“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton, ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 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.”
“James chapter 5, Lord willing we’ll finish this up this evening...These first six verses are hard, James it seems not addressing them to the Church but to those that were wealthy in his day, maybe the Sadducees in mind, were the ruling class of the Jews and very wealthy by defrauding others. Ah, over one million sterling in the Temple vaults when Titus Vespasian came. But the rich in any age can get themselves into a position where they control the courts, we watch our news sometimes and you get as much justice as you can afford in some places. Not a condemnation of wealth, there’s a lot of instruction in Scripture in regards to being a good steward, the in Scripture upholding the right to personal property, telling us how to be wise when God adds to us, how to be stewards over wealth. God using and loving wealthy men, Abraham, David, Solomon, many. But all throughout the Bible telling us that wealth is a great servant but a cruel master. There is the prohibition of hording in an unnatural, selfish, self-centered way of wantonness, it mentions that this evening. So, in the first six verses James is going to talk about the injustice that we might see in the world around us, and particularly in regards to the wealthy, and how it may dishearten you and I. But he’s going to say ‘But we’re waiting for the Lord, we’re waiting for something else, our hope is somewhere else,’ and he encourages us to be patient and to establish our hearts. There is great challenge here, he says “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.” (verse1) ‘Listen up, you rich men,’ Now he’s not just saying everybody whose rich is in big trouble, it’s not what he’s saying. We’ll look at it as he moves on through here. “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.” (verses 2-3) Interesting now, because neither gold nor silver rust, the idea is that it’s all temporary. “Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” (verse 4) He’s challenging those who all they do is live for money. And there are enough of them in our culture, there are enough of them around us, the almighty dollar, that’s all they live for. And you know, there’s some of them that live that way, and we don’t want anybody to mess with them. I heard Billy Graham say, “We sometimes are very quick to point the finger at Congressmen or Senators or somebody serving in Washington that’s making 150 Grand a year, but don’t mess with Madonna whose making 70 million a year. Don’t mess with our favorite sports heroes that are making 24 million dollars for twelve rounds in a ring, we can point the finger, but don’t mess with…” And we have those people out there who are millionaires multi-times over who are insane with their money, who don’t know what to do with it. ‘We don’t want, don’t mess with them because they entertain us, they’re our heroes, we like to see them in the movies, we like to see them shoot the bad guys.’ There are those that the Bible warns very severely, about living for the almighty dollar, worshipping mammon, letting that be the center of your life. He says the last days are coming, you can’t prepare, Kuggerands, food-storages, shotguns, brown rice, nothing’s going to get you ready for what comes. If you could prepare for that the Lord would not have very much power, obviously. “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.” (verse 4) the Lord of sabaoth, the Lord of hosts. Interesting, James says ‘Look, there’s an injustice that goes on,’ that we see sweat-shops today, on the news last week they were talking about immigrants that are being smuggled in from China and then made to work in some of the restaurants, sweat-shops until they pay their way, and that can be years. Ah, we look at people that work in industry sometimes, and you look at the boss, you look at what he’s making, and then you see him defrauding people who are fighting to get a fair wage, medical coverage and to provide for themselves. And God throughout the Scripture condemns that, he condemns it. ‘Behold the hire, just consider, the wages of those who have reaped down your fields, your factory, whatever, that have been kept back by fraud,’ warning those that are extremely wealthy that take advantage of those who are employed by them, ‘and you’ve held back their wages by fraud, and the cry of those things,’ it says, ‘has entered into the ears of the Lord.’ “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.” (verse 5) Now here’s the indictment, “ye have been wanton,” in other words, you’ve lived in every sexual, drug, alcohol pleasure, pornography, been wanton, you’ve used your money to try to purchase every thing that might satisfy the flesh, “ye have been wanton, ye have nourished your hearts,” this is speaking of preparing a fatted calf for the slaughter, “ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.” Just a very serious cry. But on the other side of that, God, he’s saying the Lord hears the cries of the oppressed. The Lord hears the cry of the oppressed. We can look at the world, and we can get completely discouraged. ‘Lord, how can tyrants rule? How can you let happen what’s happening in the Sudan, in the Middle East, in Red China, in North Korea. Lord we hear these things, how can you let that go on?’ And James is saying, God has a different calendar. And be assured of this, that the cries of those that are defrauded and oppressed by the wealthy of this world, think of some of the “oil for food money” where they said it went, billions of dollars, to Saddam Hussein, you hear of the billions of dollars that were taken when people are hungry and not getting the basic needs of life. It says the Lord takes heed of that, and James is saying to the believer, ‘Don’t get completely disheartened, things are not out of control, God is taking inventory of all of this, and those that live oppressing the lives of others are storing up treasure against themselves for the last days, and you wouldn’t want the treasure they’re storing up.’ Because it isn’t gold and silver, it’s something else that will eat their flesh like fire it says. And then he says, “Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” (verse 6) And this is a word from the court, he said ‘you have condemned’ the idea is, their money can control the court system so easily, “ye have condemned and killed the just;” is singular, but the grammar the way it’s constructed is just as an example, there are those that have been innocent and have been just and have been victimized, “and he does not resist you.” That’s now, that’s now. In light of all that, now the exhortation comes about the coming of Christ. And we have to decide what that means to us. I think it was U.S. News & World Report, one of those, little while ago, said 66 percent of Americans believe that Christ it returning. Five years before that it had been 61 percent. And it was up to 66 percent, five percent increase, 66 percent believe the Lord is coming again. Now I don’t know what that means, when you look at the behavior of our country. 66 percent of Americans say they believe that Jesus Christ is going to return to the earth, and you wonder, what in the world does that mean to them? I know what it means to me. And then you think ‘Well then 66 percent of America you think would be living like they believe that was gonna happen, so they must have it way off in the future somewhere.’ But “be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord” now he started out that way. “Let patience have her perfect work,” he already had me waiting in the first chapter of James. He goes right back to it. ‘Be ye patient therefore,’ because God is going to deal with all this, there’s going to be just balances because God is coming, there’s going to be justice. “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” Now notice, “brethren,” nineteen times in his book, “brethren.” “Behold, the husbandman” the farmer “waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (verse 7) The farmer understands patience perfectly. If you have a trouble with patience, do not become a farmer, James is saying. Because he understands this process perfectly, his life is measured not in days or even in months, but in seasons, and it’s tempered by snow and frost and wind and drought and rain. ‘Consider, behold the husbandman, he waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.’ “Be ye also patient;” (verse 8a) I’m not good with that. I guess I’m letting patience have her perfect work, that’s what he said in the first chapter, which is waiting. I’m not real good at waiting. It’s not completely my fault. You know, because there’s instant breakfast, and instant coffee, and instant-on television, and instant cameras, you know, there’s just instant world, there’s instant world. And I’m not real good at waiting. You know, to be somewhere on the highway where there’s a minimum speed limit, and to have someone in front of me going below the minimum speed limit, I’m ready to make a citizen’s arrest. [laughter] ‘How do I make a citizen’s arrest here, I want to know? this person deserves to be locked up, there’s a minimum speed of 50 miles per hour, and they’re going 47 miles an hour.’ In the supermarket [oh, my favorite place for getting stuck in the slow line, even though I try to always pick the fastest line J], you know I may need 12 to 14 things, but I’ll narrow it down to 10 to get in that 10-item-or-less line, because I need to get out of there. And I’m counting and that person in front of me has 11 items, now there’s a law being broken hear. ‘now the person in front of me has 11 items, the police will be here in a minute.’ ‘I know there’s war and I know there’s nuclear threat, but there’s a person with 11-items in the 10-item line and I think that needs some attention, right here.’ You’re laughing because you understand perfectly. So what does the Lord do? He gives you a kid, that’s moseying through life, every day ‘Oh come on, come on, come on! OK Lord, I enjoy waiting. Give them a pulse now, I enjoy waiting.’ “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (verse 8) if we can’t stand the wait in traffic or the wait in a line, remember the farmer, we’re waiting for the most remarkable thing. Think of what we’re waiting for, what we tell people we’re waiting for, when we tell people what we believe. We believe Christ is coming. We believe Jesus is coming. Just think of what we’re saying to people. “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” “…the coming of the Lord draweth” King James with the “eth” gives you a hint of your tenses there. It’s literally ‘the coming of the Lord has drawn near and is imminent.’ That’s the sense of it. ‘The coming of the Lord has drawn near and is imminent.’ In 1st Peter you’ll find the same thing, in 1st John you’ll find the same thing, in Philippians 4 you’ll find the same thing. Paul believed it, told the single men to stay single, because the Lord was coming. Imagine that, the Church would have died out in the first century if they’d have listened to him. In Philippians it says the coming of the Lord is at hand, has drawn near, is imminent. James believed it, Peter believed it, John believed it. And they didn’t just believe in the coming of the Lord, ‘Oh, I’m satisfying an intellectual exercise, I’m just fascinated with prophecy,’ that was never the idea. In every place it says so you can be sober, and you can be vigilant, and you can be watching. “Any man that has this hope purifies himself, even as he is pure.” The Lord says that he should find us busy about his business when he comes, if we expect him to come at any time. Every single place it’s mentioned it has to do with our behavior, it isn’t just an intellectual exercise. The Lord is coming. So on one side we’re supposed to have hope. We see all of the injustice in the world, we see what big money does around the globe. You know I remember when there were almost 5 billion people on the planet. I had read an article and it said there was enough money, globally, on the earth, for every human being at 5 billion people, for every human being, every man, woman and child, to be a billionaire at least ten times over. [It’s no wonder political systems like socialism and communism have swept the planet, offering to fairly redistribute the wealth properly. But in the hands of man, even these political systems can never provide what they promise. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/meaning/MeaningOfHistory.htm]] There was enough money on the planet to do that. Now imagine what kind of injustice that speaks of. And we can’t get frustrated, that’s the world that God so loved that he gave his Son, so that whoever would believe would not perish but have everlasting life. That’s us, in the middle of that insanity, we have the Good News, we have the truth, and there’s something else that stablishes our heart even in the middle of that injustice, we’re waiting for the Lord. And James said in his day, the Church was taught to believe that Christ could come at any time. [Now this is the Rapturist position, which could or could not pan out prophetically, we’ll have to see (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/Prophets_Prophecy.html). But he’s also talking about having a proper attitude of mind toward the 2nd coming, the fact that it’s imminence should color our lives and our every action, which is a spiritually healthy and proper way to look at things.] How dare we remove from anyone the sense of the imminent return of Jesus Christ, ‘Well he can’t come until this happens, and he won’t come till that…oh really? The New Testament never taught that. ‘Well that’s not historic Church doctrine.’ Please don’t let anybody brag about historic church doctrine, historic church doctrine should be in the column of “mess.” They wanted to kill people in the historic Church [Catholic Church] for reviving the doctrines of justification by faith and grace [we’re talking Martin Luther and Calvin verses the Catholic Church]. We’re not talking about historic Church doctrine, we’re talking about Biblical New Testament apostolic doctrine. And that is that Christ could come at any moment. And if it was true in James’ day, the injunction that the Lord put on the Church [Body of Christ], then how should we live? Because if even he doesn’t come for a hundred years, his return is closer to us than it has been in any generation of the Church that has ever lived, and I don’t think it could be 100 years away. [Also, consider this, we’re all one heartbeat away from death, and then the resurrection to immortality, as the dead do not know the passage of time, so that resurrection to immortality, for the dead who are waiting, in the symbolic sense (for some of us, as Solomon said, the dead know nothing, not ever the passage of time), is to them the very next nano-second, and they’ll be rising to meet the Lord in the air. So in reality, the coming of Jesus Christ for his Bride could be one heartbeat away for some, if not most of us. This makes what Paul, John, Peter and James taught a true and legitimate doctrine.]
‘Grudge Not One Against Another, Brethren’
Jesus is coming. Now in light of that he says, “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” (verse 9) Grudge not, that’s interesting, the King James doesn’t give the sense of it, it’s really ‘Groan not’ it’s speaks of something internal, and it’s “against”, it’s kota, it’s “down on,” so it’s in the accusative sense. What it says is ‘Don’t spend your time groaning down on one another in the accusative sense, Christ is coming. He’s the judge.’ ‘So brethren, among you, look, the world is filled with injustice. But amongst ourselves we shouldn’t spend our time looking at other Christians in an accusatory sense, because it creates a critical spirit.’ And they were thinking ‘Why don’t they do this, and why don’t they…’ it’s groaning, it’s an inward thing, and it eats us up, it eats us up. And it’s against the law of Christ, to not love one another, to not forgive one another. It’s against Romans 14 where it says that every one of us, it says ‘Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant, to his own master he stands or he falls, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him to stand.’ We believe the Lord’s coming, here’s what it’s saying, ‘The Church is incredibly small compared to the world.’ You think this is a big church? [all 30,000 of Pastor Joe’s congregation which includes the other satellite congregations that branched out from his] You know, we have however many thousand people come here. We’re sitting in the middle of millions of lost human beings. We’re not even a drop in the bucket. Broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be that go thereon, Jesus said, and narrow is the gate that leads to eternal life, and few there be that find it. James is saying, the Church, in comparison to this unjust world, is incredibly miniscule, small, and our task is incredibly large, it’s huge. The fields are white to harvest. Our numbers as a [spiritual] family are incredibly small, and the task is incredibly huge, and why do we spend our time biting and chewing on one another, when there’s a world going to hell? Christ is coming. He says ‘Don’t look down and be groaning with an attitude against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned, with the same measure you measure that’s the way it’s measured back,’ the Lord says. ‘behold, the judge is standing at the door, and he’s the one that judges the right way.’ He said to us earlier, not to speak evil of one another, and James has a lot to say about knees and tongues. He’s got a lot to say about knees, that they should be bent before the Lord, and if they’re bent before the Lord, tongues will be in control the way they should be. He’s got a lot to say about those two things.
Patiently Endure, Looking At The Example Of Job And The Prophets
“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” (verse 10) They all knew about the prophets and how they suffered and how Israel didn’t receive them, and how they were mocked. Jesus said ‘Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, rejoice and be exceedingly glad,’ I’m just reading the verse, I haven’t got the lesson down, ‘rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.’ Blessed are you when men pick on you and persecute you and hassle you. I don’t have that in the right column, I have ‘miserable am I when men pick on me and mess with me and hassle me.’ ‘Rejoice and be exceedingly glad,’ I’m back with James murmuring and having a bad attitude, ‘Oh, thank you Lord, they’re picking on me again, I love it!’ No, it doesn’t say rejoice because you’re a sicko and a satist, it says rejoice because great is your reward in heaven. The Lord is coming. He says, ‘Consider, my brethren, the prophets, how they were misunderstood, a prophet is not without honor except in his own town,’ Jesus says, ‘in his own home. Consider their longsuffering, their patience.’ “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (verse 11) I wish he wouldn’t use these examples. You’ve seen how things turned out at the end for Job. You remember what happened to Job, Job didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes, with the enemy, ‘let me touch him, he’s only serving you because you give him good stuff.’ There’s some truth in that, he was blessed. ‘Well go on [Satan], you can test him, you know the whole process.’ What a miserable man, maybe the most miserable of all men in the Scripture, his children are all slaughtered, his possessions, his homes all burned to the ground, and his crops and his herds all dead, and his wife standing next to him, saying ‘Curse God and die.’ Satan’s a master [at putting together a trial like that], and Job having to say, ‘You know, should we bless the Lord when things are good and not when things are difficult?’ and going through that huge process, even his best friends turning on him. What are you left with in a situation like that? And God finally speaking up, ‘Job do you know how this happens? Do you know how this happens with the ravens, with the lions, do you know how this happens with the antelopes, do you know how this happens with the ostriches, you don’t understand anything about animals Job? Do you know how this happens with Arcturis, how this happens with the sun, how this happens with the stars, do you know how this happens with Pleiades, do you know anything about that, do you know where I’ve hidden the treasures of snow, do you know where I’ve done this, do you know where I’ve done that, what about the Leviathan, what about the dragon, what about this, what about that?’ And Job said, ‘You know what, you’re right, I don’t know nothing, not only don’t I know why you didn’t, or why you’re doing this, I don’t know anything when I come to think of it Lord. Why should I be mad because you’re not telling me of this one thing I don’t understand, now that you mention it I really don’t understand anything, except that I’ve heard of you with the hearing of the ear, and now I’ve seen, and Lord, I’m humbled, I’m humbled.’ And God blessed, and God restored. Easy to read, I want to take the correspondence course on that one. But how sweet and how encouraging the book has been to many, and probably to many of those that James is writing to that had been scattered abroad, had lost everything.
James Repeats Jesus’ Command About Not Taking Oaths, Swearing
Interesting, verse 12, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” You want to know what James is going to put above all things, don’t you? Stop swearing. Isn’t it interesting? Above everything else. ‘Wait a minute, all of this stuff you told us in the last five chapters, and above everything else you’re saying ‘Above all else stop taking the name of the Lord in vain. Stop making oaths in the name of God in regards to heaven, earth or for any other thing, ‘I swear to God, I swear to God, I swear to God.’’ You know people who do that. “Lend me fifty bucks, I’ll give it back to you next week, I swear to God, I swear to God, I swear to God.’ If he’s going to swear that much you don’t want to give that guy fifty bucks. Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain [which is the 3rd Commandment, one of the Ten Commandments, cf. Exodus 20:7], don’t make oaths, and I’m sure they’d swear in that day one way, and we swear in these days another way and use words we shouldn’t use. He’s no doubt talking particularly about involving God’s name in our swearing. Jesus said much the same in Matthew. And maybe he’s thinking again of his older brother. “I say unto you, swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne, nor by the earth, it’s his footstool, neither by Jerusalem, it is the city of the great King, neither shall you swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black,’ before Claire-all, ‘let your communication, your yea be yea, and your nay be nay, for whatsoever more than that is evil,’ much reflecting the spirit of his older brother, ‘but above all things, my brethren, don’t swear.’
James Talks About The Importance Of Prayer
“Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (verses 13-15) Now, he switches from that to praying, and James, I listen to James, I want to hear what he has to say in that sense. “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.” So, back with Old Camel Knees here. There probably isn’t anybody else in the New Testament that practiced more what they preached in regards to prayer, and James has much to say to us about prayer. In chapter 1 he said prayer changes the mind. In chapter 4 he said prayer changes the will. Here he’s going to say prayer changes emotion. Prayer changes the physical body. Prayer changes our fellowship with one another. Prayer changes the physical world. Prayer changes spiritual things. ‘If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, it shall be given to him, but let him ask, nothing doubting, he that doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind,’ he told us in chapter 1. And that’s in the context of trials and temptations. When we get in trials and temptations our minds get troubled, ‘Why am I going through this? Why is this happening? Why Lord if you’re there? Why doesn’t anybody help? Why is this going on? Why?’ and you’re in trials and temptations, it says when you’re in that situation, pray, James says. It changes the mind. If you lack wisdom? Ask of God, he gives to all liberally, without holding back, and he doesn’t scold, he upbraideth not, he’s not going to say ‘You again, you don’t understand anything,’ no, ask. Chapter 4, ‘where do wars and fighting come from among you? It’s because you want and want and want, and you’re never satisfied, and you’re not satisfied because you haven’t gone to God and haven’t asked. You ask and receive not because you ask amiss that you might consume it upon your own lusts,’ and he says prayer will change your will. You know, we tend to be selfish, we tend to be self-centered, and all we think about is me, me, me, me, me, me, and he says your problem is you haven’t tried your knees, you go to God. And when you do, you don’t get what you’re asking for because you’re really not asking for God’s will to be done in your life, you’re asking for your will. You can’t pray ‘Thy kingdom come’ until you pray ‘my kingdom go.’ ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come,’ you can’t say ‘thy kingdom come’ until you’ve said in your heart, ‘my kingdom go, Lord, your Kingdom come, my kingdom go.’ He says prayer will change your will.
‘Is Any Among You Afflicted, Under Pressure, Cast Down? Let Him Pray’
It effects the mind, it effects the will, and now here he’s going to say, prayer effects the emotions. It’s so important. “Is any among you afflicted?” (verse 13a) Can I see a show of hands? Now this is not talking about physical, this is evidently, it seems to be talking about pressure, it seems to be talking about being cast down in our hearts and our minds, afflicted in that sense. Well he’s going to get to the physical after this. It’s a different word here. ‘Is any among you afflicted, you’re in a trial, something’s going on? Let him pray,’ he says, let him pray.’ If you’re afflicted, and he’s going to tell us sickness and being afflicted are two different things, there’s an affliction here of some kind, some weight, some burden, some thing pressing our emotions. Anybody in that condition here tonight, emotions squashed? Squashed? James says “let him pray.” God is on the throne, and pray. And let me tell you something, here’s the hard thing about prayer. If I only prayed when I felt like praying, I wouldn’t pray very much. Because normally when I feel like praying, it’s when I look up and see a bomb coming down on my life. When everything’s ready to explode and fall apart, then I feel like praying, ‘Oh Lord, oh God, help me God, oh God, oh God here I am, I’m your pastor God, save me Lord, help me, get me out of this, won’t look good on your resume’ if you treat your pastors this way, Lord, you’ve gotta get me outa this.’ I feel like praying when I feel like I’m dying. Prayer’s an exercise, the flesh doesn’t like it. But he says it changes things, it’s an act of the will, these are imperatives here in the Greek grammar. ‘Pray, let him pray,’ that’s an imperative, it’s a command, pray. Do you need wisdom, prayer will effect your mind. You need peace? Prayer will effect your will, instead of biting and devouring and blaming it on everybody else. If you’re oppressed, afflicted, let that individual pray, he says. And prayer is hard, because look, God doesn’t speak audibly to us. It doesn’t tell us that, it doesn’t say if you get alone and pray you’re going to hear ‘JOE, NICE TO HEAR FROM YA,’ or if I’m in trouble, ‘JOSEPH,’ you know. That’s the hard thing about prayer, I get before the Lord, I pour out my heart, often time tears come. Now sometimes graciously there’s an impression upon my heart, sometimes graciously it isn’t anything else but all of a sudden this sense of his presence, and then that’s enough. That’s enough, I know he’s involved. I still don’t know what he’s doing, I still don’t know what he’s saying, but I know he’s there. And it changes things. It is supernatural, it isn’t natural. We don’t have a file for it. You can’t create a file for it. You have to step out of the boat onto the water, you have to do it in faith. The prayer of faith, he’s going to talk about. Emotionally struggling tonight? Afflicted? Pray. Pray. I encourage you when you get home tonight, get on your knees, pray.
Don’t Just Pray When Things Are Tough, Pray When Things Are Great
Look at the other side, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” (verse 13b) Is any merry? Sing. Another form of prayer. Don’t just pray when things are tough, pray when things are great. God hears from us when we’re in trouble, you raise kids, you know that. ‘Aaaah, aaaah, help me,’ kiss, kiss, it’s better, and they just believe that it’s better (kissing the booboo). They have faith that it’s better. But when they’re quiet, then you know they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing. [We always used to wait till my mother was taking her nap, but then we had to be real quiet about it so we didn’t wake her up.] If you’ve got a house full of kids, when all of a sudden it’s quiet, you know there’s trouble, because they’re somewhere into something. James says look, you go to God when you’re afflicted. If you’re blessed, things are going great in your life. And you get up in the morning, sit still somewhere, thank the Lord that you can see the sun coming up, you have sight, thank the Lord that you can hear traffic going down the street, or the birds singing or something. Thank the Lord that you can breathe another day. Thank the Lord that he’s God and you’re not. ‘He daily loadeth us up with benefits.’ That’s why in ancient Israel there was the morning and the evening sacrifice, what a way to start and end the day, the blood of the Lamb, washed in the morning, by faith, washed before you close your eyes in the evening. James again, sing, worship, it’s a form of prayer. [Comment: Our local pastor in the church I attend said we can and should learn our hymns at home too, as our denomination has them all online with musical accompaniment. Our hymns are taken directly from the Psalms, so they are David’s prayers to God in song form, most appropriate. Until reading this explanation of James by Pastor Joe I thought our pastor somewhat nuts, if not unrealistic. Now it makes perfect sense. Our detractors, the merchantmen that came to Plymouth plantation along with the Separatist believers, used to call us Psalm-singing idiots, fools. This particular derogatory remark recorded in the Separatist history proves the Pilgrims were singing Psalms to God when they were happy. We’re so afraid of what non-believers would think of us that we’ve given up the practice of our spiritual forebears.]
Prayer For Healing Of Serious Illness
Verse 14, let me read verse 14 and 15 together, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Now I can always tell, we have so many people here, we’re a cross-section of society, I can tell by the level of coughing in the congregation what’s journeying through the area. I can tell when the flu’s here by the level of coughing and sneezing, and I can just hear what’s taking it’s course, I can just hear. “Is any sick among you?” Well of course, with this many people here, there is. “let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” So, prayer effects the mind, it effects the will, it effects the emotions, now he’s going to say prayer has an effect on the physical frame, remarkable, remarkable. Let’s kind of take this apart. First of all, “is any sick among you?” Now that’s, this is a word that means to be laid-down, the praying “over them” gives us the sense of it. It is speaking of the fact that someone is ill to the point where their strength and energy is gone, and they are laid down on their sickbed or their deathbed. It’s a very specific word. It’s not just ‘Does somebody have a fever or somebody have a cold, does somebody have a sniffle, does somebody have the measles?’ This is ‘Are you laid-down, the doctors have given up, are there any among you that are laid-down on their sickbed, without strength?’ It’s a very specific word, a very specific condition being spoken of. “let him call” now it’s imperative, and it’s “let him call to himself the elders”, the ownice is on the sick person. It doesn’t say ‘elders go on a sick-hunt.’ It says this, it says ‘When you get to that place, you’re laid-down,’ the only time he uses the word “church”, James in his epistle, and you’re just gone, the doctors are no help. You know, that’s not a prerequisite, but the point is, you’re at that point of illness, it’s laid you down, it’s serious. ‘Then let the sick person call for the elders of the church.’ Please take note. It doesn’t say ‘Let them call for the miracle service, YEAH, in the name of JEEEESUS!’ It doesn’t say, ‘Let them call for the side-show, let them call for the televangelist,’ and look, there’s some great televangelists, but there are some side-shows too. It says ‘Let them call for the elders of the church, let that person when they’re laid down, their husband can make the call, their wife can make the call,’ the idea is ‘you know what, I need prayer, it’s time, ask the elders to come, anoint me with oil, pray for me.’ ‘Is any sick among you? Let him call to himself,’ the action of the verb is on the sick person, ‘for the elders of the church, let them pray over him,’ because it seems he’s laid down here, now ‘anointing him with oil or her with oil in the name of the Lord.’ Anointing them with oil, there’s a whole controversy over what that means. Mark chapter 6, verse 13, is the only place in the New Testament when Jesus sends out the twelve, he tells them to pray for the sick, anointing them with oil. It’s not in the Book of Acts, it’s nowhere else in the Epistles except James. The same phrase is often used for medicinal use of oil. It says this woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee came in and anointed Jesus’ feet with oil, wiped them with her hair. You know Mary had the alabaster cruse and she anointed Jesus with that oil. It says the women came early on Sunday morning to anoint the body of Jesus. So it’s used in those senses through the New Testament. And there are some who will argue, because it’s the same sense that when the Good Samaritan comes and he finds this man, that he binds up his wounds, with oil and wine, some would say the elders should come, and the elders should care for the person, and care for that person, oiling them with oil. Now I don’t think, because it’s in the name of the Lord, I think it’s saying more than just that. I think it’s a point of faith. You know, if people come after the service and say ‘Would you pray for me?’ we pray for them. And we’ve seen people healed. We don’t make a big deal about it, because we don’t want it to be a side-show, we trust, they tell their friends, they tell their relatives, Jesus gets the glory. If someone comes up and says ‘Will you pray for me and anoint me with oil?’ we anoint them with oil. If their faith is there, we would never refuse that. And we do it in obedience to the Word of God, because James holds it in front of us. Anoint them with oil, pray for them in the name of the Lord. But it isn’t in the oil, because the next verse says “the Lord shall raise him up;” The oil don’t raise them up, and the prayer of the elders don’t raise them up, the Lord raises them up. The Lord raises them up. ‘And the prayer of faith shall save the sick,” now it’s not salvation. The idea is it will get him up off of his sickbed, “and the Lord shall raise him up;” the two “shall’s” they’re future-tense, it doesn’t tell us how long. Does it mean instantaneous? Or does it mean we pray for this person, and they recovered fully, does it take two months? it doesn’t tell us. It just says “the prayer of faith shall” future-tense “save the sick, and the Lord shall” future-tense “raise him up;” and notice, “if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” That “if” disassociates the sin from the illness. Some people say in the Church today, that all illness is because of sin. That if you are sick, it’s because there is a lack of faith in your life, or there’s sin in your life. The Bible doesn’t teach that. Job was not sick because there was a lack of faith in his life. Something was going on behind the scenes spiritually. God said he was blameless of all the men on the earth. The blind man, sick, ‘Who sinned Lord, this man or his parents?’ ‘Neither, but that the glory of God might be manifest.’ Jesus goes to the Pool at Bethesda, and he heals one man, and it says there was a multitude of lame and impotent folk. How does the Holy Spirit work? If you want to see how the Spirit works, you watch the life of Jesus, the same person. And he heals one person there. Isn’t that interesting? And leaves a multitude unhealed. Why? I don’t know. But he does heal. Paul talks about one of his co-labourers that they left behind sick. He says in another place, ‘We left Trophemus sick there.’ Well wait, Paul. Does that mean Paul didn’t know how to pray the prayer of faith? He said to Timothy, ‘use a little wine,’ not drink a little, ‘use,’ important word, ‘a little wine for your stomach in your often infirmities.’ Why don’t you just pray the prayer of faith over him? There are some in the Church today that say the other extreme, some say ‘Oh if you’re sick it’s because of sin,’ no, no, no, no, this disassociates that. All sickness in one sense is from sin, and let me tell you what I’m saying before you get mad, if Adam and Eve hadn’t fallen in the Garden of Eden and sin hadn’t entered into the world, there wouldn’t be sickness. But the insanity of the other position is everybody is supposed to be healed. Well if everybody is always healed, we’d never die, you’d be seven hundred years old. You have to die from sickness at some point, cardiac failure, at some point you die. If you were always healed you’d be a thousand years old. Now Jesus has healed me every time I’ve been sick. Here I am. I have always been healed, so far. I have parts that are wearing out a little bit, but here I am. The other extreme is, you know, nobody’s supposed to go to a doctor. You only pray for sickness. Jesus said, “Those who are sick have need of a physician.” [and a second time for some of you who don’t understand this.] “Those who are sick have need of a physician.” Now if I’m going to believe somebody’s theology, sorry, it won’t be yours, it will be the theology of Jesus. And remember Gale Erwin was here and he talked about a family had watched their son die, they refused to take him to the doctor, and the father had been put in prison. And when he was finally released from prison he wrote a book called ‘The Greatest Of These Is Love.’ And Gale talked to me and said the man wrote, ‘Tell me about what he went through?’…and he said “Well I realized these three abide, faith, hope and love.” He said “I was watching my son die, I had faith, I had hope, but I did not have love, I let that boy die.” And the greatest of these is love, the greatest of these is love. To say that you’re not supposed to get immunized, do you have any idea what polio did to our society? To me that’s just, at least for me and my family, that would be unloving not to protect my kids and give them the best chance of health and life that I could. So, that’s the other extreme, that you’re not supposed to go to a doctor. That’s crazy too.
What Is The ‘Prayer of Faith?’
“the prayer of faith,” then, what is the prayer of faith? Because the ownice is not on the sick person, the Lord’s the one who raises up, but it says “the prayer of faith” is effectual here, that it’s active, “and the Lord shall raise the person up.” The prayer of faith. It seems to be, because evidently Paul prayed for people that weren’t healed, he prayed for some that were. It seems that there is a time, I remember praying for a baby once who had a hernia, and it was strangulated, and the bowel had pushed through, and the baby had been screaming for hours, and it was swollen and black and blue, and we prayed for that baby. As we prayed for that baby, I knew, I could never explain it to anybody, but I knew that the Father was hearing the prayer, I mean, just ‘Father, in the name of Jesus, we don’t understand, but sickness get’s blamed on people’s sin, it can be because somebody’s doing something, but this is a baby. Father, you have to love the name of Jesus more than we do, you have to care more about…’ and heaven just opened up, and I can only say there was a great sense, it was the prayer of faith, and that baby stopped crying, and we looked down, and that strangulation was gone. Now when that happens, you don’t go anywhere. You know, normally we pray for the sick, and we’re always wanted to do that, and we say “amen.” ‘Let us know what happens [obviously after they’ve gone then to the doctor].’ But when you pray for somebody whose sick, and they actually get healed, it short-circuits everything. What do you do then, do you look up and say ‘OK, next,’? I mean, you just stand there and you start praying again, everybody just started raising their hands and we went right back into prayer [prayer of thanksgiving]. You know, there were tears, it was very remarkable. So it seems there are those times when a prayer of faith is an unction, something that God grants, not something we can drum up on our own. “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up,” and notice, “and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” If there’s attached to this illness, “if he have committed” is in the tense that he’s been continually in sin, it shall be forgiven him.” If part of the process ends up to be when you go to that person’s bed and they say, ‘You know what, I’ve been living in sin, I’ve done everything wrong, this is what I have been doing, I’ve been fooling everybody,’ that in the process of that then, when God grants that prayer of faith, when the Lord raises that person up, at the same time, if he’s confessed his sins, that he’s also forgiven, that the sin also will be forgiven him.
‘Confess Your Faults One To Another’---What Does That Mean?
Verse 16 seems to relate more to fellowship, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Confess your faults one to another, not just your sins, your faults. It’s a different word, it indicates a little bit more. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” Your faults one to another. Now let me tell you something, this has been abused in places. It’s been abused in places. ‘Oh sister, tell me your faults. I see that sad look in your eyes, you’re struggling with sexual things, aren’t you. You need to tell me your intimate…’ That’s baloney. God never endorses anything unclean, he never violates anybody’s conscience, he never wants to humiliate or embarrass anyone. If you’re a guy and you’re struggling with something, struggling with pornography, you know that there are men that you can talk to and it’s clean, and it’s upright, and say to them ‘Pray for me, I’m struggling with this.’ And you have to know it’s the kind of men where it’s not going to spread from there, through gossip. If you’re bitter, bitterness destroys the church, confess your faults one to another, that’s what it says, there’s medicine in that, there’s medicine in that. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” That prayer effects our fellowship. If someone comes to you and says, ‘You know what,’ and this happens, and you know what, there’s a wrong way to do it too. I’ve had people come up and say ‘I like the worship here, but I can’t stand the teaching, that’s why I come.’ And I know they’re trying to confess something to me, I’m not sure what it is. ‘Thanks, I’m glad you like to sing, see ya next week.’ There’s a wrong way to do that. Awhile ago I had somebody say ‘You know what, I don’t want to rape your wife and kill your children anymore’ somebody said that to me, they needed to confess that to me. And I just said, ‘Good, I hate that when that happens.’ You don’t have to confess that to me, thanks. I mean, I got enough to think about. This is a genuine sincerity, understanding, power of prayer, the instruction of God’s Word, the Body of Christ, that there is a place for us in humility and genuineness to confess faults. God’s given you friends, given you people, given you a husband or a wife you can do that with. And it’s hard to confess your faults, husbands and wives. It says “Confess your faults” it doesn’t say confess their faults. [loud laughter] You see, that’s what an argument is between a husband and a wife, it’s when you confess her sins to her and she confesses your sins to you, and nobody’s confessing their own sins to the Lord.
Prayer Effects The Physical World
This is “confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.” Because “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” A righteous man is someone whose forgiven and the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to him, this is not somebody whose super-Saint above us. The effectual, on-target prayer of a righteous man, it accomplishes much, it avails much. And we have to do that by faith, not because we feel like doing it. These are imperatives, they’re command-verbs, that we should be a praying people. He says this, “Elias [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” (verse 17) Elijah, when we think of Elijah we think of the fire coming down from heaven, we think of Elijah raising the boy from the dead, we think of Elijah, with the first catering service by the river there with the ravens there bringing him flesh and meat, bread every day. We think of Elijah, you know, taken up in the fiery chariot. Wait a minute, Elijah was a man of like passions, Elijah was a man who ran from Jezebel. After the fire came down in Carmel, Elijah sat under a juniper tree and said ‘I want to die, I don’t want to do this anymore, I give up Lord. I’m your only prophet, once I’m dead you’ll be a non-prophet organization,’ and God said ‘I’ve got five thousand other prophets you don’t even know about.’ He was a man just like you and I, that’s the kind of man he was. And it says he prayed, he prayed, and affected the physical world. Prayer effects natural law, and human government. He prayed, he prayed. A man just like us, just like us. “And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (verse 18) I don’t think it means he prays once every three and a half years. “he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain,” wait a minute, he prayed again, let me tell you something, oh, we’re running out of time, that’s one thing I need to tell you. He prayed, you know, when Israel repented, and their hearts turned back, he knew Deuteronomy 11:10-17 [and also Leviticus 26:19] said ‘If you turn away from the LORD and you worship other gods, and you worship idols, I’ll turn the heavens to brass, I’ll stop for former and latter rain.’ And he knew that their dilemma was because they had been living in idolatry. When the nation repented and turned back to God he knew the Word said every great man and woman of God are great men and women of the Word of God, and he knew the Word said then that the rains will return again. And he said to his servant, ‘Go look, I hear the sound of rain, it’s coming.’ Seven times he went, and it says Elijah was down, he had his face between his knees on the ground, crying out to the LORD. He didn’t just say, ‘Well, this is my favorite chapter, Lord, bring the rain again.’ He cried out to the LORD, fervent. And finally the servant came back and said there’s a cloud the size of a man’s hand. That was enough for Elijah, ‘Tell Ahab to get going, because the rain is coming.’ And sometimes maybe we pray fervently, and all we see is the cloud the size of a man’s hand. That may be the beginning of something that we could never imagine. Again, when the revival started in Wales in 1903 Jesse Ben Louis wrote in the paper in London, “There’s a cloud arising in Wales the size of a man’s hand” that changed an entire nation. ‘And he prayed again, and the rain came, and the earth brought forth her fruit.’
‘If Any Of You Err From The Truth’
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 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.” (verses 19-20) Last exhortation. We’re talking about believers here. If any of you wander from the truth. You mean it’s possible for a Christian to get off course? Nah, it must of only happened when James wrote. [he’s being facetious] “and one convert him”, now it’s not saving him, it means turn him around, change his mind. If you see someone’s off course, Paul says we should go to them with the spirit of meekness, considering ourselves. If anyone’s off course, turned away from the faith, wandering, and you turn them back, let him know, James loves the peacemaker, his older brother came and turned multitudes back to God. “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.” Getting your brother to turn back. You know, we have to be careful how we do that. Don’t we? I’ve seen people under the guise of prayer say ‘Lord, my heart is broken about Joe, you know all the problems he’s having with alcohol and pornography and murder and rape, and he’s gonna turn five next year and he needs your help desperately Lord,’ you know, some people under the guise of prayer spread all this gossip. No it says when it’s done in the right way ‘it will hide a multitude of sins.’ If you know something’s going on in somebody’s life, you don’t know that so you can blab it. God reveals something to you so you can pray for that person, so you can be gracious to that person and try to turn them back again. “let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death,” very interesting phrase and very hard to figure out [Comment: Based on Romans 6:23 and Galatians 5:21 and other passages, some parts of the Body of Christ believe one can loose their salvation if they remain unrepentant, going back into the world and it’s lifestyle. Calvary Chapel’s don’t believe this, but believe “once saved, always saved,” so they have trouble with this verse. Whose right? None of us, as people or denominations understand the Word of God perfectly. So we’ll just have to wait till the 2nd coming and see whose right on this one.] When I see James I’m going to say ‘What in the world were you trying to say there?’ Because some try to say it’s in the context of 1st Corinthians 11 ‘where many are sick and weak among you, and many are asleep,’ that because they continue in rebellion and sin they actually die, God actually removed them. But this says, ‘they’ll save their soul’ their physical soul from death. And it’s from the ways of death, it’s interesting. And I think what he’s saying is, you know, someone who turns away from Christ and turns back to the world, they’ve turned from life back to death again. It’s the ways of death out there, and the ways of darkness, that’s what’s out there. It has a false glimmer, Satan loves it to have a false glimmer, it has a false hope. It satisfies now, but they’ve turned from the way of life, and their soul is towards death again. When you turn that erring brother back, you’re saving his soul from the ways of death again.
In Closing, Jesus Has Saved The Best For Last
Jesus, turned water into wine in Cana of Galilee, and the master of that wedding feast tells us how the world operates. He said, ‘You know, this is amazing, because you saved the best wine till last. Normally, what we do here, is we put the good stuff out first, and when everybody’s pickled then we put the poison out and they don’t care.’ And what he’s saying is, this is the way the world works, it puts out what’s sweet and intoxicating first, and once you’re inebriated it puts out the poison. That’s the way the world works. The way Jesus works, he has saved the best for last. If you enjoy worship now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you enjoy fellowship now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you like to hear a thousand people singing, you don’t ever know what ears were made for. Wait till we get around the throne of the Lamb and there’s ten thousand times ten thousand times thousands and thousands of just angels, let alone the saints, and the cherubim and the elders, we have yet to discover what ears are for. He has saved the best for last. You think you feel good now, once you started taking Geritol, you ain’t felt nothing yet. Because he’s saved the best for last. You think you’re excited now because you learn something about Jesus? And we are, aren’t we. But he’ll still be revealing his mercy in the ages to come. He’s saved the best for last. That’s why James says, ‘Hey, you see the tyranny in this world? You see the poor being abused? You see the injustice? Brethren, wait, consider the farmer, he waits for that precious crop. He has patience, stablish your hearts, because the coming of the Lord has drawn near, and is at hand. Don’t grumble against each other. We’re few in number and our task is immense as it were. We’re to love one another. Remember the prophets, remember Job, God points us to the lives of these individuals and there’s lessons for us to learn. If you’re afflicted, you’re having a hard time, pray, talk to God, pray to him. If you’re merry, you’re thankful, then rejoice and sing. If you’re sick, call for the elders. If you’re struggling with your faults, be accountable, confess them to one another, because prayer accomplishes things. Think of Elijah, he was a man made of the same stuff that you and I are made of, born of a man and a woman. God’s best men are men at best. And that man, with like passions, prayed and effected natural law, and human government. You see someone whose erred from all of this, all the instructions in the Book, they’re off tract? Don’t blab it, grab it, get hold of them, minister to them, pray for them, restore them…’ [transcript of a connective expository sermon on James 5:1-20, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19116]
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