18 God’s Means of Grace

James 5v13-18

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
Is anyone 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 one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (ESV)

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:13: 
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

James says that God provides a means of grace for:

  1. The Suffering
    It’s of the nature of humanity – everybody hurts. Life is a battle, not a ballet.
    Intuitively we want other people to suffer with us. We want to find somebody to blame, shame, gaslight, and someone to fix our hurt.
    James says that if someone suffers let them pray. Phil. 4:6-7 also instructs that you need a guard for you heart and mind – the peace of God that transcends all understanding that is rooted in the Good News of the Gospel.

  2. The Sunny
    Let them sing praises – rejoicing in the Lord.

  3. The Sick
    The true means in the Church:
    a) The means for everyone – ‘is anyone among you sick?
    b) The ministry of Elders – ‘let him call for the Elders of the church’.
    c) The manner of execution:
       (i) Personally – pray over the sick one
      (ii) Prudently – anointing with oil, consecrating them. Oil in OT times had healing properties – also seen as a symbol of the Holy Spirit’s presence and as medical treatment, which is the common grace of God to which unbelievers also have access. The elders still advise sick ones to go to the doctor, because it is also part of God’s common grace.
     (iii) Piously – do it in the Name of the Lord.
     (iv) Persuasively – with faith (knowledge, assent, and trust). Works is the trust aspect of faith. Faith without works is dead.
      (v) Purposefully – so that the one who is sick can be raised up.

  4. The Sinful
    a) The Culpability of sin – reconciliation and confession of wrongs is also a means of God’s common grace for all people.
    b) The Confession of sin – Personal, public and powerful (Elijah trusted in God’s power).