5 books every new Christian should read

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While the most important book any Christian should be reading is the Bible, it’s beneficial for us to read books in addition to it. We grow in our faith not only through the Holy Spirit’s work in revealing the Scriptures to us, but God also uses the encouragement and gifts of other believers to do so.

Most of us get this, but when it comes to actually getting down to brass tacks and picking books, we’re not so sure where to start. At least, this was my experience as a brand-new Christian. When I came to faith, I wound up reading a whole pile of garbage very early on. I really needed was some guidance from another believer, a little help being pointed in the right direction.

And although I can’t go back in time and give this guidance to myself, I can pass it along to new believers today. So, here are five books I think every new Christian should read:

Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul. There are a lot of really great books on the key teachings of the faith, but this is my top-choice for an entry level introduction to Christian theology. It’s greatest strength? Each doctrine is explained in bit-sized chunks using plain language.

Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke. One of the big challenges new believers have is relearning to read. Specifically, how do you read Christianly. And contrary to popular opinion, this doesn’t mean turning our brains off—it means reading even more intently than you may have in the past. (For more on this book, check out my review.)

Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. In what I hope will be the last recent(ish) release on this list, Kevin DeYoung’s book answers a big, important question: how do I know God’s will for my life? This is a question that came to the forefront very early on for me, and the answers provided were (and are) astoundingly helpful. (And if you’re interested, here [and here] are a few more thoughts on this book.)

A Call to Prayer by J.C. Ryle. Prayer is a strange and awkward thing for new believers (actually, it’s strange and awkward for a lot of us who aren’t so new in the faith, too), but it’s one of the most essential things we can do as Christians. This little book offers great encouragement in pursuing prayer with vigor.

Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. Not every book needs to be about teaching you how to do something in the Christian life—sometimes you just need some great encouragement. These daily readings from Charles Spurgeon have encouraged Christians for more than 100 years, and I’ve no doubt they’ll continue to for many years to come.

There are more books that Christians should read, but these are the ones I would strongly encourage giving to new believers who are just starting out. What books would you encourage new believers to read?

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  • Timothy Harris

    I think “The Gospel According to Jesus” by John MacArthur, or “Foundations of the Christian Faith” by James Montgomery Boice would be good additions to the list.

    Also, John Stott’s “Basic Christianity” was helpful for me when I first began looking into the merits and veracity of the faith.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Boice’s book I could definitely see; same with Basic Christianity. MacArthur’s is a surprise one, but only because of its origins as a “response” book.

      • Timothy Harris

        I name it because of the ease of slipping into easy-believism. It would probably be a good idea to add a title dealing with legalism into the mix as well.

        One I didn’t name (because it is not well known) is Michael P.V. Barrett’s “Complete in Him: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Gospel”. It is an excellent resource on gospel truth and soteriology.

        Barrett is Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament at PRTS.

  • Chris_Land06

    These are three I would recommend:

    John Piper’s Finally Alive is the best book on regeneration so that needs to be on top of the list.
    Wayne Grudem’s Christian Beliefs
    A Praying Life by Paul Miller

  • Jerry Brodie

    Knowable Word by Peter Krol, An Infinite Journey by Andrew Davis and Taking God At His Word by DeYoung would be valuable additions along with virtually anything by J I Packer (Concise Theology, Knowing God, Keeping in Step With The Spirit …).

  • ScriptureZealot

    There is an older book called The Fight by James White that’s excellent for getting started in the spiritual disciplines. The title sounds a little strange nowadays.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for the head’s up on this one :)

      • ScriptureZealot

        You’re welcome. It’s overlooked. I think many of us forget what it’s like to be a ‘beginner’ and I’ve seen a lot of intermediate books recommended. I read this soon after becoming a Christian, and it’s great.

  • ScriptureZealot
  • Steve Smith

    I would say read Finally alive by John Piper, to find out what has just happened to you.

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  • Andrew Bernhardt

    Along with books for establishing a strong doctrinal foundation, I would add some practical living books like:
    Five Musts Of The Christian Life – F.B. Meyer

    Calvary Road – Roy Hession
    We Would See Jesus – Roy Hession
    The Normal Christian Life – Watchman Nee (I don’t necessary vouch for his other books)
    The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment – Jeremiah Burroughs

    • Sarah Moore

      The Burroughs book is excellent. So convicting. Not sure I’d recommend it to a new believer, though.

    • http://www.ImAllBooked.com/ ImAllBooked

      I agree with Sarah – love this one by Burroughs, but maybe for a Christian who has progressed a bit in his walk.

  • http://cruciformity.com AWHall

    My wife is using “Now that I’m a Christian” By Michael Patton with a new believer and we are very encouraged by this book. It is clear, helpful, and practical to guide a brand new Christian who has little knowledge of the Bible and life in the church.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Awesome. That’s been one I’ve been meaning to check out.

  • http://asmallwork.wordpress.com/ Ryan Higginbottom

    The first two books I read when converted were The Pursuit of Holiness (Jerry Bridges) and Repentance and 20th Century Man (C. John Miller), though the latter book has been re-released under the title “Repentance.”

  • Leon

    I am currently involved in a study/program at our church to determine how to emphasize (and hopefully influence) the importance of reading our Bibles. One consideration is: can, and does, everyone read, as in ability and desire…? Your recommendations are good ones, for those of us who have the skills, desire, passion, but who are we leaving behind? and how can we initiate steps for those “less fortunate” in this area?

    • Matthew

      That’s something I’ve thought while reading the commented recommendations. For instance: I quite enjoy Piper, but his works are very weighty, nuanced, and intellectually rigorous. Hence, I think books such as “Finally Alive” tend inaccessible for most brand-new Christians. (Unless that book in particular isn’t standard Piper fare.) As Aaron’s blog theme naturally attracts more learned folks, many of us take for granted intellectual ability and desire beyond the church-goers’ median; I wonder if this manifests itself in our recommended reading. I would probably be aloof myself, if I weren’t a high school teacher.

      • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

        That was actually one of my concerns when putting together my list. I’d considered putting Knowing God on it, but it is a pretty intimidating read for the average church-goer.

        Hopefully the list I have put together reflects my desire to be conscious of the different reading levels, though, and not skew too much into the intermediate category.

      • http://www.micgrubbs.com Michael Grubbs

        I don’t think “Finally Alive” is any more “down to earth” than any of his other books, but one Piper book does stand above the rest as a “New Christian” book… “God is the Gospel.” The book is one of his best and would give a lot of attention to the fact that we aren’t saved to get heaven, to get gifts, to get answerable prayers, we are saved to get God. I would recommend it to anyone (if not for new Christians, especially for those who find themselves dealing with evangelism regularly… it fixed all that I found wrong with “evangelism” after I went through an Evangelism Explosion class… *another blog post altogether)

        • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

          As far as a Piper book is concerned, I totally agree: if I were going to give one to a new Christian, God is the Gospel is the one. Good recommendation.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      These are great questions Leon, ones I was trying to be conscious of in even recommending these books. Two of the things I find helpful with people who aren’t strong readers (ability) is reading along with them. I’m doing this with a guy right now, working through Multiply by Francis Chan together.

      The other issue, desire, is a trickier one. On the one hand, if someone doesn’t enjoy reading all that much, no one should be looking down on him or her. Not everyone is into it. However, it is something to be challenged respectfully since, after all, God’s self-disclosure comes to us in book form.

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  • Nitoy Gonzales

    Read #1,#3 and #5…great recommendations…

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  • Nick

    The Chronicles of Narnia Series by CS Lewis should be first on every Christian reading list followed by The Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien. The Christian life is a story, not a thesis, and these books do more to reveal the realities of a life with Christ than any theological book could (not to say theology books aren’t good, NT Wright never fails to impress).

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  • Austin McCann

    “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Bridges and “The Hole in Our Holiness” by DeYoung.

  • Sarah Moore

    Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Don Whitney. Practical, encouraging, without the checklist mentality that leads to legalism. I’ve studied through it 3 times in groups and at least twice on my own. Highest recommendation.

  • http://www.ImAllBooked.com/ ImAllBooked

    Oh, there are so many, but I think “The Holiness of God” by Sproul and “Knowing God” by Packer are good – I didn’t find “Knowing God” to be that difficult, Aaron, but maybe that’s because I have been a Christian for a long time. “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Bridges or his more recent “Respectable Sins” would be helpful to a person who is just becoming aware of the presence and seriousness of sin in his life and the importance of mortifying it. And I would recommend to any new believer to get a One Year Chronological Bible to read through to get an understanding of the order in which the people & events occurred historically.

  • rick