I love reading—but I didn’t always enjoy it. I recently told somebody that the only reason I began to love to read is because God saved me. Once the Lord captured me, I had the insatiable desire to devour all books in my path—some good, some bad, some great.
Because I love reading so much—and because I think all Christians should read—I deemed it necessary to give you my top 5 list of the most influential books I’ve ever read. They are, in fact, in order, starting with number five.
5. The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? by John MacArthur
This book barely edged out John Piper’s Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Both are phenomenal, but Johnny Mac’s book played a pivotal role as I read it fairly early on in my walk with Jesus. It solidified my understanding and belief in the lordship of Jesus Christ and how believers must submit to it.
Though I have differed with J-Mac (yes, I’m going to call him that) on a few things in the past five years, his influence in my walk with Christ has been instrumental, and this book played a major role.
4. Chosen by God: Knowing God’s Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children by R.C. Sproul
Even though I despise the term—since it comes with so many negative connotations—I am a Calvinist today because of R.C. Sproul (and a little bit of John Piper). I was introduced to the doctrines of grace by John Piper but Sproul’s book confirmed my belief in them. His work was a staple in my understanding of election, free will, sovereignty, and the like. I recommend any Christian to read this who, at the very least, desires to learn more about Reformed theology.
3. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
And here’s Sproul again. I think if you ask any Christian who reads a lot his or her top 5 list, Sproul’s The Holiness of God will be on it. It was monumental in helping me understand God as holy—holy, holy, holy as Sproul loved to emphasize. It helped me understand that God is not merely holy in the sense of purity, but holy in that He is completely “other” than His creation. And that matters.
2. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
For the longest time, Packer’s work was the best book I’d ever read. It was jam-packed with rich theology, wonderful devotion, and so much more. Rightfully so. One of the best parts about this work is his thoughts on adoption as being the “highest privilege” of the gospel. It was life changing!
1. Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund
Not many books being published today will be remembered—and read!—100 years from now, but Ortlund’s will be. I guarantee it. Combined with Puritan theology and an affectionate look at how Jesus is—gentle and lowly—this work quickly became the best book I’ve ever read.
Just like with any book, it’s not perfect. There are a few areas where I wish he was more precise in his language, but they do not diminish the greatness of the overall book in the slightest. Gentle and Lowly is a masterpiece!