My Top Three Preaching Books that Inspire (weekend repost)

The weekly proclamation of the Bible in the church can have a wearying effect on the preacher over time so that he can find himself needing to be refreshed and revived in his duties. These three books that I have chosen to highlight inspire the reader to be a faithful expositor. These are the kinds of books that you can’t read for very long and not feel the desire to step into a pulpit and preach your heart out. I give them to you in no particular order.

Read the rest here: My Three Top Preaching Books That Inspire

My Three Top Preaching Books That Inspire

The weekly proclamation of the Bible in the church can have a wearying effect on the preacher over time so that he can find himself needing to be refreshed and revived in his duties. These three books that I have chosen to highlight inspire the reader to be a faithful expositor. These are the kinds of books that you can’t read for very long and not feel the desire to step into a pulpit and preach your heart out. I give them to you in no particular order.

Between Two Worlds by John Stott (Amazon)

John Stott has a way with words that both informs and inspires. Listen how he describes the need to for the preacher to be immersed in the text he is preparing to preach:

“Sooner or later the time for more concentrated preparation arrives. What should the preacher do now? Read the text, re-read, re-read it, and read it again. Turn it over and over in your mind, like Mary the mother of Jesus who wondered at all things the shepherds had told her, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:18-19). Probe your text, like a bee with a spring blossom, or like a hummingbird probing a hibiscus flower for its nectar. Worry at it like a dog with a bone. Suck it as a child sucks on an orange. Chew it as a cow chews the cud.”

Between Two Worlds, p. 220

For me, the best part of the book is summarized in the title. Stott masterfully explains how the preacher’s job is to be the bridge between the world of the Bible and the modern world we live in. We do this through the faithful study, explanation, and application of the Bible. This concept is simple, but one that too many expositors fail to understand or accomplish. When this truth is grasped it will excite the man of God as he realizes that God is going to powerfully use His Word to minister to those that are gathered on Sunday to sit under his preaching.

Preaching: How to Preach Biblically by John MacArthur and the Faculty of The Master’s Seminary (Amazon)

This book was originally published under the title Rediscovering Expository Preaching, and it has had a massive impact upon the conservative evangelical church whether it knows it or not. Not only did many pastors read this book and become inspired to dig deeper in their preaching, but many men became convicted when they recognized that they were ill-equipped to carry out the ministry they believed they were called to do. The result was that many of them left their churches to pursue proper training in the necessary skills for preaching that they did not have. Many others read the book while still undecided about ministry and were drawn to go and get training to become an expository preacher.

When I was a seminary student several of my classmates were impacted by this book and pointed to it as the main reason they came to seminary. Years later as a professor, I was still encountering this as a somewhat common reason that men were influenced to be trained. The ripples of the impression that this book has had will only be fully known in eternity.

Because the book was written by several professors, each chapter is written from the point of view of the expertise of each man. The chapters introduced the skill set of each scholar but are presented with the pastoral warmth of seasoned men who have many years in the church as well as education.

The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper (Amazon)

In this small book Piper demonstrates that truly powerful preaching is that which is done for the glory of God alone. This emphasis is a needed antidote in a narcisisstic age that is drawn toward ear-tickling preaching. Drawing on the lives of great preachers of the past and his own journey, John Piper shows that the only help that this world needs is for the man of God to faithfully point it to Christ.

While not truly a book on how to preach, this book aids the pastor who may find that over time his ministry and preaching has drifted toward the rocky shores of man-centered theology. Piper helps the preacher look into the ascended glory of God and see that his task is much more than filling Sunday mornings with a self-help speech for thirty minutes. True Christians hunger to hear from God and to see Christ exalted. God has ordained the act of preaching as the means by which their souls will find satisfaction. 

Confessions of a Bibliophile-Keith Mathison

Below is a great reminder about the need for Christians to read good material. At Grace Baptist Church ( we have a little book table that offers several quality book titles. If you haven’t yet, you should check it out. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a bibliophile is “A lover of books; a book-fancier.” Although this is a helpful definition, I’m not entirely sure I want to refer to myself as a “fancier” of anything. I’m from Texas. We either like something or we don’t. We don’t “fancy” things. It’s…unnatural.
However, I do love books, or perhaps, I should say more precisely, I love to read. Always have. When I was a child, I devoured books. Tom Sawyer, the Hardy Boys, anything I could find. When visiting relatives, I would read whatever they happened to have on the shelves, whether Reader’s Digest or Dr. Seuss. I enjoyed them all, but I was especially in love with offbeat stories.
It was not only children’s fiction that interested me. My family owned an old set of the World Book Encyclopedia. I used to sit and read the articles in those volumes for hours on end. When I was maybe ten or eleven, I found an old copy of the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe. I don’t remember what the first story in the book was, but it was odd, and that appealed to me. Looking back now, as interesting as Poe may be to a person attracted to offbeat stories, I wouldn’t recommend reading his complete works straight through. Side effects may include nightmares.
Sometimes I have read books for the wrong reasons. During my first semester of college, I ran across a three-volume work titled The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a harrowing, often firsthand account of the Soviet Union’s concentration camp system. When I took it to the counter to check it out, the librarian said to me in a rather obnoxious way that no one who started that book ever finished all three volumes, and then he informed me that I would never finish it either. I took that as a challenge and proceeded to plow through two thousand pages of dense narrative on a very unpleasant subject. Although I finished it simply to prove someone wrong, it turned out to be a great book.
Our sovereign Father ultimately used my love of reading to bring me to faith and repentance. As a teenager, I was pathologically shy and withdrawn and depressed (perhaps another reason not to read the works of Poe at the age of ten). I was a complete nihilist without being aware that there was a term for my worldview. I don’t remember exactly when, but at some point during my last years of high school, an elderly gentleman from Gideons International was on campus handing out pocket size New Testaments. He gave me a red one. I put it in my backpack and later tossed it in my desk. A year or so later, when I had just about reached the end of my rope, I saw that little New Testament in my desk and decided to read it. I stayed up all night reading and re-reading it. That night I placed my faith in Jesus Christ.
My love of reading did not change, but from this point forward, the content of my reading shifted. I read and re-read the Bible. I went to Christian bookstores and began reading Christian history and theology. For many years, I did not read fiction (unless it was assigned for a class) because I was so busy reading other things. Because I was not led to Christ by another Christian, I was on my own for a while and did end up reading a lot of Christian books that led me down some dead-end paths. God worked this for good too, however.
Our God is a God who has revealed Himself in a book, in words. We learn about God and His will, therefore, by reading. We learn by reading and reflecting on His Word. We also learn by reading and thinking with the church. This means we read and reflect on the insights of our brethren, those who are still with us and those who have gone on before us. We may also learn by reading with discernment the works of those who have spent time “reading” God’s general revelation. This includes works of science, philosophy, history, poetry, and literature.
If I might offer a word of advice and encouragement to my fellow bibliophiles, it is this: As Ecclesiastes reminds us, “Of making many books there is no end” (12:12). Millions of books have been published, and thousands more are published every year. We cannot read them all, so it is best to read the good ones. If you don’t know which books are the good ones, seek the advice of mature Christians. Find recommended reading lists by churches and ministries you trust.
Finally, while we read to learn about our God and His works of creation and redemption, we must not allow a love of reading to supplant our love for Christ. If we do, our books, even our Christian books, become nothing more than idols. All the reading in the world, if it does not ultimately promote our love of Christ and our brethren, is nothing but futility.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.