Summary: James, all through his five chapters encourages New Testament Christians to be faithul and to not wander or backslide from the truth and then in his last two verses James gives the exhortation to go after and restore any that may have wandered or backslid
1. Open your bibles to James 5:19&20.
2. These two verses bring us to the end of the book of James.
2. In our study of the book of James we have found his five chapter letter filled with multitudes of different instructions and exhortations to try and get brethren to live faithful.
3. Interestingly, the last two verses of James’ book makes a strong appeal to all faithful Christians to do all that they can to reach out and bring back those who have wandered away from God and have not remained faithful.
4. Let’s begin to look at this motivating challenge that James gives us.
I. FIRST, JAMES 5:19a, LETS US KNOW THAT THE ONE THAT JAMES IS TALKING ABOUT IN THIS VERSE IS A CHRISTIAN.
1. The very first word in James 5:19 is “Brethren”!
2. Let’s turn back to James chapter one and take a quick glance back through the book of James and notice how many times James uses the word “brethren”.
(1) James 1:2, “2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials”.
(2) James 1:16, “16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren”.
(3) James 1:19, “19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”.
(4) James 2:1, “1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality”.
(5) This is enough to illustrate the numerous times that James uses the word “brethren”. Actually, James uses the word “brethren” 15 times in the five chapters.
1) “Brethren”, in this N. T. epistle, is referring to those who are members of the church.
2) The word “brethren” refers to both males and females.
3) The term “brethren” lets us know that the ones that James is talking about in James 5:19 are Christians. They have obeyed the gospel and were saved of their past sins.
II. SECOND, JAMES 5:19a, TEACHES THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR ONE WHO IS A CHRISTIAN TO WANDER OR ERR FROM THE TRUTH.
1. Let’s read James 5:19a, “19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders [KJV “errs”] from the truth”.
(1) It follows from this statement that (#1) a brother or sister in Christ may err or wander; (#2) a brother or sister in Christ may err or wander from the truth; (#3) a brother or sister in Christ may sin.
(2) It is not specified whether the sin that one is wandering off into is immoral and sinful practices or whether it is referring to wandering off into teaching and practices that are wrong according to the plan of salvation, the avenues of worship, the organization of the church and or similar "doctrinal” sins.
(3) The book of James deals with all different kinds of sins and I would think that James is talking about any kind of sin – whether immoral or doctrinal.
(4) From what James and many other bible writers teach it is clear that one who is a Christian can sin and stray from the truth. When the backslider wanders from the truth they put their soul in danger of being lost.
2. What James and I have said is what the bible teaches, however most all religious groups teach to the contrary. They teach that sinful conduct does not endanger one’s soul.
(1) Sam Morris, a follower of denominationalism, wrote a tract with the title, Do a Christian’s Sins Damn [Condemn] His Soul? Mr. Morris asserted: “The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul....All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will
not make his soul in any more danger....The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul...” (Quoted by J. Noel Meredith, ADL, p.281).
(2) I have read and heard many, many statements very similar to this by those in denominations who believe that “once saved, always saved” is taught in the bible.
3. Let’s turn to just three of multitudes of verses that teach that the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” is a false doctrine.
(1) Turn to 1 Cor. 9:27. Here, Paul refers to himself, a truly converted and faithful preacher as having to guard against becoming a condemned backslider. Let’s read 1 Cor. 9:27, “27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Any Christian, just like Paul could have wandered, can so err or wander from the truth and cease to remain qualified to go to heaven.