Sermon:  God's Rescue Operation

Summary:  The church has a calling to be a rescue operation for those who have strayed 
away from the truth and those who are lost.  Jesus demonstrated that this was a 
passion of his and now has passed on this mission to his church.

Know:  The mission of Christ did not end with his ascension, but continues through us, 
the church

Feel:  Compelled to help bring the lost and those who strayed away to Christ

Do:  Discuss the church's and your personal place in the overall ministry of rescue, 
what challenges and difficulties you face in doing so, and what it might take to be more 
passionate and effective at it.

Text:  James 5:19-20

Scripture Reading:  1 Thess 5:14-15

1.  Eve swam in lake? I remember paddling at back of a rubber raft with friend
	a.  Neither one of us could swim, we to stay away from deep water
	b.  But we had a raft, so we didn't think a thing of it
	c.  Raft started deflate, we had trouble hanging on, couldn't touch bottom
	d.  We started calling for help, and an older kid pushed us to shallow water
2.  Final words in James has to do with rescuing those who have strayed away
	a.  A fitting conclusion to James
	b.  James began with talking about endurance in being doers of the word
	c.  After talking about several things to "do," he talks about "doing" prayer
		- Praises when happy
		- Prayer when suffering
		- Invite others to pray for you when worn out, sickly, when sin
	d.  Then, addresses what to "do" what one strays away (Jas 5:19-20)
3.  Text indicates that a major function of the church is rescue
	a.  No longer talking about inviting someone to pray over you
	b.  Now it is talking about going after someone who has strayed away
4.  We need to make ministries of rescue a priority.  Why?  Reasons.

I.  Brethren may stray
	A.  Stray is a good translation for the word used here
	B.  Associated words:  
		1.  Synonyms for stray: Wander, roam, straggle, deviate, get lost
		2.  Could stray away due to hardships and persecutions
			a. That appears to be what happening in context
			b. These believers facing all kinds of trials
			c.  Got tired, bitter, angry, depressed, stray away
		3.  There could be something that distracts you from your goal
			a.  Takes your attention and focus off of God
			b.  What happens, you wander
		4.  Prov 12:26 The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, 
		     But the way of the wicked leads them astray.
			a.  We are a guide to our neighbor
			b.  Rom 15:14 - Indicates we are to admonish each other
	C.  ILL:  It's like having small children
		1.  Remember going to the park when they were little
			a.  They would be playing while we adults visited
			b.  They would explore, get a little farther away
			c.  Start to wander in their exploration
			d.  We would call their name, and bring them back
		2.  So easy to stray.  I remember Harding graduation
			a.  We were at the Benson Auditorium, thousands people
			b.  Family all there, but Jeremy was gone - couldn't find him
				- Started to look everywhere, family helped look
				- Graduation was in just a few minutes
				- We were going to leave graduation to find him
			c.  Finally found him in the Bible building
			d.  Why?  He heard there would be cake, so went looking
		3.  So easy to wander off and get lost
	D.  The church is a rescue operation 
		1.  According to this text, we save those who wander away
		2.  What is it that we might be tempted to wander away from?

II.  Brethren may stray from the truth
	A.  Text calls the one who strays from the truth a "sinner"
		1.  This is pretty serious business here
		2.  Not just talking about stumbling or an oops
		3.  Talking about being lured away from the truth
	B.  Interesting choice of words
		1.  Didn't say "from the faith" or "from the Lord" or "the church"
		2.  What is truth? Is more than just what you believe  (Jn 3:20-21)
			a.  Notice the contrast - practice evil vs. truth
			b.  Truth is something you "practice," not just agree with
			c.  That is why James says be "doers" of the word
			d.  That is why James says faith without works is dead
		3.  Another example (1 Jn 3:16-19)
			a.  We will know we are of the truth by our actions
			b.  Specifically, loving not with just words, but in actions
		4.  Jesus says, "I am the way, the TRUTH" and the life, Jn 14:6
			a.  Jesus himself is the very definition of truth
			b.  Cannot be of the truth without him
			c.  He does not just have some truth, he IS the truth
			d.  This is an absolute statement
	C.  ILL:  People now days often do not accept absolute truth
		1.  Two men in a dispute in India, went to see a judge
			a. 1st man made case, judge said, "That's right!  That's right!"
			b. 2nd man said, wait, you didn't hear my side!  So judge 
		     	     listened him and said, "That's right! That's right!"
			c.  Clerk of court jumped up and said, "Wait, they can't both 
			     be right!"  Judge said, "That's right! That's right!"
			d.  This is the sort of thing many people do today
		2.  Few years ago, a person teaching class of young people
			a.  Start class with jar of beans, they guess number of beans
			b.  Writes down their answers on a flip chart, circle right one
			c.  Next, has them make list of favorite songs
				- Asks them which one is the right answer
				- They protest, saying there is no right answer
				- It is merely a matter of taste
			d.  Then asked - When deciding what to believe in terms of 
			     faith, more like guessing beans, or choose favorite song?
				- Almost all say it like choosing favorite song
		3.  If Jesus is THE truth, then it is not just a matter of taste
		4.  There is a right way to live and a wrong way
			a.  One way leads to life, the other leads to death
			b.  It is not just a matter of opinion or taste
	D.  World will deceive you and try to offer lies for truth
		1.  Some of the lies
			a.  You must do whatever you can to seek happiness
			b.  All people are basically good, just need to deal with 
			     corrupting influences to bring it out
			c.  It doesn't matter what kind of religion you have
			d.  Religion is a private matter, true for you, but not for 
			     everyone else, so keep your views on morality to self
		2.  But the truth is
			a.  You need to seek God, and happiness will find you
			b.  All have sinned and need redemption from God
			c.  Jesus is the only way, truth, and life
			d.  God is the creator, designer, lawgiver, his truth is the only 
			     truth and it is universal, he has a design for family, govt...
		3.  We are to live by God's truth, the only truth
			a.  Just because world reject it does not make it untrue
			b.  It is true whether we believe it or not
			c.  We need to put it into practice - Be doers of his truth
		4.  Part of being "doers" is to bring back those who stray 

III.  Church is a Rescue Operation for all who are lost
	A.  This is not limited to just brethren who stray away
	B.  Jesus' vision was the whole world
		1.  Look at what Jesus said
			a.  Jn 3:16-17 - God not send son into world to judge the 
			      world but that the world might be saved through him
			b.  Jn 10:16 - I have other sheep, not of this fold, I must bring 
			     them in also, they will become 1 flock with 1 shepherd
			c.  Great Commission
				- Mt 28:20 - Make disciples of all the nations
				- Mk 16:15 - Preach the Gospel to all creation
				- Lk 24:46 - Written Christ would suffer and rise, and 
				   repentance for forgiveness of sins would be 
				    proclaimed in His name to all the nations
				- Jn 20:21 - As the Father sent me, I send you
			d.  Even in Acts
				- Begins with Gospel spreading from Apostles
				- Acts ends open-ended.  For a reason
				- Acts 28:28 - Salvation has been sent to Gentiles 
				- We are the continuation of the story
		2.  Look at what the Bible calls us
			a.  Mt 5:14 - Light of the World
				- Rev 1:20 - Calls the churches lampstands
				- If they don't let light shine, God take away lampstand
				- Light performs two purposes - Exposes and Guides
				- We expose the result of sin, and guide people to life
			b.  1 Pet 2:9 - Holy priesthood 
				- We bring people and God together
				- Text says we "proclaim his excellencies" 
			c.  1 Tim 3:15 - Pillar and Support of Truth 
				- Jesus is the way, TRUTH, and life
				- We teach Jesus, the Gospel 
			d.  Body of Christ, Col 1:24
				- Eph 2:22 - We are built together as dwelling of God
				- God does his work THROUGH us
		3.  Mission of Christ did not end when he ascended
			a.  It continues through us, the body of Christ
			b.  Each part of body performs variety of functions
			c.  But they all serve the major function of evangelism
			d.  Evangelism is NOT a bad word, it is very biblical
				- World speaks of it in a negative way
				- Many Christians bought into the lie it is bad
				- But this is what God has called us as a church to do
		4.  Notice that James says, "He who turns sinner from error of his 
		      way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins"
			a.  You let someone die and do nothing?  Of course not!
			b.  I know you not want family, friends, neighbors to die
			c.  You have the cure, the answer, the good news
			d.  God's plan is to work through us, the church
	C.  ILL:  I remember the guys who brought me to Christ 
		1.  Terry Clyde and Jon Allesandro, both of them teenagers
		2.  After the study, baptism, we spent time together in the days 
		     ahead talking about this new walk
		3.  Kept saying, "God saved you, through Jon/Terry"
			a.  They stressed the God works through his people
			b.  They also stressed God expected to work through me
			c.  God's passion was to be our passion
		4.  Jon was passionate about evangelism
			a.  Went to Practical Evangelism School, a week long 
			     summer training program, used OBS with me
			b.  Was always asking, "Are you a Christian?"
			c.  The Lord was continuing his mission through him
	D.  Yes, we the church are a rescue operation

1.  Sometimes people wander into deep water, need rescue.  It our job
2.  There are those who have never obeyed the Gospel.  Our job to share (inv)
3.  We are a rescue operation


Small Group Notes:  God's Rescue Operation

Summary:  The church has a calling to be a rescue operation for those who have strayed 
away from the truth and those who are lost.  Jesus demonstrated that this was a passion 
of his and now has passed on this mission to his church.

Open:  (choose one)
-  What is the most amazing rescue you have ever seen?
-  When have you needed to be rescued?

Explore:  (James 6:19-20)

1.  James begins in the first chapter talking about being "doers" of the word and not just 
hearers.  According to this passage, what does "doing" include?  How does this mirror the 
ministry of Jesus?

2.  Discuss the various reasons and ways might someone "stray" from the truth, and ways a 
Christian brother/sister might help them.

3.  Read John 3:16-17; 10:16; Mt 5:14; and 1 Pet 2:9.  Discuss how the church's rescue 
operation also extends beyond those in the church.  

4.  What place does service, compassion, evangelism, and the truth have in God's rescue 
operation through the church?


5.  What are some ways you and/or the congregation has participated in the ministry rescue?  
Was it directly, in a support role, other?  Describe your experience.

6.  What are some of the challenges, reasons, and difficulties related to the ministry of 
rescue for yourself?

7.  What are some ways that you can be more passionate and/or effective at the ministry of