Monday, December 24, 2007

Top 07 of 07

I love reading, i find few things relax and make me think more than sitting in my front room reading. The fact that the bulb blew in october and me and my housemate still haven't got round to replacing it does lend an ambient light to the endeavour as well. Here are the top 7 books i read in 2007, they weren't all published this year, and i've probably missed some crackers...

Pierced For Our Transgressions (Jeffrey, Ovey, Sach)
Brilliant. The most important book i've read this year. It sold out at Word Alive just before Easter as the publishers underestimated it's demand. Luckily i got my copy free from UCCF (thank you very much!). This book defends the Biblical doctrine of Penal Substitution clearly and lucidly. It's splits itself into three parts, a Biblical defence, a historical defence, and then a contemporary contextual defence. It's very readable. If you haven't picked up a copy yet, do it now!

The Pleasures of God (Piper)
What a happy God we worship. Not one eternally frustrated by people not worshipping Him, not one constantly in a fair fight with the evil one, not a God who has to work on a plan B just in case. A God who has perfect pleasure in all he does, in His Son, in His people, purposes and plans. I read this towards the end of Relay and it lifted my heart at an otherwise sad time. One to return to again and again.

A Man in Christ (Steer)
A biography of J.Hudson Taylor. What a man this guy was. Sailing to China when there was more or less no effective missionary endeavour there, the first man to press relentlessly into the interior of the country. Hudson suffered the death of his first wife and countless children, separation from all he knew in England, poverty, opposition from the Chinese authorities as well as other Christians, derision from all at one point or another, and a brutal civil war. Yet he continued. He never took an offering for his work at public meetings, he never ceased to pray. Reading this on a summer team in Bulgaria inspired me. Here was a man who did not waste his life.

The Mortification of Sin (Owen)
I'm fairly sure i read this this year or late last year, but whenever it was, it continues to have a profound effect on me today. I've never read a book that has made me want get inside my chest and throw my heart away because of it's sin before. This one did. It still affects my prayer life today, as i pray that i would hate sin not because of what it does to me, but because of what it did to Jesus, and that i would hate the evil of it. This book will make you desperate to be sanctified more and more. It's pointless to deny Owen is hard to read, because he is, but very very worth it.

Glorious Freedom (Sibbes)
Anyone who spends 250 plus pages expositing two verses and still being read three hundred and something years later is clearly worth listening to. Sibbes is such a man. His work on 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 is thorough and Christ exalting. The picture Sibbes paints of the freedom, the glory of God, the excellence of the new covenant over the old is brilliant. He's not the most well known of the puritans, that much maligned group, but on this evidence he certainly should be.

The Mission of God (Wright)
I haven't finished it yet. Doing about a chapter a week from the beginning of October means i've got two more left. It's very good though. Wright seeks to discover, recover and defend a missional hermeneutic of the Bible, so as far as i'm concerned he's preaching to the choir. It's been great to live for so long in the grand sweep of God's plan for Himself in the nations. It's very readable, very comprehensive (chapter topics range from monotheism in the Old Testament to what ecological mission looks like today) and very good.

Captured by Grace (Jeremiah)
Rachel's dad gave me this, by a guy i'd never heard of so i was excited to get off the beaten track for a week or so. This book is a brief biography of Paul and William Wilberforce shared through the lens of the song 'amazing grace'. Now if that sounds like a recipe for disaster it really isn't! Each chapter starts with a verse from the song, shares something from the lives of either or both of these men, and then sets it within a Biblical frame work. God's love oozes off the pages, it was a great read.

Signs of the Spirit (Storms)
I haven't finished this yet, but i hope to by the new year, so it counts. This is, of course, Storms interpretation of Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections. Part transliteration, part explanation and with lots of long quotes from the original. How the popular church needs Edwards sound Biblical thinking today. His clear, relentless Biblical surge that real affections should be directed to the person of Christ Himself, rather than the benefits of knowing Him, or the revelation of Him, or the experience of knowing Him is both challenging and uplifting. One day, maybe after finishing this, i'll try to read it in the original. Until then i am very thankful that Sam Storms has done this. Thanks Bish!

So, there's actually eight there. But top 08 of 07 isn't quite as catchy. In the last couple of days Machen's Notes on Galatians and Carson's 'The Cross and Christian Ministry' (complete with a new red and white cover) have popped through the door, so i'll look forward to getting into those in 2008, along with Piper's 'The Future of Justification' as well as a couple of others on my shelf that i haven't got round to yet. Coupled with that it seems that 2008 will be a good year for books with J.I Packer, Mark Dever, Don Carson and Mark Driscoll among others all publishing new books. I can't wait!

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