I recently studied through the book of James, filling up pages of notes. Obviously the general message of the book of James is to be not only hearers of the Word, but “doers” of the Word. James demands action from a comfortable, satisfied church.
Although this was the common theme, there was one concept – from the last two verses of the book – that struck me.
“Bretheren, 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.” – James 5:19-20 (NKJV)
I would first like to stress that there is only one truth. This is easily proven through the fact that James here spoke of “the truth“, which is singular. If there is truth, there are many things that are not truth.
We live in a time when the gospel has been perverted so many ways that it’s like picking your favorite candy at Candy Craze. What ever you like is what you can have. The problem here is that anyone who is looking for the flavor that is their favorite, or the flavor that they are comfortable with is dead wrong. This is not the approach to God that we are to take. We have to humbly approach the throne of grace. There are not “many” truths, or “many ways of making it to heaven”, as many would have us believe. You see, there is one God. And He has one plan. (Ephesians 4:4-6) Why would God throw fifteen different plans for salvation out to us? He wouldn’t make out different plans for us to follow. He wouldn’t make “The Easy Way”, “The Honorable Way”, “The Hard Way”, and “The Slip-on-a-banana-peel-into-heaven Way”, so that we could choose. No, there is one truth. One way.
And although this is so very obvious, many have strayed from the truth. Whether it be trinitarianism, charismatic, etc., there are many false truths that people are falling into.
I have dear friends who have fallen into wrong doctrine. It saddens me. It brings tears to my eyes in prayer when I think about the fact that there is one truth, and they are not in it.
But James has a message for people like you and I. Those people we know who are outside of the truth… they are as lost as the common sinner. Their soul is headed for death (James 5:20). And we can’t stand by, looking to witness to everyone else but them. We have to be ready to expose them again to this pure, wonderful, only truth. It is what they need.
I thought for a while that this was an odd place to end the book of James. It seems like there should be a whole lot more content, and then an ending that is something like, “With love, brothers and sisters in Christ, James, servant of the Lord.” But it doesn’t end like that. This is a commission. It’s like saying, “Go do this! NOW!”
We have to be reaching out to those who have walked outside of the safe walls of the truth. That person that you think about from time to time in prayer, praying that God will bring them back… the actions you take to witness to them are strides to save their soul from death.