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The Risk of Wandering and the Reward of Rescuing

The letter of James ends abruptly with a verse you can’t read without immediately thinking of someone you love, care about, and pray for. This verse evokes an immediate emotional reaction.

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth…” James 5:19

Most of us know someone who at one time shared our passion for the Savior and love for his church. Someone we sat next to at church, sang with, prayed with, served with, laughed with, cried with, and then the unthinkable happened. They wandered away from the truth of the gospel. So what are we to do when this heart-breaking departure takes place? How are we to respond? Is there anything we can do? In just a few words James encourages his original readers to act by pursuing someone who has wandered away. As incentive for this rescue mission he describes the potential reward of a successful rescue:

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save us soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” 5:19–20

I can’t improve of what Kent Hughes wrote about this rescue mission:

“To be a part of saving one from spiritual death is the greatest thing one human can ever do for another.”

That is what this message is about.

This post is adapted from a message entitled “A Rescue Mission,” preached at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.