In the book AND THEN THE END SHALL COME, I spoke to this verse and others like it at some length. I used it yesterday in writing to Terry James. Why? — because the very souls of our brethren may depend on our pointing out the truth that they ignore. How can I say that with so much confidence? — read on and you will then need to judge.
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 NASB).
My brethren, If anyone among you — what does that imply? Brethren certainly must mean that they were once with the Apostles (the brethren) in the Truth, but have strayed from that truth. Today men from all brands of Christianity claim their own “truth”. On this one verse itself there are many views, the plain truth of the verse itself is lost in the many interpretations of it. And this straying exists for many reasons. One view cannot accept it because it contradicts “once saved always saved”.
So the question becomes: When Jesus stated that “no man can pluck you out of the Fathers hand”, did He by so stating mean that you cannot remove yourself? Did He in fact remove your free will from you for all time with that statement?
Jesus who made this statement also stated to His followers Abide in Me, and He placed a consequence on not abiding. Read it it’s not good. He stated to these same Jesus followers: “if you deny Me, I will deny you before My Father in Heaven”, do these statements sound like the removal of free will? He also said: “He who endures to the end shall be saved”.
Now it is true that there are those who would tell us that these things were not written to us in the Church, they were written to Israel. These followers of Jesus were still under the Old Covenant. They could still fall, but you cannot. Seems a good argument. But, why do they then point to Jesus statement: no man can pluck you out of My hand or the Fathers hand” as their proof for “once saved always saved”?
And if these things that Jesus stated under the Old Covenant are not for New Covenant Believers — why did Paul state to us? — Now these things happened to them (Old Covenant Believers) as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
1 Corinthians 10:11-12
Notice it is “him who thinks he stands” who Paul says needs to take heed. Why? — “that he does not fall”. So our conclusion must be that Jesus who stated these things could not have meant to take away our free will by His statement. Had He done so He would have contradicted His own Word, His own truth. Remember He is truth, the very word of God. So why did He leave this question open for debate rather then adding to “no man can pluck you from My hand” a simple (except you yourself)? Perhaps for the same reason I did not give you the Scriptures references for all of His above statements. You are to study to show yourself approved a workman who needeth not be ashamed. You have a choice you can believe everything that someone else tells you is truth, or you can dig out the Gold for yourself.
But let me also say this to you the reader, using verses like this to condem your brethren who stray to hell is not your proper response when dealing with them. We are to love our brethren; yes, we are to point out their straying from truth, but it is not my job or yours to condemn them to the losing of their soul. The word of God is the judge, and He does not command us to be the judge, in the above verse He calls on us to attempt to turn our brother back.
And thus I say to you — you be the judge Not of my salvation but of what I teach. Why do I say that? — because you are responsible to work out you own salvation in fear and trembling, not mine. Did you pay for your own salvation? Did you pay for mine? — what you do with what is given you is your responsibility. If you stray from the truth in so doing, you must pray to God that someone will help you find your way back. Straying from Truth is straying from Jesus Himself. Twisting truth is equivalent to creating a new Jesus, one which does not exist.
May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless you in your study, and in your interactions with your fellow man.