Hello Everyone! Here is another blog entry wherein I am going to talk about books. 🙂 But I just want you to know first that I am really not good in Book Reviews. Haha! So instead of giving you a whole entry for a book review of every books that I have read, I’ll just enumerate them here and say a little bit why I like each one of them. Honestly, it’s really hard to rank them because each one left an impact in my life. But I hope you will be inspired to read some of these.
1. The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? by John MacArthur
John MacArthur is my favorite author and this book is my most favorite one. What I love about this book is that it pushed me to examine my faith. This book confronted the damaging effect of “easy-believism” that has poisoned the minds of many people. It’s easy to say that, “Yes, I am saved!”, but are you really saved? This book tackled some issues inside the Church and how certain activities (such as altar call) has changed the way we see salvation. It helped me see that the most powerful Preacher that ever stepped into earth is Christ Himself. The way Christ preached about hell, hypocrisy and the kingdom of God is more powerful than any preacher on Earth. Some Pastors today that claim they preach Christ has watered-down the Gospel. It makes you ask, “Why?” because if God talked about it with great conviction, why are we sugar-coating it today?
2. Desiring God by John Piper
This book is actually the inspiration of my blog’s tagline: “The LORD is my ONLY Desire.” The book tells you how be a “Christian Hedonist” – someone that dwells in God with joy and finding God as the source of truest joy. It opened my eyes that true contentment can only be seen in Christ alone, and God draw us near to Him because He wants us to experience the greatest joy. We always tend find joy in other places that we forget that only God can satisfy our soul. If you want to desire God more each day, I recommend you to read this hoping that you realize that apart from God, you can never be joyful.
3. Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris
This book is actually the reason why I was introduced to theology. It taught me that studying the Word of God is not something that only Pastors should do. It also introduced me to Calvinism which has been my stand for years now. Most Christians are already satisfied with just going to Church every Sunday yet starve spiritually for the next days. Mostly have been comfortable with just being called “Christian”, but are you really one? Are you seeking God all the days your life? I grew up thinking that there is a danger in studying God’s Word “too much”. I don’t know why I have that kind of thinking. No one directly taught me that but I grew believing that too much theology is actually dangerous. Yes, it could be (especially if you are going to twist the Scripture to fit it into what you want), but there is also a danger in knowing less and that is what we must avoid – living without truly knowing God.
4. Five Points by John Piper
This book talks about the “Five Points of Calvinism” or what people commonly call “T.U.L.I.P” that stands for:
- Total Depravity (Total Inability and Original Sin)
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement
- Irresistible Grace
- Perseverance of the Saints
I know there is an ongoing “silent” war among churches regarding this topic. Here in the Philippines most churches don’t care about doctrines. Mostly are already comfortable in just saying “We love Jesus and we have a relationship with Him.” and that’s the end. They don’t dig into it. They don’t want to study more about God’s Word. Usually Sunday Sermons are topical. And mostly are topics that tickle the ears of the hearers and don’t convict them of the seriousness of following Christ.
When I finally took my stand regarding Calvinism four years ago, I know there will be some who won’t understand what I am talking about. For them it’s not important, but actually it is especially that it is Biblical. It is one of the most misunderstood Doctrines in Christianity. They thought that if you believe in the limited atonement you don’t evangelize anymore, but that’s not what happened to me. When I fully understood the Sovereignty of God over all, I became eager to be used by Him as an instrument. I became more outspoken when it comes to my faith. And I know it is all by God’s grace that I am able to speak about Christ. If there is a Doctrine that I know is Biblical and God-centered, it’s Calvinism. At first, it is hard to accept but God will teach you the right teachings and I realized it is misunderstood because most people think of God to be so small that we thought even in salvation we are in control. But God is always in control. He is the author of Salvation and He does what He pleases. God is much more powerful than what you could ever imagine, and to think of God as someone you can manipulate is the worst idea that we could ever think of.
5. Profiting From the Word by A.W. Pink
Three years ago I’ve read online some books of Arthur W. Pink, and I used some during our Discipleship in our Church. This book was one of the books that I introduced to our young people because I want them to love God’s Word. Most churches today manipulate them with music or activities that still look secular that we sometimes forget that knowing God and studying His Word is the most important part of every fellowship. I grabbed that opportunity to tell them the importance of studying God’s Word. The author of this book is one of the few who will really rebuke you about the things – the subtle ones included – that we sometimes think is alright, but it is not. If you want to read classics, I highly recommend you to read this. You can search for it online and download it for free.
6. Slave: The Hidden Truth and Your Identity in Christ by John MacArthur
Our society has a different view of slavery, but if we read the Bible, we can see that the word “Slave” or “Doulos” was used many times. This book mentioned that Bible Scholars changed some words in the Bible from “Slave” to “Servant” that may be due to the stigma that was going on in our society.
But we forgot that servanthood in the ancient times is a job, unlike being slave, you are owned – dead to yourself and living for your Master.
What is beautiful about this book is it explained the reality that in this world, God is the only wonderful Master that we could have. You can be a slave to your wealth, lust and everything that are owned by the world, but it’s only through Christ that you will be taken out of the slave market of sin.
I like how the book ended, but I won’t tell you about it. Just remember that there is more about just being a slave if you surrendered your life to Christ.
7. Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John MacArthur
This book is one of the most controversial books that John MacArthur has ever written. I am living in the Philippines and most churches here are Pentecostal, Charismatic or a Church that doesn’t have clear doctrines or worse, a church that embraces prosperity gospel. There is even a stigma going on that if you are a church that sings hymns, psalms and too formal in church gatherings, you are a dead church and I don’t like that belief.
When I read about this book, I cried because I realized that I’ve been deceived by these false teachings about health, wealth, prosperity, modern gifts and all those things. This book will guide you to the history of those teachings. It will really rebuke those who don’t teach according to what is written in the Bible. If you are curious about this book, buy it and finish it. Be open minded about what you will be able to read.
And, yes, by having this book as one of my favorites, I think it’s already clear that I am a Cessationist.
8. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung
This book is just a short one. You can actually finish it half a day (if you don’t have any other things to do). What I like about this book is that it is Biblical. It will open your eyes to the fact that maybe you have been looking for God’s Will in a wrong way instead of going back to the Scripture and find your answer. We always want specific answers to our questions in life. We sometimes depend for answers through visions or dreams instead of trusting that God will lead you to what He wants you to do if only you will choose to put Him first in your priorities. I am not going to tell you more, but I highly recommend this book. If you are lost and confused on what you should do, buy this book and be enlightened.
9. Don’t Follow Your Heart by Jon Bloom
There is a popular saying that goes like this: “Follow Your Heart” or in short, follow your emotions. But this book will give you reasons why you should not follow your heart. It is a devotional book you can read for a month, and it will teach you many things. I don’t say more about it because I want you to read this book and change the way you see things especially regarding decision making. Follow Christ and not your heart.
10. The Jesus Letters: Seven Secrets That Can Change You and Your Church by David Ravenhill
I’ve read this book while travelling back in my hometown. And I remember sleeping around 4AM because I wanted to finish the book as soon as possible.
This book is about the seven churches mentioned in Revelations. I think this is a must-read for leaders because it is more on dealing with the congregation and getting examples from those churches mentioned in Revelation. It will absolutely change the way you see the Book of Revelation, but it only talked about those chapters wherein those churches were mentioned. So if you are searching for a book on Eschatology, this is not the one, but if you are looking for a book about Ministry, this one is a great one.
THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK
Although I advice you to read on Christian books listed above, I will always encourage you to dwell more on God’s Word more than anything else. I did not include it on the list because it should not be ranked like it’s just another ordinary book. I encourage you to dwell on God’s Word more and perhaps make use of the books mentioned above as guides that can point you to the Word of God and help you interpret it in the right way.
I advice you to go and buy a study Bible and study God’s Word. Make it your priority.
I hope my little list can help you. 🙂 In choosing books to read, always choose the ones that will feed your soul with solid food. Study the Word of God and teach the people around you. Point them to Christ and teach them what you’ve learned in His Word.
God bless you, readers!