James 5 – The Miseries of the Rich & God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

Obtaining salvation is the easiest task anyone can ever do, it is the most precious gift you can get from God,  and it is easy to keep. 

Some say no matter what, once you are saved you can’t lose it, and that’s not true. 

This is the last chapter of James so we’ll talk about that in…

James 5
The Miseries of the Rich

1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

“Rich” – these are not Christians, for James warns them to repent and weep because of the coming misery. 

Verses 1-6 are similar to Old Testament declarations of judgment against pagan nations, interspersed in books otherwise addressed to God’s people (Is 13-23; Jer 46-51; Eze 25-32; Amos 1:3-2:16; Zeph 2:14-15).

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

“Garments” – one of the main forms of  wealth in the ancient world.

3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

“Rust” – the result of hoarding.  It will both testify against the judge the selfish rich.

This pertains to the wealthy of today too.  With all the billionaires in the United States there should be no poverty.

4 Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

“Lived in pleasure…and been wanton” – see Lk 16:19-31.

“A day of slaughter” – the day of judgment.  The wicked rich are like cattle that continue to fatten themselves on the very day they are to be slaughtered, totally unaware of coming destruction.

6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

” Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).

7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

“Be patient therefore” – refers back to vv. 1-6.  Since the believers are suffering at the hands of the wicked rich, they are top look forward patiently to the Lord’s return.

8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

“The judge standeth before the door” – a reference to Christ’s second coming and the judgment associated with it.

The New Testament insistence on imminence arises from the teaching that the “last days” began with the incarnation.  We have been living in the “last days” ever since.

The next great event in redemptive history is Christ’s second coming.  The New Testament does not say when it will take place, hut its certainly is never questioned and believers are consistently admonished to watch for it.

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

See Job 1:20-22, 2:9-10, 13-15.

12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

“Swear not” – James’s words are very close to Jesus’ (Matt 5:33-37).  James is not condemning the taking of solemn oaths, such as God’s before Abraham (Heb 6:13) or Jesus’ before Caiaphas (Matt 26:63-64) or Paul’s (Rom 1:9, 9:1) or a man’s before the Lord (Ex 22:11).

Rather, he is condemning the use of “non-binding oaths” to give the impression of truthfulness.  He is applying the teaching of Jesus (cf. Matt 23:16-22). 

James is teaching total honesty even in the most adverse circumstances.

13 Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.

14 Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

“Oil” – one of the best-known ancient medicines (referred to by Philo, Pliny and the physician Galen).

Some believe that James may be using the term medicinally in this passage.  Others regard its use here as an aid to faith, an outward sign of the healing to be brought about by God in response to prayer made in faith.

15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

“Confess your faults one to another” – this does not mean to get on television and tell the world.   See Matt 6:2-7, 16-18. 

17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

“Err from the truth” – the one who errs is either a professing Christian, whose faith is not genuine or a sinning Christ, who needs to be restored.  For the former, the death spoken of in v. 20 is the “second death (cf. 1 Cor 11:30).

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

God’s Simple Plan of Salvation

The word “IF” is much larger than most people realize!

“IF” can be the most devastating weapon against mankind!

Jesus says in order to go to Heaven, you must be born again.

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:3-6).

God gives us the plan of how to be born again, how to be saved. The plan is simple.

First, you must realize you are a sinner.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

The greatest sin that every person has committed is that we are not as holy and righteous as Jesus Christ.

In other words, we all have doubt about God.  It does not matter how much we believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, His crucifixion, and His resurrection.  We have doubt about God.

Not meaning that we doubt His existence, but we wonder “IF” He will do this or “IF” He will do that.

Yet, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then your “IF” becomes a mere “if” in the eyes of God.

It’s still a sin, but it becomes deactivated the minute you accept Christ.

Due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God (Gen 3:1-19) we live in an evil world and, unlike angles, we are sinners and condemned to death.

“For the wages [payment] of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God; spending eternity in Hell.

“…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27).

But God loves us so much He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear our sin and die in our place.

“…He hath made Him to be sin for us…that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21).

Jesus had to shed His blood and die.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11).

“…without shedding of blood is no remission [pardon]” (Heb 9:22).

“…God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

“God…commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

This repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

All God asks of us is to believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, was crucified, and was resurrected.  And that’s it.

Yet, you must believe that in your heart, not just in words.  And to prove that you believe that in your heart you must confess your sins audibly to Him.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:9-10).

We don’t have to understand God, and actually nobody can fully.  We believe that He will take care of us in all ways and we praise is holiness:

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:25-33).

…the Book of 1 Peter.