Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, has taught us that through Holy Baptism we are made members of His Holy Body, the Church: (John 17:21-23, John 15:5). This is the goal of the Christian; to abide in the Lord forever. For this reason God became man, was crucified and resurrected.
This same teaching has been past down to us by St. Paul: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:27). The Church is one body, the body of Christ and although we are unworthy, our Lord is the Head of the Church and allows us to be members of His Body (Ephesians 1:22-23). As members of the Body of Christ, we abide in the Lord and we partake of eternal life; The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread (1Corinthians 10:16-17).
The union within the Body of Christ is indivisible. Nothing can separate us from Christ and the other members of the Body of Christ, unless we ourselves choose to abandon Christ. Not even death separates us from the Body of Christ:(Matthew 16:20). The mutual love of those who are members of the Body of Christ is in no wise severed or broken by death (Romans 14:8).
In the Body of Christ all the members which have been granted the Grace to abide in Him are united to our Saviour even though there is a difference in the Grace imparted to each (2 Timothy 2:20). All those who by their sins are not cut off and separated from the Body of Christ, remain vessels in the House of the Lord. They remain united to the Saviour and to each other as members of the same Body.
Through Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we are united to each other and to the Saints who are the vessels of gold and silver. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22). St. Paul tells us that the Saints are the foundation of the Church and that we are eternally united to them in Christ through the bond of love.
This bond of love is the realization of our Lord's commandment (John 13:34-35). This bond of love led St. Paul and all the other Saints to minister to those entrusted to their care (2Corinthians 6:4-6). The ministry of St. Peter was founded on the bond of love; And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep (John 21:17).
It is this bond of love that keeps the members of the Body of Christ; the members of His Church together: From whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:16). When St. Paul speaks of every joint and every part he does not exclude those who have reposed in the Lord. Every joint and every part means every member. It is in this context of the bond of love that we pray for each other (James 5:16). When we pray to the Saints we are asking the righteous to pray for us because we know that it “availeth much”. From the very Apostolic days of the Church we see Christians praying for each other and asking for each others prayers (Colossians 1:9; Thessalonians 5:25).
There are those who believe that these Saints cannot pray for us because they are dead. Throughout the Holy Scriptures, however, we find the belief that in Christ all are alive and united to each other. It is for this reason that the Holy Disciples, Peter, John and James, were able to behold the Holy Prophets Elijah and Moses conversing with our Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is for this reason that our Lord refers to the Kingdom of Heaven as abiding in Abraham's Bosom (Luke 16:22), abiding with the Saints.
The Kingdom of Heaven is referred to as “Abraham's Bosom” because Patriarch Abraham is the father of the children of faith (Romans 4:13-16; Galatians 3:7). As we see in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:23), Patriarch Abraham is alive and aware of our spiritual condition (Luke 16:31).
If we are to believe that there is no bond between those who have not yet reposed in the Lord and those who are in the Kingdom of Heaven how do we explain the sending of angels to reveal the word of the Lord. When the Holy Prophets such as Moses and Isaiah and Ezikiel and Daniel and St. Paul saw the Lord, were they in the flesh and in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Seventh Heaven, at the same time? When St. John entered the Kingdom of Heaven and received the word of God which he wrote in the Book of Revelation, he was still in the flesh (Revelation 1:1).
Let us look at how St. John described the Kingdom of Heaven:
These elders described by St. John are our spiritual fathers and brothers who have gone before us to the Kingdom of Heaven and were placed on the right side of the Lord. As spiritual fathers and brothers who love us, they comfort us with the assurance that they pray to the Lord for our Salvation, just as we pray for each other. The great difference is that as St. James tells us, their prayer, the prayer of the righteous, availeth much (James 5:16). St. John confirms the love of the Saints when he reveals to us the words of comfort uttered by these Saints (Revelation 5:5).
In his description of the Kingdom of Heaven, St. John informs us of the countless multitudes that are there along with the Elders (Revelation 6:9-10). This great multitude of Holy Martyrs in the Kingdom of Heaven were aware of the continuing persecution and were praying to the Lord for an end to the tribulations of their persecuted brethren still in the flesh.
From the description of St. John we see different Saints; Evangelists, Elders, Martyrs, Virgins : And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 7:9; Revelation 14:1-5).
With the Resurrection of our Lord the barrier of Death was overcome and we cannot refer to the Saints as dead: Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him (Luke 20:37). They, as well as we, are members of the Household of God; Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). The Saints are our older brothers and sisters who love us and it is for this reason that when our comes again He will bring all these Saints with Him so that they can receive us into the Kingdom of Heaven: To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints (1 Thessalonians 3:13); And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his Saints (Jude 14).
We who are members of the Church of Christ are aware of their living presence. Just as we pray for each other, we ask those who are before the Throne of God, to pray for us. We pray that our Saviour will keep us as members of His Body, forever numbered among the Saints.