeff Barbieri recently joined Lifetime as a conference/retreat speaker and Bible teacher. Jeff has been in pastoral ministry for 30 years and is a gifted expository preacher and dynamic conference presenter. In 1992 Jeff was exposed to the message of Christ as life, the truth of the believer’s identity and his identification with Jesus. As a result, Jeff’s life and ministry focus was radically transformed! His passion is to see believers, pastors and churches encouraged and energized as they come to a personal and experiential understanding of Jesus Christ as their functional source for life and ministry. Jeff possesses his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Northwest Baptist Seminary. He and his wife of 25 years, Lorie, reside in Howell, New Jersey with their two sons, Mike and Tim, and their Boxer, Bella.