Today’s reading: James 5
Today we read James chapter 5, which contains two blockbuster theological revelations. First, the anointing of the sick:
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Read carefully what this says … Call for the elders of the Church, the Greek word is Presbyter which is the root of Priest. Then pray over them and anoint the sick person with oil and this prayer WILL SAVE the sick man and if he has committed sins HE WILL BE forgiven.
Think about that, this means that someone who is sick, possibly with fever, delirious, near death and unable to speak will be saved by this sacrament. Based on the verse the sick person does not need to do anything on his part to be saved. It is just the Church, taking one of its members, into its arms at their moment of greatest need.
Here we should take a second to say what a sacrament is … a sacrament is a thing that actually does what is symbolizes, and they are all over the Bible. Baptism with water – washes away sins. We saw the laying on of hands for Conformation and Ordination in the book of Acts. And of course, we say the breaking of the bread (or the Eucharist) in Matthew and Acts.
Look at what else James says:
My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
What does it mean to “wander from the truth” and then to be “brought back”? This clearly means that someone who knows the Gospel can lose it! James says such a person is a “sinner”. Clearly, just because you have become a Christian, that doesn’t guarantee that you will never sin or stay true the Gospel. Again, James writing negates the idea of “once saved, always saved” and establishes the truth of our free will.
Tomorrow: Mk 1:1-28