James 5:1-6 ESV
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
“Harvesters” is also a term used to describe those who are ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are preaching (teaching, sharing) the full gospel of our salvation, i.e. the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), i.e. God’s revealed will and purpose regarding our salvation, in its fullness.
They are laborers in God’s harvest field, steadfast in prayer and in the study of God’s Word, and in walking in holiness and in close fellowship with their Lord. And, they are faithful in correctly handling the Word of Truth, to the best of their understanding, and as led (guided, directed) by the Holy Spirit of God. And, they do this for the glory of God and for the salvation and sanctification of their fellow human beings, that they may know Jesus.
Yet, they are not necessarily Bible college or seminary graduates or in some official positions of pastor or teacher within a church organization. Some of them are homemakers, parents of small children, retirees, workers of manual labor or office jobs, and they are teachers in public schools, etc.
And, some of them are out in the highways and byways of life on street corners, in coffee shops, at the local grocery stores, at the malls, in their neighborhoods, at work, and/or on the internet on blogs, Christian discussion sites, and on social media where they are sharing their faith in Jesus Christ and his full gospel message of salvation from sin.
But, there are imposters, fakes, and deceivers who are imitators of God’s harvesters, but whose goal it is to trick, deceive and manipulate people into believing their lies, disguised as truth. For, what they are teaching is not the whole counsel of God but a half-truth cheap grace substitute for the true grace of God and for his true gospel of salvation.
Thus, they are withholding (keeping back) the truth which can set people free. Thus, their listeners and followers will never be set free from their bondage to sin, but will go on in their sinful addictions convinced that they now have the hope of heaven as their eternal destiny, and that nothing can take that away from them.
For, what they are teaching is that we can “believe” in Jesus Christ with no submission to him as Lord, with no repentance (turning away from sin) and with no requirement for walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands.
Some of them will say this outright, while others will just leave those things out of the gospel presentation and will leave people with the notion that coming to faith in Jesus Christ is a one-time event in their lives which guarantees them heaven as their eternal destiny but that makes no demands for a changed life or for submission to Christ as Lord.
These frauds and their followers and their handlers not only murder (put to death) the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the true nature of Jesus Christ, himself, but they are also murderers of the Lord’s harvesters, i.e. of his true servants and witnesses.
Some of these frauds and their followers and their superiors literally are putting to death the Lord’s servants throughout the world in order to silence them and the message that they are preaching. Others of them are silencing the Lord’s servants in perhaps more subtle ways. And, one of the ways in which they are doing this is via deception, and through lies being spread about the Lord’s servants and about the message they are teaching.
So, they plot many ways to destroy their reputations and to get other people to not listen to them, but to completely reject them. So, they will spread rumors and gossip about them, which are slanderous, and with full premeditated intent to bring them into disrepute, so that all will reject them.
And, there are many different ways in which they are presently going about this. One of the ways is to try to prove that the true gospel is “works-based salvation” which is to be rejected, and that the false gospel is the true gospel of grace which forgives sin and which promises people heaven.
Or, they are making a case that the true gospel is “hate, intolerance, and bigoted,” etc., and since God is love, then we all need to come together as one unified people and destroy all which divides us as the people of the world. So, right now they are pushing this message very strongly, and they are making their case to prove that the Lord’s messengers are “religious extremists” and that we all need to leave religious extremes and find common ground where we can all meet and agree together.
Many of those who are truly following Jesus Christ with their lives, who are spreading the true message of the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, so that they can find deliverance from their bondage to sin and new life in Christ Jesus, are being persecuted for their stand on the truth of God’s Word, and thus they are crying out to God in their suffering.
And, God is listening to their cries, and he has a day of judgment in mind for their persecutors in which he will bring down on them much disaster, which sounds to me much like financial disaster, like a market crash of some kind. For, the pain and the misery that they have brought upon other people in the world is going to come back around on them.
And, their riches may or may not be with physical wealth or with material possessions, though that is clearly what this is saying here. But, I also see that they could be immaterial treasures, too, such as pride, self-indulgence, the appetites of the sin nature, lust, greed, bitterness, and jealousy, etc.
For, it is not material wealth that drives people to reject Jesus Christ and to persecute his servants, but it is greed, envy, bitterness and the pride of life and the lust of the flesh which are at enmity with God and his messengers. And, these all come from the heart of the flesh nature, which demands its own way, and which rejects any message which tells them that they must leave their lives of sin behind them to follow Jesus in obedience.
James 5:19-20 ESV
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Yet, blessed are those who are preaching the whole counsel of God, and who are telling people that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. For, in their sharing of the gospel, they are bringing some people back to God from their wandering in their sin, and thus they are saving their souls from death, for God will forgive their sin, and he will give them eternal life with him. So, keep on telling people the truth!
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
*copyright status is public domain
Monday, May 6, 2019