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Diagnose Spiritual Health

Three Books for Every Christian

By Timothy Raymond –

A few weeks ago my friend Marty Sweeney, kingpin of Matthias Media USA, posed an interesting question on The Briefing Blog.  He asked, “If you could get all the people at [your] church to read three books, which three would it be?”  Moreover, they had to be “three books for anyone anywhere on their Christian journey.”  I’d encourage you to read Marty’s answers, as well as other suggestions in the comments, here.

For some reason, this question has stuck with me.  I’ve milled it over again and again and think it’s actually quite a challenging question to answer.  What books are really worth every Christian’s careful consideration?  After a good bit of reflection, I thought today I’d make my suggestions.  While I nearly included The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, or even more so, The Evils of Infant Baptism, (kidding!!!) these are three I believe every Christian would benefit from, regardless of their spiritual maturity or doctrinal knowledge.  As you could guess, these three are also ones that profoundly edified and helped me at various stages of my Christian pilgrimage.  After a link, I’ll include a couple reasons why I choose that particular book.

The Everlasting God by D. Broughton Knox

While I discovered this one relatively recently, it is an absolute gem.  It’s essentially a basic introduction to the doctrine of God for laymen by an Australian evangelical Anglican theologian.  In five brief chapters, Knox covers topics such as the existence of God, the authority of Scripture, the Trinity (and its practical implications), the two natures of Christ, substitutionary atonement, and predestination.  It’s similar in feel and theology to Packer’s Knowing God, but is about half as long and possibly easier to read.  My only criticisms are that it’s slightly dated in some places (being that it’s over 25 years old) and a bit deeper than some Christians may be used to thinking.  Otherwise it is excellent and a great one for grounding new and young Christians in a God-centered, Bible-centered faith.  By the way, you might want to get it now while it’s only $5.49.

Living the Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney

For me, this book was the beginning of my journey into Gospel-centered Christianity.  Having grown up in evangelicalism, I never considered that as Christians we always and only relate to God on the basis of Cross-purchased grace.  That perspective has gradually transformed everything about my walk with the Lord, family, and pastoral ministry.  This was the first book I worked through with the deacons at my current church and they too seemed to sense it’s paradigm-shifting significance.  Again, it’s a great one for grounding new Christians in Gospel-centered theology and living.

Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald Whitney

While everything written by Dr. Whitney is profoundly helpful, this book is an outstanding introduction to biblical spirituality.  For those of us who grew up thinking the essence of holiness was “don’t drink, smoke, chew or go with the girls who do” (a very common mindset in my part of the world), this book is a priceless tonic.  By considering ten simple questions, Whitney gives us a very clear and practical definition of bibilical holiness with suggestions for growth.  One of its greatest strengths is that it emphasizes the importance and centrality of the local church to a healthy spirituality.  It’s a great one for rightly diagnosing your present state of maturity or for those struggling with questions of assurance (or for those who should be struggling with questions of assurance).

Well, that’s my attempt at answering the question.  Now I’m curious to hear your suggestions.  If you could recommend three books to every Christian regardless of their spiritual maturity or doctrinal knowledge, what three would you recommend?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below and we’ll have a discussion. 

 Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine. He has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Tim grew up outside Syracuse, NY and previously served at Berean Baptist Church, Nicholson, PA (member and teacher during college and seminary) and Calvary Baptist Church, Sandusky, Ohio (seminary internship location). Tim met his wife Bethany at college, and they were married in May 2001. Tim enjoys reading, weight-lifting, wrestling with his three sons, and attempting to sleep.

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