Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seek and Save the Lost!

If you are in a busy hectic place…shopping, six flags, sea world… something like that.  If you are in one of those places with small children you keep up with them do you not?  You watch them intently.  And if you look up and one of them has wandered off.  They’ve gotten out of your sight or they haven’t come back from where you sent them and something happens to get you worried about them.  Do you sit calmly and wait for them to find their way back to you?

No, that would be absolutely ridiculous.  You go search for that child.  You are concerned for their well-being.  You don’t want them to get injured or abducted or assaulted.  You search for them and if you’ve been in that situation where you don’t know, if even for a split second, where your child is you don’t just wander around looking for them.  You scream and run and search and do everything you have to do to get that child back to you.  True?  Amen?

That’s where I intend on taking this message because that’s what I see here in James’ implications.  ‘If anyone among you strays’ and he has in mind here a straying or wandering away from a very specific thing.  If anyone has wandered away from ‘the truth’.  We’ll look at the truth a bit more in a moment.  But if anyone strays from the truth, ‘and one turns him back’.  The implication is that there is a call to action.  To turn one back we have to pursue them.  He doesn’t make a case for waiting for them to wander back or hoping they do or anything else.  For us to turn them back means we go get them and bring them back into the fold.

This is a call for Christians to pursue those who are straying right now.  We know who they are, each of us has folks in mind I’m sure.  We can think back to over the years and come up with folks who may fall into this category.  We are to go get those straying sheep and not just invite them back in and wait.  That would be like a parent realizing their child had wandered away and then they just stand in one place shouting and looking without taking a step towards finding them.  We don’t only invite them and wait.  We invite them and if they don’t come then we pray and seek other means to restore them that come from Scripture.

We labor towards bringing them back.  This is very evangelistic in nature.  Going after the ones who are professors of the faith but are giving less and less evidence of bring possessors of the faith.  Saving faith, remember, saving faith that only comes from Jesus Christ, produces fruits.

Do you know those people?  I want you to be mentally making a list of those folks now and keep them on your heart for a minute here.  Do you know folks like that?  They used to talk about Honoring Christ but now they live in an overt sin giving little to no thought to God?  Those who, from all outward indications, have failed the test of whether they are in the faith?  I say outward signs because ultimately we can’t judge their heart.

We need to be concerned for those folks… why?  Above the fact that we are commanded to do it, we do it because it is the loving and merciful thing to do.

2 Peter 2:20 - For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

For those who know the truth and reject it, their judgment will be more harsh because they didn’t just die dead in their sins, they died having heard of the Redeemer who could spare them and they spit on Him rather than embracing Him as Lord.

You need to have compassion for the lost and straying.  If you don’t, then my friend you have never taken a long enough look at the cross of Christ.  You’ve never considered the depth of the interceding work done on your behalf by the Holy Spirit DAILY.

Romans 8:26-27 - In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We pray, but we don’t even know how to pray as we should, so instead the Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groanings too deep for words.  Have you not given thought to the mercy shown to you?  Don’t you desperately desire to see God pour out that same mercy on others around you?

There is an urgency folks.  An urgency to evangelize the lost and dying world.  We must!  How cold must a heart have grown to not care!?!  How ashamed of Christ must you be to not speak of Him?  It is the ultimate purpose of God!  To save souls and in doing so Glorify Himself!  Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. 

I want to ask you, have you ever marveled at your salvation?  Looked at sin and seen it for what it is.  Seen it as the creature, us, rebelling against the Creator God!  Coming from our desire to be independent of God and become like God.  Coming from our desire to steal the glory from the only One to whom it is due.

Have you marveled at His amazing Mercy and Grace?  Nothing can compare to His mercy.  Nothing can compare to His Grace, Nothing can compare to His Love!  Have you thought on those things!

When you see sin in that way, the awfulness of it becomes obvious.

Only the infinite love of God could conceive the thought of providing salvation, and at the high cost of the life of His Own Son, Jesus Christ!  But being in awe of God for your salvation becomes even greater when you remember that it doesn’t only restore the relationship with God that was lost through sin, but Scripture says that we are restored and we are now closed.  Not just forgiven but CLEARED of our sin debt!  We are now conformed to the very image of the Son of God!

Romans 8:29 - For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

We are now, because of Christ, those of us who are in Christ, are seen as Holy and blameless before God!  WOW!

Ephesians 1:3-4 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

Not because we don’t sin… Oh No!  That’s what is so much more amazing!  I’m not holy before God because I’ve obtained some state of perfection in this life.  The Holiness I’ve obtained came through that same Savior!  He imputed my sin to Himself and in return He imputed His righteousness to Me!  Those who have been saved have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light! 

1 Peter 2:9-10 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

You’ve been pulled from the grasp of death!  Don’t you have even the smallest desire to see others rescued as well?  James says that the one who turns a straying brother back will save his soul from death!  Not physical death, but spiritual death.

v20 - let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Since even one sin is enough to condemn a person to hell, James’ use of the word ‘multitude’ further illustrates the desperate situation of the sinner.

Those who do not heed the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Grace of God, and the Glory of His Power.

Would you sit idly by and watch someone walk off the edge of a cliff or die in a fire simply because you didn’t want to warn them?  Didn’t want to help?

You don’t do it because you want to judge them, you do it because you love them and if you are wrong and they are truly saved then they won’t get angry or offended.  A Christian, a true Christian, will appreciate your love and concern for them and they will use your words as an opportunity to examine themselves and be sure they haven’t slipped into some sin and become callous.  Listen, if you are approaching the situation with love and concern for them and you are bathing the whole thing in prayer and Scriptural exhortation, you don’t have to worry that you will push them away or turn them off to the Gospel.  Listen, if they aren’t saved, they are already turned off to the Gospel!  Do you realize that!  If they have never trusted in Christ they stand condemned already, they are dead in their sins already, enemies of God already… YOU can’t push them further…

We’ve got to see that they are in a desperate situation.  They are headed for eternal death and WE are the instruments that God has chosen to bring them back to Him!

You will be afraid, you will fight fear.  Your fear is a fear of man.  You need to pray and get others to pray for you.  Make war against that fear.  God will give you the words to speak.

The question isn’t ‘Do you care?’.  Of course we care.  The question is ‘Do you care enough’?

How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them about Jesus Christ and eternal life?  Do you care enough about them to warn them about God’s wrath and explain God’s offer of salvation?

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