Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In anyone strays...thoughts on James 5:19-20

James 5:19 - My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,

If someone strays from the truth.  Either from Christ, who is the Truth, by deserting Him, forsaking His ways, or embracing things that contradict God’s Word and clear Biblical teaching.

He opens is by presenting a scenario.  If anyone strays… So, if this happens… and then he says and one turns him back.  There are implications between those two phrases.  Let me give you an illustration to try and get your on the same page with me here if you already aren’t.  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?

‘If anyone among you strays’ and he has in mind here a straying or wandering away from a very specific thing.  That being… ‘the truth’.  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.

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 and not just invite them in and wait.  We don’t only invite them and wait.  We go to them with the message of the Gospel and reason with them to be reconciled to the God who gave them life.  And if they don’t come then we continue to pray and plead with God to break their sin-hardened hearts.

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, 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.

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?

James 5:20 - 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.

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