A tour through the books that I’ve read this year takes us on to books about relating to God – hearing Him speak, and speaking to Him
There are loads of books which have been produced about the Bible, but these are four which I read this year. In another year, any one of them may have taken the top spot, but I read all in the past 12 months, and these are my reflections.
Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
I’ve already confessed to being a fan of DeYoung’s writing style, but what made this book outstanding was its clear demonstration of the author’s love of the Bible. The book opens with a meditation on Psalm 119, and demonstrates the kind of attitude towards the Bible which I crave, I lack, and which the book helped me to grow in – the very things the author recognises and wants to address in this book.
Quite literally ‘taking God at His word’, the book is much more about demonstrating what the Bible has to say about itself, and does so in such a way as to help you recognise the riches that we have within it. It was, without doubt, the best book I read this year. I strongly urge you to put it on any kind of reading list you have for 2015, buy copies and give them away. Outstanding.
God Speaks by Rich Aldritt and Ash Carter
This book, as mentioned above, would have taken top spot in another year, but this year was pipped to the post by DeYoung’s offering. The book is much more focused on addressing some of the doctrinal confusion that exists in the church today about how God speaks to us. The authors explain the answer to this question by building up a diagram which initially looks slightly complex, but by the end of the book beautifully demonstrates the way that God says He relates to us. While many may object to the theology, the book is utterly biblical in its convictions and its demonstration of those truths from the Bible. It’s also a helpful way in to the Bible’s teaching on a potentially confusing topic.
My slight fear is the way many of the illustrations and jokes may only appeal to the converted. As someone with a chip on his shoulder, I’m overly sensitive to middle class culture, but felt it as I was reading this book. Nevertheless, it’s a good book, and whether or not you’re already convinced that God speaks through the Bible, I think you would do extremely well to pick up a copy of this and read it.
Can I really trust the Bible? by Barry Cooper
Approaching a very similar question to Kevin DeYoung but in a shorter and even more readable way, Barry Cooper addresses the question of what the Bible says about itself – particularly with a view to asking the title question.
The five short chapters don’t dodge the apologetics questions altogether – on the contrary, there are several pithy answers to many of them – but the main focus is showing what we can learn about the Bible by stepping through its pages. In spite of being short, it takes measured and careful steps through three questions: Does the Bible claim to be God’s word? Does it seem to be God’s word? Does it prove to be God’s word? It’s another great book to recommend – no, to give – to others.
Unbreakable: What the Son of God said about the Word of God by Andrew Wilson
I knew I was coming into this book with different theological convictions to Andrew Wilson, but was delighted by this book as a great approach to the same topic as the books above. What do we know about the Bible? This time, the question is answered by looking at the words of Jesus, drawing many of the same conclusions that the books above draw.
My only caveat is that Wilson writes from the perspective of someone who believes that other methods of communication in addition to the Bible are normal. This means that he includes a chapter warning against an obsession with the Bible which stops short of where Christians should be. Even much of this chapter I want to agree with – that a failure to come to Jesus, as warned in John 5:39, demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what the Bible is! But he argues from John 16 that Jesus was more interested in the coming of the Spirit than the coming of the Bible, in spite of the fact that the chapter in question speaks, amongst other things, of the Spirit bringing the words of the New Testament!
Another great read from 10publishing, but one I’d want to read with a discerning eye.
Enjoy your prayer life by Michael Reeves
This short little book by Michael Reeves isn’t particularly deep, nor revolutionary, and seems to expound a principle of prayer demonstrating our dependence on God more than any particular Bible quote.
But it’s a book which – though eminently readable in a single sitting – encourages some deep thought about the way that we pray, and makes you want to – it speaks of the immense privilege of prayer, and gets you wondering why you don’t do it more.
Does Prayer Change Things? by R. C. Sproul
Isn’t that such an important question? It was a question that I found myself asking at work, and then I spotted this free ebook which I’d downloaded from Amazon and I had a read. It’s short, and in spite of that much seems to stray away from the question in the title, but it deals brilliantly with the question in a way that, I think, is very faithful to the Bible.
I won’t ruin the conclusion of the book, except to say that the answer depends on the way you phrase the question, but – if you ask it this way – is “Yes”. That might be the most obvious answer in the world if you don’t believe in predestination; on the other hand, it might seem impossible. This book holds up both ‘Yes’ and a confident assertion of God’s sovereignty. Puzzled? Intrigued? Want to start praying with a right sense of excitement? Download the free ebook and have a read.
A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D. A. Carson
Rightly established as the book to read on prayer, this book has become a classic over the past couple of decades, as Carson takes a look at the prayers which Paul writes in the New Testament, and draws out many lessons we can learn about prayer.
In a spirit of arrogant criticism I found myself occasionally disagreeing with some of the conclusions of this well-read scholar, but it didn’t stop me concluding that this is the very best book on prayer that I have ever read (after the Bible). Designed to help you think about the way we pray, and what we choose to pray about, and urging us then to pray, this is an excellent read – and not nearly as wordy and difficult to read as some of his other work!
If you haven’t read this book before (and even if you have), you must!
Without doubt, Taking God at His Word. I quickly bought two copies to give away as gifts without having anyone in mind, because I have become so convinced that it’s a book that is worth people reading.
I have already recommended it to many, and I thoroughly intend to read it again – within the next 12 months.