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Books Every Christian Should Read and Own

A major part of developing a strong, balanced walk with the Lord is having (and using) a good library. Solid Christian books  with the right tools to help you grow in Christ. Here's a list I posted a while back but have updated and annotated. It contains, IMHO, the most important books that every Christian should own and regularly use as they increasingly understand who God is and who He has called us to be.

Reference Books:

Unger's New Bible Dictionary. Moody, rev. 1988 ($25) - When you're studying the Bible, you need a tool that helps you understand what's even being talked about. A Bible Dictionary is like an encyclopedia, it's arranged by topic and covers nearly every topic and people group mentioned in the Bible. A decent Bible Dictionary is about 25 bucks and usually are just one volume, if you can afford a few extra dollars a much better alternative is the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia mentioned below.

Better: Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Zondervan, 5 Vol, 1976 ($100) - This is a classic tool that's not just for Bible scholars. It's five volumes of helpful information on thousands of topics. If you're any kind of student of the Bible, this resource will certainly help. One of the first tools I bought as a new believer and I still consistently use this.

The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands, Moody Press, 1985. ($35) - While we all know what an atlas is, this tool is much more. It not only provides maps, it shows various routes that the biblical people followed. It makes sense of the myriads of people groups, cities, terrain, governments, etc.

An Exhaustive Concordance ($15-25) - There are various exhaustive concordances on the market--the classic is the Strongs Concordance. Perhaps the best is the NASB Concordance. Most people think of concordances as quick ways to find a verse that contains a specific word. While that's true, the power of this tool is not so much in finding verses, but how they index those words to the word in its original language with a succinct, helpful definition of that word.

Better: Bible Software such as Logos Library System ($50-100) - While an Exhaustive Concordance is good, computer software is usually better and faster. My favorite is Logos/Libronix. The thing to understand, however, is that if you're just looking for an electronic concordance, you can get pretty good free Bible software. I'd say save your money. However, if you want to build an electronic library of books, then Logos/Libronix is the way to go.

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Various editions ($20) - Other than my Bible, this is probably the most powerful resource I have. It's a cross-reference tool that is on hyperdrive. When you're reading a verse, often you wish you knew other places in scripture that address the same topic. If you go to a concordance, there may be hundreds of references that would take too long to look up. But this tool provides the best relevant references that are not based solely on specific words, but on the topic/concept.

Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, rev. 1984 ($25) - Once you have learned to use a concordance, you'll find that you will probably want even more explanation on word meanings. This is basically a Greek dictionary for English readers--it will give you the Greek word, is keyed to the Strongs Concordance number system, and gives you a far fuller definition of a word meaning.

 

Theology

Packer, JI. Knowing God. Intervarsity Press, 1973 - While it sounds like this might be some kind of touchy-feely book, its actually a classic introductory systematic theology. It's not basic nor is it simplistic. It's a helpful, useful explanation of God.

Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine. Zondervan, 1994 and 1998 ($30) - A systematic theology is a tool that seeks to "systematize" Bible teaching on various topics. There are loads of these on the market. Often they make things of God more confusing for the reader. Dr. Grudem's book does just the opposite. It's a great read. For those who sincerely want to understand what things of God is all about, this book will be an exciting and challenging read. They will have many "a ha" moments as Dr. Grudem unravels the complex lines of truth.

Better: Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, Zondervan, 1994 - This is one of my all time favorite books. I use it all the time--even in the past couple of days. When I have a question about a specific doctrine, I consult Grudem's work first. This is just like his Bible Doctrine book above, just with far more depth. IMHO, it basically makes other one-volume systematic theologies (and I have many) unnecessary.

 

Commentaries

Walvoord and Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 2 Vol. Chariot Victor Publishing, 1983 ($60) - A commentary is a book that helps explain the meaning of a Bible passage. Unfortunately, many commentaries aren't worth the paper they are written on. Years ago, before I had a decent library, I'd waste countless hours reading bad commentaries, not finding any real help, and ending up frustrated and discouraged. The great thing about this commentary is that it's extremely succinct; you can drop in, look up a verse, find helpful information and get on with your day.

 

Bible Versions (most precise to least precise)

Greek Interlinear

King James Version

English Standard Version

New American Standard Version

New King James Version

New International Version

The New Living Translation

Study Bibles

MacArthur Study Bible, Word Publishing, 1998 ($35).

The Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale Publishing

Zodhiates, Spiros. The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible. AMG, 1990 ($25).

 

Ancient Background Information

Freeman, James. Manners and Customs of the Bible. various editions ($15) - When you're reading a verse, often you'll read something that is clearly cultural. You'll be wondering what in the world is going on. This is the book for you. It identifies the key items that are better understood when laid against their cultural/historical backdrop. It's arranged by passages that follow the biblical order so it's very easy and quick to use.

 

Top Ten Books Every Christians Should Own and Read Besides the Bible, in order.

Pursuit of God, AW Tozer - My favorite book on walking with God.

Mere Christianity, CS Lewis - A great explanation for the reasons why our faith in Christ is sound. Dinesh D'Souza's book What's So Great About Christianity? is better, but it's longer.

Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis - A great way to get a sense for the spiritual battle we face when we leave Satan's lordship and surrender to Christ's.

The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges - A key part of growing in Christ is growing in Christlikeness. This book lays out with quick, succinct precision how to pursue a path of increasing holiness and purity.

The Gospel According to Jesus, John Macarthur - Ultimately, what's more important that a sound understanding of the Gospel? Macarthur's book lays out the Gospel in a way that is not only clear, not only powerful, but you'll end up with strong convictions that so much of our lives in Christ hang upon a proper understanding of the Gospel.

Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life, Donald Whitney - Few good things come to the growing Christian without personal discipline. This book lays out most of the primary disciplines that all Christians should master. It is not nearly as stuffy as it sounds, but rather is practical, helpful, inspiring and motivating.

Living By The Book, Howard Hendricks - Every Christian needs to be men or women of The Book. We need to know how to read, understand, interpret and apply God's Word. Not only does sound understanding give us strength and confidence in our walk with Christ, but it also becomes a more effective tool for the Holy Spirit as He takes what we know correctly and He applies and enables us to live by it. This book offers clear, easy methods that will help you carefully approach a passage and understand it as the author meant.

How to Give Away Your Faith, Paul Little - A major component of being in Christ is sharing the Good News with those God has placed in our lives. This book explains the need and method of sharing your faith. It's a quick, helpful read.

Knowing God, JI Packer - Mentioned above, this book helps the student of God to understand their Lord better.

The God Who Is There, Francis Schaffer - We live in a philosophically sophisticated age. Often the world looks at us smugly and treats believers like back woods hillbillies. Yet this book is a tour-de-force of the rationale for the reality of God. While it's a challenging read, it's still accessible and enjoyable for most people. It will give you the clear conviction that Christianity is the only worldview that truly makes sense of the world.

 

So these are some of my recommendations, what are some of yours?

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 November 2011 12:55
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...

Website: www.thegracetabernacle.org