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Saint, sinner, both? – Read today online

As a Christian preacher, I hope some of my words may be helpful, but I remember one occasion at this time of year.

There was someone there that Sunday for the first time, after the service talking to someone from the church, he told them he was confused by what I had just said.

Later I was told what he said: “The church where I was last Sunday told me I was a sinner, this Sunday they told me I was a saint; I’m confused.”

It was a Sunday towards the beginning of November, and towards All Saints’ Day, which is the first day of the month.

On this day, we give thanks to God for all those Christians of the past and we are inspired by their example.

That year I explained how the word “holy” is a normal description used in the New Testament for a believer in Christ.

To be a saint is to be a recipient of God’s unmerited mercy and not someone who has done certain things.

As a saint’s lifestyle is, of course, important, writes the Apostle Paul, ‘greed must not even be mentioned among you, as befits saints’ (Ephesians 5:3).

As Christians we rejoice that our new life in Christ is a free gift to us, we cannot and never deserve it.

Fortunately, we are saints who do not live a good life but receive God’s free gift of salvation; saying, ‘I can’t help it, please help me.’

I have been encouraged and inspired by some of the saints who have helped me on my Christian journey

I hope my confused listener can now realize that like all of us, although he is a sinner, he can also be one of God’s saints.

The Reverend Robert Barthram is the minister of the United Reformed Church Reading Group, writing on behalf of Churches Together in Reading