Sermon for Sunday July 29th, 2012




If One Should Wander From The Truth by Steve Shepherd

James 5:19-5:20

INTRO.- ILL.- One time a friend from Missouri visited our church on a Sunday morning. He was a good church member where I formerly preached. He was a hunter and I fished for bass. He use to say to me, “If you’d go turkey hunting with me you’d stop that bass fishing.”

What was he saying? Was he saying that turkey hunting was better or more fun than bass fishing? Something like that.

What’s your favorite thing to do in life? And if something is good in life why would we ever stop doing it or participating in it?

I’ve enjoyed fishing over the years but I do very little fishing now. Why? It’s not because it’s a bad thing to do. The main reason why I don’t fish much any more is because I think I can use my time more wisely doing something for the Lord.

I don’t think God is going to hold is against us doing things we enjoy in life, but I think He is far happier when we do things that He wants us to do.

Ephesians 5:15-17 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Everyone has their favorite thing to do in life, but what is the best of the best? Is it not our relationship to Christ? Consequently, we should make the most of our time or the most of every day for the Lord and not waste time on lesser things which will mean nothing in eternity. Only one life. Twill soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last.

Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Our ultimate devotion should be focused on Christ! And His ultimate desire for all mankind is that they come to a knowledge of the truth of Christ. God wants all men to be saved or brought into a right relationship with Him. Our text talks about this.

PROP.- James tells us what to do with people who wander away from the truth of Christ.
1- Bring them back
2- Remember the good
3- Cover the sins

I. BRING THEM BACK

19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back.

Evangelism is what? It’s leading someone to know and accept Christ as their savior. It’s called the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:18-19 “Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Have you ever led anyone to accept Christ, to confess their faith in Him and be baptized? My latest was an 86 year old lady at the Nursing Center and that only happened because her son called me and said he was concerned about his mother. And, of course, I felt very good about baptizing her. It was a first for the nursing home and a first for me to baptize someone in a nursing home.

Is it ever too late to baptize someone into Christ? I don’t think so.

As hard as it may seem to be to lead someone to Christ it’s what we should do, we must do. We must continue to witness to others for Christ every time we get an opportunity. We must always be thinking about pointing people to Christ. And we must use every opportunity to teach people what they need to do. AND WE MUST PRAY!

If you find it hard to talk to some family about Christ then you can pray! And who knows? Perhaps God will open the door for you to speak to them and even give you the boldness to speak.

Colossians 4:2-6 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Now, as hard as evangelizing may seem to be, there is something more difficult? Do you know what it is? It’s trying to bring someone BACK to Christ and to the church once they have turned away. Why is this hard to do? Because people who turn away often become hardened. And they don’t want you to disturb their lifestyle.

ILL.- I remember taking a preacher with me to call on a family in a church during a revival meeting. This meeting had been very delinquent in regard to the church and hadn’t attended in some time. My preacher friend said to them, “Steve, tells me that you folks haven’t been to church in a long time. What is keeping you from coming?”

Wow! HE WAS BLUNT! And that family stuttered and stammered and didn’t know what to say, except to make some excuses for not attending church.

Acts 8:20-24 “Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

Sometimes it may pay to be blunt but most of the time we have to handle people with kid gloves. We have to deal gently with them. Most people don’t respond to frankness or bluntness, but they do respond to kindness.

I Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

2 Timothy 2:24 “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

II. REMEMBER THE GOOD

20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Remember this. Remember what? Remember the good you do by bringing people back to Christ and the church!

ILL.- A man named Rory Johnson, 29, was arrested in the month of May for a liquor store robbery in Elkhart, Ind. Johnson had parked in the back of the store to facilitate his getaway but had trouble exiting because of congestion due to road construction. Five minutes after the robbery, he was sitting in his car, having moved only a few feet, and liquor store employees pointed him out to police.

What’s the moral of this story? Several things. Number one: don’t rob liquor stores. Number two: don’t rob a store during the day time because it’s easier to get caught. Number three: don’t rob a store where they are doing road construction. Number four: don’t rob any store or anyone, any time.

Have you ever done anything in life that you are ashamed of or perhaps ashamed to talk about? HAVEN’T WE ALL?! But what about doing good things that we can rejoice in and talk about?! Have you done some good things in life for others that you are thrilled about?

Galatians 6:7-10 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

All of us should be doing some good things for others and every day, if possible, in order to bless others, to praise the Lord, and to reap of harvest of good in our own lives.

There isn’t anything better in life than bringing someone to Christ or back to Christ! Because in so doing, you are essentially saving their soul. And, of course, I realize very well that only God can save a soul, BUT HE USES US TO GET THE JOB DONE!

John 1:40-42 “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.”

He did what? He brought his brother to Jesus! The most important thing about remembering the good is that God will remember the good we do!

Matthew 25:23 KJV “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

III. COVER THE SINS

ILL.- Mark Twain is reported to have said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

I think naked might have influence on society but I’m not sure it would be a good influence. Haven’t we all seen a few people in our time that were either under-dressed or maybe near naked in public? I suppose if we lived in sunny Southern California and lived near a beach we would probably see lots of skin.

Twain also said that clothes make the man. I’m not sure I buy that. Do you? Clothes can certainly enhance a person’s appearance if they are neat, well-dressed, stylish, etc. We live in a society, however, where sloppiness seems to be the norm. Grown adults wear blue jeans with holes in them, thinking they are attractive, I guess.

I do know that clothes cover up a lot! For example, I am overweight, not extremely overweight but I weigh more than I should. I am like some have said, “My chest has dropped,” or something has happened.

Someone said, “the odds that a diet will work are three to one against you: knife, fork and spoon.” As we age, we are often less active but we continue to eat like we always did. That equals weight gain and for men, it often means around the stomach.

Brothers and sisters, clothes do cover up a lot! But covering one’s body may not be as important as covering up one’s sin!

Why in the world would we want cover up someone’s sin? I thought we were suppose to expose sin for what it is?!

Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

We are suppose to expose the sin of the world, but not individual’s sins.

ILL.- I heard of one church that requires people to stand before the congregation and make a confession of their sins. OH WOW! What good would that do? I think it would only make juicy fodder for people to talk about!

No, rather we are suppose to cover over people’s sins.

20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:7-8 “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

What’s the idea? This text is not talking about literally “covering up” someone’s sins in the sense of hiding them from others. The meaning is that we lead people to Christ or back to Christ then we are keeping them sinning more in the future. And those sins of which they are guilty will be covered up or covered over with the blood of Christ!

Romans 4:7-8 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

Aren’t you glad that your sins are “covered” with the blood and the Lord will never count them against you?

CONCLUSION-------------------

If one should wander from the truth. Wandering away can get a person in trouble.

ILL.- When my sister Sharon and I were small, may 4 or 5 years old, mom and dad went to town to shop and left us taking a nap. Sharon and I woke up and saw that mom and dad were gone. We were scared. We ran to the neighbor’s house for help. We didn’t know it, but our older brother Larry was in another room asleep. I guess mom and dad left him in charge.

Brothers and sisters, God has left us in charge with the lives of others! He wants us to care for them, keep them safe and not allow them to run off or wander away. Are we taking this job seriously? We must.

Steve Shepherd, Jonesboro Christian Church