Beatification is when the church recognises that a dead person is in heaven and able to intercede with God on behalf of people on earth
Canonization is when the church admits the dead person’s name into the ‘canon’ (list) of saints.
The first saint was canonized around 1000 AD, so it’s a relatively recent tradition.
The church believes that its decisions on canonization are infallible (although there are instances where it has reversed these decisions).
Church tradition conflicts with the Bible:
Church tradition says that saints intercede with God on behalf of people on earth. There are many instances where people intercede with God on behalf of others, but they are always living people on earth (e.g. Genesis 20:17, Job 42:10, Deuteronomy 9:26, Jeremiah 7:16, Nehemiah 1:6). The Bible says nothing about dead believers interceding for living believers. The Bible insists that the only intercessor in heaven is Jesus Christ (e.g. Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25, 1 Timothy 2:5).
Church tradition says that the saints are in heaven. According to the Bible, dead people don’t go to heaven! This is another subject.
Saints in the Bible:
The word is used of:
Aaron the first High Priest (Psalm 106:16) – the only time in the Bible that an individual is specifically called a saint
faithful people in Israel (1 Samuel 2:9, Psalm 132:9, Psalm 34:9);
followers of Jesus (Philippians 4:21, Acts 9:10, 13, 40, Romans 1:7, 12:13, 15:25).
The word is used of faithful believers who have separated themselves to serve God – living, not dead.
Attributes of saints:
Romans 1:7 – people are called to be saints
1 Corinthians 1:2 – saints are sanctified (made holy, separated to God)
1 Corinthians 6:2 – the saints will judge the world
Ephesians 1:18 – the saints are promised an inheritance
Ephesians 2:19 – they are members of the household of God
2 Thessalonians 1:20 – Jesus will be glorified in the saints when he returns
Revelation 19:8 – they are called righteous.
The popular church tradition, that the saints are specially godly people who died and are now in heaven interceding for people on earth, is without any Bible basis.
We have only one intercessor in heaven – Jesus Christ.
‘Saints’ is a name given to all believers. They are obedient to God, they try to lead lives that are separate to God, and they have an essential part to plan in God’s future plan for the world.