That You May Be Healed ~ Sermon Notes

James 5:13-16

Do you desire to flee from the wrath to come and be saved from your sins?

Answering yes to that question was the only condition required for those who wanted to be admitted into the societies of a new movement of God in the 18th century, called… “Methodism.”

Sound familiar?

Last week Pastor Bruce preached on Romans 8, looking especially at Romans 8:1, which says…

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Wrath. Condemnation. That’s some pretty serious stuff.

So, how can we flee from the wrath to come and be saved from our sins? And how can we make Paul’s declaration our own and say, “There is now no condemnation for us for we are in Christ Jesus”?

James helps us here. Listen to this paraphrase of James 5:13-16a from Eugene Peterson’s, The Message…

Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out. Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.

It was James 5:16a, that was the governing verse and slogan for those early Methodist societies…

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

There was a direct connection for Wesley between spiritual healing and physical healing – or any other kind of healing.

We can flee from the wrath of God, be saved from our sins, and be delivered from condemnation… because our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross.

That’s what we’ll be remembering and celebrating in just a few minutes with Holy Communion.

John Wesley wanted Methodist Christians to live whole and holy lives in response to the grace of God,  by the grace of God – out of thanksgiving and obedience to God.

And part of doing that was by meeting together regularly to confess sins, share temptations and other struggles with one another.

Then they would encourage one another, pray for one another, and remind one another of God’s healing power, grace, and the truth of 1 John 1:9, which says…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

This is similar to what we’ll do in just a few minutes when we confess our sins together in our Holy Communion liturgy. Once we confess our sins, the pastor then reads these words…

“Hear the good news:
     Christ died for us while we were yet sinners;
     that proves God’s love toward us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”

Then the congregation responds,

“In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”

Here’s the key: We’re not forgiving one another. We’re affirming and declaring the truth of the Gospel – of 1 John 1:9 – that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Now, of course, if we sin against another person, we need to go to that person and seek their forgiveness.

That’s why Jesus in Matthew 5 tells us if we’re going to the altar to give an offering and remember someone who has something against us, we should first go to them and be reconciled.

We should be people whose lives are marked by being forgiven and forgiving.

Think of the words we’ll pray together in just a few minutes: “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Jesus expects his followers to be people who forgive much… because they have been forgiven much.

I would encourage you that if you have any areas of your life that need that sort of reconciliation… then right after our worship service today, go that person and either ask for forgiveness or offer it.

That’s a healing act. That can bring about wonderful healing and wholeness in your life and in the lives of others.

You see, Christianity is a wholistic faith. To be whole and holy means we seek to live wholistic lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Our spiritual lives, physical lives, relationships, mental lives, emotional lives and more… are all interconnected.

And therefore… we need healing… which of course includes spiritual healing. You see, sin is a sickness of the soul. It has devastating power in our lives.

It can have an incredibly alienating impact in our lives. It can…

·      Alienate us from God

·      Alienate us from Others, and

·      Alienate us even from Ourselves.

James is recognizing that in our text… by connecting our spiritual need for forgiveness with our physical needs for healing and the many other ways we experience troubles in this world.

We celebrate Holy Communion today to remember what Christ did on our behalf, out of pure grace. We meet with Christ through his Holy Spirit. We experience his grace as we celebrate our forgiveness and as he purifies us from all our sin.

Beloved, isn’t that good news. And because of it we can declare with the Apostle Paul…

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Are you in Christ Jesus? You can be. And you can join us today as we celebrate Holy Communion.

Our liturgy says, “Christ invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.”

If that describes you, then let’s confess our sin together, trust in Christ and his work on our behalf, and celebrate the forgiveness and reconciliation he offers us when we do.

Thanks be to God.