“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
The healing in this verse does not refer to physical healing, but restoration among believers who have offended one another in some way. This is not to be done in a congregational setting. Restoration is always a private matter between the two believers involved. In context, this refers to a reversionistic believer who has most likely done a lot offending along his journey into reversionism. His pastor would certainly be one who would be offended by the reversionist’s rejection of the pastor’s authority and doctrinal teaching. The goal is harmony in the body of Christ.
The righteous man who is praying refers back to the doctrinal pastor who is praying for the restoration of the reversionist. If you are ever going to have any power in prayer it must be on a grace basis. Therefore grace begins with the person to whom you address your prayers. The Bible gives us direct rules on Who is the recipient of prayer. Prayer is not addressed to “Dear Jesus” or “Oh Holy Ghost.” Neither the Second Person of the Trinity nor the third Person of the Trinity are to be the recipient of prayer. Prayer is always addressed to God the Father (Ephesians 3:14); in the name of the Son because the Son is our High priest, and in the power of the Spirit because God the Holy Spirit is the power in prayer. (Ephesians 6:18) You are in the family of God; therefore offer your prayer to the Father. Both the Son and the Spirit offer prayer to the Father. (Hebrews 7; Romans 8:26-27) The agenda for prayer should include: a. Confession of sin (1 John 1:9); b. Thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:20); c. Intercession (Ephesians 6:18); d. Petition (Hebrews 4:16).
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured out rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
In verses 17, 18 we have prayer for a sick nation, prayer for a nation in reversionism, prayer for a nation which is about to be destroyed. Elijah was noble of soul because he had a lot of Bible doctrine. He was strong, he was courageous, he had great moral courage, and he was the man who made it possible for his country to be delivered from the fifth cycle of discipline (destruction). If you have had some adversity, then you know how Elijah felt. If you have had some pressures, had your feelings hurt, been disappointed, disheartened, sad because of events due to the situation you face today in our nation, then you know exactly how Elijah felt. Elijah was not only a spiritual hero, he was a patriot, he loved his country, he loved God, and he stepped into the gap between God and his nation as it faced almost certain disaster. He was willing to give his life for his Lord and his country. Elijah faced maximum national apostasy, he faced maximum national reversionism which threatened his nation with total catastrophe. His nation was on the verge of the fifth cycle of discipline. He prayed for his nation for three and a half years that God would not destroy it. At the end of that time the nation was delivered.
And between verses 17 and 18 we have the elapse of three and a half years. Elijah has already passed the King Ahab test: Faith and courage in proclaiming the Word of God to a king. He had passed the test of the brook of Cherith: Faith in waiting for God’s solution. He had passed the Zarephath test: The reality of Bible doctrine when you’re right and everyone thinks you’re wrong. He also passed the tragedy test: pressure in a crisis. Now he is told to go and once again face Ahab and there is a price on his head. It was very interesting the way God brought him face to face with Ahab before any of Ahab’s troops got to him first and make some money on the bounty. “Go show thyself unto Ahab and I will give rain upon the earth.” So Elijah’s prayer for his nation began by asking the Lord to knock on the door (no rain). Knocking is divine discipline as a warning to the nation of the coming of the fifth cycle of discipline. His was the prayer of the prophet, a believer who had the gift of communication of doctrine; it was a prayer concerning national reversionism. Elijah was a believer with the gift of prophecy, a man who was prophet by office, a man who had the power of communication, a man who had grown into spiritual maturity and he knew how to offer the proper prayer. This was an interrupted prayer. It was begun in Ahab’s palace in Samaria. Three and a half years later it was concluded on the top of Mount Carmel. So in verse 18, “And he prayed again” means the elapse of three and a half years. This time God sent rain indicating the fifth cycle of discipline had been stopped.
“My brethren, if any of 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.
“Brethren” refers to the members of the family of God. We as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have entered a new family at the point of salvation. We have believed in Christ and this entire passage is for those who are born into His family. The moment we believe in Jesus Christ we immediately receive 40 spiritual assets from God. One of these is the fact that we are born into His family. God is from then on responsible for us, and everything that is provided is provided by one of the three members of the Trinity — the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. It is the objective of God in keeping us alive to bring us to the point of spiritual maturity, the point where He can share His happiness with us, the point where He can pour out all the wonderful things He has for us. The only problem with giving these things to us immediately is that we lack capacity. We simply do not have the capacity for happiness or for blessing as God has provided it. But in spiritual maturity we will have capacity for freedom, capacity for life, capacity for love, capacity for happiness, capacity for grace, capacity for prosperity and even capacity for adversity. There is nothing in life for which we do not have capacity for happiness. And every believer has a choice to make. He can advance to maturity or not. All he has to do is to be positive to doctrine every day in every situation. Or he can go negative toward doctrine, and that is the beginning of the end, for this leads into reversionism. Reversionism starts out in a very simple way: negative volition toward Bible doctrine. This can be neglect of doctrine or antagonism toward doctrine, or something in between. And all of it produces scar tissue on the soul. That opens up the vacuum and through the vacuum comes an attack on Bible doctrine — doctrine in the frame of reference, doctrine in the vocabulary and categories, doctrine in norms and standards. And then Satanic doctrine [doctrine of demons] comes through and changes one’s standards, changes the frame of reference, changes the vocabulary and the categories, and changes one to human viewpoint thinking. And, it leads to a frantic search for happiness that puts scar tissue on the soul. The type of a frantic search for happiness depends upon the trends at the time in a person’s sin nature. If the trends are toward asceticism it will be one of self-denial. If the trend is toward lasciviousness it will be one of “living it up.” There are many different types of reversionism but there will always be a frantic search for happiness and emotional revolt of the soul, which puts scar tissue on the soul.
The road to reversionism is a tragic road because it leads into several types of divine discipline. If you enter reversionism you can always expect there to be divine discipline. In addition to divine discipline there is illness and the sin unto death. The sin unto death without dying grace is miserable and horrible. There will be believers in every generation that will neglect their spiritual food; some will reject Bible doctrine from the start and remain negative toward doctrine all of their lives. As a result, they will enter into reversionism. Every time you are indifferent to or neglect the consistent intake of Bible doctrine you move farther away from God.
Only a spiritually mature believer has the doctrine in his soul to “turn” a reversionist back to the Lord. By sharing the truth of God’s Word (Bible doctrine) a person can be turned back to the Lord. Turning someone back is simply saying something, communicating something; it refers to communication. You communicate something that turns the reversionist from negative to positive — in any of the three categories: the divine discipline category, illness, or dying. In all of these categories there is the importance of the reversionist changing their attitude, and God often uses mature believers to accomplish this.
Turning a sinner from the error of his way refers to a spiritually mature believer or the pastor who turns around the reversionistic believer, called here “a sinner.” The word for strays refers to one who deviates from the path designed by God. Therefore it refers to a reversionist. And he restores him by sharing the truth with him. A spiritually mature believer or pastor can actually pray a doctrinal prayer or communicate Bible doctrine that will cause a reversionist to turn around.
You will never know the great things from God that He has for you if you go into reversionism. A reversionist maligns God. First of all, he rejects God’s spiritual food, Bible doctrine. Second, since God has for every believer the most fantastic blessings, and there is no capacity to receive them, they must be held up and God receives no glory. God wants to pour out in an unrestrained way blessings of every kind, but He cannot because a reversionistic believer cannot receive it, he has absolutely no capacity. Neglect of Bible doctrine destroys everything.
In context James refers to saving a believer from dying the sin unto death, which is maximum discipline for the believer. God offers you the greatest happiness by sharing His happiness or He offers you divine discipline and ultimately a death of disgrace. The moment that you are born again and you enter the family of God you have to decide which way you are going to go. Are you going to die a death of disgrace or are you going to have the happiness that God can give you from His perfect character?
To be the recipient of all the things that God has for you requires doctrine today, tomorrow, and the next day. God wants the opportunity to pour out blessing to every member of His family if they will execute His perfect plan for them. Because of our union with Christ, God is free to give on the basis of His character, to give unlimited, and to give and have it appreciated if a believer develops capacity. Believers in Christ have a choice of one of two things: a miserable life of divine discipline, or a happy life of divine blessing.
There is no greater manifestation of God’s grace than when you are in the last stages of this life, and you are dying before God’s plan says that you should die, and you change your mind, recover total healing, receive total forgiveness via Rebound, and you are free once more to start choosing Bible doctrine every day.