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James 5:20 Meaning By Charles Spurgeon

James 5 20 Meaning:

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 his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins ~ James 5:19-20

Let Him Know

This broad truth deserves special attention because it is preceded by the words “Let him know.” “Let him know.” if you helped a backslider. Let him ponder it and be assured of it. Say it and don’t doubt it. Let it sink deep into your heart, beloved fellow laborer. When an apostle inspired by the Holy Ghost says, “Let him know,” I implore you not to let your spirit be lazy.

Convert A Sinner, Save A Soul From Death

What is it that you are to know? To know that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death. Isn’t it worth knowing? Saving a soul is no simple matter. People who have manned the lifeboats or dived into rivers to save drowning people have saved many precious lives. People who have risked their own lives among blazing timbers to save the perishing have saved many lives. These are real heroes, far more deserving of acclaim than your war-torn soldiers. God bless the brave hearts! May England always have a worthy men’s corps to make her shores illustrious! When we perceive a fellow creature in danger, we get agitated and want to save him. Isn’t it? But preserving a soul from death is considerably more important. 

What Is Second Death?

Consider what that death is. It’s not non-existence; I’m not sure I’d raise a finger to save a fellow-creature from non-existence. I see no great hurt in annihilation; certainly, nothing that would alarm me as a punishment for sin. I see no real satisfaction in mere endless existence if that is all that is meant by eternal life, and I sense no dread in ceasing to be; in terms of mere colorless being or not being, I would rather not be than be. However, in Scripture, “eternal life” means something completely different from “eternal existence”; it means existing with all of one’s faculties fully developed in a state of delight; it means existing not as a dried plant in the hay, but as a flower in all its glory. “To die,” in the Bible and in everyday language, does not mean to cease to exist. The words die and annihilate are very different. To die, as to the first death, is the separation of the body from the soul; it is the resolution of our nature into its component elements; and to die the second death is to separate the man, soul, and body, from his God, who is the life and joy of our manhood. This is eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power; this is to have the palace of manhood destroyed, and turned into a desolate ruin, for the howling dragon of remorse, and the hooting owl of despair, to inherit forever.

The descriptions of the second death in Holy Scripture are terrifying to the extreme. A “worm that never dies,” a “fire that never can be quenched,” “the terror of the Lord,” “tearing in pieces” “the smoke of their torment which goes up forever and ever,” and “the pit which has no bottom.” are all mentioned. I will not put all of this together, but there are some statements in the Bible that make the flesh crawl and the hair stand on end just thinking about the coming judgment. 

Our Joy To Be Used By God

Our joy is that if any of us are used by God to convert a man from his wrong, we will have saved a soul from eternal death. The saved will never know hell, will never feel God’s anger, will never be expelled from God’s presence. Isn’t there a lot of joy in this? Remember the addition to the picture. By God’s grace, there will be another chorister among the white-robed throng to sing Jehovah’s praise, another hand to smite eternally the harp-strings of adoring gratitude, another sinner saved to reward the Redeemer for His sacrifice. Oh, the joy of saving a soul!

Covered A Multitude Of Sins

You will also have covered a multitude of sins. We take this to suggest that when a sinner repents, Jesus’ atoning blood covers all of his sins. We don’t know how many sins there are, but if somebody repents of his sins, they will be forever washed away in the Red Sea of Jesus’ blood. Remember that your Saviour came to this world to destroy death and to remove sin. You become like Him in both acts if you save a person from the second death and if you hide a multitude of sins beneath the propitiation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reward Found In The Good Itself

Do observe here that the apostle offers no other inducement to soul-winners: he does not say, “If you convert a sinner from the error of his way, you will have honor.” Such a motive is scorned by true philanthropy. “If you convert a sinner from the error of his way, you will have the respect of the church, and the love of the individual.” That is true, yet we are moved by far higher motives. 

The reward of a good deed is found in the good itself. Even if no ear should ever hear of the deed and no pen should ever record it, if we have saved a soul from death and hidden a multitude of sins, that is recompense enough. Let it be forgotten that we were the instruments if good is done; it will give us delight even if we are not appreciated and forgotten. We won’t complain if others take credit for the Lord’s work; knowing that a person has been saved from death and a multitude of sins has been covered will suffice.

Saving Souls Honors Jesus

Undeniably, saving souls honors Jesus, for only His blood can save souls. What can you and I do to save a soul? Only the pen on the table could write The Pilgrim’s Progress, but let a Bunyan hold it, and the result is unparalleled. But then He can do wonders and bring glory to Himself through us, while it will be joy enough for us to know that Jesus is honored, and the Spirit magnified. It will be enough for us to have been the pen in the Saviour’s hand that wrote the covenant of His favor on the fleshy tablets of human hearts. This is the reward of a genuine servant; Jesus is praised and sinners are saved.

Bringing One Sinner To Christ

Now I want you to observe that everything the apostle says here is about one person’s conversion. The Bible says, “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 his soul from death” You’ve never wished to be a Whitefield. Have you ever wished to be another McCheyne, Brainerd, or Moffat, young man? Cultivate the desire, but rejoice in bringing one sinner to Christ, for he has saved a soul from death and covered a multitude of sins.

“If Anyone Among You”

And it says nothing about the individual doing the work. “If a minister shall convert a man, or if some noted eloquent divine shall have wrought it.” The humblest preacher on the street corner has spoken to the thief or the harlot, and such are saved; let him know that he who turns any sinner from the snare shall be blessed.

Spirit Of God Works Through Us

Now, beloved, what are these suggestions? Let us long to assist sinners to be saved. Because James was writing to those who would not forget the important truths concerning both the Spirit and the Son of God, it may be appropriate to remind you we cannot do spiritual good to our fellow creatures apart from the Spirit of God, nor can we be blessed to them if we do not do spiritual good to ourselves. God must use us, but let us want for it, pray for it, and pine for it! Let us purify ourselves of everything that hinders our use by the Lord. Let us pray the Lord will cleanse, heal, and scour us until we are vessels fit for the Master’s use. 

And so, let us be on the watch for opportunities to be useful, and let us walk about the world with ears and eyes open, ready to seize every opportunity to do good. We must and will bring souls to Christ. “Give me children, or I die,” Rachel wailed, so may none of you be barren in God’s household. Cry and sigh until you have saved a soul from death and covered a multitude of sins.

This article is an edited version of the article “Encouragement to Soul-Winners” from Charles Spurgeon’s book “The Soul Winner”. Check out our related posts for more information on this topic, or get a copy of the book from Amazon.

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