James 5:19-20 • September 17, 2023 • s1362
Pastor John Miller teaches a topical message through James 5:19-20, “Does Your Faith Work?”
5:19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
INTRODUCTION: James 2:14 - What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Ask yourself these Ten Questions “to see if your faith is real!”
I. How do I Respond to Trials? (James 1)
A. Do I “Count” it all a Joy? (James 1:2) – “My brethren…”
B. Do I “Know” that Trials Are for My Good? (James 1:3)
C. Do I “Let” God Work in My Life? (James 1:4)
D. Do I “Ask” God for Wisdom? (James 1:5)
II. Do I Resist Temptation? (James 1:13-18)
A. Remember It’s Source (James 1:13-14)
B. Remember It’s Course (James 1:14b-15)
C. Remember It Can be Conquered
1. God’s Goodness – (James 1:17)
2. A New Nature – (James 1:18)
III. Am I a Doer of the Word? (James 1:19-22)
A. Do I:
1. “Hear the Word?” – (James 1:19)
2. “Receive the Word?” – (James 1:21)
3. “Obey the Word?” – (James 1:22)
IV. Do I Show Partiality (James 2)
A. Four Reasons True Christian’s Don’t Show Partiality
1. It’s inconsistent with faith in Christ. (James 2:1)
2. It’s inconsistent with God’s actions. (James 2:5)
3. It’s breaking God’s Law. (James 2:8-9)
4. It brings God’s judgment. (James 2:12-13)
V. Am I Able to Tame My Tongue? (James 3)
A. James 3:2 – “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”
B. James 1:26 – “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.”
VI. Do I Follow “Earthly Wisdom” or “Heavenly Wisdom” (James 3)
James 3:13-18 – “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
VII. Do I Humbly Submit to God’s Will and Plans for My Life? (James 4)
A. Do You Seek God’s Will in Your Plans?
James 4:15-16 – “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”
VIII. Do I Patiently Await the Lord’s Return? (James 5)
IX. Am I Prayerful til the Lord Returns? (James 5)
A. When I am “Sad”
James 5:13 – “Ís any among you afflicted? let him pray.”
B. When I am “Glad”
James 5:13– “Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.”
C. When I am “Sick”
James 5:14 – “Is any sick among you…”
X. Do I Seek to Win (or reclaim) Those Who are Gone Astray? (James 5:19-20)
A. The Hypothetical Case (James 5:19)
1. “Brethren” – So all Christians – Not just Pastors!
2. “If any of you (or among you; Christian or professing) do err from the truth”
3. “And one convert him”
B. The Results of Restoration (James 5:20)
1. “Save a soul from death”
2. “Shall hide a multitude of sins”
3. The method of restoration.
a. Love for the wanderer or lost!
b. Pray for them (context)
Illustration: Jesus with Peter.
4. They may not let you speak to them about God, but they can’t stop you from talking to God about them!
5. It makes us like Jesus!
Illustration: Lost sheep – 100
C. Galatians 6:1 – “Go in Humility”
Illustration: Like Jesus! - He came to seek and save the lost.
Just one verse to get us started, Chapter 2:14. I picked this verse because it really is the theme of not only the message this morning, but the whole Book of James. James says, "What does it prophet my brethren, though a man may say," now notice it's a profession, "say that he has faith and has not works, can faith or that kind of faith save him?" So the Book of James is all about a faith that works. If you say you have faith, then you should have a life that backs up what you say with your profession. So your lips and your life should be consistent with one another. Someone said, "If you say you believe like you should, why do you behave like you shouldn't?" I like that. So if you say, "I believe," then your life should be followed by behavior. We've all met people who say, "I'm a Christian," but if you look at their life, they are anything but a Christian.
They have a really perverted or unbiblical view of what a Christian really is. So what I want to do, and I got to get into it and move as fast as I can 'cause we've got a lot of ground to cover. I want to ask these 10 questions, and I want you to ask them for yourself. They'll appear on the screen, but they're going to be seen in the text. 10 questions, is your faith real? Is it genuine? Does it work? Here's question number one if you're taking notes. "How do I respond to trials?" So we're going to survey what we've covered over 10 weeks in James. "How do I respond to trials?" We see this, go back with me to Chapter 1 beginning in Verse 2. James says, "My brethren, count it all the joy when you fall into diverse or different trials or testings.”
Now, my King James Bible has temptations, but it should be rendered trials or testings, "Knowing," Verse 3, "that the trying of your faith works patience, but let patience have a perfect work that you may be perfect," and that means mature, fully grown, "entire wanting or lacking in nothing." Verse 5, "Now if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him." Now, a good test of whether or not your faith is real or genuine or growing or your faith works is how do you respond to trials? We've all met people that said, "Well, I'm a Christian, but..." Or, "I was a Christian," excuse me, "My parents got cancer," or "My marriage fell apart," or, "I lost my job," or, "This happened to me so I no longer believe in God, or I'm following the Lord," and they let the trials destroy them rather than strengthen them and drive them closer to God.
Trials are food for your faith, and if you're a real Christian, you will respond properly and grow in the midst of the trials. Now, let me point out the keys to doing this in Verse 2, in that the word keyword is count. Look at Verse 2, "My brethren, count it all a joy when we fall into diverse or different trials or testing." Now that word count is a banking term. It means to a value or to put value on something. So you value character over comfort and you allow your trials to make you better rather than bitter and strengthen you in your walk with the Lord so you respond by counting it a joy. Secondly, in Verse 3, you know that trials are working for your good, knowing that the trying of your faith work as patience. So the keyword in Verse 2 is count, the keyword in verse 3 is know.
So you count it, you know that the trial of your faith works or produces patience, which is steadfast endurance. So it makes you stronger as a believer. Then the third key word is let, Verse 4, "But let patience have a perfect work that you may be perfect in entire, lacking in nothing." Then the fourth key word is ask in Verse 5, "If any of you lack wisdom, ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and upbraided if not." Now I wanted to point out these keywords. Count, Verse 2, know, Verse 3, let in Verse 4 and ask in Verse 5, those are five verse, excuse me, four key steps in properly responding to trials and trouble and adversity to be able to grow as a believer.
You count it a joy. You know it's working for you, not against you, but you have to yield or let patience have a perfect work. Then you ask God as you're going through the trial for wisdom not to waste the trial, but to use it for your good and for God's glory. So ask yourself this question, "Does my faith work and grow stronger through the trials and tribulations of life?" Someone said, "The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay." So the same trial, one person is hardened and gets bitter and resists God. The other one gets softer and responds properly to God. Don't let trials destroy your faith. Second question we need to ask is the background forward in Chapter 1:13-18 is, "Do I resist temptation?" So is your faith genuine or real? Is it working faith? How do I respond to trials and temptation? Those are two parts of the Christian life, trials and temptations. It cannot be avoided. Someone said, "I can resist anything but temptation." Temptation will come to the child of God, amen?
And we'll never be free of temptations, and we need to know how to respond. Now look at this with me. First of all, we may need to remember temptation source. Verse 14, "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." So it's your own lust that draw you away in the temptation. So take responsibility. Secondly, remember the course, Verse 15, it involves desire, then there's disobedience, then it results in death. Verse 15, "Then when lust hath conceived or desire hath conceived that you disobey, you yield to the sin, it brings forth sin. You sin. When sin is finished or completed, it brings forth death." So desire, disobedience leads to death. It's not a sin to be tempted, Jesus was tempted, but it is a sin when we yield to that temptation. Then thirdly, remember, it can be conquered in two things to remember. Verse 17, remember the goodness of God, and in Verse 18, remember that God has given you a new nature. Now look at it with me.
Verse 17, "Every good gift, every perfect gift is from above comes down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning," which is a description of God's immutability, it means He doesn't change. There's no variations in God. There's no shadows of turning in God. God is immutable. He doesn't change. So one of the wonderful ways to resist temptation, and I got 10 points to cover. So I like to preach a whole sermon on each one, and I've done that. So I'm having a hard time resisting this, but it's so important. One of the best ways to keep from yielding to sin is to remember that God is good. One of the number one things that the devil does to get you to sin is to whisper in your ear, "God's not good. God's holding something back. God doesn't really love you. God isn't provided for you. God hasn't met your needs. So take it into your own hands." Be very careful.
When Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden of Eden, the devil said to her, "God knows that if you eat that fruit, you'll be like God, your eyes will be open. You'll know good from evil. So God is holding something back from you. God's not good. God's not giving you everything. He doesn't let you eat of all the fruit." So God wants you to remember his goodness when you're being tempted to sin. Then remember also that when you were born again and became a Christian, Verse 18, you were given a new nature, "Of his own will begat He is with the Word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures or creation." So you were given a new nature. If you're a Christian, you are a Christian because you were born again, or the theological term is regenerated. So when you became a Christian, and this is super important, you didn't just believe in something, something happened to you. You didn't just believe that Jesus died and rose again for your sins that's involved, but you also were born again or regenerated or given new life.
A true Christian has the life of God in their soul. It's not just believing something. It's not just going to church. It's not just living a life. It's having the life of God in your soul. If you're not born again, you're not really a Christian. You may say you have faith, but if you have not works because it's not produced from your new nature, you're just saying that, you don't really possess salvation. So remember God's goodness, Verse 17, and remember that you have a new nature. So here's the question or the point. A faith that works resists temptation. Now, I don't mean by that, that you'll never sin, right? There's only one person who never sinned and that's Jesus Christ, and thank God His righteousness is imputed to us by faith, but we have a forgiveness of sins. I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sin, He's faithful and just to forgive us and the cleanse us from... What?
... all unrighteousness." So we will stumble, we will fall, we will sin, but we have forgiveness in Jesus Christ, but we have a new nature. Write down I Corinthians 10:13. It says, "There's no temptation taking you, but what is common demand, but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation make the way for you to escape that you may be able to bear it." So God has provided a way for you to escape temptation and be able to bear it. Now here's question number three that we should give an honest answer to, "Am I a doer of the word?" You might say, "Do I only hear the word, or do I do the word?" These are all tests of your faith. Is it real or genuine or authentic? Now look at Verse 19 of Chapter 1. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, every man be swift to hear," again the key word there here, "slow to speak and slow to wrath.”
We're quick to speak, and we're slow to hear, and we're quick to wrath. Now we need to hear the Word of the Lord. If you are a Christian, you need to be reading the Bible, you need to be studying the Bible, and you need to be in a Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching church. I thank God for a congregation that comes with their Bibles expecting to hear the Word of the Lord, and by God's grace, this pulpit will continue to preach the Word of God. When you come to Revival Christian Fellowship, the Bible will always be opened, the Bible will always be read, the Bible will always be expounded and applied to our lives. We need to hear the Word, and that's becoming rarer in churches today. They're not really Bible churches. A true church is a church that preaches the Word of God. Amen?
So we need to hear the Word, but not enough just to hear it on Sunday morning, we need to be hearing it on a daily basis. Then we need to receive the Word, Verse 21, "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and overflowing naughtiness and receive with meekness." Now the key word here is receive, and you do it with humility or meekness. What did we receive? The engrafted Word which is able to what? Save your souls. Not only bring you eternal life, but save your life here and now in this life, read Psalm 1.
Then the third thing we need to do in relationship to the Bible is obey it. This is really one of the key verses to the Book of James Verse 22, "Be ye doers." That's the key word, "of the Word not hearers only if you do only hear, then you're deceiving your own self." So keyword hear, Verse 19, receive, Verse 21 and do, Verse 22. Hear the Word, receive the Word, and do the Word. If you do respond those threefold ways, then you are a true believer because nature determines appetite. If God has given you a new nature, guess what it's going to want? The Word of God. Amen?
One of the greatest indications that you have been born again is you want to read the Bible, and you hunger for God's word. You study the Bible and you read the Bible. If you don't get the Bible, you're starving for the Word of God. That's an indication of salvation or regeneration. Nature determines appetite. Before you're born again, you have no appetite for the Bible. Once you're born again. "Wow, I can't believe I'm reading the Bible. I can't believe I'm loving the Bible. I can't believe I understand the Bible." When I got saved at the age of 19, it just blew my mind that I was reading my Bible. "What am I doing? I'm reading the Bible," and then it blew... I'm liking it and I'm enjoying it. I understand it and I'm crying and I'm repenting. This is amazing how God's working in my life through His Word. Scripture says, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. The entrance of thy Word gives wisdom.”
So important that we be properly related to the Bible. So if you are a real Christian, if your faith is genuine and authentic and growing and maturing, you will be properly related to the book, hearing it, receiving it, and doing it. Write down Psalm 119:2, with the Psalm says, "Blessed are they that keep His testimonies and that seek Him with the whole heart." I love that if you keep God's Word, you're blessed and you seek Him with your whole heart. Now here's question number four, we got to move along. "Do I show partiality?" For that, we move to Chapter 2 of the Book of James. Let me give you four reasons true Christians don't show partiality or respect a person. Reason number one, it's inconsistent with faith in Christ. Look at Verse 1 of Chapter 2, "My brethren." That's a constant repeated refrain in the Book of James, my brethren, my brethren, my brethren, my brethren. He's appealing to the true believer, "have not," Verse 1, "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory with respect of persons.”
In other words, don't claim to be a Christian if you show respect of persons or partiality. It's inconsistent. It's inconsistent with your faith in Christ. Then secondly, it's inconsistent with God's actions himself. It's un-god like. Look at Verse 5 of Chapter 2, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him?" So God has chosen the poor and you have showed partiality and rejected the poor. You've judged by outward appearance. So that's contrary to God's own actions. Then number three, showing respect to persons is breaking God's law, it's basically sin. Look at Verse 8,9 of Chapter 2. "If you fulfill the royal law according to the scriptures, which is thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself, then you do well.
But if you have respective persons, you actually commit sin," Verse 9, "and are convinced of the law's transgressors." So it's contrary to God's Word, you are sinning. Then number four, it brings God's judgment, Verse 12, 13, "So speak ye and do ye as they who shall be judged by the law of liberty," Verse 13, "For you shall have judgment without mercy, that has shown no mercy and mercy rejoices against judgment." So here's the point. A faith that works doesn't show partiality but shows love to all. John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world," but how is it that God can love the world but we don't? So we need to love our neighbor as our self and not show partiality. It's a mark of maturity and of a genuine faith. Here's number five. Question number five, "Am I able to tame my tongue?" Now, we don't like this one, right? Did you have to do the tongue verses, Pastor John? "Am I able to tame my tongue?”
Look at Chapter 3:2, Chapter 3:2, "For in many things we offend all in many areas we sin. But if any man offend or stumble not in his words or his tongue, the same is a perfect, the word is mature man able to bridle the whole body." Get your tongue under control and the rest of the body will follow. So only the Holy Spirit can control the tongue. In Chapter 1:26, we saw, "If a man among you seems to be religious but bridles not his tongue, he's deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain." So if your speech is out of control, then you need to question whether your faith is real or genuine. The Holy Spirit takes control of our hearts and thus our words, a faith that works has power over the tongue. Maybe you've sinned by your words this week. Again, if we confess our sin, He's faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Amen.
Thank God for that. Now here's question number six. We're moving along. "Do I follow earthly wisdom or heavenly wisdom? Am I living operating in the sphere of earthly wisdom, which is earthly, sensual and devilish, or am I operating under a heavenly wisdom? Look at Verse 13 of Chapter 3, "Who is a wise man endowed with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation or manner of life his works with meekness and wisdom." So if you're truly wise, it will manifest in the way that you live. Now he describes the earthly wisdom in Verse 14-16, "But if any of you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, then glory not and lie not against the truth." This wisdom descends not from above, in other words, it doesn't come from God, but rather it's earthly, it's sensual and it's devilish, so don't function in that wisdom.
Verse 16, "For where envying and strife is, there's confusion in every evil work," so that's earthly wisdom. Now, if you read Verse 14 to Verse 16 and it describes your home, your marriage, your relationships, there's a good chance you need to question your Christianity, or you need to repent and get right with God. If you're operating in the realm of sensual, devilish, envying, strife, confusion, evil work, that's earthly wisdom. Now notice the contrast, heavenly wisdom, "But the wisdom that is from above," in other words, it comes from God, "it's first pure, then peaceable. It's gentle. It's easy to be intreated. It's easy to receive admonition, full of mercy, full of good fruits. It's without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
What a contrast to earthly wisdom. We want to function in the sphere and the realm of wisdom which comes from above. Then he says in Verse 18, "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." So ask yourself, "Do I have a faith that produces peace?" In your marriage, in your home and in your relationships, is it confusion, envy, strife, or is it pure peaceable, gentle, easy to be instructed, full of mercy and good fruits without hypocrisy or partiality? A faith that works produces peace? Here's question number seven. "Do I humbly submit to God's will and plans for my life?" I can't tell you how important this point is.
This is the mature Christian life, the mature, the genuine Christian who's mature and growing actually says, "Lord, have your way in me. Mold me, make me after thy will while I am waiting, yielded and still." I'll go where He wants me to go. I'll do what he wants me to do. I'll be what he wants me to be. Chapter 4, look at it with me. Verse 15, James 4:15,16, I wish we could read the whole passage, but just these two verses for what you ought to say, this is how you ought to live your life, "If the Lord wills, we shall live, do this, or do that." Remember when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane? He was facing the agony of the cross? What did He pray? "Not my will," but what?
"Your will be done." Satan said, "My will." Jesus said, "Thy will." That's the way to spiritual maturity. Then look at Verse 16 of Chapter 4, "But now you rejoice in your boasting. All such rejoicing is evil." A faith that works, submits to God's will purpose and plan for his or hers life. I don't think there's anything more important for a Christian to do than say, "God, I'm yours. I'll go where you want me to go. I'll do what you want me to do. I'll be what you want me to be. I'll say what you want me to say, I'm yours." Are you willing to do that? "Well, I don't know. God might send me where I don't want to go.”
I remember I was 19. My goal, my ambition, my aspirations were in life just to surf, to be a surf bum. I had no aspirations beyond surfing and surfing and surfing. That's all I wanted to do, professional surf bum, and then I got saved. Somebody told me, "You know what? You need to consecrate your life to God and tell God to have His way in you." I thought, "Well, what if he wants me to move to Barstow? I'll go where you want me to go, but not Barstow, Tahiti, Fiji, Bora, Bora, Hawaii anywhere, Lord, but please, not barstow. Got second to that when He kept me in San Bernardino my whole life, then a big step up and we moved to Menifee. But there's no place I'd rather be than smack dab in the center of God's will. Amen?
Doing what God's called you to do for the glory of God, God has a plan and a purpose for every one of your lives. Have you prayed? Have you sought Him? Write down Romans 12:1. Read it when you get a chance. "I beg you," Paul says, "by the mercies of God that you present," there's that consecration, "that you present your bodies," which is your mind, your emotions, your will, your whole life, your whole being, "your bodies unto God as a reasonable sacrifice that you may prove or discover or determine what is the perfect good and acceptable will of God." Is you're all on the altar? Are you ready for God's will? Whatever it's sickness or health, prosperity or wealth or whatever it might be, or whether it's poverty or wealth, "A faith that works submits to God's will, his purpose in this plan for one's life." That's a mark of maturity and of reality of your faith. Now here's number eight. Ask yourself this question, "Do I patiently await the Lord's return?”
You say, "Well, that's an odd question to ask," but as a believer, we should be motivated by the soon coming again of Jesus Christ. "Be patient, therefore, brethren," Chapter 5:7. Turn to Chapter 5. I'm sorry I didn't tell you that. Chapter 5:7, "Be patient, therefore, brethren," there again, "unto," what? "The coming of the Lord." Be patient like the farmer who is working, Verse 7, like the prophet who is witnessing, Verse 10, and like the man Job, Verse 11 of Chapter 5, who is waiting, patiently waiting. So faith that works as long-suffering waiting for the Lord's return. Now let me say this, heaven for the believer is not just a destination, it's a present motivation. Heaven is not just pie in the sky, in the sweet by and by, can't wait until I get there in the future, but it's a motivation for how I live right now. You hear people say, "Well, they're so heavenly minded, they're of no earthly good." Well, that's not genuine spirituality. That's a phony spirituality.
If you're authentically, genuinely heavenly minded, you will be adversely good. Someone said it like this, "Those who have done the most for this world are the ones that think most of the next world." I believe that with all my heart. "Those who do the most help in this world are the ones that think most of the next world," it actually motivates them. "What am I living for? What am I doing with my life? Am I just spending it? Am I wasting it or am I investing it?" A mark of maturity is that I believe Jesus is coming back and I want to hear those words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant." That's all that motivates you. A faith that works longs for Jesus Christ to come again. Here's number nine. "Am I prayerful till the Lord returns?" Now, I'm anxiously looking for the Lord to return and what am I doing patiently while I wait? Praying till the Lord returns.
Begin in Chapter 5, and I want you to see these four areas when we should be prayerful until the Lord returns. When I'm sad, Verse 13 of Chapter 5, "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray." So when we're afflicted, we should turn to God in prayer, and then when we are glad, Verse 13 again, "Is any among you merry? Let him sing psalms." then thirdly, when I'm sick, Verse 14 of Chapter 5, "Is any sick among you? Call for the elders of the church. Let them be anointed with oil, and prayer of faith shall save the sick and if they've committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Then fourthly, Verse 15, when I sin, look at it, Verse 15 of Chapter 5, "If any has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." So these are the categories when a Christian who is mature will pray, when they're sad, when they're glad, when they're sick, or after they've sinned, God please forgive me and heal me of my sin.
Now there's the 10th and last question. This is our text. I just finally got to our sermon text. Don't freak out, it's only two verses, and I'll be brief. But look at Verse 19 and 20. Ask yourself this question, "Do I seek to win or reclaim those who are gone astray?" You know what a mark of maturity is? If a brother or sister be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, you go to them and seek to restore them back to the faith. Look at Verse 19 and 20, "Brethren," there's that repeated phrase, "if any of you," and then in the Greek it actually reads, "any among you, brethren, any among you do err from the truth," which is of course the truth of God's Word, the truth of the Christian life, "and one, convert him," the word convert means turns him back or turns him around, "Let him know that he which converts the sinner," so he speaking to those who would win the loss back. "You convert the sinner," and it's, a sinner, "from the err of his way shall save a soul from death and shall hide," what?
A multitude of sins.
... "a multitude of sins." Now I'm finally got to my text and I'm physically worn out and tired. I think I'll save it until next week. I'm just kidding. But isn't it funny, I thought, "What am I thinking? I've come to this text to wrap up my study in James, and it's one of the most difficult to interpret in the entire Book of James." I personally think it is the most difficult to interpret. What is it talking about, a brethren do err from the truth and one convert him? Is it saying that a Christian can lose their salvation? They need to be born again again and come back to the Lord? I don't believe that's what it's saying, but let me say a couple of things. Number one, all scripture or a text of scripture has only one meaning. We want to know what it means and what it says. So all scripture has only one meaning. What do I mean by that? I mean it's not, I think it's this. I think it's that.
Well, it can mean whatever you want it to mean. No, no. A verse in the Bible can't mean whatever you want it to mean. It means, listen carefully, what the author originally intended it to mean. This is what's called authorial intent. The goal of Bible study interpretation is to get to the authorial intent. What did the original author mean by what he said? I solemnly confess to you this morning, even though this is my closing text, I don't know what for sure it means. God bless you. Have a wonderful week. Part of maturing in your study of the Bible is admitting sometimes I don't know. Let me tell you what I do know. Number one, I do know because of the clear teaching of scripture, I'm convinced and good Christians can disagree, that if you have been born again, thus you're an authentic Christian, you can never lose your salvation. I'm not afraid to say that 'cause I believe that's what the Bible teaches. You can lose fellowship with God, but you're not going to lose sonship.
You've been born into God's family. This is why earlier I said, when you became a Christian, you didn't just believe something, something happened to you. You were actually regenerated. That means you were given the life of God in your soul. You were quickened or made alive spiritually. I don't see anything in the scriptures that would indicate that you can unregenerate yourself by turning your back on God. You can actually dishonor God. You can grieve the Holy Spirit, but you can't grieve Him away. Bible says that we as Christians have been sealed with the Spirit unto the day of redemption. Romans 8:1 says, "There's now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and the moment you were saved, you were born of the Spirit." You were placed in Christ by the Holy Spirit. I believe once in Christ, always in Christ.
Now this is not a license to sin, and I'm not here to talk about can you lose your salvation, but I reject any interpretation that would say this is a Christian, "Brethren," Verse 19, "that errs from the truth, they backslide and if you convert them, they get saved again and you save a soul from death," that's eternal death or hell or damnation, "and you cover a multitude of sins." I don't believe that's what it's saying. But there's two possibilities, and I don't know which one's true. One possibility is that he's talking about professing Christians. What do I mean by that? In the Book of James it would be consistent, those who say, "I have faith," but they're not really saved. They profess but they don't possess. So to err from the truth, they what's called apostatize. Now, a genuine apostate is someone who has never been born again, never really been regenerated, claims to be a Christian, starts going to church, starts saying, "I believe in Jesus Christ," and yet they're not really born of the spirit. They're like wheat or they're like tears in the midst of the wheat.
They're not real believers and then they fall away. They turn their backs on God. Those are people who were never really saved. Could be that's what he's talking about, that we need to go to them, try to convert them to true salvation, that the soul will be saved and then we will hide a multitude of sins. But a better second option, and again, I am not dogmatic about which of the two is the right interpretation, but they're both biblical, is that he's talking about a genuine Christian that errs from the truth, he backslides. I believe that a true saved Christian can backslide. Now for how long and how far? I don't know. But what God says in his Word is sometimes that people who backslide and live in sin that God actually by death will take home to heaven lest they continue to go on in their sin and dishonor God. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, which is a congregation that had a lot of problems and issues, he said, "When you take the Lord's Supper, many of you have become sick and some of you have actually died.”
Isn't that interesting? In the Book of James, we just read, "If any is sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church and pray over him, and if he's committed sin," we have two topics there, sickness and sin, "and the prayer of faith shall save the sick and they will be forgiven." Then he goes right into this command that, "If someone errs from the truth and you convert him..." So my guess is, this is where I would lean into the two interpretations, that it is a person who is genuinely a Christian, they have turned away from the Lord and backslidden and we need to go to them and try to bring them back. The word convert here doesn't necessarily convey the idea of born again. It just means turn back. Remember when Jesus told Peter, "You're going to deny me three times? You're going to say three times you don't know me?" But he said, "I prayed for you, Peter, and when you are converted, when you are turned, when you come back, strengthen your brother.”
So it's possible for a real Christian to fall back into sin and God out of disciplinary action could take their life. Then the death here in the text is actually physical death. There's a Bible verse that talks about the sin unto death. So sometimes Christians have died because God has taken them home as an act of mercy. Now, this is no license to go sin. Your life is not your own. You need to serve the Lord to the fullest as long as He gives you breath and strength. But we should go to our fallen brothers and sisters and seek to restore them. Look at a couple of things quickly about this verse, Verse 19. He says, "Brethren, if any of you..." So this isn't just the pastor's job, it's not my job to go following people all around and trying to win them back. You as brothers and sisters should be reaching out to them as well and then notice, any among you, any among you, whether believers or professors err from the truth. This would be err by their belief or by their behavior, and one convert them.
That's what we want to do. Go to the fallen brother, go to the fallen sister, try to turn them back. Then notice the result of the restoration in Verse 20, twofold, save a soul from death. If they're true believers, then you save them from physical death. If they're unbelievers, you save them from eternal death and we hide a multitude of sins. When God forgives our sins, guess what he does with them? Hides them. He throws them behind his back. He throws them in the sea of forgetfulness, so you cover a multitude of sins. Now, what's the method of restoration? Well, it's not in the text, but let me give you three things. Number one, love them who are fallen into sin. Number two, pray for them. Don't gossip and back bite about them. Jesus with Peter said, "I prayed for you." Someone said, "They may not let you speak to them about God, but they cannot stop you from talking to God about them." I like that.
You go to, say, "I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear about God. I don't want to hear about Jesus." "Okay, well, I'm going to pray for you." "Well, don't pray for me." "I'm going to pray for you anyway. Can't stop me." So you may not let me talk to you about God, but I'm going to talk to God about you. I'm going to sick the hound dog of heaven on them. "Holy Spirit, sic them. Go get them. Make them miserable." I know my parents before I was saved were praying that God would make me miserable and he certainly did. They sicced the Holy Spirit on me. He got me. I'm glad. Then number three, go to them. So love, pray, go. Write down Galatians 6:1. I love that passage, is, "If a brother or sister be overtaken in a fault, you which are..." What?
... "spiritual." If a brother or sister stumble and fall and overtaken in the fall, you which are spiritual, mature, go to them, and you go in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Chuck Smith tells a story about when he was pastoring that there was a lovely couple in his church, loved the Lord, beautiful wife, husband, children. He got a call from the wife that said her husband had left her for another woman, that he packed his bags and moved out and he went to this other woman's home. "Chuck, would you go talk to him and try to reason with him and reach out to him?" So Chuck knew it would be a difficult task, but he went, he loved this individual, cared about him. He said he knocked on the door. When he opened the door, Chuck said he looked at him and he was just overwhelmed with emotions and love for him and just started to weep.
He said, "I just started to cry and started to weep, and started to sob." He said, "I apologized and just turned and walked away. Didn't even talk to him." He said the next morning his wife called Chuck and said, "Chuck, he's come home." I don't know about you, but that story always really moves me. The thought of just weeping for somebody, going to somebody showing them you care. "What are you doing? Why are you living like this? Why have you turned away from the Lord? He loves you. He'll forgive you. Come back." You which are spiritual seek to restore those who have fallen. You know one of the problems we have in the church? We shoot our wounded, "Oh, you've just been injured. Okay, finish you off." A foxhole, a guy next to you gets shot, "I'll finish off.”
Someone falls away or backslides, "I always knew that there was something wrong with them. See how small their Bible was? If they were spiritual, they'd have a big Bible like me. They didn't raise their hands very high either during worship. I knew something was wrong." Go to them, reach out to them in love, pray for them. Seek to win them back. You'll save a soul from death, physical death. You'll cover a multitude of sins. You'll be like Jesus, because Jesus said what? Shepherd wouldn't go out into the hills when he loses the one sheep. 99 sheep left, he's got 100, loses one. Now, if I were the shepherd, I'd say, "Good riddance," to that stupid sheep. "I got 99 elite sheep here, awesome sheep. That one was the flaky sheep." He goes out and he finds that one sheep. He puts it on his shoulder and he brings it back rejoicing. Amen?
God, help us to be like Jesus, to reach out to those that have fallen. Let's pray.
Pastor John Miller teaches a topical message through James 5:19-20, “Does Your Faith Work?”