Have you been racking your brain thinking about what should go on your Christmas Wish List this year? I mean, what could someone who is “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” possibly want? Well, if you are a student of the Bible, maybe you are beginning to consider your library. There have been so many wonderful books written about God’s Word throughout the years: amazing reference materials, study tools, and commentaries written by like-minded students of God’s word. But where should you begin? Which books should go on your Amazon Wish List?
Several of our Living Faith Fellowship pastors have been kind enough to help us by sharing their “Top 5”. Each of these pastors has picked five books to share that throughout the years have been useful to them in ministry and have encouraged their faith. Take your time perusing what your pastors have been reading. Below are several lists organized by pastor. Each pastor tried to select books that other pastors had not yet mentioned. Each book has a link, either to its Amazon page or to a free online version. Have fun!
Dan Reneau is the pastor of Living Faith Lee’s Summit, a church plant on the east side of the Kansas City Metro. Pastor Dan loves to read and is constantly doing so but admits that it is rare that he reads a book front to back. He has a list of faithful books that he references often and believes would be an asset to any library.
1. The Companion Bible by E.W. Bullinger (Available free online)
Bullinger is a hyper-dispensationalist, so you have to be mindful of that, but this book is a wonderful resource. His commentary is a thorough word for word exposition of the Scriptures. Not afraid to tackle deep topics and his appendix in the back is vast. He uses scripture to support his claims.
John Phillips was an incredibly insightful believer and teacher of the Word. His books provide, in my opinion, a clear and thoughtful contextual commentary of the Word. As a beginning introduction to his commentary catalog, I would suggest Exploring the Scriptures. It is a small overview (think Cliff Notes) of each of the 66 books of the Bible. Provides a good layout, outline and theme for each book.
Wiersbe is an excellent writer for both the young student of the Word and the more mature believer. His writing is very accessible and not at all academic. This makes for an enjoyable read. If you're interested in searching out deeper doctrinal topics, where you are wanting to exhaust the topic, you will need to look otherwise... but that is the case for most commentaries I know.
W. Graham Scroggie reminds me of Alan Shelby. His outlines are amazing and intricate. I can at times get lost in his visual layering (I'm not an academic, so maybe that's more an indictment on my education...), but both of the above books are fantastic and wonderful resources.
5. Which Version is the Bible? by Floyd Nolan Jones
I've told many people about this book who have had questions about the KJV. I believe it is a strong and simple introduction to the topic of why we use the KJV today. It is free online.
Alan Shelby is the pastor of Harvest Baptist Church, a Living Faith Fellowship church in Blue Springs, MO. Alan Shelby is also dean of the Living Faith Bible Institute. Shelby keeps it short and to the point in his list.
1. Cruden’s Concordance - It’s a phrase concordance.
2. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by R.A Torre - ...this is the way to study the bible
3. Explore the Book by J. Sidlow Baxter - This book is a dispensational look at how each book is outlined with theme and context.
4. Discovering the Power of Christ’s Prayer Life by Charles Spurgeon/Lance Wubbels - To fuel your prayer life.
5. Heartbeats of the Holy by Keith Knauss - To keep your heart straight in ministry.
My bonus picks! (mostly from the secular side):
6. Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen - So we stay balanced in our view of patriotism and american history
7. Empires of Trust by Thomas Madden - So that we can understand the role of America in Bible prophecy.
8. Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch - So we understand contemporary history.
9. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin - So we can walk a mile in another’s shoes.
10. 50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe - Biographies of giants of the faith.
Will Mata is the pastor of the Spanish ministry at Midtown Baptist Temple. Many of his recommendations offer practical wisdom for the believer, as well as help building a Biblical worldview.
1. Systematic Theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer
This book helped me to clarify and apply many topics I was initially confused about or find a better way to explain where I stand.
2. Bible Series Biography by John G. Butler
While doctrine is very important and I always make sure to protect it, I really enjoy finding the personal application.
3. At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry by Steve Gallager
This was a great book combined with Pure Sex by Ed Young. I really love how they challenge the world’s view of sex and pornography.
4. The Spiritual Leader: A Guidebook for Pastors and Spiritual Leaders by Paul Chappell
This has been crashing my world in all ways and I love it. It’s been a blessing.
5. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
This was the best of the best for me EVER. I read this when I was a kid and I’ve read it several times since. Best ever.
Chris Best is a pastor at Midtown Baptist Temple and leads the Living Well fellowship. His recommendations includes both study materials and leadership development tools.
1. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee
This book is such a simple devotional read but the content has been used to inspire Christians for decades. Not to mention its free online.
This book informed greatly how I ministered at MBT during the early years, especially as Kidtown grew and developed. We followed Mueller’s methodology of only asking God, not people, for provision. This was a wonderful faith-building time during which it was clear that God built the house (Psalm 127). This books pdf is also free online.
3. Preaching and Preachers by D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones
I read this book about the time God was calling me to be a preacher. Lloyd-Jones was a physician and preacher and this was meaningful to me as a physician who God was calling to be a preacher. That aside, the book is great as Lloyd-Jones keeps a proper (Biblical) perspective of preaching and preachers while giving edifying practical “dos and don’ts” accordingly.
4. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
This book is a seminal work on how the believer must be in a constant quest to know God more. He uses the O.T. tabernacle to paint this picture with eloquence. An absolute must read.
Ironside seems to me to provide a pastor’s heart and mind in his book studies. He manages to avoid the “scholar’s temptation” to be distracted by doubtful dissertations because he has a faith-based view of scripture. His focus is not on proving he is right about everything, but rather he studies out a book with a faith perspective that is geared toward the ministry of a pastor. His book on Song of Solomon is a great example. Many are in the public domain.
6. Giants of the Missionary Trail by Eugene Myers Harrison
This is a book which not only describes the journeys of eight different missionaries but it shows the cost that they paid and the difference that they made. Harrison describes the effects of the gospel in the different areas which these missionaries went. This is a fun and easy book to read.
Honorable Mentions: The Practice of the Presence of God by Bro. Lawrence, Lectures to my Students by Spurgeon.
Kenny Morgan is the discipleship pastor at MBT as well as the pastor of Life Fellowship. Short and sweet, Pastor Kenny Morgan gives us his Top 5 selection.
1. Design for Discipleship by J. Dwight Pentecost - A sober perspective of discipleship is given.
2. The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe - A very practical read on spiritual warfare.
3. A More Sure Word by R. B. Ouellete - Provides great insight on the received text position and how to hold that position in love. This is a recent addition to the required reading in Discipleship 2.
4. The Spiritual Leader by Paul Chappell - A challenging read on the stewardship of the pastorate.
5. Things to Come by J. Dwight Pentecost - A thorough and practical eschatological reference book.
Brandon Briscoe is pastor of C&YA (college and young adults) at Midtown Baptist Temple. His selection of books was chosen because of their significance to him in the last year of study. Many were companions in his personal bible studies but several were books read in response to questions that arose in ministry.
1. Prevailing Prayer by D.L. Moody
This was actually recommended to me by Myles Cheadle. At a time in my life where I have come to a fresh realization of my need for prayer, this book has been a good friend. It’s true, nothing can be done without God's movement and God loves to move in response to prayer.
2. The Words and Works of Jesus Christ by Dwight D. Pentecost
A fantastic harmony of the gospels with profound insights on the life of Christ. More thorough than many of my favorite gospel commentaries, Pentecost has a focus on doctrine as well as personal application.
3. The Other Side of Calvinism by Laurence M. Vance
In the last four or five years this is a topic that I have encountered repeatedly in conversation with some of my closest friends. I have read several good authors on both sides of the Calvinist perspective. Vance writes the most thorough description of the Reformed position I have ever read and does so with integrity and fairness while concurrently refuting its theological error.
4. The Angel of the Lord by Laurence M.Vance
After a study in Zechariah and Judges as well as several conversations on this topic, I recently stumbled across this book by one of my favorite authors. This book is an exhaustive character study of “the angel of the Lord”, an individual in scripture that has mystified many and has often been misinterpreted.
5. Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John MacArthur
In an increasingly polarized world, Charismatic theology holds one far end of the spectrum. John MacArthur writes an eloquent and friendly successor to his previous book on the topic “Charismatic Chaos”. This book is a comprehensive look at the subject. One should consider that MacArthur is very much Reformed and in moments you will hear that voice come alive in his arguments.
Other books that have been important over the years: The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Society by Vishal Mangalwadi ; Why Suffering: Finding Suffering When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Ravi Zacharias ; End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias
Sam Miles is pastor of Midtown Baptist Temple in Kansas City, MO. Over the last 30 years Sam has built a library of books that addresses many of the topics and doctrinal issues that come up in biblical ministry. For this post he mentioned that because many of his favorite books were already selected by the previous pastors he chose books that he thought would round out a leaders collection
1. Collins Thesaurus of the Bible by A. Colin Day - It’s a theme concordance of the Bible with a subject index.
2. The Outline Bible by Harold L. Willmington - Another great outline resource for studying the Word of God.
3. Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala - The key to ministry isn’t our strength wisdom or ability – it’s by the promise of God’s Word and the power of His Spirit. And on that note…
4. The Church God Blesses by Jim Cymbala - It’s a little coffee table book describing how God has a plan and a desire to bless His church. We need to be a church that is able to receive His blessing! Great short read.
5. Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible by Benjamin Keach - It’s a picture concordance of the Bible. It’s brilliant. So much AMAZING insight into the Word of God! Keach will show you how to dig deep into the Word.
Greg Axe is pastor of Crest Bible Church in Merriam, KS. Greg is an instructor in Living Faith Bible Institute and always has many great book selections listed in his syllabi. Here he lists some of his very favorite books.
1. Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin
Number one on any Christian's library MUST be Clarence Larkin's Dispensational Truth. It is without a doubt the greatest book ever written next to the Bible.
2. Gleanings series by Arthur Pink
Pink is probably the best commentator. His "Gleanings" series is a masterful work of art unlocking the types and pictures of the Bible, especially the Old Testament. Be aware that he does hold to Calvinism. It is laced into his books, but not so much that you cannot get great material from his work.
3. Babylon Mystery Religion by Ralph Woodrow
This book is the simplest and clearest exposé on Roman Catholicism ever written. It is concise and straight to the point in simple terms that most anyone can grasp. Only about 120 pages, but packed with great info.
4. The Queen and I: A Commentary on the Book of Esther by Ray Steadman
Sometimes you read a book and every once in a while you have to stop and ponder and process what you have read because it brings up so many other things in your mind. I call those "wow moments". This book has "wow moments" on almost every page. Steadman unlocks the picture of the conflict between Mordecai and Haman as the struggle of the flesh vs. the spirit in a believer. It is powerful.
5. Fifty Years in the Church of Rome by Charles Chiniquy
This book is about 800 pages, but I could not put it down. It is a fascinating read. Chiniquy was a Catholic Priest ordained at age 25 and in the priesthood for 25 years (that's how the 50 comes in). He takes you through his thought process as he grappled with "the church that Jesus founded on the rock of Peter" as opposed to the abuses he saw on the inside. Finally at age 50 he broke from the church. An absolute must for anyone wanting to understand the inner workings of the church and how to witness to a Catholic who is questioning their faith.