James makes it clear that pursuit of the wanderer is not only the job of the elders in their obligation to the flock. It is the responsibility of the entire family of God. James issues his charge to the “brethren” (James 5:19). We all have the role of speaking the truth in love, rebuking one another, confessing our sins to one another, and exhorting one another.
. . . if anyone among you wanders from the truth . . .
We’ve seen James to be an eminently practical book. The question is, do we take seriously what James has taught us? Do we buy into the idea that faith can be authentic or counterfeit? Do we believe that we can deceive ourselves with mere presumption of saving faith, being professors but not possessors? Do we believe that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ works itself out in allegiance to Him and alignment with His will, as it resists the schemes and snares of the evil one? Do we acknowledge that the gospel of the kingdom is truth and that apart from that truth there is neither life nor hope?
If we do embrace what James has taught us, then we will not be surprised by James’s closing words: “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 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). In a sense, James is authenticating all that he has said before. Apart from Christ, there is no salvation. Apart from faith in Christ, a person is not saved. A profession of faith apart from works that validate that profession is nothing but presumption. Truth matters. To wander from the truth is to stray from the word of God and the Christ it reveals.