August 15, 2009

Recommended Resources

I was asked to compile a list of sermons and other resources that I have found to be beneficial. Below is a list of speakers, books, and classes that have had a big influence on my spiritual development. I generally don’t spend time listening to sermons when I could and should be doing other things, but I have found it extremely rewarding to hear God’s word preached and taught during times that I would otherwise be listening to the radio or doing nothing (for example, the two most frequent times that I listen are on my commute to/from work and while working out on the treadmill). However, I do make an effort to read when I can, even if that means sacrificing time normally spent watching television, playing video games, or golfing (not to imply that those things are inherently bad – we just all have limited free time and must choose how to spend it). That decision has had a huge impact on my spiritual development.

It should go without saying that I do not endorse everything that you will find in the links below and that there is no substitute for your own prayer-filled Bible study and wrestling with the scripture to know and believe things for yourself. It is frightfully easy to think someone else’s thoughts without ever having to think for yourself. What you should expect from proper use of these resources is to have your soul fed by the preaching of the Word, your mind stimulated by profound and sometimes controversial discussion, and your heart moved by the Holy Spirit to greater devotion to Christ.

Sermons and Conference Messages
Desiring God – Tons of Christ-centered sermons, seminars, and conference messages. Plus almost every book that John Piper has written is available in pdf form for free.
Cornerstone Church, Simi Valley, CA – Francis Chan has become one of my favorite preachers, and you can find his sermons here along with other solid preaching from Cornerstone.
Village Church, Highland Village, TX – Dynamic and convicting sermons by Matt Chandler, etc.
HeartCry Missionary Society (links on the left side) – Sermons, conferences, and seminars from the preacher of HeartCry. Expect to be stirred.
Additional Paul Washer – In addition to the links at HeartCry, this site has many other messages by Paul Washer.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Perhaps one of the most influential preachers of the 20th Century, God is still using the late Dr. Lloyd-Jones to turn hearts to Himself.
Truth for Life – Solid, biblical preaching from Alistair Begg.
Grace To You – John MacArthur just recently made the past 30 years of his sermons available for free online.
Mars Hill Church, Seattle, WA – Mark Driscoll is somewhat controversial and has a tendency to cross the line sometimes in his sermons, but he does not shy away from preaching hard truth.
Terry Virgo – Excellent Spirit-filled preaching from the UK
Tim Keller – Several conference messages and sermons, with a lot of good stuff about doing ministry in the cities.
David Wells – Engaging the postmodern world with a Christian worldview. This guy should make you think.
Bryan Chapell – Sermons from the president of Covenant Theological Seminary
Don Carson – D.A. Carson is always stimulating to read or listen to and he will teach you a lot about the message of the Bible.

Online Classes for Biblical and Theological Studies
Biblical Training (free registration required) – This is a great site with tons of classes from the very new believer’s level to seminary level classes. You will find teachers from a broad range of Evangelical traditions.
Worldwide Classroom (free registration required) – These are class lectures from Covenant Theology Seminary, including the course syllabi and handouts. Quite a variety of classes offered.
Reformed Theological Seminary (iTunes Podcast) – Podcasts of courses from RTS.

I do quite a bit of reading and make ready use of the library in order to avoid spending all of my money on books. The below suggestions are books that I feel are either good enough to warrant buying so that you can mark it all up or simply worth having around for reference or another reading.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) – There have been several excellent English translations of the Bible in recent years (some of the most recent being the ESV, TNIV, and the HCSB). Having read significant amounts from all of these, I am comfortable with saying that if your primary reading Bible is an NIV, NKJV, KJV, NASB, or anything else earlier than the 1990, then getting one of these Bible translations could rejuvenate your Bible reading, giving you a fresh look at a passage that you may have simply read over 100’s of times before. Of the choices above, my opinion is that the HCSB is the best all-round translation, especially for a primary reading Bible. It’s very readable and accurate to the original languages. It is also a new translation rather than an update of an earlier one, so while some of the readings are less familiar, they have a freshness to them.

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem – This is a very accessible introduction to Biblical Doctrine that still manages to be fairly thorough. It is especially useful for those who are new to theology as well as those looking for a broad view of reformed evangelical doctrine. Each chapter cross-references relevant sections in Systematic Theologies from a number of traditions, which allows you to pursue more perspectives on a particular topic.
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan – Written in 1678, this parable of the Christian life is probably the most widely circulated English book in history next to the Bible. It is just as relevant now as it was 300 years ago. If you haven’t ever read it, read it. If you have, it’s worth reading again periodically. If the older language is a stumbling block for you, you have also the Pilgrim’s Progress in Modern English.
The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther – This Reformation classic from its most prominent figure will give you a glimpse into Luther’s wit, an introduction to some of the controversies of the Reformation, and an appreciation for the sovereignty of God.
The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader – This will give you an taste of Jonathan Edwards’ phenomenal presentation of the Gospel of Christ. Follow this up with The Religious Affections, which is not the easiest read, but is an important and relevant book by one of the greatest minds in American history.
Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen – This is an excellent book from a great puritan scholar on fighting against sin with the power of the Gospel. It is a difficult book to read, but if you have the patience, it’s well worth the time invested.
Confessions by Augustine of Hippo - This classic is stirring to read and will make you think.
Knowing God by J.I. Packer – Mind and heart meet in this classic.
Desiring God by John Piper – Ditto.

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper – These two books may change your life.
Grasping God's Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible by J. Scott Duvall – This book will give you solid guidance on reading, understanding, interpreting and applying the Bible to your life. The Bible is not just a collection of verses to be pulled out and used as needed, but is a God-breathed book with a specific and coherent message.
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin – This is an amazing work of theology and a classic of western literature. Contrary to what is commonly thought, this is no dry academic work, but is devotional and pastoral through and through. You probably won’t agree with everything that’s written in here, but if you’re a protestant Christian (or even if your not), it’s worth working through just to see how pervasive an influence this work has had on your own beliefs and traditions. Be sure to get the McNeill-Battles translation.

There are so many more books that could go on this list, but the above is a good start…

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