Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Book of James: Part 15 - The Prayer of Faith


The Book of James: Part 15 - The Prayer of Faith
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

James 5:13-20 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
 19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save their soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

INTRODUCTION

James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem council, concludes his letter to the twelve tribes.

In this letter, James has spoken on trials and temptations, the testing of faith, and the source of our temptations.  He explained the differences between listening and doing, and how favoritism is forbidden in the Kingdom. 

James also talks about faith and deeds, taming our tongues, the two kinds of wisdom and warnings against worldliness.

James warns us against fighting, spiritual unfaithfulness, pride, slander and boasting, as well as warning us about rich oppressors.

James closes his letter with scripture on patience and suffering as well as oaths.

Today we will look at the lasts part of James’ letter, where he speaks about the prayer of the righteous in faith, and those who may wander from God and the Truth.

       I.            WHEN TO PRAY

a.      Is anyone among you in trouble?
                                                             i.      He should pray

                                                          ii.      Prayer should be our first thought, not a last resort.


b.     Is anyone happy?
                                                             i.      Let him sing songs of praise

                                                          ii.      Always remember to thank God for the things which bring you happiness in life...all good things come from His hand.


c.      Is any one of you sick?
                                                             i.      Let them call on the Elders of the church to pray over them
1.      Those who are sick, must call on the Elders to pray over them...this is their “action”, and “doing”, to fulfill and complete their faith.  God has made the first move, making Himself available through Christ Jesus to you, now you must respond to that call, and come forward to receive.

                                                          ii.      Anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord
1.      This is an outward representation of a spiritual truth, taking place inside the person.  Just as communion, outwardly represents a spiritual truth, and baptism, the anointing with oil represents the covering of God’s Holy Spirit.

a.      It is not the bread and wine that saves, it is not the water that cleanses, it is not the oil that heals, but all represent the power of God!

                                                       iii.      And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.


d.     The LORD will raise them up
                                                             i.      The power of God, not the physical elements.

e.      If they have sinned (cause of some sickness), they will be forgiven

                                                             i.      Some sickness in our lives is caused by our sin.

1.      Alcoholism and drug addiction
2.      gluttony
3.      not obeying natural laws
a.      eating proper foods
b.     drinking enough water
c.      as well as obeying laws of physics
                                                                                                                                      i.      Jumping from high places...etc...

                                                          ii.      Other sins can cause sickness as well
1.      unforgiveness
2.      anger/hate
3.      bitterness
4.      jealousy

                                                       iii.      If you have sinned to cause your sickness, your sin will be forgiven when you call on the Elders to pray for you.


f.       Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.

                                                             i.      Jesus said, “You have not, because you ask not...”

                                                          ii.      If you are sick, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed!


g.      The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
                                                             i.      James then gives an example of this principal.



   II.            ELIJAH WAS A HUMAN, JUST LIKE US
a.      He prayed it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years

                                                             i.      At the time of Elijah, the Israelites had taken to worshipping another God, Baal. This form of worship was very depraved and involved the ceremonial killing of babies. Baal was a god of agriculture, and they made human sacrifices to him because they believed it was Baal, (not God), that controlled the seasons and the weather.

This situation could not continue. These horrific bloodthirsty depraved practices had to stop. Elijah was a righteous man who prayed for the rain to stop, and the people experienced a three-year drought.

Elijah said, let the Baal worshippers call on their God and if Baal existed, he could send them rain?

Of course Baal was in reality a fictional, dreamt up, imaginary god that could do nothing at all! By the end of the three years it was clear who was the True God and that it was time to clear the land of these terrible practices.

If Elijah had not prayed as he did, who knows how many more babies would have been sacrificed to this false god.

We have the same situation in our country today.  Millions of babies a year sacrificed to the false god known as selfishness.  This self-centered being comes in many forms, but always wants the same thing, its own way of life at the cost of another’s.

In 1996 alone, 1.2 million babies were sacrificed to the god known as selfishness.

That is 3,287 babies per day.  In other words, since Roe v. Wade in 1973 which made abortions legal, by 2010 - 53,310,843 babies have been murdered legally in the United States.

53 million.

Hitler was responsible for 21 million deaths.

Stalin murdered 18 million.
And we called them monsters, recorded in history as the vile scourge of the earth...and we, the proud USA, have over 53 million murders under our belt.

Abortion is not the proper term, but a scientific definition.  The actual term for what is taking place is genocide.  Look it up in the dictionary.  It is ungodly, and it is a sin.

Elijah prayed for God to stop up the heavens, and rain to stop, and they did.


b.     Elijah prayed again three and a half years later, the heavens opened up and gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.



III.            BROTHER’S AND SISTER’S
a.      James is reminding those listening that they are believers, and follower of Christ.


b.     If any of you should wander from the truth (as the Israelites did)

                                                             i.      Salvation can be walked away from.
                                                          ii.      We read in Jude that the angels gave up their heavenly abode, and so can we.


c.      And someone should bring them back

                                                             i.      We can also return, and be forgiven, and become a child of God once again, such as the prodigal son!


d.     Remember this: whoever (righteous man’s prayers) turns a sinner (someone who has wandered from the truth and one true God) from the error (sin) of their way, they will save their soul from death (the second death - eternal) and hide a multitude of sins.



CONCLUSION

We should pray when we are in trouble, sing songs of praise to God when we are happy, and when we are sick, we should call on the Elders of the church to pray over us, anoint us with oil, so that if sin has caused our sickness, we will be forgiven, and we will become well.

James also reminds us that the prayers of the righteous are powerful, and we need to confess our sins to each other, and pray for each other so that we may be healed.

If we see a brother or sister wandering from the truth, away from God, we need to try to bring them back, so that they do not lose their place in heaven.  If we do bring them back, we will save their soul from the second death, which is eternal separation from God, and cover a multitude of sins they may have committed during their departure from God.