Weekly Word from Bro. David
May 19, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
What to do when a saint strays? When you hear that somebody in the church has fallen into sin, what is your first thought? “What were they thinking?” “How could they let that happen?” “What's the rest of the story?” “What will that mean for their family?” “How will God deal with them?” “How could they be so careless?” “I'm glad I'm not in their shoes.” “How they could show their face at worship?”
Those may be your first thoughts, but what about your first reaction? Make a few phone calls: “Have you heard what so-and-so did?” Perhaps an email: “Have you heard the latest about so-and-so?” Are you a part of the Baptist grapevine? Which, by the way, I believe is faster than the speed of light!
When a saint strays are you burdened enough to confront and to care? Well, today I've got some good news and some sad news. The good news is that today from the book of James we're going to learn what to do when a saint strays. The sad news is that we are concluding our study of the book of James under the heading: CHRISTIANITY IN SHOELEATHER.
As we consider James 5, we're reminded that we're not only called to win the lost, we're also called to win the saved! What to do when a saint strays in James 5.19-20: Pastor James says,
Vv. 19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 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.”
So, what do we do when a saint strays from God and from His church? Let them go? Turn our back on them? Talk about them? What does God say we are to do?
I am convinced that the most miserable person on earth is the saint that has strayed from God. The strayed saint is a sad saint. Not the lost person, but the saved person! The quickest way to unhappiness is to be a compromising, backslidden Christian.
And yet, I'm so grateful that God is in the restoration business ANDthat God invites US to be a part of the process of recovering straying saints. That God wants us to be on the RESCUE AND RECOVERY team.
Well, that's how James concludes his book! By explaining to us what to do when a saint strays. We will notice, first of all in verse 19, that James begins with a warning and that warning is BEWARE OF A DANGER. “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth ...” vs. 19, Now there is a danger for all us and that danger is “wandering from the truth.”
So what does that mean, “to wander from the truth?” Well... “to wander” means “to go astray.” It speaks of a slow gradual moving away from something. It's the picture of a boat that was once secured to the dock and has worked its way loose and slowly drifts out to sea.
Peter uses this same word in 1 Peter 2.25, “For you were like sheep going ASTRAY, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Put it down: wandering happens slowly and seductively.
And something else about this word, “wander,” the tense of the word indicates that this “wandering” is not something a person does all the time. But rather, it's an occasional thing. Perhaps even a one-time thing. It's something that's done and not repeated over and over.
It's also in the passive voice, which tells us that this straying saint strayed because he was led astray. It could have been by a person, a place, even a passion.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders...” is where we get our English word “planet.” Like a planet that seems to wander across the sky there are those in the church, those within the family of God, that wander, that stray, and that drift.
That begs the question, wander from what? Stray from what? Drift from what? THE TRUTH! Look at it again in verse 19, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth...” What is “the truth?” I think Jesus can answer that question in John 14.6 when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” This “wandering” speaks of wandering from the PERSON OF TRUTH and that's Jesus!
Jesus doesn't just speak truth---He is truth!
But there may be more to this “wandering from the truth” than just the PERSON OF TRUTH. Read with me John 17.17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Yes, not only the PERSON OF TRUTH, but the POSSESSION OF TRUTH.
Now don't miss this: those who have wandered from the truth are those who have strayed from not only the written Word, but also the living Word! Hey folks when you stray from the LIVING WORD, it's because you've strayed from the WRITTEN WORD. And when you stray from the WRITTEN WORD, it's because you've strayed from the LIVING WORD.
It IS important what you believe! Doctrine does matter and I'll tell you why: because what you BELIEVE determines how you BEHAVE. Just write it down: BELIEF DETERMINES BEHAVIOR.
If you believe that you're no different from the animals and that you have evolved from monkeys, eventually you'll start acting like one. But if you believe that you were created in the image of God; that He formed you and He knows you by name, that He's saved you, you'll start acting like a human being.
Don't ever let anybody tell you that it doesn't matter what you believe. Because what you believe determines how you behave. Beware of the danger of straying, of drifting, of slipping away from the living Word and the written Word of God. It takes place slowly like erosion. Just a step here and a step there until eventually you're a long way from where you once were.
No garden suddenly is overgrown with weeds. No marriage suddenly ends in divorce. No building suddenly becomes a pile of bricks; it's a gradual thing. Oh, beware of the danger of spiritual drifting! “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth ...”
But there is something else that James tells us. Yes beware of a DANGER but also we will see next week to be alert to our DUTY.