A discussion of perseverance in the faith, let alone a sermon founded upon that topic is often hard to come by in the church. Talk of standing firm in the face of trials has often been replaced with sermons focused on more feel good topics such as blessing and hope. In a time when many preachers shy away from engaging scriptures that speak of perseverance and trials in relation to the daily Christian life, a book that reminds pastors of the importance of such topics, encouraging them dig deep into such passages while also providing tools by which they can become a more effective communicator and expositor of Scripture is sorely needed. Donald Sunukjian’s book Invitation to James: Persevering Through Trials to Win the Crown is just such a book.
As noted by Sunukjian in the introduction to his excellent book, the Apostle James letter is not just a random collection of pithy sayings meant to help people with certain aspects of their walk in Christ. Conversely, “the entire letter is focused on the trials James’s friends are going through.” Thus, for a preacher delivering a message from this book or even for the parishioner reading James as part of their personal devotions, grasping the underlying message of James, namely that of perseverance and how that plays out in all of life, is vital. To that end, Sunukjian does a marvelous job of outlining for pastors how to take that theme and relay it to their congregations in a manner that is theologically sound and that provides the hearers of that message with the means to apply the theology of James letter to everyday life.
It is the practicality of Sunukjian’s approach to James that I appreciated the most. There is certainly much opportunity to dig into any number of Greek words, exegeting their meanings as a point of departure for sermon notes and preparation. While Sunukjian does his fair share of analysis of word meanings in his discussion of James, it is always within the greater context of practical application.
For example, when exploring the often debated faith without works passage found in James 2, Sunukjian saliently notes “James’s thought is that we can know we have the kind of faith that will safely takes us through our trials to God’s good reward if we see ourselves doing good deeds of love and compassion to others. On the other hand, if we claim to be trusting God through our trials, but at the same time are ignoring the worse plight of others, our claim is false – our faith is dead, useless, impotent to carry us through our own difficulties.” Such a statement rightly gets the focus off our own issues, instead focusing our thoughts and actions on loving God and loving others which after all is what obedience to God’s commands is all about – faith in action.
James is a book of the Bible I have long appreciated for its forthright approach to everyday issues. After reading Donald Sunukjian’s explanation of the message found in James, I am even more appreciative of James’ letter and have a better understanding of how to apply that message. All believers who take the time to read this helpful book will gain a better understanding of perseverance and how that principle of the faith plays out in every aspect of their life. Additionally, pastors who read this book will find themselves better prepared to share with their congregations what standing firm to the end in the midst of trials is all about. Thus, I highly recommend this book foremost to pastors but also to all who want to better understand the book of James and its message of perseverance. Accept this invitation to study the book of James. You will not regret it.
This book is available for purchase from Weaver Book Company by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Weaver Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”