Here Come the Saints
1Th. 3:12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
1Th. 3:13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
This is a benediction prayed on behalf of the Thessalonians and within this prayer we find some simple nuggets of truth related to holiness. Holiness is revealed in holy love because, as we love God with all of our being, then his love is poured out on us and the overflow reaches those around us. Only when we are overfilled with his love does our love for others abound. His holy nature, of holy love, transforms us into his holy people. We are partaking of his very divine nature.
That’s why the prayer continues with the plea that our hearts are strengthened in holiness. God’s desire is that we become like Christ and Christ is holy. Of course it should be the prayer that all of God’s people would then be strengthened in holiness for holiness is revealed as Christlikeness. It is those who reflect Christ who will be blameless before the Father.
Holiness is reaffirmed when we are reminded that Christ will return with all his saints. The root of the word saints and holy (or holiness) are all the same in the Greek. Our Lord will return with the holy ones. It is those who have been strengthened in holiness who will be in the company of Jesus. Why? Because these are the ones who have followed Christ, and whose lives have become a reflection of the holiness of Jesus.
For the Thessalonians this includes those who have already gone before — those who have died in Christ. But it also includes those who will be alive at the time of Christ’s return. The prayer is God’s desire for all of his people, that they would all be his holy people, that they would all be his saints!
“Here come the saints!” That’s something that should be said about all of us, however, somehow we have created a type of bifurcation of Christians. There are those who are “saved” and then there’s the optional part “B” that we can be “sanctified.” Much of Christianity is saying it’s okay for me to just be “saved.” However, that’s never really been the case because throughout all of history when we take the time to thoroughly read the Scriptures we discover that it is God’s desire that we all become like Christ and are God’s holy people. It’s not an option, it’s a part of the plan.
One commentator wrote this regarding today’s Scripture that the imagery of the coming of the saints is used, “admonishing us that we are called by Christ for this end—that we may be gathered with all his saints. For this consideration ought to whet our desire for holiness.” We may be surprised that this was written by John Calvin. He understood that it was the calling of all of God’s children to desire holiness, for to desire holiness is to desire Christ! There is no bifurcation and there is no optional part of the plan. This is why we also read in Hebrews 12:14, "Heb. 12:14 ¶ Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. "
There may have been times in the past when people said, “Here come the people who call themselves saints.” In other words, there have been times when holiness folks enjoyed bearing the name, almost as a sense of pride. They were “holiness people,” or God’s saints. I don’t think that is the intention of what we find here. We should not be branding ourselves as the saints, but when others see us coming they should note us as “the Saints” for they will have seen reflections of Christ, abounding in his love, reaching and touching the world.
The prayer for all of God's people is holiness for Christlikeness is the goal for all. It's not an optional part of our Christian walk. If we are not being drawn into a deeper walk and relationship with Christ then are we truly walking with him? His love should be overflowing into and through our lives as our relationship with him is deepened on a daily basis. This is the call for all of God's sanctified people. When we reflect Christ the world will see us and say, "Here come the saints."
Lord, may my heart be strengthened in holiness and may your love abound in and through me to your glory. Amen.