Top 25 Christian Books

Photo Credit: demandaj via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: demandaj via Compfight cc

Here is my personal list of must-read books. Outside of the Bible, these are the writings that have shaped me more than any other as a Christian. I return to each of these books from time to time, and in my opinion every Christian should have them on their shelf, or at least borrow them from a friend who does.

Without further adieu, then, I present to you in no particular order–

THE 25 MOST INFLUENTIAL CHRISTIAN BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ

1. The Gate Seldom Found by Raymond Reid. This little-known work of historical fiction dramatizes the real life story of an obscure fellowship of believers that flowered in southern Canada in the late 19th century. If Reid’s presentation is even half accurate and true to life, I would’ve loved to have been part of it. Either way, his portrayal is one of the purest expressions of Christ and the church I’ve ever read.

2. The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards. A stunning presentation of God’s relentless passion and pursuit of a bride. An absolute must-read.

3. The School of Christ by T. Austin Sparks. Sparks is never an easy read, but the riches of his ministry are always well worth the labor. Personally speaking, there are depths of Christ I’ve glimpsed in Sparks’ writings that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

4. Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. A classic work on submission and authority, as seen through the lives of Saul, David, and Absalom. Plenty of insight here into the ways of God.

5. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. From beginning to end this book will arrest you with the reality of God in Christ. Nee approaches the subject of what many would call the “overcoming” life or the “victorious” Christian life and shows that according to the New Testament this is really the “normal” Christian life meant to be enjoyed by all God’s people.

6. The Normal Christian Church Life by Watchman Nee. In the same vein, Nee presents the first-century pattern of the church. Clear, concise, and practical, this book will cause you to rethink all your notions about the church life known and practiced by most Christians today.

7. Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. I’m talking about the Seedsowers edition here. Brother Lawrence’s work has long been hailed as a classic, and rightfully so, but I actually got more out of Laubach’s writings than I did his. I was helped through this book to “see” the Lord within me for the very first time, and that was indeed a glorious moment.

8. Practical Expression of the Church by Witness Lee. Lots of people shy away from this brother, but he had an incredibly rich ministry of Christ. Ephesians is a wonderful letter containing the heavenly revelation of the church, but the fulfillment of God’s purpose demands a practical fleshing out of those truths here upon the earth. Lee deals with such issues in this book.

9. Torch of the Testimony by John W. Kennedy. “A 2000-year history of those Christians and churches who have stood outside both the Catholic and Protestant traditions.” Enough said.

10. Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. A modern classic by a great man of God. One of the first Christian books I ever read. Worth coming back to time and time again.

11. God’s Spiritual House by T. Austin Sparks. Lots of wonderful insight here into Christ and the church.

12. Azusa Street by Frank Bartleman. A very stirring, eye-witness account of the Azusa Street Revival. Suffice it so say that things were different in the early days of Pentecostalism than they are now. The final chapter containing Bartleman’s message on the purpose of God through the ages is worth the cost of the book all in itself.

13. Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. This book broke my heart with God’s concern for the poor and gave me an entirely new view of the gospel of the kingdom. 

14. Revolution: The Story of the Early Church by Gene Edwards. The prelude to the above five-book series, this one knocked me off my feet when I first read it. Stirred a hunger inside of me that I couldn’t even describe to you at the time.

15. Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. Wonderful allegory on the spiritual life of a beliver, and how God uses sorrow and suffering in our lives to transform us into His image and make us more than conquerors through Him.

16. So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen. Hugely influential to me at the time I read it. A wonderful book for those who are transitioning out of the setting of institutional Christianity. I’ve met Wayne once and he is a great guy.

17. Against the Tide: The Story of Watchman Nee by Agnus Kinnear. Get a glimpse of the man behind the ministry. Knowing the context behind Nee’s writings enriches them even further. This book should raise the standard for any Christian worker. One of the four biographies every Christian needs to read.

18. Climb the Highest Mountain by Gene Edwards. This book is Gene at his best, in the early days of his ministry. How I would’ve loved to be in the original audience who first heard these messages spoken.

19. Two Kinds of Righteousness by E.W. Kenyon. I found this book on a clearance shelf at a local bookstore for $1.50, and it was well worth the cost! At the time the Lord was taking pains to convince me of my righteousness in Christ, and what can I say but He sealed the deal through this little book. Can’t thank Him enough.

20. The Early Christians in Their Own Words by Eberhard Arnold. A compilation of writings from second and third century Christian writers. If you ask me, Arnold’s overview of the early church in the introduction is the best part of the whole thing. Very stirring.

21. The Centrality of the Cross by Jesse Penn-Lewis. Read my review of it here.

22. Prem Pradhan: Apostle to Nepal by Seedsowers. If this brother were still alive I would get on a plane and go meet him today, if that tells you anything. I talk a little about the book here.

23. Prophetic Ministry by T. Austin Sparks. Sparks gets to the root of what it means to bring back into view God’s eternal purpose. This is not like most of the “prophet” writing you’ll encounter in Charismatic circles, so don’t be alarmed.

24. The Inward Journey by Gene Edwards. One of the most practical treatments of the cross that I’ve ever read. Bearing the cross is a subject can be easily misconstrued, but it is vital to those who would learn how to walk in the Spirit.

25. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Not so much the entire book but because of the best chapter on Christian community I’ve ever read.

Have you read any of these books? What would your own must-read list include?

16 responses to Top 25 Christian Books

  1. I loved the divine romance.

  2. Yeah, Tractor, I read the Divine Romance straight through in a single day the first time I got a hold of it, though it wasn’t until subsequent readings that its message really impacted me. But it had a profound effect on my life, that’s for sure.

  3. Dear brother,

    I’m so thankful that you have a realization of the incredibly rich ministry of Witness Lee. Many people shy away from him, and he was very maligned throughout his ministry. Nevertheless, his ministry is rich with the experience and enjoyment of Christ.

    “The Practical Expression of the Church” is also one of my favorite books of his that I’ve read. It’s a very good book to read as a complement to Watchman Nee’s “The Normal Christian Church Life.”

    Much grace to you, and I look forward to keeping in touch.

  4. Greetings Joe! Thanks for the comment.

    I’ve yet to know any man or woman who was instrumental in advancing some aspect of the Lord’s purpose in the earth was not also very much opposed in their time here. Opposed even by many well-meaning evangelical brothers and sisters, at that. It seems to come with the territory.

    Where are you writing from? Have we ever met?

  5. Loved your list. David Wilkerson was quite fond of The School of Christ and said he had read it a few times before it really hit him and he returned to it often.

    Have you read What Shall This Man Do? by Nee? I found it a great follow up to the Normal Christian Life.

    • Chris,

      I have read that one, actually. Didn’t get near as much out of it as I did Normal Christian Life, but that’s not saying much; chances are I didn’t give it the thorough consideration I should have.

      What is your connection with David Wilkerson? I have the same copy of School of Christ which was put out through World Challenge; got the book at a Bible college which was founded through Wilkerson’s ministry.

  6. I have been reading his sermons for over 20 years and he sent me, and probably a lot of other people as well, a copy back in the mid 90s. Like some other books that have impacted me, it sat on my shelf for a few years collecting dust before I read it. Others in that category include books by Corrie Ten Boom, A.B. Simpson, and Oswald Chambers.

  7. Josh, I just discovered this great list! Some of the books you mention are also on my top list (which I don’t have it yet on my blog, but it’s “in my mind”).

    From Watchman Nee I also love both the Normal Christian life and the Normal Christian Church life – the latter is eye-opening concerning many things in the practical church life today.

    And from Witness Lee – did you read any of his extensive commentaries in “the life-study of the Bible”? I love the life-study on Romans, wow, I never appreciated the first part of Romans as when I read the life-study on it!

    I also love the Practice of God’s presence by Bro. Lawrence – though “mystical”, we are one with the Lord in our spirit, and we need to practice living in His presence.

    As a PS, I have to read, The Divine Romance – sounds really good! Is it fiction all, or does it have some documentary elements in it?

    • Divine Romance is biblical fiction–if that is even a term. Gene takes creative license to build a striking narrative of certain events in scripture from the creation of the world to Christ’s coming again to take His bride to Himself.

  8. Great list Josh. I’m currently reading a lot of Gene Edwards books including The Divine Romance and Climb the Highest mountain… Climb the Highest Mountain is blowing my socks off!!!!!

  9. Great books! Most of those are on my list too, bro!

  10. The books ‘He came to set the Captives Free’ – by Rebecca Brown M.D and ‘The Spiritual Man’ – by Watchman Nee; These books, and the Lord’s grace, ushered me into experiencing ‘Spiritual Realm’ and come to a knowledge that the Lord is now actually turning the World up-side down preparing the ‘Church’ for the Rapture. Halelujjah!

  11. Hello,
    Just a short note to say I’ve really enjoy reading the things on your site. I’m kinda clumsy getting around on it. (I’m older and not that averse to blogs). I was blessed by your 12 (I believe it was) things to tell a new Christian. It brought so may things to mind.

    Though I’ve never been a vociferous reader (if that’s the word) however I’ve read many times several of the books your list. Known and been around some of the folks. I translated the original version of Gene Edwards’ Revolution into Turkish. You may know but it’s original title was The Early Church. It had an Introduction and Epilouge that were themselves loaded, they became even to controversial for Gene.

    Josh I have a video (2 dvd’s approx. 2 hrs. each) of Bro. Prem Pradhan speaking in the states in 1989. Though the content is pretty much the same as Seed Sowers book there is other content which I believe you’d enjoy. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it thru the years. I’m always humbled, encouraged, challenged and how many other things by it. I’d really love to send you a copy. I’m sure you’d be edified by it.

    I’ll not go into much more here but maybe ask how I might prayer for you and yours. If there is anything I can do. If the Lord leads for us to communicate a bit, well that’d be fine. As I said, do know that I’ve been very encouraged in reading your things and that you and yours are in my thoughts.

    I live in Portland Or. I’m single, never married, a healthy 60 years old (I like to think.)
    I’ve lived in Turkiye off and on for the past 20 some years.
    I lost my Mom a few months ago which has be much different than I ever would have imagined. Anyway I’ll spare you my rambling on ….
    my “job/livelihood/work”; you can see a flavor at http://www.orientalcarpetcreations.com

    I’ll close for now let me know if you’d like the dvd’s of Bro. Prem and do let me know if there are things I can prayer with and for you about.

    “The Lord has established His throne in heaven His Kingdom rules over all.”
    Psalms 103:19

    Sincerely,
    tim marks

    • Hello, Tim, and thanks for the comment!

      I would love to hear more about your journey and your time spent in Turkey. You can email me at josh@joshualawson.org.

      Also, I would be thrilled to receive a copy of Prem Pradhan speaking. Send me a message at the email above and I’ll send you my mailing address.

  12. Sorry about that Josh.
    I thought what I just wrote would go to you first as an email message.
    tim

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