Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Some disconnected thoughts on All Saints Day

1. I'm guessing not many people in my ecclesiastical neck of the woods will be celebrating All Saints Day, and there are good reasons for that.  However, if we carefully observe that in biblical usage a 'saint' is not a believer of superior rank, but simply anyone who is sanctified (saint-ified) by union with the Lord Jesus through faith, that removes most of the theological objections.  All Saints Day is a day to remember the believers who have gone before us.

2. In our day, there has been a lot of helpful pushback against talk of 'heaven' as the Christian's ultimate destiny, with the more biblical emphasis on 'new creation' coming to the fore.  That is all to the good, but it would be a shame if in the recovery of the great Christian hope we lost something of the penultimate hope, which is to depart and be with Christ.  It is true that we will not all sleep, and we cannot say whether we are the generation that will not die but will see Christ's return - but many of our brothers and sisters have slept, have gone to be with the Lord, and it's right that we bear in mind that they are safe in heaven.

3. It is a huge encouragement to know that there are those who now enjoy something of what we will one day rejoice in forever.  It seems to me that the New Testament does not say that departed believers currently enjoy the vision of God which will captivate them for all eternity; there is a sense in which they cannot yet see the Lord as he is, because they are not wholly themselves - they await the resurrection at the Lord's appearing.  They currently rest in peace; they will rise in glory.  Like us, they do not yet know what they shall be.  But what a blessing to be in the presence of the Lord, even if it means being away from the body!  Better to be a doorkeeper in the house of our God...

4. There is real and living fellowship between those who have gone before and those of us who still labour on earth.  I don't think we have immediate access to the departed saints - I don't think we can or should pray to them, for example - but we have something in a sense more intimate than immediacy.  We are joined to Christ, and they are joined to Christ.  We are one body with them, united by the one Spirit.  They pray and praise above, we pray and praise below, and it is all taken up in one great worship service, presented before God as the offering of the whole church in Jesus.  When we gather we worship, we gather into their presence, because we gather to Christ and to the heavenly Zion.

5. All of this answers, with a firm and unsentimental reality, the dim groping after hope that we see in so much funeral mawkishness.  They are not dead, but have simply gone nextdoor - that sort of thing.  For the dead in Christ, how gloriously true it is that they are not really dead!  How we can rejoice in their comfort and joy!  In Christ they all live.  Alleluia.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:16 pm

    Really helpful, thank you Daniel