Summary: To note our responsibility of entreating the erring.

Bringing the Wanderer Home

Text: James 5.19-20

Thesis: To note our responsibility of entreating the erring.


(1) The Bible teaches the possibility of apostasy (e.g., Gal. 5.4; 2 Pet. 2.20-22).

(2) What is the church to do with those who have apostatized?


I. The Responsibility – Go after the wanderer

A. “My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them” (James 5.19, The Message).

B. “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” (Gal. 6.1, NKJV).

C. “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother” (Matt. 18.15, NASB).

D. “Don’t think of them as enemies, but speak to them as you would to a Christian who needs to be warned” (2 Thess. 3.15, NLT).

E. “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7.5, NIV).

II. The Approach – Love

A. Treat others as you would have them treat you (Matt. 7.12)

B. Speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4.15)

C. In a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6.1)

D. Never give up (cf. 2 Pet. 3.9)

III. The Result – Depends upon one’s personal choice

A. If one listens, then:

1. His/Her soul will be saved from death (James 5.19)

a. Death – Spiritual

b. Covering sin – metaphor for forgiveness (Psa. 32.1; Prov. 10.12;

1 Pet. 4.8; Rom. 4.7).

2. You have won your brother (Matt. 18.15)

B. If one doesn’t listen, then:

You have fulfilled your responsibility and will thus avoid sharing in his/her fate (cf. Ezek. 3.18-19).


(1) A young man once described going astray from God “like he was at sea in deep water, deep trouble, and all his friends were on the shoreline hurling biblical accusations at him about justice, penalty and wrong …but there was one Christian brother who actually swam out to get me and would not let me go. I fought him, but he pushed aside my fighting, grasped me, put a life jacket around me, and took me to shore. By the grace of God, he was the reason I was restored. He would not let me go” (Swindoll 195).

(2) “The New Testament makes it clear that Christians are their brothers’ keepers” (Shelly 122).

(3) Remember the elder son in the parable of the lost (cf. Luke 15). Instead, be the shepherd who is willing to leave the 99 to go after the 1 who went astray.

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