This is part of an ongoing republication of Vilas Deane’s Vi the Bible Guy series from the original Southview website. Three questions and three answers will get put up each Wednesday morning, so be sure to check back!
Q13: What is James telling us in James 5:19-20?
James 5:19-20 says: My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
“My brothers, if one of you” – James is talking to the church, to believers.
“should wander from the truth” – The wandering suggests an apostatizing from the faith that the person once professed (Heb 10:29).“the truth” is the faith – a reference to Christ and all that He taught (Jn 14:6; Jude 3).
“someone should bring him back” – One in the church appeals to the sinning brother resulting in a restoration of fellowship in the church.
Verse 20 tells us that there are two results from the sinning one turning away from his error:
1. The sinning one will be saved from death.1 Cor 11:30 shows us that sin on the part of a believer can lead to sickness and even death. The repentance and restoration of the sinning brother saves him from death.
2. “cover over a multitude of sins” – Our many sins are forgiven by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. God removes our transgressions “as far as the east is from the west.” (Ps 103:12) Our sins are “covered” as we see in Rom 4:7-8 –“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Q14: Tell me about the gold, frankincense, and myrrh of Matt 2:11, especially the last two items.
Matt 2:11 – On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
We are pretty familiar with gold. It is said to be a gift worthy of Kings, and Jesus will be a King.Gold is a symbol of nobility and royalty. It points to His deity and majesty.
The frankincense (incense in the NIV) refers to the aromatic resin of a certain tree, a large, pink-flowering tree native to Africa, Arabia, and India, but not native to the Holy Land. Frankincense would have come to that area by caravan. The resin or gum from the tree hardens quickly and is very aromatic when burned. In the OT, it was burned with other substances in the grain offering (Lev 6:15), and it was one ingredient of holy anointing oil (Exod 30:34). This gift points to the fragrance of Christ’s life, His intercession, and His purity.
Myrrh consists of the reddish-brown aromatic resin of certain small trees, perhaps shrubs.It is the dried sap of the myrrh tree, and is often worth more than its weight in gold. Myrrh was used in the preparing of a corpse for burial. Myrrh points to Christ’s sacrifice and death.
It is interesting to see what these gifts say about the baby Jesus. It is also quite possible that God had provided these gifts through the wise men to finance the sojourn of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Egypt.
Gold – Christ’s nobility, royalty, deity, majesty.
Frankincense – Fragrance of Christ’s life, intercession, purity.
Myrrh – Christ’s sacrifice and death.
Q15: The Bible says in Matt 24:35 “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”(See also Mk 13:31 and Lk 21:33) What heaven will pass away?
In 2 Peter 3:10-13 we find:“10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new Heaven and a new Earth, the home of righteousness. We believe that this cleansing, remaking of the earth and its heavens will occur at the end of the Millennium. John tells us in Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away….” So, God will make a new Heaven and a new Earth.This is new in “quality”, i.e., different from before. The Earth consists of all the matter around us. The Heaven that is referred to is the air and atmosphere that surrounds the earth and, quite likely, everything in the celestial heavens. This is not talking about the Heaven where God dwells and where Jesus is at present. I see no reason that God would not renovate all of His creation while he is making the new Heaven and the new Earth. The most important aspect of the verse that we started with is not about the passing of Heaven and Earth. The real impact is that God’s Word is permanent and will endure forever. The prophet Isaiah told us in Isa 40:8 that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Jesus also talked about this in Matt 5:18 – I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So, the heavens and the earth will be made new, but God’s Word will prevail.