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Sunday, April 1, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 40 ~ Saved from Death

Day 40 ~ Saved from Death
James 5:19-20  My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
With these words James concludes what is likely the earliest New Testament writing.  And what a note to end on!  The very gospel itself!  Through our journey James has called to our attention many ways in which we can err in our life of faith.  There are many voices out there trying to drown out God's Word in an effort to make us wander away from His truth.  False teachers arise trying to tell us that Christ is not sufficient for our salvation and they offer different plans.  The riches of this world try to tell us that there is a better way of living than suffering with Christ.  Our own pride and self-righteousness tell us we don't need to listen to God's Word and that other people are merely a means to an end.  All of these voices James has silenced along the way so that we end up at the foot of the cross, once again, ready to hear this good news: Jesus died to save you from death and His blood covers all your sins.

This is the message that brings salvation.  The preaching of Christ crucified for sinners is the very Word of God that creates and sustains faith in our hearts.  We need this message constantly placed in our ears by someone else, lest we grow distracted by false teachers, worldly temptations, and our own pride.  By placing this Word in our ears, the Holy Spirit secures Christ in our hearts.  This gives us great hope and confidence before God and the world.

In this world, however, there are many who are distracted.  They are listening to the other voices.  Some have walked away from the faith.  Some have never known the truth in the first place.  If hearing this message brings the light of God's love, then the messages that our friends in the world are hearing darken them to the truth.  "Faith," St. Paul says, "comes from hearing the message" (Romans 10:17).  But, many don't hear the message of forgiveness and so remain in the darkness.  "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:14) People in this world will not believe the Gospel unless someone tells them the Gospel.  They don't know that God has forgiven their sins in Christ Jesus.  They don't know that they have been reconciled to God through Christ's blood.  They don't know that Jesus rose again for their salvation.  How can they unless someone tells them?

You know the truth.  The truth has set you free.  You belong to Jesus.  You are baptized.  Your sins are forgiven.  You have been given new life in Christ.  God has promised you a place with Christ for eternity.  All of these promises Christ has secured for you in His death and resurrection.  He's done it for everyone else too.  So tell them, for heaven's sake!

Confession:  Father, forgive me for not speaking your gospel boldly.  I have kept this public news to myself as if it was a private belief.  Give me a mouth to declare your forgiveness and love to the whole world with boldness, confidence, and joy.  AMEN.

Challenge:  Invite a friend to Good Friday AND Easter services.

Pastor Bob

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