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My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back. (James 5:19)
The truth referred to here by James includes Bible doctrines or Christian beliefs as well as Christian ethics. Over 41,000 different denominations call themselves Christian, all claiming to be the truth and the way. However, all of them believe differently, meaning that they are not just different roads leading to the same place. What we believe about God and his Word is what can make us a part of the truth or not. A new one, i.e., an unbeliever coming into the truth, must first be taught the Word of God, and the Christian morals will follow. “This is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) James did not have all twenty-seven books of the New Testament, as the apostle John had not yet written the Gospel of John, his three epistles, and the book of Revelation. In addition, James would not have been aware of Peter’s epistles either or a couple of Paul’s letters.
Nevertheless, like all New Testament authors, James used the Old Testament extensively, and he viewed God’s Word as the foundation of the truth. Today, we have all sixty-six books of the Bible, thirty-nine of the Old Testament, and twenty-seven of the New Testament, which contain all that is necessary for the truth. James says of God in 1:18, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
“We know that we have passed over from death into life” (1 John 3:14), but it is also just as possible to pass over from life to death if we stray too far from the truth. Every Christian, not just the pastor, has an obligation to help a brother back to the path of the truth. The apostle Paul tells us, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1) When we think of James informing us of our obligation of helping those who have stumbled in the truth, we think back on the power of prayer. Remember, James had just written, “the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick.” (5:15) For there to be a success, one must diligently apply God’s Word and deep prayer to achieve the regaining of the one who has stumbled from the path of the truth. If the erring one does not receive the needed help, he can go beyond repentance. Being beyond repentance refers to being beyond the desire to repent or return to the truth. In some cases, he will be lost to Satan’s world, and no one will be able to reawaken his former desire. – Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-29.
Every year we have tens of thousands of Christians who stray from the truth because they have misinterpreted or misunderstood scripture, as they have been reading misleading information. Thus, they have drifted away, turned away, or fallen away because they had become sluggish, so they grew weary or fainthearted. Many others have fallen away because they have stumbled morally. All of these find themselves in a perilous position. When we ponder the phrase “turns him back [ἐπιστρέφω epistrephō, having returned],” it helps us to appreciate that we are talking about a Christian, not one who has never accepted the truth. Yes, we are dealing with a fallen brother who has strayed from the truth that he had accepted at one time but now rejects by behavior or belief.
 Christian ethics is a branch of Christian theology that defines concepts of right (virtuous) and wrong (sinful) behavior from a Christian perspective. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_ethics)
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