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Crosswalk the Devotional - Nov. 3, 2009

  • 2009 Nov 03
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November 3, 2009

All Saints Day
by Alex Crain, Editor for Christianity.com

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Hebrews 12:1, NAS

The self-absorbed thinking conveyed in the line, "Well, me and Jesus got our own thing goin'," may have worked for Tom T. Hall's now passe American country song, but it is hardly the defining characteristic of true believers. Being willing to stand alone against error is one thing, but individualism in general is nowhere commended in Scripture. Such thinking flies smack in the face of God's emphasis on building local communities of believers who are universally united in Christ around the true gospel.

Blind spots, flaws and all, it is fortunate for us that God calls saints those who embrace the humble path of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone (Eph. 1:1, 15). Incredibly, He not only calls us saints and imputes the righteousness of Christ to us (2 Cor. 5:21), but He uses us in every generation to build His kingdom.  

All Saints Day is officially commemorated on November 1st each year, serving as an annual reminder that every follower of Christ is a part of something very, very big and... ancient.

According to one source, the tradition dates back to "about A.D. 610, when the Pantheon, turned into a Christian Church, was dedicated to to all saints. Its great idea is the Unity of Christians of all ages, countries, and races in Christ, and the perfection of that unity in heaven" (1662 Book of Common Prayer).

All Saints Day also reminds us to be thankful to God for His grace. It is only by His grace that anyone is able to get the gospel right. We pray to God, the giver of grace.  We do not pray to the saints (Matt. 6:6), through the saints (1 Tim. 2:5) or for saints who have gone to glory (seeing that they're already in heaven and don't need our prayers). Rather, we remember the saints and to allow the memory of their faith spur us on to deeper worship and greater service to the Lord. Hebrews 11 gives us examples of the great cloud of witnesses who are called so, not because they are watching us, but because they testify of God's grace to them. The testimony of past saints resounds to us: "God is faithful." "The Lord is good, trust always in Him." "God's grace was sufficient for me and it will be for you too." 

As the classic hymn "For All the Saints" was played during our local church's worship service this weekend, I reflected over the landscape of the past 2000 years of Christian history and pictured millions now enjoying their rest in the presence of the Lord as well as the thousands of believers here on earththe final two stanzas conveying the unified thought of all of us saints, both in heaven and on earth:

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Intersecting Faith & Life: Are there believers from your past who are now in heaven? How does their testimony encourage you? What Christian biographies have you read that you might recommend to others? Re-read Hebrews 11. What were the ancients in this chapter commeded for?

Further Reading & Listening

Sample two completely different, yet quality, recordings of "For All the Saints" at the following locations: Majesty Brass version ... Indelible Grace version

"For All the Saints"
(words: William How; music: Ralph Vaughan Williams)

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles' glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o'er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

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