Saturday, December 19, 2009
THE Work of God
Jas 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;
Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
This is the noble and high, dual work of soul winning of the lost and reconciliation of the erring saint. When we are all about bringing the wanderer home, we are never doing God's will in a greater way. The smiles of Heaven shine upon these efforts and crown the worker with several great honors.
1. That sinner's life is saved. "...shall save a soul from death." James tells us elsewhere that sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. No matter how the enemy advertises sin, no matter which make-up he applies to it, in the end, sin separates the sinner from life. Conversion, however, saves his life.
2. In the case of soul winning, that sinner's eternity is redirected from perdition to Paradise. Death is two-fold. Rather than merely being a cessation of physical function, death is an eternal separation from the life of God. This, of course means hell. Conversion puts him on an unalterable path to heaven.
3. The sinner’s misdeeds, once he has been converted, are cast into the sea of God's forgetfulness. They are hidden, blotted out, washed away, powerless as evidence against the redeemed sinner.
And so, the soul winner and reclaimer of souls is found doing the most needful and important work of God. We have this ministry of reconciliation (II Cor 5:18). A wonderful crown of rejoicing awaits those so engaged in God's work. (II Thess 2:19)
Many about you today are found in this dreadful state of enmity against God and are in need of the conversion you can offer them in Christ Jesus. Be faithful to plough the field, plant the seed, water it with the Word, cultivate the weeds and hope for the harvest. Great is your reward for doing so.
I leave you with the words of commentator Barnes from the late 19th century:
"That he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way" - Any sinner; anyone who has done wrong. This is a general principle, applicable to this case and to all others of the same kind. It is a universal truth that he who turns a sinner from a wicked path does a work which is acceptable to God, and which will in some way receive tokens of his approbation. Compare Deu_12:3. No work which man can perform is more acceptable to God; none will be followed with higher rewards. In the language which is used here by the apostle, it is evidently intended not to deny that success in converting a sinner, or in reclaiming one from the error of his ways, is to be traced to the grace of God; but the apostle here refers only to the divine feeling towards the individual who shall attempt it, and the rewards which he may hope to receive. The reward bestowed, the good intended and done, would be the same as if the individual were able to do the work himself. God approves and loves his aims and efforts, though the success is ultimately to be traced to himself.