Training for Godliness

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly” (I Tim. 4:7).

The Scripture passage above is excellent advice for Christians in every generation, but especially in ours. Part of training for godliness is to cultivate and develop a Christian Mind—a way of thinking and acting Biblically. Paul also admonishes us to do the same in Romans 12:2.

Developing a Christian Mind requires faithful reading and continual study of the Bible. Along with this, however, we also ought to read Biblically-based books on a regular and consistent basis. Watching TV most every evening won’t help you develop a clear Christian mind on things. You need to read. That’s also what our Christian forebears did. Their reading not only informed and instructed them; it also enabled them to discern between truth and error in their day.

I would like to recommend to you some Christian authors and book titles that I believe will help you to develop a Christian mind for today’s thinking and acting. I would also encourage church libraries to gel these books so that they will be available to coming generations as well as present church members.

I would recommend any books written by Dr. Marten Lloyd-Jones, one of the best Calvinistic preachers and writers of this century. His sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, Romans, and also Ephesians are not only doctrinal, but very practical. Dr. J.I. Packer is another English Calvinist author whose books are sound and Biblical, for example: Knowing God, Knowing Man, I Want to be a Christian, and Rediscovering Holiness. Another good English Reformed writer is A.W. Pink. Any of his books are really worth readiog and also very practical in their exposition and application of Scripture. Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, has written several timely books on contemporary religious issues since his conversion in the late 70s. To help you develop a Christian/Biblical perspective on the times in which we live, read: Loving God, Against the Night, Why America Doesn't Work, Kingdoms in Conflict and The Body (a book on the Christian church and its task in modern society).

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary, has also written several helpful books on Christian living: Discovering God’s Will, Grow in Grace and Taking the Christian Life Seriously. Another important Christian writer (English Calvinist) is Dr. John R. Stan. His commentaries on Galatians and Ephesians are excellent Bible study helps and easy to understand. Books by Dr. Jay Adams on various moral problems and concems are also very practical and easy to understand. Books by Dr. Francis Schaeffer can help you understand both the roots and the unBiblical nature of many of the views and philosophies that dominate and control modern culture. R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries in Orlando, Florida has written several excellent books dealing with basic doctrines and their applications to our present day. His Pleasing God, God’s Will and the Christian, Ethics and the Christian (right and wrong in today’s world), Chosen by God and Knowing Scripture are very worthwhile and instructive.

A book that will give you a clear description of and answer to some of the serious errors being promoted on the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible today is Noel Weeks’ The Sufficency of Scripture published by the Banner of Truth Trust. I feel this book should be required reading (not once but several times) for all who want to develop a solidly Biblical perspective and knowledge on this important issue. Two books on the New Age religion that are most helpful indeveloping spiritual discernment in these last days are: The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back by Dr. Peter Jones (professor at Westminster Seminary in California) and The Seduction of Christianity by Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon. If you are aspiring to grow in the practice and experience of holiness, read Jerry Bridges’ The Pursuit of Holiness and The Practice of Holiness.

One of the most significant and important books I have read recently is John MacArthur Jr.’s Ashamed of the Gospel. This book describes what happens to the church and irs ministry when it comprornises Biblical doctrines and methodology in worship, outreach and ministry, with the marketing philosophy of the modern business world. Anyone who wants to be able to understand and Biblically evaluate what is happening in the modern Christian church today and why (including the influence and practices of the national TV preachers and programs) MUST read this book—especially elders and deacons, church teachers and youth counselors. If you don’t read any other Christian book in the next six months, I urge you to read this book!

All of the books I have mentioned in this article are presently available at your local Christian bookstore, or can be ordered by them for you from the publisher. My final suggestion: GIVE A GOOD BOOK FOR A GIFT! It will be a useful and lasting gift to any family member or friend.

Rev. Uitvlugt is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. 

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