I read books! I told a young friend of mine the other day, “Christians are readers.” Obvious sentiment, I know, because there is no such thing as a Bible-less Christian, and, if you don’t want to be Bible-less, you have to read. This is a skill every Christian needs to hone. Thankfully, in the centuries following the closing of the Canon, God has granted his Church people who are especially adept and qualified to teach and write. We all stand on someone else’s shoulders in our learning and growing in grace.
Here are seven edifying books I’ve read so far in 2018, and, truthfully, I’d be happy if you did too.
Do More Better by Tim Challies
I listened to Challies’ helpful little book on organizing your life for God’s glory while running in the ridiculous heat of July. It was hot, and so is this book. You’ll learn how to utilize mobile apps, create godly goals for each category of your personal and ministry life, and, frankly, do a lot more better. This was a particularly important book for me because, as an Associate Pastor, I wear a lot of interesting and colorful hats, and thats not just because I teach youth group every week.
An Invitation to Biblical Hermeneutics by Andreas Kostenberger
Dr. Abner Chou of The Master’s Seminary put me onto this one at the Shepherd’s Conference last year. I’m a Pastor who preaches to a congregation and a Bible teacher who teaches principles of sound hermeneutics to Junior Higher’s. In this handy (very thick) book, Dr. Köstenberger introduced me to a set of hermeneutic principles that he terms “the hermeneutical triad”—history, literature, and theology. The thesis of his book is this: for any passage of Scripture, it’s necessary to study the historical setting, the literary context, and the theological message. This approach, obviously, is grounded in authorial intent. He diligently walks us through the process of sound exegesis, showing how this hermeneutical lens works within every Biblical genre.
You’ll get better at rightly dividing God’s Word by reading this one.
Spurgeon on Leadership by Steve Miller
Miller does a fantastic job painting a picture of Charles Spurgeon’s leadership by analyzing his views on writing, prayer, Bible study, faith, holiness, suffering, preaching, and more. As Steve Miller guided me through Spurgeon’s impactful writings on the subjects above, I found myself re-energized and excited towards the things of Christ. This is why I love Spurgeon on Leadership: I never came away from the chapter thinking, “Oh, wow, Charles Spurgeon was an amazing dude.” No, it led me to a heart hunger to know Christ and be found in him. The chapters are relatively short and very devotional. I’ve read it twice.
Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul
Don’t let the title fool you. I listened to this baby while training for my half-marathon, and it’s simultaneously heady and simple to understand — classic R.C. Sproul. As a systematic theology, it’s thorough, but as a tool for growth in your knowledge of theology and Jesus, it’s glorious fuel for worship. He does a wonderful job in particular contrasting the Catholic view of Scripture and the Protestant view — a communal approach to canon compared to a Biblical approach. I disagree with R.C.’s view of Israel’s relationship to the church, infant baptism, and his view of the Millenium, but this systematic is well worth the read. It’s also the only systematic theology in audio version on iBooks, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Dispensationalism by Michael J. Vlach
Michael Vlach of Master’s Seminary wrote a really helpful book here for those who ascribe to a dispensational approach to Scripture as well as for those who sincerely believe it is a recent phenomenon and therefore should be discarded. It covers a brief history of the system and the variations within dispensationalism’s core beliefs. He boils dispensationalism down into six absolutely essential beliefs:
1. A historical-grammatical hermeneutic
2. The Church doesn’t replace Israel
3. The Church and Israel are distinct — both have a future
4. There is spiritual continuity between Jew and Gentile, but there are still distinctions
5. Israel looks forward to a future salvation and a role in the Millennial Kingdom
6. The “seed of Abraham” is a promise to both Israel and the Gentiles, but it does not cancel out their unique positions
If you want to grow in your understanding of how the Bible’s parts fit together into a hole, Dr. Vlach has you covered.
The Glory of Heaven by John MacArthur
You guessed it: I listened to this gem while running too, but, this time, I was in Peru, South America for a few of the chapters. The book is primarily about the glory of Heaven, but he deals extensively with Heaven Tourism best seller Heaven is for Real in the first few chapters. SPOILER ALERT: Todd Burpo’s classic smells an awful lot like Gnosticism. Τhere are many books about Ηeaven, but this may be the only one that specifically points to and addresses the heaven tourism books. This alone makes The Glory of Heaven a book you and others would do well to read.
Family Worship by Joel Beeke
Really helpful, motivating stuff here. Beeke lays an important foundation with a theology of family worship — what God promises when we do it, and what God warns when we don’t. This alone was enough to make me reconsider family priorities during the day. J.B. winsomely teaches that, according to Scripture, there are three ways a family should worship: 1) daily Bible teaching, 2) daily prayer, and 3) daily singing praise to God. These three acts of worship serve to frame how we worship together as a family. If you’re still not convinced this will work for you and your family, he answers frequently asked questions at the end, which is totally worth the price of admission.