My Top 5 Reads

Book Reviews

BooksI read a lot and am often asked what I think other Christians should read as well. I consider it an integral part of my work, and I always encourage Christians to read more. So, in an effort to stoke your literary fire a bit, I would like to offer my top 5 list (apart from the Bible) of what I think every Christian should read and understand (in no particular order)…

Authority by: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Lloyd-Jones delivered three messages on authority which were compiled to make this short, but very important volume. He covers the authority of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, and the authority of the Holy Spirit. As a people (i.e. Americans) who question and often reject all forms of authority, Lloyd-Jones delivers a masterful reminder of our true authority and what it means in our daily lives as God’s people.

The Marrow of Modern Divinity by: Edward Fisher 

In my opinion, one of the most important issues Christians need to understand is the relationship between the law and the gospel. This classic work from the 1600’s has not disappointed when it comes to causing a bit of a stir, however it remains the most unique treatment of this very important issue. For those who have not spent a lot of time reading older literature, it might prove a bit more difficult, however it’s not a hard book to read or understand by any means. It’s as entertaining as it is helpful, and I think it’s the perfect antidote for legalism and antinomianism in the church today. The specific edition I have linked to includes the valuable explanatory notes of the puritan Thomas Boston along with an Introduction by Philip Ryken and an historical Introduction by William Vandoodeward.

Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul by: Octavius Winslow

Let’s face it: Christians get discouraged and we begin to grow stagnant or even cold in our affections for God. At times, it may be an indication of a person’s true condition and whether or not they are in the faith. However, sometimes we lack in spiritual growth and vitality and don’t know the way out. Personal Declension is one of the most stirring, helpful, encouraging and convicting books I’ve ever read. I turn to Winslow each time I’m feeling discouraged in my communion with God and find fresh words for my weary soul. He has packed mountains of help and wisdom into this volume – read it carefully and prayerfully.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by: John Bunyan

You didn’t expect me to leave off the best-selling Christian book in history, did you? Bunyan’s allegory of the life of Christian is a memorable classic that Christians should be familiar with (especially if they want to understand a lot of reformed preacher’s illustrations!). There’s nothing quite like The Pilgrim’s Progress in terms of biblical fidelity, entertainment value, and thought-producing insight into the heart of a Christian. No Christian should reach the Celestial City without having a good knowledge of The Pilgrim’s Progress!

Undiscerned Spiritual Pride by: Jonathan Edwards

At the beginning of each year I re-read Edwards on Spiritual Pride. It’s a short read, but it packs a powerful punch. It’s a particularly helpful work for young people and those in the ministry. Most people don’t assume they’re prideful, and particularly when it comes to our spiritual lives. However, argues Edwards, that’s what it’s undiscerned and why we need to be made aware of it time and time again. Spiritual pride lurks in the shadows – are you willing to root it out?

What about you? What are your top 5 reads for every Christian?

(By: Nick Kennicott)

16 thoughts on “My Top 5 Reads

  1. Pastor Nick,

    A Sure Guide to Heaven – Joseph Alleine. An absolute must read in my opinion for anyone professing Christianity.

    The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    The Exemplary Husband – Dr. Stuart Scott

    A Puritan Theology – Joel Beeke & Mark Jones – Have only begun this awesome work, but I’m very blessed by it.

    The Gospel According to Jesus – John MacArthur


    1. Thanks Kevin – I have read and enjoyed all 5 books you’ve listed. Great list. Bonhoeffer is a mixed bag. The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together are his best works, but his letters from prison get a bit off track. Alleine is a superb work – a classic, for sure. The Lord has used that little book to bring many men to repentance and faith – in fact, I think Bill Reid was one of them. Also, I want to encourage you to stay strong and finish Puritan Theology – it’s some heavy reading at times, but it is well worth it!

  2. This looks to be a solid list! I have just recently heard of “The Marrow of Modern Divinity”, I’m going to have to pick that one up. I’m also very interested in “Authority” by Lloyd-Jones, he is consistently one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Rob! I hope you can find some time to read these works – hold on tight, I’m guessing they are going to change (or at least solidly confirm/affirm) a lot of how/what you think.

  3. Off the top of my head I’d probably have to pick the ones that have benefited me the most in my Christian life [no particular order]:

    What is Reformed Theology – Sproul (turned me into a Calvinist)

    Let the Nations Be Glad! – Piper (corrected a lot of my thinking on missions and worship)

    What is the Mission of the Church? – DeYoung & Gilbert (helped me pin down an answer to the question the book deals with)

    The Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges (helped with law/gospel stuff)

    Systematic Theology – Grudem (though I don’t agree with all of it and Reymond’s and Calvin’s are my fav. Systematics, this gave me a solid foundation on a lot of doctrine)

    1. Those are all good works Jason, thanks.

      Sproul’s book is certainly a helpful primer for people – I just wish he was a credobaptist! I obviously don’t agree with all of his conclusions, particularly dealing with the covenants (I’m a 1689 Federalist), but it’s a great, helpful work for sure.

      Piper’s work on missions is a classic in (conservative) seminary classes now, as it should be. This coupled with Roland Allan’s Missionary Methods: St. Pauls or Ours make up a huge percentage of what every missionary should have in their heart/mind.

      DeYoung/Gilbert do a good job – This is still an expanding conversation, so I’m curious to see where it goes and where their ideas eventually land on the spectrum, however I appreciate their balance.

      Bridges – classic, and a book that would be on my top 10 for sure.

      Grudem – You’re right, some of it is good… however, there are some systematic works that are hard to beat, and new ones coming out too! I just got Frame in the mail this week, so I’m curious to see how it stacks up – he has some weird ideas as well. Horton is helpful, as well as Bray in newer systematics. But it’s hard to beat some of the classics: Berkhof, Brakel, Hodge, Bavinck and Boice.

      So much gold out there to be mined!!!

      1. ya, those are just my top 5 that influenced me a lot,… but as of now there are lots of conclusions some of those books came to that i don’t (Sproul on Covenants, Grudem regarding creation and gifts, etc…). Ya Berkhof is great… when preparing to teach (Sunday School) I tend to find Reymond’s the most helpful. My list of top 5 books as of today would be a slightly different list… very hard to only pick 5 😀 when people ask me i tend to ask why they are asking (are they wanting to study our a particular subject, or just grow in their walk, or interact with something else?, etc…)

        1. That’s good – I often do the same: “What kind of help are you looking for?” Is usually what I ask before I recommend a book. If someone just says, “I want to grow as a Christian” I point them to one of these works, especially if I know them and can make a judgment about their reading level and need.

          I’ve never used Reymond’s Systematic, I should check it out – shhhh, don’t tell anyone… he was a longtime professor at my Seminary! haha

  4. Great list, especially Edward Fisher. Six books top my list, and I can’t get myself to eliminate one of them, so:
    Redemption Accomplished and Applied – John Murray
    Heaven and Hell – Edward Donnelly
    Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices – Thomas Brooks
    The Heart of Christ – Thomas Goodwin
    History of the Reformation in the Time of Calvin – JH Merle d’Aubigne
    A Puritan Theology, Doctrine for Life – Joel Beeke, Mark Jones

    1. Thanks Rex – again, all great works.

      I’m actually preaching at a conference in March based on Murray’s work – an excellent classic that Christians need to be familiar with, for sure.

      I give Precious Remedies out to a lot of our young people – they have profited greatly from it (when they’re willing to read it!). Goodwin on the heart of Christ is so warm and pastoral, I love it.

      I’ve not read d’Aubigne, and I’m not sure why… I’ve always heard great things about it. I need to get it.

  5. Way to go Nick! I mean mentioning Edwards’ work. There may be nothing in the English language, except the section on pride in Baxter’s Reformed Pastor. Just a paragraph, but the time you read the whole you are devastated. One of our most heinous and palpable sins is PRIDE. This is a sin that hath too much interest in the best of us, but which is more hateful and inexcusable in us than in other men. Yet is it so prevalent in some of us, that it inditeth our discourses, it chooseth our company, it formeth our countenances, it putteth the accent and emphasis upon our words. It fills some men’s minds with aspiring desires, and designs: it possesseth them with envious and bitter thoughts against those who stand in their light, or who by any means eclipse their glory, or hinder the progress of their reputation. Oh what a constant companion, what a tyrannical commander, what a sly and subtle insinuating enemy, is this sin of pride! It goes with men to the draper, the mercer, the tailor: ‘it chooseth them their cloth, their trimming, and their fashion. Fewer ministers would ruffle it out in the fashion in hair and habit, if it were not for the command of this tyrannous vice. And I would that this were all, or the worst. But, alas! how frequently doth it go with us to our study, and there sit with us and do our work! How oft doth it choose our subject, and, more frequently still, our words and ornaments!

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