Summary: This is the 30th message in our exposition of James. It deals with the call to win back the wayward.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Winning the Wayward”
Today we consider the last two verses of James’ letter. He wrote this letter to encourage both Jewish and Gentile believers in their Christian walk. He pointedly addressed the whole issue of genuine trust in God. We can easily claim to have strong faith until it is compared to God’s standard. Faith begins in our thinking and results in actions or behavior. Some title James “The Behavior of Belief”.
James penned over 50 instructions regarding how genuine faith acts, accompanied by insights related to the implementation of those instructions in our life.
I. Faith’s response to trials 1:2-27
Joyfully endure – continued endurance produces maturity and stability.
II. Faith’s response to partiality and prejudice 2:1-13
Love others as ourselves
III. Faith’s True Nature 2:14-26
Believe God and behave godly or demonstrate your belief by your behavior
IV. Faith’s response to conversation 3:1-12
Control your speech it can be destructive or constructive
V. Faith’s way of life 3:13-4:12
Live wisely according to God’s way
VI. Faith’s Response to God’s will 4:13-17
Include God in all your plans
VII. Faith’s response to suffering and persecution 5:1-13
Patiently endure and pray
VIII. Faith’s response to joy 5:13
Sing praises of Psalm it.
IX. Faith’s response to weakness 5:14-18
Ask for help, confess sins and pray for one another
The last two verses of James can be linked to the letter in two ways. It is either a continuation of the insight part of faith’s response to weakness or it could be viewed as a new category. As a new category one might title it, “Faith’s Response to Waywardness.” Since there is not really an instruction, I think that the verse fits better as a continuation of the previous section concerning response to weakness in the family.
A. The Instructions 5:14-17
1. The life circumstance – weakness
Is anyone among you without strength (weak)? James 5:14a
a. Physical weakness - sickness
b. Weakness flesh
c. Emotional weakness
d. Weakness of faith or spiritual weakness
e. Demonically distressed
f. General Inability
2. The prescribed conduct of the weak 5:14a, 16
James prescribes two instructions for those sensing weaknesses in any of these areas of their life.
a. Call for the elders of the church 5:14a
Is anyone among you without strength? Call for the elders of the church…James 5:14
Elders can be a reference to the official appointed elder leadership in the church or a reference to maturity. Ask for help from those spiritually mature.
b. Confess sins to one another 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another… James 5:16
James shifted from addressing an individual sensing weakness to a prescription that should be regularly practiced by the family. Why isn’t this a regular practice in churches today? Fear, bad experience, pride, lack of trust in other people, embarrassment.
3. The prescribed conduct of the elders 5:14b
So, what are the “elders to do? James included specific instructions for them.
Is anyone among you without strength? Call for the elders of the church, and let them pray on him, having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:14
a. Anoint with oil in the name of the Lord
b. Pray in faith
4. The anticipated consequence or outcome 5:15-16
What is the anticipated result of the prayer of faith?
Most of the words indicating some level of life change had the same range of application that our word “weakness” had.
The prayer of faith will bring…
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is weak James 5:15
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. James 5:15
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is weak, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:15
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16
James included, like he has all through the letter, accompanying insight intended to motivate the eager practice of the instruction.
Why should we ask for and offer help from the church family?
B. Insights 5:16-20
1. Because prayer for the weak works 5:16-18
The prayer of a righteous person has great ability as it is working. James 5:16
Prayer is powerful! Prayer accomplishes much. James illustrated the power of prayer from the prayer life of Elijah.
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. James 5:17-18