The Life of the Mind
We live in an instant download, fast-speed, 150 character-post culture. There is no time for thinking. But what fools we are for neglecting the cultivation of the life of the mind.
God not only cares how we think, but He commands us to think rightly. Truth is God’s territory because He is the standard of truth. Just to name a few (from the ESV):
- Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
- Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
- 2 Timothy 2:7, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
- 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
As Christians, we often wander from the word theology (literally means: thinking about/study of God). But as R.C. Sproul once said, everyone is a theologian.
Any time we talk about God, the Bible, Jesus, heaven, justice, judgment, man, sin, the future, etc., we are speaking about things in their relation to God.
The question for every Christian isn’t: Is theology for me? The question for every Christian is: Is my theology true?
Apart from reading the Bible (if you aren’t sure where to start, click here), this is a list of 10 books that I highly recommend that every Christian should read, in no particular order. All of them have shaped my life and are worthy of your time.
1. “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan — the most-sold book outside of the Bible. One of the richest books ever written. This is an allegory. Every page resonates with the Christian life. We are all pilgrims on our way to the Celestial City. I have read it every year for the past 3 years and I hope to continue doing so. Charles Spurgeon said he read this book hundreds of times.
2. “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer — the essential truths of Christian doctrine. Packer’s work here is very helpful, theological, and clear on theology. There is no dullness here. It is and remains a classic for a reason.
3. “The Holiness of God” by R.C. Sproul — few of us know what holiness is. We always assign the definition to “purity.” And in a sense that is true, especially as to how we demonstrate holiness in life. But Sproul shows us that the holiness of God is God’s God-ness. It is what makes Him God; He is in a class all by Himself (cf. 1 Samuel 2:2). This is still a memorable book for me. Get it.
4. “The Disciplines of Grace” by Jerry Bridges — really any book by Jerry Bridges. Few men can take big truths and break them into bitesize pieces. Everything in his writings are immensely practical and theologically rich. And like many good authors, he cites and footnotes other authors you should read. Another favorite of mine from Bridges is “The Fruitful Life.”
5. “The Pleasures of God” by John Piper — this book will catapult you into a greater reality of who God is. God’s passions and pleasures are always centered on and about the best thing: Himself. God’s glory is God’s joy. This book is the theme of John Piper’s writings. Ever since I saw the glory of God as God’s chief aim, I cannot unsee it. It fills the pages of Scripture. My life has forever changed for the writing and preaching of John Piper.
6. “Ashamed of the Gospel” by John MacArthur — our churches in America are plagued with seeker-sensitive and people-pleasing attitudes and ways to organize our worship and purpose of the church. The church exists for God’s glory and for the sheep to hear their Shepherd speak (cf. John 10:1). Is your church infected by pragmatism and a “do what works” mentality? This book is shockingly encouraging and convicting. Seriously one of MacArthur’s best books.
7. “The Forgotten Fear” by Albert Martin — the fear of the Lord is either rarely taught or poorly understood. My life changed in this regard after reading this very short and pithy book. Fearing God is more than just a reverence for God; it is much more than that. And, it is something that we must pursue and increase in.
8. “Praying the Bible” by Donald S. Whitney — how often do you pray the same words, the same way, and pray for the same things almost unconsciously? Many of us do. And, good books on prayer on hard to find. Especially ones that are simple and biblical. This one is — and it is also very short! Your prayer life will deepen and change through the Word of God.
9. “The Hole in Our Holiness” by Kevin DeYoung — some of the best books are small books. DeYoung is a faithful preacher and an excellent writer. This book tackles the slackness we often have as Christians in living our daily lives. How we speak and think; what we watch and view, are all things God cares about. And you should, too. Another work of his that is very practical is “Just Do Something.”
10. “All Things for Good” by Thomas Watson — Watson has been with the Lord for well over three decades now. And yet, his teaching and pastoral application of Romans 8:28 is remarkable. Full of rich thinking and application, few men are as quotable like Watson. I quote him almost every Sunday (alongside Charles Spurgeon).
There are of course many others not listed here. May God enlarge your hearts as these men help you to see and savor Jesus Christ.