15 Key Christian Books for Your 2019 Reading List
James Dolezal wrote All That Is in God to help recover the basic truths about God at a time when Christians seem to have forgotten the historic understanding of God’s nature. In a relatively short book (137 pages) and without oversimplifying, Dolezal has written to all of us with clear biblical and historical theological teaching covering theism, God’s unchanging nature, divine simplicity, eternality, and the Trinity. This work is important and timely in order to help us recover the truths about who God is and how knowledge of God is critical to our understanding of many biblical truths.
2. The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield
These days it seems like hospitality has become more of an industry and less of a regular practice of graciously opening up our homes to old friends and new acquaintances. Yet, it was the kind and repeated hospitality shown by a pastor and church congregation that influenced college professor Rosaria Butterfield to abandon her lesbian lifestyle and be receptive to hearing the gospel.
In The Gospel Comes with a House Key, Butterfield, now a noted Christian author and lecturer, gives much needed perspective and encouragement regarding why hospitality is key to sharing the love of Christ with our believing and unbelieving neighbors. Jesus spent meaningful time with sinners, and Christians can and should follow his example in reaching out to unbelievers as well as serving their brothers and sisters in Christ. Join Butterfield as she explains why “radically ordinary hospitality” is a critically important and loving practice that is much needed in the church today.
3. Everyone’s a Theologian by R. C. Sproul
What does the Bible teach? R. C. Sproul helps answer this question in one very readable book covering all of the critical topics found in Scripture. Chapters include God and his attributes; creation, fall and the condition of humanity; the person, nature, offices and work of Christ Jesus; the Holy Spirit, salvation, the church, and eschatology. If you are looking for one volume with concise, historical, and biblical explanations of the Bible's critical theological topics, this is it.
What exactly is the “kingdom of God”? Is it present right now, and, if so, can we actually see it? Understanding how believers today are part of God’s kingdom is critical for living out the Christian life on this earth. According to New Testament scholar S. M. Baugh, “Everything in all creation is related to the kingdom of God. It is integral to all of our theology and all of our reading of Scripture. It is that important—and exciting!” Join Dr. Baugh as he explains why “the kingdom of God is not just the center of the Gospels and Acts. It is the center of all things.”
5. Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands by Shona & David Murray
Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray
This pair of books are for Christians who find themselves living an exhausting and unsustainable pace, yet trusting a sovereign and gracious God. The problem, as theologian and pastor David Murray explains it, is that there is often a disconnect between the theological concept of grace and a person's day-to-day life, which may lead to burnout, exhaustion, and other emotional and physical effects. The remedy? Dr. Murray and his wife, Shona, first help us better understand the power of grace—its motivating, moderating, multiplying, releasing, and receiving power. Then they take the reader through ten biblically grounded instructions to help us better live a life filled with grace.
Though both books are structured the same, the Endless Demands version is mainly for women readers, while the Burnout Culture version is aimed more toward men. Anyone who is struggling with the fast pace of life and culture will find these books as helpful means to be filled with the grace of God while navigating the demands we all face.
6. God’s Good Design: What the Bible Really Says about Men and Women by Claire Smith
There is a lot of confusion going on currently regarding men’s and women’s roles in both marriage and the broader culture. In the not-so-distant past, it wasn’t even questioned that a God-honoring marriage consisted of the man being the authoritative head of the household in his role as a husband and/or father, having the God-given responsibilities of leading, caring for, nurturing, and cherishing his wife and children. Today egalitarian views are becoming more commonplace in churches, and various denominations are facing increased pressure to ordain women.
In God’s Good Design, theologian Claire Smith describes God’s original design for the relationship between a husband and wife, bringing much needed clarity to the topic of what it means for both men and women to be made in God’s image in a fallen world. Smith also addresses controversial Bible passages about women’s and men’s roles in the church, home, and society and how they apply to us today.
7. Romans (Lectio Continua) by J. V. Fesko
J. V. Fesko, Academic Dean of Westminster Seminary California, has given the church a very readable, understandable, and concise commentary on the book of Romans. There are plenty of “technical” commentaries available, but this one, as Fesko explains, is meant to help us keep the big picture of Romans in view—so that we don’t lose the forest for the trees. Being an expository commentary, it reads like a series of well-prepared, thoughtful, and organized sermons.
As Pastor Fesko preaches to us through the book of Romans in this commentary, we can see the clarity of Paul’s argument made more visible to us in our own time. Read this work if you want to gain a clearer understanding of Romans and what it means for us today.
8. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.
Do you ever feel like some Christians are following Christ better than you because they have a “ministry” of some kind and you don’t? The work Christians perform in their daily jobs often is not noticeably different from the work of unbelievers. It can be of similar quality, take just about the same time, and produce similar results. Is there anything unique about how Christians approach their jobs?
Gene Edward Veith Jr. helps us view the Christian's work from God's perspective, encouraging those who find themselves in the grind of their daily occupation and giving guidance regarding how to make wise decisions regarding the work we do in our various callings in life. You will be relieved to know that believers can bring glory to God as they work in all God-honoring vocations in their family, employment, church, and community.
9. Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin S. Holcomb
Do Christians need to care about The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Council of Orange, and the Westminster Confession of Faith, as well as other major historical creeds and confessions of the faith? Absolutely. These documents written long ago matter greatly for Christians today, but sadly relatively few believers have read or are even aware of them.
With this handy and easy-to-read guide by theologian Justin Holcomb on the church creeds and confessions, you can better know the Christian faith by learning about the important doctrines the church has fought to uphold over the centuries that continue to be essential beliefs every Christian needs to hold today. Be sure to also check out Holcomb’s Know the Heretics.
10. What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
Have you been listening to sermons lately that focus a lot on social justice and not so much on Jesus? Anyone who is active on social media or follows the news on a regular basis is likely well aware of how much social issues are dominating not only secular culture but church culture as well. How do Christians understand their part in the world? Is the church supposed to be involved or separate from political and social matters?
Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert offer thoughtful answers to these questions and provide guidance in understanding how individual Christians and the church should interact with local and global issues.
11. Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored (Second Edition) by Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele
Do you ever read the Old Testament and wonder how all the rules and commands apply to Christians today? You will find the answer by learning about God’s covenants. At first glance, the covenants of the Bible can seem like strange practices from the long-ago past that have no relevance for us today, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, understanding the significant covenants of the Bible is key to making sense of God’s redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation.
In Sacred Bond, pastors Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele provide easy-to-follow and detailed explanations of each the eight significant covenants of the Bible and what they mean for Christians today. (For more customer reviews, please see the first edition here.)
12. The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow by O. Palmer Robertson
Though we often hear various views on the relationship of Israel and the Church, Palmer Robertson presents the biblical point of view in a well-organized, clear manner. From Scripture he describes the Israel of God in terms of its land, its people, its worship, and its lifestyle. Particularly helpful is the chapter on Israel and the kingdom of God.
But what about ethnic Israel in light of Romans 11? Robertson gives us a detailed and careful analysis of this important chapter on Israel. Anyone who desires to better understand Israel and the church as taught in the Bible will want to read and study this valuable book.
13. The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston
Do you ever feel like God has singled you out particularly by allowing especially painful trials in your life? Scottish theologian and pastor Thomas Boston (1676–1732) personally faced much difficulty as a husband and father: he buried six of his ten children, and his wife most likely suffered from a longterm mental illness.
Based on a seven-part sermon series Boston preached on Ecclesiates 7:13, The Crook in the Lot gives one of the most thorough, helpful, and comforting explanations ever written on God's sovereignty and wisdom in the afflictions we face in this life. You can buy the book by clicking on the title/image above, or you can print out the three-part exposition for free at iclnet.org. Christians will benefit greatly from this resource regarding God’s purposes in allowing suffering in our lives.
14. Getting the Gospel Right by Cornelis P. Venema
If you have ever heard the term “New Perspectives on Paul” or are even vaguely familiar with the eminent theologian N. T. Wright, and you would like a clear and concise explanation of a current and critical debate at the heart of the gospel, this is the book. As the title demonstrates, what is at stake is the gospel itself—and today it is a pressing matter to get it right.
In ninety-two condensed pages, Cornelis Venema explains the Protestant Reformation perspective on Paul compared to the modern “new perspective." At the heart is the question: How are we, as sinners, accepted by God—how are we justified? It is a question facing all of us—and not merely academic theologians—for what is at risk is the truth of the gospel of Christ Jesus and its proclamation.
15. Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
This classic book is most helpful in focusing our understanding of the redemption of sinners where it belongs—on God the Father who determined it, on Christ Jesus who accomplished it, and on the Holy Spirit who applies it to individual persons. In a short work of just under 200 pages, theologian John Murray begins with the work of atonement by Christ Jesus—its necessity, its nature, its perfection, and its extent. Then, he proceeds to explain how the Holy Spirit applies the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus with a biblical exposition of the order of salvation—how it begins, the logical steps God uses, and its ultimate goal.
If you read and study this work, you will come away with wonder and amazement regarding how God saves sinners as well as an enriched biblical vocabulary: regeneration, effectual calling, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, union with Christ, and glorification. Murray’s stand-out book helps us better know and understand God’s Gospel of salvation, using the language and the teaching of the Bible. It belongs on every Christian’s bookshelf.
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