From the beginning of the human age (post-fall), reading and hearing has been the primary mediums for God’s people to hear from him. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world”(Hebrews 1:1-2). God gave the ten commandments, the Pentateuch, the stories of prophets and kings; throughout a thousands of years he gave spoken word to prophets and written words to his people. In the culmination of the New Testament we see God appointed Paul (and others) to write letters to the growing churches as a way to inform, correct, and guide His people. God uses written words (and the reading of his written word) to teach, rebuke, and mature Christians – thus we are designed to benefit from a healthy diet of reading.
There is no doubt that God’s Word is the only supernatural text for believers that is single-handedly intended for salvation. However, for over two thousand years, many pastors, teachers, and believers have written other works to help guide believers even more. These come in the form of commentaries, exegetical study books, theology books, practical non-fiction and even moral fiction! All of these resources (when done rightly) are meant to aid our understanding of the Bible and point us toward a gospel-saturated life. Famous authors like Charles Spurgeon and C. S. Lewis guided us sixty years ago; Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and J. I. Packer guide us today. There are literally thousands of authors across the last two-thousand years that have been writing books to help encourage and inform the church towards salvation in Jesus. God uses written words to impact human hearts – and he still does.
Therefore, here are five books that I have found that will encourage, mature, inform, sanctify, and endure every believer.
- Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis (1952)
- In this book, Lewis takes the believer through a thorough table of contents on what the bible calls Christians to believer. As a former atheist, Lewis used to read the word to find flaws, and in doing so, found joy. As you read this book you will encouraged in the things you find elementary, incited to dig deeper into the things you haven’t thought of much, and blessed with the certainty of God’s consistency and faithfulness towards those who believe.
- The Pursuit of God – A. W. Tozer (1948)
- Tozer, during a train ride to Texas from Illinois, writes intimate, soul-inspiring words that are the cry of every Christian heart towards our God. His words are meant to assure us that God is pursuing us and we are free to pursue him! He displays an invitation to think deeply about faith in God and what it truly means to you. Leading us to quench the thirst of longing within us from the only fount that is capable – God. Tozer pleads, “Bring your hunger”.
- Knowing God – J. I. Packer (1973)
- This Christian classic drenches the reader into the immensity of God – his glory, wonder, might, magnitude, mercy. Packer gives us a large painting of God on which to marvel at and find joy in knowing God. His theological insight and practical implications for the believer incite wonder and reverence towards the almighty One and joy in knowing him.
- Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1954)
- The German pastor, turned spy tasked with assassinating Adolf Hitler, writes to Christians, in this classic, about what Christian community is. Bonhoeffer’s blunt biblical exegesis shows the reader that God lovingly commands us to be in community, because it is what he designed the church to flourish in. Christian community, according to Bonhoeffer, is not merely a suggestion but the very staging grounds for the glory of God. He pleads with believers to be committed to Christian community whatever the cost, because within it they will find belonging, encouragement, and sanctification.
- It’s Not What You Think – Jefferson Bethke (2015)
- A Christian-Thinker of the twenty-first century, gives cultural and biblical background to the everyday aspects of Christianity. From worship to community; the sabbath to identity, Bethke informs the Christian on what the bible says about these topics. In this modern age, the original designs for much of what Christianity believes and practices can too easily be worn and ‘updated’. Bethke, with experience in the middle east and years of biblical study, shows the modern church how to be faithful and built up in the original designs for God’s people.
There are countless numbers of books that can inform and encourage believers from every country but these few are a good start for anyone who wants to truly live out what it means to be a Christian. Most of these were written before the digital age, I find this to be helpful because these theologians spent more of their time engaged with people and the Word than most of us do today. However, I must add that there are multiple websites that feature smaller bites of content that can aid the Christian in living a holy, informed life. Websites like Desiring God or The Gospel Coalition (or hopefully this blog! lol) feature a plethora of articles from hundreds of different authors all trying to inform and encourage believers to trust in Jesus and endure by his grace.