46 “How long, LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is; For what futility have You created all the children of men? 48 What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” (Psalm 89:46–48, NKJV)
Yes, none of us will escape death. Long before 19th-century Australian poet Francis Duggan penned “Death the Great Equalizer,” the preacher Solomon wrote a similar, inspired refrain (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3). The imminence of death drove the psalmist to beg God to act with swiftness and remember His covenant with David, and remove the reproaches that had befallen Israel because of her sins. God did just that, by sending His Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 1:67-79). We are compelled to get right with God by knowing the reality of death, and the truth that God keeps His covenant. The covenant of Christ offers mercy to sinners who believe, repent and obey the Son (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 16:15-16). But, it also contains the warning of sure wrath against those who “do not obey the truth” (Romans 2:8). Death is certain. Your money, fame, popularity, pleasure, or anything else of this world, will prevent your death. Thank God, Jesus overcame death (Revelation 1:18). He will save you, if you will come to Him (Acts 4:12).
But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ (Matthew 18:16, NKJV)
Jesus said to make a personal, private attempt to gain your brother when he sins against you (Matthew 18:15). When the one who committed sin will not repent, the Lord says to follow the directive of Deuteronomy 19:15 (which He quotes), thereby giving another opportunity for both clarity and conversion to occur. The “one or two more” are brought into the conversation with the sinning brother to accomplish at least three things. First, to identify the actual presence of sin. Second, to verify or establish the accuracy of the sinner’s refusal to repent. Third, to try to persuade the sinner to repent and turn from his sin. By using this approach, the integrity of the situation is beyond dispute. An allegation of sin must not be allowed to degenerate into name-calling, and one person’s word against another person’s word. It goes without saying that credible witnesses are required to insure this integrity, since bearing false witness is also a sin (Ephesians 4:25).
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19–20, NKJV)
This Bible passage enjoins upon faithful Christians the task of rescuing a struggling, sinning Christian from spiritual death. It forever exposes and opposes the false teaching of “once saved, always saved.” Here, the soul that needs saving is a Christian who: (1) Has wandered from the truth. We must walk in the truth to be secure in our salvation (Jno. 10:27); (2) Needs turning back. The person is headed in the wrong, spiritual direction; His present way is “error.” You see, there really is only one way that leads to life (Jno. 14:6); (3) Has sinned. The person is “a sinner,” “in error” and in “death.” He/she is lost. You see, doctrine (teaching) affects salvation. False doctrine is error; a wandering from the truth. Wandering from the truth into error is a real danger. When it happens, the spiritually strong must become first responders, trying to save a soul from death (Gal. 6:1). In what more worthy endeavor can you participate? “He who wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).