The introduction captures the reader’s attention with an opening story of a man who, though in his final days, affirms both the struggles of life and the goodness and grace of God. The first chapter shows how trials often disquiet our faith bringing doubts about God. Ending out, the introduction explains that the purpose of this book is to show what God’s grace really is, and how believers can receive it.
PART ONE: GRASPING GRACE
Chapter 1: Hazy Definitions
“Hazy Definitions” exposes many of the complexities in finding a definition for the word grace. Because the term is so widely misunderstood and misused some may even begin to question God’s motives or goodness. Once cutting through much of the confusion, the chapter ends out with a simple definition for grace, specifically as it is used in the text in James 4, which communicates God’s help or strength.
Chapter 2: Grace Appeared
“Grace appeared” tells the story of “Aaron,” the blind man healed by Jesus in John 9. The elaborated story provides a backdrop to remind us that Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s grace revealed. A conversation about grace cannot be separated from the One Who is full of grace and truth. When looking for a clear picture of God’s grace, a person must first look at Jesus.
Chapter 3: Grace Rescue—God’s Grace in Salvation
Salvation is a miraculous work only God can accomplish through His grace. This chapter focuses on the grace of God at work in the salvation of people. This grace reaches down to individuals at every stage and station of life. The chapter also expands on the helpless position our sin has left us in—a position in which our only hope of rescue is the grace of God.
Chapter 4: Living with Tension
If grace is truly free, why are we talking about what we need to do to receive it? If I have to do something in order to receive God’s grace, should we stop calling it grace and refer to it as works? The purpose of this chapter is to answer some of these objections before delving too deeply into this subject. The reader will find that adding conditions to grace in no way diminishes the beauty or freeness of it.
PART TWO: EXPERIENCING GRACE
Chapter 5: Setting the Stage
The book of James is a book of conflict. This chapter leads the reader up to the text in James 4:5-10 by first examining the conflict found at the end of chapter three and the beginning of chapter four.
Chapter 6: Spiritual Tug of War
Becoming a Christian does not remove a person from the battle against temptations and trials. Instead it places them on the front lines! Believers often suffer from “trial amnesia” when confronted with difficulties in this life. This chapter begins to explain the spiritual tug of war every Christian is engaged in as portrayed in James 4:5.
Chapter 7: Greater Grace
The constant struggle with sin can wear us down and leave us in a hopeless state. In spite of what may appear to be an impossible mountain to climb, James 4:6 begins by declaring, “But He gives more grace.” An analogy to receiving medical attention is powerfully used within this chapter to show that God’s grace always rises above the level of temptations or tests a person faces.
Chapter 8: Humility—The Overarching Mindset
This chapter begins to outline the kind of individual that will receive God’s grace. The essential attitude required is humility. As evidenced at the end of James 4:6, God stiff-arms the proud, but He compassionately shows grace to the humble. This chapter ends with the first of seven “Grace Studies” which shows how God’s grace reaches down the humble.
Chapter 9: Submit to God—Obey What God Tells You to Do
Unhesitatingly submitting to the commands of a superior officer is a mentality that is drilled into soldiers from the time they first step foot into boot camp to the day they receive their discharge papers. As shown in James 4:7 this same mentality is necessary for those who long to experience God’s grace. The second “Grace Study” tells the story of one of my heroes—a mom named Melissa who faithfully obeyed God and saw His grace flow into her life in amazing ways.
Chapter 10: Resist the Devil—Put Up a Fight Against Temptation and Sin
In the battle against sin and temptation Christians are commanded to put up a fight. This is the charge given at the end of James 4:7. Many fail to resist the devil because they do not possess a healthy disgust toward sin. The chapter also focuses on the promise in James 4:7 that if a believer resists the devil, he will flee from them. The third “Grace Study” focuses on a young man who is overcome by the sin of pornography.
Chapter 11: Draw Near to God—Build Your Relationship with the Lord
Grace is given to those who draw near to God, as expressed in James 4:8. Although the word “distance” could be used to describe God’s relationship with His people in the Old Testament, believers in the New Testament era can be as close to God as they want to be. An analogy to a person’s physical health leaves a lasting impression on the importance of developing a growing, thriving relationship with God. The fourth “Grace Study” peers into the life of a grieving widower who experiences the grace of God.
Chapter 12: Cleanse Your Hands and Hearts—Rid Your Life of Sin
All too often, Christians have a skewed view of grace that leads to a diminishing concern for purity. The latter part of James 4:8 instructs those who yearn for God’s grace to cleanse their hands and hearts. This is a call for holistic purity, not simply outward conformity. The fifth “Grace Study” exposes the life of a pastor who has turned away from God’s grace for years and is now beginning to suffer the consequences of it.
Chapter 13: Lament and Mourn and Weep—Have a Proper View of Your Sin
It is impossible to overstate the importance of having a proper view of sin in receiving the grace of God. Grace will only flow to the repentant heart. Working off of James 4:9, this chapter considers texts from Ecclesiastes and 2 Corinthians in pursuit of godly sorrow. The sixth “Grace Study” unfolds the story of a woman who is floundering in every arena of her life and is confronted with her need to gain a proper perspective.
Chapter 14: Be Humble—The Key Ingredient (God Will Lift You Up)
Humility is the key ingredient in receiving God’s grace as evidenced by the fact that it appears twice within a span of five verses. Believers are called to humble themselves before God in James 4:10 and in turn receive the promise that God “will lift them up.” The seventh and final “Grace Study” tracks the life of a young girl from India who experiences God’s miraculous grace as she humbles herself before Him.
The conclusion ties together the lessons brought out within the book. Those who take God at His Word find that He is faithful. As they cast themselves upon the promises of God, they find His goodness, His mercy, and above all, they find His grace.