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When I Had No Church-Part Five: Five Essential Books

Stephen Sanders
Stephen Sanders
2012 25 Dec

In my journey from a false form of Christianity to a biblical one, there were a few books that I read (other than the Bible) than really helped me gain a lot of clarity.

The Irresistible Revolution: Living Life as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne: Looking back on it, I realize that I needed to read this book for a number of reasons. But mainly, I’d perceived Christianity to be a very radical thing (which it is to an extent), but I wasn’t looking at it through a biblical lens. In this book, Shane talks about a journey that began with him asking himself this question: “What if Jesus really meant what He said?” That question led me on a year-and-a-half study of the Gospels that would end up changing my life forever.

The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley: I read this book shortly after the previous one. In it, Andrew Farley asks the same question as Shane Claiborne did in his book. But rather than take us on a biographical journey, Andrew takes us on a biblical one. This book provided me with tons of clarification on topics that I’d really been struggling with like Old Testament Law, tithing and works-based faith.

The Message Remix 2.0 by Eugene Peterson: Some people don’t think very highly of this version of the Bible. I get that. I don’t really know if I have much of an argument as to why I feel it is beneficial. All I can say is that it really helped me understand some of the things in the Bible that didn’t make sense to me before. For example, I’ve always sort of struggled with some of the writings of the Apostle Paul. At times, they can be a bit wordy and I haven’t always been a really avid reader. This version of the Bible continues to be a fantastic secondary resource for me. I sometimes use it as an accomplice to other more reliable versions of the Bible like the ESV or the NASB.

What Are Spiritual Gifts? By Vern Poythress: I actually read this book just a couple months ago after I filmed an interview with Dr. Poythress at Westminister Theological Seminary. One of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, he has a tremendous gift of breaking these things down so that just about anyone can understand them. His book on spiritual gifts is an absolutely essential read for those of us who have received a false teaching on spiritual gifts and desire biblical clarity on the matter.

God Without Religion by Andrew Farley: The word “religion” is a controversial one in Christianity these days. Some say you can’t have God without religion… and that is true depending on what exactly your definition of “religion” is. In this book, that word is defined as being a works-based faith where our actions determine how pleased God is with us. Andrew provides biblical insight into things like: what it means to be “filled with the Spirit,” judgment, rewards, God’s discipline, predestination and the popular challenge to “live radical.”

If you have any books that you’d like to recommend, please comment on the following pages: