This particular Sunday has come to be called “Saints Triumphant.” That word “saints” is a rich Bible word which deserves a look-see.
The word “saint” is sometimes wrongly used to refer to a person of the past who was so holy and perfect that he or she earned their way to heaven and then had left-over “points” or merits to share with someone else. This false teaching is compounded when people offer up prayers to such “saints.”
There are no such saints as this, says the Bible, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
In keeping with such a misunderstanding of the word “saint,” a person might remark: “Well, I’m no saint, but…” meaning of course, that he’s not perfect, implying that a saint would be someone who is perfect.
Sometimes we use the word “saint” to refer to a prominent believer of the past whom God used in a notable way – such as St. Paul or St. Peter or St. John the Baptist, or even an ancient church father such as St. Athanasius who defended the doctrine of the Trinity. No problem there. We thank God for all the believing heroes of faith who have gone before us, as when we sing, “For All The Saints.”
In fact, that lines up with how the Bible uses the word “saints,” or when the Apostles Creed refers to the “communion (fellowship) of saints.” The word “saints” refers to all of us who believe in Jesus.
The Bible applies the word “saint” to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation. For example, Paul addresses his letter to the Romans “to all those loved by God who are in Rome, called to be saints.” The word “saint” means someone who is “set apart” by God’s grace through a God-given faith in Jesus. Such believers are given to lay hold of God’s “not guilty” verdict for the sake of Jesus Christ who lived the perfect life we have failed to live, who died the death that should have been ours, who pried loose the grip of death from our throats on Easter. God credits all of this righteousness to our account as though we had done it, as though we had paid it. It is personally ours by faith. These are the saints we see marching out of the troubles of this life into the glories of heaven on the pages of Revelation. They are…we are…SAINTS TRIUMPHANT!