I am assuming that if you are a Christian, you are regularly reading your Bible. It is one of the things Christians do. Peter compares a newborn’s cravings for milk to the attitude of a Christian for the Bible. He says, “like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).
If you say you are a true Christian but you have not touched your Bible since last Sunday, you probably ought to put this newspaper (or website) down and read the best Book right now! I suggest that you read straight through books of the Bible (some of the longer ones can be read in sections).
Welcome back to the article. I trust your time in God’s Word was refreshing to your soul. While your greatest need may have been a reminder to read the Bible more faithfully, the main point of this article is to challenge those who do read their Bibles to also read other Christian books.
One of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to Christian men and women is the gift of teaching (Romans 12:7; 1 Peter 4:10-11). Even in Bible times, the Lord raised up teachers to help explain the meaning and applications of the Scriptures (two of many examples can be found in Ezra 7:10 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Reading books written by gifted Bible teachers can unlock the meaning of important verses or even whole books of the Bible. Your pastor’s regular week by week teaching though God’s Word can be supplemented in your life as you read good books.
Another benefit from a book can be enlarging your understanding of how the Bible fits together. Since the Bible is one book made up of 66 books, written by over 40 men, over a span of 2,000 years, all of the information about a particular subject is not in one place. For example, if you wanted to study about what the Bible says about sex, you would need to start in Genesis 2:22-25 and make stops all along the way to the book of Revelation (for example Exodus 20:14; Proverbs 5-7; Song of Solomon; Matthew 5:27-32; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 18:1-3).
There are good books available on the subject of sex from a biblical perspective, saving you hours of looking up verses, studying their contexts, and putting the various truths together. Every area of systematic theology is covered with pages of material (like the doctrine of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Church). It is important to discover the books that pull together the truths of God’s Book.
Remember that God’s Word always gets the last word. Compare the contents of any book with the Bible for accuracy. The best of men are men at best. False teachers not only look like wonderful men and women of God, they also write books you can buy in the Christian sections of bookstores.
Books written by strong Christians, however, provide tremendous suggestions for ways the Bible applies to your life. Martha Peace’s book THE EXCELLENT WIFE (Focus Publishing) has been useful for hundreds of thousands of women in helping them understand a wife’s role biblically. One of the comments I hear most often about Martha’s book is how practical it is. The author gets down to details as specific as replacing certain wrong thoughts with biblical ones. Stuart Scott has written THE EXEMPLARY HUSBAND (Focus Publishing) to give the men a taste of the medicine.
To get a historical perspective about an issue or trend reading a book can be useful. The expression about those not knowing history being doomed to repeat its mistakes is true. Good books about the history of the Church, as well as history in general from a Christian perspective provide insights as well as safeguards for the future. Christian biographies can also give you an example of living out the Christian life. I love the idea of the series called Bitesize Biographies. They are all wonderful brief overviews of the lives of ancient and modern outstanding men and women. I was honored to contribute to the series JOHN NEWTON, the former slave trader, who ended up writing “Amazing Grace.”
Certainly there is freedom for recreational reading and reading the Classics as well. Certain books, no matter how popular, ought to be left behind (at least until the better books have been read).
A few books that have been life changing for me have been John MacArthur’s book THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS (Zondervan), THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS and TRUSTING GOD (Navpress) both by Jerry Bridges, and A. W. Pink’s book THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD (Baker). All of these are still in print and can be purchased online or ordered in bookstores.
Once you find an author that is biblical, find out if he or she has written any other books. Also, notice the people who endorsed the books you find helpful (usually on the back cover). A friend said one of the first life-changing books for him was the classic KNOWING GOD (InterVarsity Press) by J. I. Packer. He then noticed that R. C. Sproul endorsed it, so he picked up a couple of Sproul’s books. This led him on a quest towards a much deeper Christian walk. Another person I heard in California one time said when he read THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY (Harper Collins) by A. W. Tozer he wept, and asked God how he could have missed so much of his glory before.
Don’t neglect your Bible to read the writings of men. But don’t neglect good books. Make time to read a little bit every day, and you will be amazed at the progress you can make, and at the ways God uses good books in your life!
By John Crotts