When Jesus saved us, he made us new creations. He gave us a new identity. All that we are and all that we do flows out his work on our behalf. Christianity isn't about who we are and what we do. Instead, it's the good news of who he is and what's he's done. Our actions flow out of our identity and and our identity flows out of his actions and his identity. We are who he's made us. He's made us a family of saints who are ministers and messengers.
The Apostle Paul consistently refers to those in the church as saints (Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:2). For him, this idea is rooted in the Old Testament. It refers to things that have been set apart from everyday usage. They’ve been dedicated to God. What’s especially important for us to recognize when we think about the church, is that this was a common way to refer to the people of Israel as the people of God in the Old Testament and other Jewish writings. In taking this term, and applying to the church, especially in applying it to Gentile Christians, Paul is communicating the reality that the people of God in the New Testament are quite different from the people of God in the Old Testament.
No longer are the people of God set apart on the basis of their genetic lineage or their keeping of the Old Testament law. Because of who Jesus is and what he's done, you become a saint, a holy one, a set apart one, solely on the basis of your faith in him.
Both our relationship to God and our relationship to each other are expressed in Scripture in familial terms. The Father is our Father. We’re sons and daughters of God. We’re co-heirs with Christ. We relate to one another as brothers and sisters.
What we must realize is that our identity as family is both an idea we’re reborn into because of the gospel, and also an implication of the gospel that we need to live out. At conversion, the gospel makes us new. We died, were buried with with Christ, and are raised with him to walk in a new kind of life. But our new gospel identity is not something that we enjoy alone. Rather, we are saints in a family of saints. Our gospel identity is a communal identity. This is perhaps the most important thing for us to realize: we don’t need to do anything to establish community. We already are one!
Our identity as ministers and messengers is really a group of identities that fall under these two words. The New Testament says we are disciples, we are servants, we are Christians, we are ambassadors, we are witnesses, and we are a royal priesthood. We are ministers and messengers.
In Ephesians 4, Paul makes it clear that the work of ministry is done by the saints. Pastors, ministers, elders, evangelists, missionaries, and any other formal position or office are not the only people in the church required to do ministry. All the saints do the work of ministry. We are all ministers.
2 Corinthians 5 teaches that all believers have been entrusted with the gospel message. Again, it's not just some particular subset of the church that carries this burden. We all do. We're all commissioned to spread the good news, expand the kingdom, and make disciples. We are all messengers.