Praying to Saints

Praying to Saints

There are numerous references to saints in the New Testament, none of which are used as a title for someone (Saint Peter or Saint James). In Paul’s salutation to the Philippian church, he phrased it as follows: “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.”

This verse categorizes three groups of people in the church: saints, overseers and deacons. A deacon is one, who occupies a servant position in the local church and is recognized by the local church for the particular work. Overseers, bishops, presbyters and elders have pretty much the same meaning in a New Testament context. These are the men in a leadership position over a local church. They too are recognized by the local body for this work. Deacons and overseers must meet the qualifications outlined in the books of 1Timothy and Titus.

The category of “saints” is the remaining group. These are simply believers in Christ and hold no office in the local church.

These saints are not canonized as such, as is the practice in the Catholic Church. They do not hold a higher position than anyone else among the faithful. In fact, they are the faithful. They are not honored above any other believer in Christ and they do not bear the word “saint” before their name. Scripture clearly teaches that, “God is no respecter of men.” (Acts 10:34)

The word in the Greek (hagios) means pure, blameless, clean. It does not mean they (saints) have achieved this state by their own efforts, but rather they have this state by imputation from God. Paul explains this in reference to Abraham:

“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Romans 4:21-24)

Nowhere in Scripture do we read of anyone praying to saints or of saints being able to do anything for someone on earth, after they have died. Neither are saints intercessors between us and God. This would be a clear contradiction of 1 Timothy 2:5, which says that Jesus is the only intercessor between God and man.

Deuteronomy 18:10 & 11 forbids any contact with the dead or the spirit world. Indeed, those that engage in such practices are declared to be an abomination to the Lord (verse 12).

 

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2 Responses to Praying to Saints

  1. gary says:

    If a new believer dies before baptism, will he go to Hell?

    Many Baptists and evangelicals believe that Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglicans believe that if a believer dies without baptism, he will go to hell; without baptism, it is impossible to be saved.

    This is incorrect. They do not understand our position on Baptism.

    Lutherans would say: It is not the lack of baptism that damns, it is the lack of faith/belief that damns.

    We Lutherans believe that it is the person who states he believes and has repented but then refuses/rejects/or indifferently delays baptism that should fear eternal damnation. Why? We question whether his refusal to be baptized is a sign of a lack of true faith.

    The person who genuinely believes, repents, and desires to follow God’s command to be baptized, but dies or is killed before he is able to be baptized, WILL go to heaven, he is saved. Even the Roman Catholic Church believes this.

    The Church of Christ, which developed in the 1800’s in the “Restoration” movement, does not agree with Lutherans and other orthodox Christians (RCC, EOC, Anglicans) on this point. The Church of Christ believes that without Baptism you are damned to hell, NO EXCEPTIONS. To Lutherans, this (false) belief makes the act of baptism the means of salvation, not the power of God’s Word, received in faith.

    God DOES save in baptism, but he can also save without baptism. It is always the power of God’s Word/declaration that saves, not any act or decision of man.

  2. jack says:

    Thank you Gary for your post regarding the role of baptism in a believer’s life. Contrary to popular belief, baptism is only a symbolic act representing an internal change. The act of baptism is a believer’s public identification with Christ in His death and resurrection. When someone is saved by grace through faith it is an internal change, which only God can see. Baptism allows others to see externally what only only God can see internally.

    For instance, if I become married it is not known to most people. However, if I wear a wedding band then all who see my ring know I am married. If I choose not to wear a wedding band it does not mean that I am unmarried. Baptism is similar. It conveys the reality that I am a child of God. However, if I don’t or can’t become baptized it does not change the internal reality that I am saved.

    You can read more here: http://heavenassured.com/infant-baptism/

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