Ten Most Influential Books in My Life

The list below is of the ten books which have most influenced my life and ministry (besides the Bible). These are not necessarily my favorite books or the ones I would most recommend to others. Instead this list is autobiographical, i.e. these are the books which were used by God in my life to shape my own thinking. Through these books (six of which I read as a teenager over a decade ago), I was introduced to a great body of literature written by the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) the Puritans (Baxter, Watson, Bunyan, etc.) and their successors (Edwards, Ryle, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, etc.). For the last eighteen years I have been tracing the footnotes of the first books I read as a teenager. Each book has led to another and I’m confident that the journey will never end until death. Anyway, here’s the list. Feel free to post your list of most influential books in your life in the comments section.

  1. Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul (In this book I was given a biblical, theological and historical introduction to the doctrine of election. This view of the sovereignty of God in salvation has been the foundation of my understanding of salvation by grace alone.)
  2. The Pleasures of God by John Piper (This is not only the first book that I read by Piper, but my favorite [maybe for that reason]. I think the reason is this book lays the theological foundation for all that Piper has written elsewhere, namely God’s pleasure in Himself.)
  3. Ashamed of the Gospel by John F. MacArthur, Jr. (This book exposed to me how the modern church’s infatuation with gimmicks and programs belies, at the very least, a subconscious embarrassment over the true biblical gospel. I am also indebted to this book for my introduction to Charles Haddon Spurgeon. After reading this book, I ordered a biography of Spurgeon at a small bookstore in Lenoir City from an employee named Gretta Willett. Two loves were born that day [I’m married to Gretta now.]. The rest is, as they say, history.)
  4. Reckless Faith by John F. MacArthur, Jr. (God used this book to open my eyes to the lack of discernment in the church. This book issues a needed call for a biblical theology grounded upon the Word of God.)
  5. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul (I bought this book at a truck stop on Watt Rd. in Knoxville, TN where I stopped to buy gas on my way to Pellissippi State Community College in 1994. The author’s portrayal of the holiness of God revolutionized my view of sin and salvation, as well as worship!)
  6. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer (This book not only explains how belief in the sovereignty of God and our responsibility to evangelize are not mutually exclusive, it also contains one of the best explanations of the gospel in print.)
  7. Christ Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell (I love books on preaching. This is my favorite. Most of what I know about preaching I learned from Bryan Chapell.)
  8. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever (I’ve learned more from Mark Dever about the biblical teaching about the church than from anyone else. This book is a fitting summary of Mark’s teaching on the church.)
  9. An Earnest Ministry by John Angell James (This 19th century pastor taught me the importance of being fervent in my preaching, discipling and evangelizing.)
  10. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey (A wonderful explanation of the Christian worldview contrasted with the competing worldviews of our day.)

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