My Short List of Books to Master

Last week I wrote a post on creating a short list of gospel-centered books and then mastering the contents of those books. After some hard thinking, I’ve come up with my very short list of books to be mastered. Why am I sharing this list with you? Two reasons. First, I want to encourage you to buy and read at least one of these books. Your life will be changed. Second, I want to encourage you to come up with your own list. So without further ado:

The Gospel For Real Life – by Jerry Bridges

Herein lies the glory of the cross. Justice and mercy are reconciled; wrath and love are both given full expression – and all of this so that we might experience the unsearchable riches of Christ. What great humility this should produce in us: humility that we were the cause of our Savior’s unimaginable suffering, and gratitude that He so willingly and lovingly experienced God’s wrath that we might not suffer it ourselves.

Living the Cross Centered Life – by C.J. Mahaney

Reminding ourselves of the gospel is the most important daily habit we can establish. If the gospel is the most vital news in the world, and if salvation by grace is the defining truth of our existence, we should create ways to immerse ourselves in these truths every day. No days off allowed.

God is the Gospel – by John Piper

…if God is not treasured as the ultimate gift of the gospel, none of his gifts will be gospel, good news. And if God is treasured as the supremely valuable gift of the gospel, then all other lesser gifts will be enjoyed as well.

The Holiness of God – by R.C. Sproul

Death reminds us that we are creatures. Yet as fearsome as death is, it is nothing compared with meeting a holy God. When we encounter Him, the totality of our creatureliness breaks upon us and shatters the myth that we have believed about ourselves that we are demi-gods, junior-grade deities who will try to live forever.

The Power of the Cross of Christ - Charles Spurgeon

He bore the sinner’s sin, and He therefore had to be treated as though He were a sinner, though sinner He could never be. With His own full consent He suffered as though He had committed the transgressions that were laid on Him. Our sin, and His taking it upon Himself, is the answer to the question “Why hast thou forsaken me?”

I could add many more books to this list, but won’t for the sake of brevity. What books would you add to the list?

Now go out, buy one of these books, and master it.

  • Galephico

    Thanks for your list !

    Living the Cross Centered Life has changed my life. It has “just” helped me to live a more cross-centered life. What better effect could a book make in a life ?

    Here’s my list :
    Enemy Within – Kris Lundgaard
    Disciplines of Grace – Jerry Bridges
    Living the Cross Centered Life – C.J. Mahaney
    Knowing God – J.I. Packer

    I haven’t read “God is the Gospel”, “Holiness of God” yet. I’ll try to master the best books I’ve already read.

    I have never heard about “The Power of the Cross of Christ” by Spurgeon. Is it a book like “The Cross of Christ” by John Stott or is-it more focused of The Power of the Cross of Christ in the daily life (because of what it was accomplished at the cross) ?

    Thanks for your contribution with the two posts (How to Master a Book and My Short List of Books to Master).

    Wouldn’t the Bible be a good book to master ? :p

  • http://garyboalnireland.blogspot.com Boaly

    Think I’d like to master Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen – it is one of those books I read that had enormous impact on my mind and blew me away with its truths etc but one that I’d like to see lived out more in my life.

    Great list Stephen, to master any of these (or be mastered by any of these) would mean a closer walk wih Jesus.

  • Stephen Altrogge

    Galephico – The book by Spurgeon is a series of meditations on what Christ accomplished on the cross, how that affects us, our relationship with God, etc. It’s pure gold. And I have to agree, the Bible would be a good one to master!

    Boaly – John Owen, wow. You could probably spend your life just hanging out with Owen…

  • TIm

    For sure: John Owen – The Glory of Christ

    Maybe/probably: George Smeaton – Apostles’ Doctine of the Atonement

  • Lisa

    I would also add:

    The Pleasures of God by Piper
    The Religious Affections by Edwards

    and although it doesn’t fit the category:

    The Joy of Cooking

  • Tim

    So Stephen … from your prior post, what is your plan to master these? Please share it. Thanks!

  • Bob

    Excellent list, Stephen. I already own “God is the Gospel” and “The Cross-Centered Life” so I can start there.

    I am also hearing many good things about “In My Place, Condemned He Stood” by J.I. Packer and Mark Dever. That looks to be another worthy of the list.

    By the way…I am really enjoying the CD you did with your dad…very good!

  • Stephen Altrogge

    Tim – I don’t necessarily have a clearly formulated plan other than read, and re-read these books over the next several years.

    Some of these books I have already read twice, and I plan on reading them again, and possibly buying new copies so that I can underline and write more notes in them.

    Possibly getting some people together to talk about one or more of them? I’m open to suggestions as well…

  • Lisa

    I am a part of a theology study group that has read and discussed Books 1 and 2 of The Institutes, God Is the Gospel, Disciplines of Grace, and we’re soon to begin The Pleasures of God. It is VERY helpful to have a group to work through such excellent (and sometimes weighty) books.