We don’t read.
That’s the bottom line. It’s a tragedy that being the most “literate” generation in all of human history, we are still illiterate. Not due to the lack of education but due to the lack of dedication.
We just don’t take the time to read.
This illiteracy epidemic has even crossed over to the church. Not only do we not read the bible, we don’t even read spiritual books.
Maybe it’s due to the fact that we just don’t know where to look, so I’ll just give my top five picks of which I recommend (and a rating of the difficulty).
(1-5; 1 being the easiest, 5 being the most difficult)
1. The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan
- An allegory of the believer’s journey to heaven the Pilgrims Progress was at one time the second most printed book besides the bible. John Bunyan narrates what he received as visions/dreams while incarcerated due to preaching the Gospel. The Pilgrims progress has undergone many different editions which make me put it into the easiest of these five books. There are copies of which the old English is still used but also there are copies made just for children. The Pilgrims Progress is one of those books that have endured many generations and will continue to bless all who take up and read this classic work.
2. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
- The modern classic from the great teacher, Robert Charles Sproul, the Holiness of God is a great starting point not only for those who seek to understand the Reformed tradition but also a great resource when meditating on the holiness of God. One of my favorite chapters is the Insanity of Luther which is a beautiful representation of what every man’s journey to discover the deepness and awesomeness of Gods holy nature should be. Dr. Sproul also did a teaching series which more than likely accompanies well with the book (haven’t heard it all, let me know if you have and what you thought).
3. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- The martyr slash, pastor slash, anti-nazi hero is one of the most powerful stories I have read. I also recommend the biography done by Eric Metaxes to further discover the bravery found in this fallible vessel. However not only the story of his life is a powerful thing but his writings are very beneficial to the modern reader. Most copies of this book are accompanied by other articles and sermons of his. This book shows a clear reflection of what pushed this pastor to not submit to the actions of his contemporaries, to surrender Christian conviction under the weight of Nazi Germany. For anyone looking to grow some hair on their spiritual chest, this is a great starting point.
4. The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther
- The rowdy and rough theologian reformer delivers one of the greatest works on the great debate over the freedom of the will. Martin Luther, the ex-roman monk turned reformer delivers the best defense towards the total depravity of man in this work answering Erasmus’s paper of the freedom of the will. You really get it all with Luther, not only were his response biblical but with his great ability to compose hymns, he delivers the greatest “roast” of any theologian. At times it seems more like a theological rap battle than a scholarly response. Nonetheless Luther gives a great work for all believers to read if you have a desire to better understand the great debate over freewill
5. Mortification of Sin in the Believer by John Owen
- My personal favorite book on the struggle with the carnal man inside, this book by John Owens is a difficult one but it is worth the heavy investment of time. The official title of this book is… (take a deep breath)
Of the mortification of sin in believers; the necessity, nature, and means of it: with a resolution of sundry cases of conscience thereunto belonging.
This puritan classic can be considered one of the greatest gifts to men who struggle with the sinful nature. Although there may be a few modernized editions, I say, challenge yourself and read through this book as is. The wording and phrasing brings to life the true dilemma within the believer and Dr. Owens does a masterful job in diagnosing and tending to the problem.
We have to read.
Many believers struggle with not only fanning the flame of the Christian devotion to Christ but also struggle with the lack of knowledge of who Christ is. However, if we are successful in obtaining the habit of reading, it will prove invaluable in our Christian walk.