Redeeming Reads

As people of the Word, we understand the power of language. Jesus Christ is the living Word (John 1:1), and since the beginning of time, God’s Word has defined and ordered His creation. In the same way, it is words that define and order our thoughts. This week, we’ve asked two of our Grace Church elders to recommend some of their own favorite titles; if you’re interested in reading that’s edifying and engaging, be sure to take advantage of these valuable resources.

August 2021

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen

There is no more worthy pursuit in the world than the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified. The Apostle Paul resolved to know nothing else (1 Corinthians 2:2), for to know Christ is the essence of eternal life (John 17:3). And Christ is most intimately known where He is most thoroughly revealed—namely, in His great work of atonement. He is our Great High Priest, the Mediator between God and man, who satisfies the wrath of God against our sins by bearing our punishment as our Substitute. If theology is the Queen of the Sciences (and it is), the atonement of Christ is the Queen’s crown.

Scripture’s doctrine of atonement is therefore worthy of our study and meditation. One of the greatest books ever to take up the subject is John Owen’s classic, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. A work of polemical theology, it defends the biblical teaching on Christ’s cross-work against errors that are still common today. But it also is rich with devotional insight and praise to Christ. The patient reader will find his mind well-instructed and his heart stirred to worship the Savior for the great gift of salvation accomplished by the atonement.

—Mike Riccardi, GraceLife Fellowship Group

Holiness by J.C. Ryle

What must we have in order to see the Lord Jesus? The author of Hebrews charges us to pursue “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Outside of the Bible, no book has shaped my thinking about practical holiness in my life more than Holiness by J.C. Ryle.

While Ryle wrote in the 1800s, his discourse on holiness could not be more necessary for the Christian today. Ryle lamented that “Politics, or controversy, or party spirit, or worldliness, have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us. The subject of personal godliness has fallen sadly into the background.” Had I not known that this was written in the 1800s, I would have thought that this was a description of our times.

How then does one begin his or her pursuit of holiness? Ryle surprisingly but appropriately begins the book with a chapter on sin, explaining, “He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin.” To be holy, you must hate sin! Ryle’s work will both convict you of your sin and compel you to a holy life—without which no one will see the Lord.

—Joe Zhakevich, Sojourners Fellowship Group

April 2021

Passions of the Heart by John Street

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the World. —1 John 2:16

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourselves, so you too will not be tempted. —Galatians 6:1

Since the 1960s, our culture has been engulfed in the normalization of sexual sin. The internet and smart phones have made the temptations ever present, and today’s culture worships the freedom to indulge unhindered in every sin. Christians are not immune to these temptations.

Passions of the Heart is a product of Dr. Street’s doctrinal dissertation, distilled through his forty years of biblical counseling experience into a practical tool for counseling those entangled in sexual sin. This book is the most exhaustive and helpful resource that I have ever run across. It gets right at the heart idols which are the actual root cause of the sinful heart’s desire—the lusts that trap and ensnare so many today.

—Don Carr, Commissioned Fellowship Group

January 2021 Recommendations

The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur

“There has been one book that I have recommended over the years more than any other because it was instrumental in bringing me to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; and that book is The Gospel According to Jesus, by our pastor, John MacArthur. In 1992, a member of Grace Church sent it to me in the mail while I was still an unbeliever after he had tried to explain the gospel to me twice. Though I was very reluctant to read it, once l opened the cover, heaven’s gate was opened to me, as well.

“Originally, The Gospel According to Jesus was written to address the opponents of “Lordship Salvation,” challenging those in evangelicalism who taught that “believing in Christ” was merely a mental assent to certain facts about His life and teachings as Savior, instead of teaching that “believing in Christ” was a call to loving obedience to Him as Lord. But to me as an unbeliever at that time, I wasn’t reading the book to debate any strand of doctrine; I was reading the book to debate the staunchness of my unbelief.

“It was there in those pages that I discovered what it means to really follow Christ as Lord and Savior by submitting to Him in faith and obedience. It was the way Pastor John examined key passages in the New Testament and explained the meaning of those texts in their historical context, chapter by chapter, that opened my eyes and convicted my heart as to what it really means to believe in Jesus Christ.

“I would recommend The Gospel According to Jesus to both those who are seriously grappling with the truth of the gospel, as well as those who need a refresher course to ignite their faith once again. It’s a classic!”

—Tom Patton, Joint Heirs & Congregational Care Ministries

Leading with Love by Alexander Strauch

“At its core, the Christian life is marked by love. One author once wrote, ‘Love is the most attractive quality in the world. And it lies at the heart of Christianity.’ We love because Christ first loved us, and we are compelled to follow His model and command to love God and love others (Matthew 23:27–39).

“In Leading with Love, Strauch provides a thoughtful exposition of 1 Corinthians 13 as a basis for how Christians make love central when they lead, teach, evangelize, and serve. Whether you lead in an official capacity, or your leadership is through discipleship and service to others, this book offers a great reminder that love is indispensable to you and your ministry.”

—Matt Poladian, High School Ministry

If you’re looking for a redeeming read, our campus bookstore carries hundreds of edifying titles. Located south of the Worship Center, Grace Books is open after each Sunday service and on Monday through Friday during the week.