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Preached at Straightway Bible Church on Sept 22, 2013.  Below you will find the study notes I handed out. James instructs us to go to those who have wandered away from the truth and bring them back to the right way.

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Here are the study notes:

James 5:15-18 Bring Back The Wanderer

Brent Riggs – www.seriousfaith.comcli

  • James letter is a practical “roll up your sleeves” how to live the Christian life message.
  • The entire book of James is filled with challenges to endure suffering with joy, to control the tongue, to live a life that is evidence of genuine salvation; he closes with an appeal to the church to watch out for each other
  • Here he introduces a third category of believers, those who have wandered from the truth
  • James is specifically speaking here of a believer who is wandered into idolatry or false teaching
  • “turns him back” speaks not of returning the wanderer for judgment or condemnation but rather for repentance and restoration
  • Once we as believers have knowledge of brethren who have wandered from the truth, it carries an obligation and responsibility to take action regardless of our feelings or desire to do so
  • The Greek word for “wanders” is “planeo”; we get our word planet from this word which literally means to wander
  • Satan wants to see us wander away from the Fellowship and body of believers so he can isolate us and cut us off spiritually and even eternally
  • “cover a multitude of sins” – literally means “love refuses to see faults”
  • Verse 20 – it is not definitive whether James refers to the sins of the wanderer, or the sins of the person who has brought him back but is most likely referring to the sins of the sinner who has been brought back in keeping with James is comments on confessing your sins earlier in the chapter
  • The book of James is continually about statements and tests of authentic faith; the wanderer is obviously in danger of exposing dead faith and revealing they were never saved at all which is why James warns that spiritual eternal death might be their consequence
  • James reminds both the wanderer and the believer who is turn him back that anyone who repents is still a candidate for God’s forgiveness and love
  • Will save a soul from death – James is talking about both types of death, physical and spiritual
  • if the person is a true believer who is strayed, we are saving them from spiritual death with regards to their Fellowship with God and other believers
  • in 1st Kings chapter 21, this is a very dramatic instance of a godly person confronting someone who is wandering in their sin and disobedience to

Four aspects of James commands in these verses:

The Evidence

  • “brethren” – James continues to use this term to identify those within his congregation and those who he considered of like mind with him
  • “among you” – again James identifies that the people he is addressing are among the group of believers this letter is written to.. “Among you” again implies people who were behaving and living as if they were Christians
  • “the truth” – James is referring to people who at some point knew the truth, perhaps even tried to live in this truth and most certainly had access to the truth

The Threat

  • the terrible fate of those who have wandered and never come back is eternal death because their sins will never be covered or forgiven
  • Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
  • Given the warnings of the more severe punishment to those who have been part of the truth and wandered away from it, we have added urgency and motivation to seek out those who are part of us and have left the way of truth

The Instrument

  •  “one”, “him”, “he” – are three pronouns identifying all believers not just spiritual leaders or shepherds

The Goal

  • DO WHAT:  turns a sinner from the error of his ways
  • HOW?  If a simple conversation with the person does not convince the you may have to consider specific Biblical steps in some situations…..      Matthew 18:15–17
  • REASON WHY?: save a soul from death
  • the word “save” is sozo which is the common New Testament word for salvation
  • God has given all believers the opportunity and obligation to be involved in the Ministry of reconciling lost and wandering souls back to the truth. When we see evidence that indicates one of our fellow professing believers has strayed into a life and practice of false teaching, we should assume for their sake they are not saved and face the greatest and most terrible punishment and condemnation because they had access to the truth and have walked away from it.
  • We seek them out with the goal of bringing them back in restoring them by repentance and forgiveness and a restoration to the truth.
  • In doing so, this act of love, their response of love, and God’s pouring out of love covers a multitude of sin in the lives of all involved. Love is elevated and displayed, while sin is diminished and forsaken.