3 Books on a Deserted Island

I recently shared what I consider to be a reasonable list of books to purchase in order to begin building your library. If you wish to grow in your understanding of Christianity, those would be the basics I recommend.

Today I thought it’d be fun to simply share the three books I would choose if I were stranded on the proverbial deserted island, and could only have three books. I exclude the Bible, because any respectable Christian knows that’s the correct first answer. I also will now cheat and tell you that one of my choices would be a Psalter, but I’ll not put that in my actual list since you may consider that also under the category of “the Bible.”

So then, my three choices would be:

Alright, I cheated again on that last one. It’s actually three volumes—all well-worth the read.

I choose these three because I believe we’ve greatly undervalued the importance of learning to properly express gratitude and praise to God through song, to approach God properly in prayer, and to interact properly with others within the household. If you supplement your pursuit of holiness with these three works, I know you’ll find it to be a great encouragement and blessing.

Logic of the Trinity

Why do Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity?

Christians believe that the one true God exists eternally as three distinguishable but inseparable persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption. These three are identical and unchanging in nature and attributes, equal in power and glory, and one in essence and being.

This is what orthodox Christianity holds to, but how do we get there? How do we argue from Scripture for the doctrine of the Trinity? This post from the Cripplegate does an outstanding job of summarizing the argument.

Although the term Trinity does not occur in Scripture, the concept is inherently biblical. The Trinitarian nature of God is revealed implicitly in the Old Testament and explicitly in the New Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity is founded on two fundamental theological realities…

Read the rest of the post and learn how to defend the doctrine of the Trinity here!

How to Start Building Your Book Collection

So you want to start building your library, but you’re not sure where to start. I’ve often spoken with folks who wish to dig deeper into the Christian faith, but then find that there are just too many books to choose from—and it’s hard to tell what’s reliable anyway. The proverbial flooded market can certainly be overwhelming—especially when you want solid, trustworthy resources, not just whatever happens to be on TGC’s top 20 list.

So, here’s another list of recommended books!

I’ve started compiling a list of books that would serve well as a starting point for a basic Christian library. And as always, recommending a book does not mean that I necessarily agree with all of its content. Rather, I think these are books which are accessible, solid, and particularly beneficial in their various categories. If you’re interested in learning more and getting serious about the Christian faith and way of life, I recommend starting here. I’ll explain why I give these specific recommendations in another post.

I’d also love to hear about any other books you’ve found to be an essential introduction in a particular area.


Study Bibles

HCSB Study Bible

Ryrie Study Bible

How to Study the Bible

Grasping God’s Word, by Duvall and Hays

Basic Bible Interpretation, by Roy Zuck

An Introduction to Theology

Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God, by Bruce Ware

Systematic Theology, by Norman Geisler

He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom, by Michael Vlach

Understanding End Times Prophecy, by Paul Benware

On Living the Christian Life

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World, by Michael Horton

Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness, by Ed Welch

When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man, by Ed Welch

Respectable Sins, by Jerry Bridges

The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges

Anger, Anxiety and Fear: A Biblical Perspective, by Stuart Scott

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, by Heath Lambert

On Marriage and Family

Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World, by Douglas Wilson

Reforming Marriage, by Douglas Wilson

Building a Godly Home, by William Gouge

Why Children Matter, by Douglas and Nancy Wilson

Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants, by Douglas Wilson

For Men:

Federal Husband, by Douglas Wilson

Man of the House, by C.R. Wiley

The Exemplary Husband, by Stuart Scott

For Women:

Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? And Other Useful Comments, by Nancy Wilson

The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman, by Nancy Wilson

The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace

Praise Her in the Gates: The Calling of Christian Motherhood, by Nancy Wilson

The Silver Lining: A Practical Guide for Grandmothers, by Nancy Wilson

On Salvation

Free Grace Theology on Trial, by Anthony Badger

Freely by His Grace, by Hixson, Whitmire, and Zuck

Grace, Salvation, and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages, by Charles Bing

On the Life of Christ

The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, by J. Dwight Pentecost

On the Holy Spirit

The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit, by Larry Pettegrew

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship, by John MacArthur

On the Church

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, by Jonathan Leeman

Going Public, by Bobby Jamieson

On Ethics

An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, by Robertson McQuilkin and Paul Copan

Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning, by Wayne Grudem

Devotionals

Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers from Banner of Truth

Morning and Evening, a devotional by Charles Spurgeon

The Puritans: Daily Readings edited by Randall Pederson

Psalms for Trials: Meditations on Praying the Psalms, by Lindsey Tollefson

Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, by Owen Strachan

New Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp

Virtuous: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Learning Contentment: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Hymns to the Living God

Hymns of Grace


 

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Theological Implications of John’s Purpose Statement

It is important to note not only the theological grounds for the interpretation of First John 5:13 as John’s purpose statement, but also its implications. If John is giving tests by which one determines the presence of salvation, then faith alone in Christ alone is functionally not the only condition for salvation. In other words, faith must necessarily be accompanied by good works which serve to affirm and confirm that faith, or otherwise the faith was not saving…

Become a patron to read the entire post (and watch for the next one) here!

Theology of the Household

As a follow up to the topics discussed in the series on family, church, and priorities (find the series here), and for a more fully developed understanding of the household economy as discussed here—as an organic economy rather than a collective of fragmented individuals (more on that to come)—I definitely recommend listening to this video in which Alastair Roberts discusses the biblical teaching on family and household.

Gratitude for Seminary

I graduated from Shepherds Theological Seminary in 2016. In three years of sitting through seminary classes, I think there was not one single class wherein I did not at some point consciously dwell on how amazing it was that I was sitting in a seminary this good, under professors this wise, and studying a subject of this much gravity, and then thank God for His providence—because I don’t deserve it. In Philippians 1, Paul says that he thanks God for the Philippian church with every remembrance of them. I can earnestly say the same thing about Shepherds and its professors.

I’ve often spoken with people who say something like: “What’s the point in going to seminary—it’s just more book knowledge; you can learn all that on your own while in ministry.” I’m sure you could learn much of the book knowledge on the job, or on your own. But seminary is about so much more than book knowledge; it’s about gaining wisdom, cultivating virtue, and being discipled by men who have devoted their lives to faithful ministry. As one of my professors has said, “experience is not the only way to gain wisdom, and experience does not necessarily mean that wisdom has been gained.”

One of the greatest blessings of being at Shepherds Seminary was the opportunity to gain from the wisdom of pastor-theologians (over 200 years of cumulative ministry experience between them) who are eager to share that wisdom with us, so that we can learn from their successes (and mistakes), and so that we learn that the measure of successful ministry is not growth in numbers, renown, wealth, or anything else but faithfulness to the commission God has given us—to shepherd the flock of God that the Spirit has entrusted to us (Acts 20:28).

I may have been able to get some knowledge on my own, on the job… eventually. However, first of all, I gained knowledge at STS from professors who have unique gifts, perspectives, and expertise which have not been disseminated in published works, but which have deeply shaped and influenced my understanding not only of doctrine but of ministry and my own spiritual growth as well. Secondly, in three years I gained the knowledge it would have taken me fifteen to gain on my own. But, thirdly, in addition to gaining knowledge, seminary allows you to gain wisdom, to gain lasting friendships with brothers in arms, and to gain crucial resources in having professors who truly care about discipleship, and want to be available to you as you head into ministry. North Carolina and Shepherds Seminary have become home to me, and leaving to begin ministry has been one of the hardest things, and certainly the most bittersweet thing, I’ve ever done in my life.

I truly cannot express how grateful I am to God, and to my professors, for the examples I’ve had in them of wise, faithful, godly ministry.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. — Ephesians 3:20–21