Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church has declared Pierre Favre, who lived from 1506 to 1546, a saint. Why am I writing about this? Why does this matter? Certainly this is not the most important thing going on right now. But with Time Magazine declaring Pope Francis ” Person of the year” for 2013, and his gaining popularity around the world, I thought I would write on this for one particular reason: to show how his actions, which are right in line with catholic tradition, just do not make sense when we look at God’s word. Here is what I mean.
When one looks at the New Testament, there is one very clear and obvious truth that cannot be denied or changed: every person that has trusted in Christ is a saint, not just a select few. Simply look at passages like Romans 1:7; 12:13; 16:2; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:26 and many others. when read in their context, it is clear that the writers of the New Testament made no such separation between believers. All who have believed in Jesus and have trusted in His death on a Roman cross 2000 years ago as payment for the punishment for their sin, and that He was raised three days later proving that His sacrifice was sufficient, is saved from their sin and is a saint in God’s house.
Another point to make note of, while the pope desires to exalt the life of someone who he thinks is worthy to deserve the title “saint”, what about all lives of myriads of other people who have laid down their lives to make the gospel of Christ known, yet have done so without any recognition. What about the high school teacher that prays for his or her students each and every day and continually looks for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with them, even though they could loose their job for doing so? Or what about the Christian homemaker that makes extra meals to give away to people in need, and then uses that “ministry” to share the wonderful provision of salvation given through Jesus Christ? What about the student at school that makes a stand for sexual purity because of their devotion to and faith in Christ? What about the business man or woman that decides to use the majority of their profits to support Christ honoring and gospel centered ministries in their town and around the world. I could go on and on, but my point is that just because books are not written about certain people does not make them any less of a saint than those that, by God’s grace and not by any merit on their own, have become popular due to their devotion to Christ. Popularity, good and positive influence, nor pious living does not make one a saint. The word saint means “marked as holy, made righteous, and set apart from sin and for God.” Only the blood of Christ can cleanse a sinner’s heart and make them holy. And only by believing in Him by faith will His sacrifice be applied to a person’s life. Sainthood is not gained. It is received. And it is received only the moment a person forsakes trusting in themselves for goodness, and trusts in Christ for His righteousness. So, just the idea that a person like the pope who, without faith in Christ, is no holier than the wife beater or a town drunk, can declare someone a saint is logically and biblically ridiculous. Who gives him the right to do that? I am not sure, but by looking at God’s word, I can boldly say that it was not God that gave the pope that right. “It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33) Not a man. Wearing write robes does not make one a saint. Only trusting in the blood of Christ does.
This is one of the many holes in catholic theology and practice that demonstrates how the Roman Catholic church has made a clear break from the biblical text. Unfortunately, this wrong thinking has affected and will continue to affect the beliefs and practices of many misled Catholics, while honestly wanting to follow God, have no idea that they are being led away from Him by their leaders, who have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and are worshiping and serving the creature (pope and catholic church) rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
The New Testament church is not one that is governed by popes who decides if a person is a saint or not. Nor is it an organization whose hierarchy decides what is true and what is not true. The New Testament church is a group of people governed by the Lord Jesus Christ whose word (the Bible) declares truth so that we may know Him, what to believe about Him, how to live to His glory, and why we should want to worship Him. This is why we must be a people who study God’s word so that we may be people who practice God’s word. This is why we must be clear that what we practice is what God has declared. This takes diligence and faith, not religious tradition that seeks to trump Biblical truth.