James 5:19-20 – The Joy of Turning a Sinner Back

Do not merely hear it this morning, beloved fellow laborer, but let it sink deep into your heart. When an apostle inspired of the Holy Spirit, says, “Let him know,” I evoke you, do not let any indolence of spirit forbid your ascertaining the full weight of the truth. What is it that you are to know? To know that he who converts a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death. This is something worth knowing, is it not? To save a soul from death is no small matter. Why, we have men among us whom we honor every time we cast our eyes upon them, for they have saved many precious lives. They have manned the lifeboat, or they have plunged into the river to rescue the drowning. They have been ready to risk their own lives amid burning timbers, that they might snatch the perishing from the devouring flames. True heroes these, far worthier of renown than your bloodstained men of war. God bless the brave hearts! May [our land] never lack a body of worthy men to make her shores illustrious for humanity. When we see a fellow creature exposed to danger, our pulse beats quickly, and we are agitated with desire to save him. Is it not so? But the saving of a soul from death is a far greater matter. Let us think what that death is! It is not non-existence. I do not know that I would lift a finger to save my fellow creature from mere non-existence. I see no great hurt in annihilation, certainly nothing that would alarm me as a punishment for sin. Just as I see no great joy in mere eternal existence if that is all that is meant by eternal life, so I discern no terror in ceasing to be. But eternal life in Scripture means a very different thing to eternal existence. It means existing with all the faculties developed in fullness of joy, existing not as the dried herb in the hay, but as the flower in all its beauty. To die, in Scripture, and, indeed, in common language, is not to cease to exist. Very wide is the difference between the two words, to die and to be annihilated. 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. 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 forever. The descriptions which Holy Scripture gives of the second death are terrible to the last degree. It speaks of a “worm that never dies,” a “fire that never can be quenched,” of “the terror of the Lord” and “tearing in pieces,” of the “smoke of their torment which goes up forever and ever,” and of “the pit which has no bottom.” I am not about to bring all these terrible things together, but there are words in Scripture which, if pondered, might make the flesh creep, and the hair stand on end at the very thought of the judgment to come. Our joy is that if any of us are made in God’s hands [to be] the means of converting a man from the error of his ways, we shall have saved a soul from this eternal death. That dreadful hell the saved one will not know, that wrath he will not feel, that being banished from the presence of God will never happen to him. Is there not a joy worth worlds in all this? Remember the addition to the picture. If you have saved a soul from death, you have introduced it into eternal life. By God’s good grace there will be another chorister among the white-robed host to sing Jehovah’s praise. Another hand to eternally smite the harp strings of adoring gratitude, another sinner saved to reward the Redeemer for His passion. Oh, the happiness of having saved a soul from death!

Charles Spurgeon

Read James 5:19-20 and consider the great honor of participating in God’s work of drawing sinners back to himself. How does your prayer life and ministry reflect this glorious truth? How can you grow in this area?

Come Ye Sinners by Vertical Worship

Posted on: July 10, 2020 - 12:00PM

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