Weekly Word from Bro. David
May 26, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
When a saint strays are you burdened enough to confront and to care? There is good news: today from the book of James we are going to see what to do when a saint strays.
Now 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 saints 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.”
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 AND that 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.
That's how James concludes his book! By explaining to us what to do when a saint strays. We saw first of all in verse 19 that James begins with a warning and that warning is BEWARE OF A DANGER. Yes, beware of a DANGER but lastly, see that we are to be alert to our DUTY.
Now understand something: as members of this fellowship and as partners in ministry and missions, we're not only called to win the lost, we are called to win the saved! And look what that duty involves. First, it involves REPENTANCE.
Verse 19, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,“ Now what does that mean when James says, “and someone turns him back?”
Well James uses a compound word here. The first word means “towards or back.” The second word means “to turn.” When you put those two words together it means, “to turn toward or to turn back.”
When someone “turns him back” he's talking about a strayed saint going back to where he once was before that is getting back into fellowship with God, getting back into fellowship with His church.
When a saint strays away from their fellowship with God and His church they need rescuing! They need restoring! They need saving! For their sake! For the Kingdom's sake! For the churches sake!
Now don't misunderstand what he's saying here. He's not talking about the saved being lost and needing to be spiritually saved again, as though you can be saved one day and lost the other day.
When Jesus Christ comes into our lives, as we repent of our sin, He gives us eternal life. You're looking at a man who possesses eternal life. It's not that one day I'll have eternal life. I have it right now. I received it when I repented of my sins and gave my life to Jesus.
How long is eternal life? Eternal! Forever! Meaning it never ends. If I have eternal life, how can I somehow lose it? I cannot or it would not be eternal life.
James is not talking about my RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD; he's talking about my FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD and your fellowship with God. And ladies and gentlemen, the relationship you have with God as one of His children cannot be altered, but the fellowship you have with God can be rifted and when it is then it needs restoring and rejuvenating!
Verse 19, “... and turns him back ...” It's the picture of a rescue boat pursuing the boat that's drifted away from the shore, recovering it and bringing it back to the shore.
That's us! We're God's spiritual coast guards! It's our duty! It's our responsibility! And frankly, one of the greatest problems of the church today is the large number of members who have strayed away! Strayed away from the living word and strayed away from the written word. They've just drifted back into the world, out of touch with God and out of touch with the people of God.
They are on your Sunday school roll. They are on the choir roll. They are on your men's and women's ministry rolls. They are on the church roll. And the tragedy is that in the average church most people don't care. Well, God cares! And God forgive us for not caring for our strayed brothers and sisters in Christ.
Listen to what Paul says about that in 2 Corinthians 5.17-18, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”
We have been given “the ministry of reconciliation” and here's why: because God has reconciled us to Him through Jesus Christ. Not the ministry of criticism. Not the ministry of condemnation. Not the ministry of complaining. But instead, the ministry of reconciliation.
So how are you doing? Who have you rescued recently? Who have you helped be restored in their fellowship with God and with His church?
You say, “Pastor, how am I to do it?” I think Paul helps answer that question in Galatians 6.1-3, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Now, I can hear somebody say, “Well, that doesn't include me. Paul said that restoration was the responsibility of the “spiritual.” Well then you need to be saved. You need to meet Jesus. You need to be born again. To be “spiritual” is to be saved and to be saved is to be “spiritual.”
The “spiritual” are those who know Jesus. Do you know Jesus? The spiritual are those who are striving to walk with God. Are you striving to walk with God? You are if you know Him!
We need to be a church not only committed to winning the lost, but a church committed to winning the saved. Not only a light for the lost, but a haven for the hurting! So first is REPENTANCE, next comes RESUSCITATION.
Verse 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.” What kind of death is he referring too? Physical death! He's talking about “the sin unto death” for the Christian.
John talks about that in 1 John 5, “the sin unto death” for a saint. When a child of God embarrasses the name of Christ, when a Christian lives in continuous sin without repentance, God reaches down and says, “That's enough. You've embarrassed me long enough. You're coming home early if you're going to act that way.” And God takes them prematurely to heaven. What a tragedy! When a strayed saint is taken to glory early because of the neglect of saints gathered around him, who failed to try to restore him.
So when we help restore a saint, we help save them from physical death! That’s called Resuscitation! Then comes Restoration.
Sometimes we help turn around the death-like condition in which he was living. Rather than living a wasted and empty life, they live a productive and full and meaning life having been restored to God.
Then look what he says in verse 20, “... and cover a multitude of sins.” Does that mean we're to sweep sin under the carpet? No. The word “cover” speaks of doing away with something. And here he's talking about doing away with a multitude of sins.
Learn this: everything we cover God will uncover and everything we uncover God will cover. Proverbs 28.13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
When a saint strays, it is your business! We're all a part of the same body. And for the body to be healthy each member must be healthy.
We need the tenderness of James toward straying saints. What about you? Have you strayed? Perhaps you've strayed from the living Word; Jesus! Perhaps you've strayed from the written Word; the Scriptures.
Unhappiness and emptiness are reserved for backslidden saints. Every backslidden saint needs to decide: do I want God's chastisement or do I want God's cleansing? Will you reach out to somebody who needs restoring?