From James 5:19,20
Used by permission. [Permission is granted to duplicate this article in its entirety,
but only without additions, alterations or omissions of any kind.]
Certainly one of the powerfully devastating passages to eternal security is the last two verses in the book of James. Sadly, too few people are aware of these verses and those who are probably first noticed them in their own personal Bible reading time and never heard them taught. Here is what these important verses say:
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19,20, NASB).
This passage mentions the possibility of brethren straying from the truth (or backsliding) and what the effects of that action will be on their souls.
First, we know the ones backsliding were previously Christians. There are various ways we know this:
● They are called brethren in v. 19 which is further explained in James 2:1 where the same are identified as believers in the Lord Jesus.
● If the ones (the Christians) who stray are brought back to where they were before they strayed (or backslid), their souls would be saved from death. This is crystal clear proof that he is writing about this horrible thing occurring to those who had been genuinely saved.
● They would also stray from truth. Jesus identified himself by that term—the truth (John 14:6). Hence, they would be straying from the Lord, Christianity and their own salvation.
James then mentions another person turning the one who strayed from the truth back (to where he was before he strayed). He wanted that person to know he would be turning a sinner around. NOTE: The spiritual identity of the Christian would change to sinner under such circumstances. A sinner is an unsaved person who has his soul in jeopardy of eternal death, as we see here. (See this article for more information: Is a Christian a Sinner?)
That former Christian, who became a sinner by his straying from the truth and committing sin would be reinstated to salvation by his turning back (repenting). His soul, which was in jeopardy of eternal death, would no longer be in such danger and the multitude of sins that he committed when he backslid would be covered (forgiven).
Note these important observations relevant to the believer’s security. Please observe:
a) Straying from the truth into a multitude of sins is a definite possibility (and not just hypothetical) for the real Christian. Hence, this passage, as well as others, destroys the argument that if one turns to wickedness he was never really saved to begin with. James is writing about real Christians straying to their spiritual death and being brought back to the truth (and salvation) again by another.
b) The Christian who strayed did not have his future sins already forgiven before they were committed. We know this because they produced spiritual death.
c) It doesn’t say here that such people who stray from the truth merely lose their rewards, fellowship with God, salvation assurance, position in the kingdom, etc. as the eternal security teachers, such as Charles Stanley, Dave Hunt and others, teach. It says that his very soul becomes dead spiritually, as James stated earlier would occur:
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren (NASB).
d) A person can get saved again, just like the prodigal did (Lk. 15:24,32). See also Romans 11:19-23. [Heb. 6:4-6 is the exception to this and not the norm. In Hebrews, the ones who couldn’t be renewed again by repentance (or saved again) sinned in such an extreme way they couldn’t find forgiveness. In other words, they committed eternal sin, which was necessary for them to return to the synagogue and was also the pressure they faced.]
e) No one would have to pluck such a person who strays out of the Father’s hand. Sin would bring about spiritual death, as it always has. See Ezek. 33:18; 18:24; etc.
f) We too can be used by God to bring a former Christian back to salvation again. In our day, this will happen after we learn eternal security is not true, but instead a deadly lie. Until this is known, and acted upon, it will be impossible to go after the backslider to save his soul from death, as taught by James.
(Please, please pass this important message about James 5:19,20 on to your family, friends and contacts. Precious souls could be rescued from the furnace of fire by doing so. Are you willing to do this simple thing to help?)