No book is more important to a Christian than God’s Word, the Bible. Reading and meditating on the Bible is our God-given daily duty (cf. Deut. 6:6-8; 17:19; Josh. 1:8; Jn 5:39; 1 Tim 4:15); it is essential to our spiritual growth and blessing (Psalms 1:2, 37:31; 119:11, 97-104, 130; Prov. 2:1-5, 8:34; Lk. 11:28; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 2:2-3; Rev. 1:3). The Bible is essential for knowing God and His will for our lives. It is the source of divine truths that every Christian should know, believe and obey.
Next to the Bible, biblically sound magazines, books, and other published material are essential resources for Christians’ spiritual development. Good Christian books provide the readers with the knowledge necessary for establishing their faith and nurturing godly living. Understanding sound biblical doctrines will produce motivation and enthusiasm to live godly and fruit-bearing spiritual lives.
As a personal testimony, I would like to mention that reading books written by great men of faith from yesteryears and of this generation has been immensely valuable to my growth as a Christian young adult in the ministry. The books were like having a peek into the devout minds and consecrated endeavours of the spiritual giants who wrote them. Reading their books was like sitting with them and enjoying an enlightening conversation on various topics of great interest. Sometimes, it was like taking a long walk with them and having a heart-to-heart chat about theological and practical issues. The books, written by men of biblical knowledge, with profound experiences of Christian life and ministry, and of excellent testimonies, have been refreshing and nourishing to my soul.
Good books are like bottles of “well-brewed tonic”, where the wise thoughts of a sanctified mind, accumulated through many years of learning and experience, are distilled and stored. As such, biographies of Christian men and women, who lived with sincere piety and zeal for God, are of great benefit to all those who seek to live an abundant Christian life. Cultivating the habit of reading all types of good Christian books would help a believer to be well informed, duly motivated, and adequately equipped for a life of spiritual excellence.
Excellent Christian resources provide faithful exposition and application of God’s Word. They carefully delineate the biblical truths with clear and robust explanations that are logically developed and arranged. They accurately present the doctrines and well-thought-out biblical counsels to aid the readers for a life of devotion and piety. While some excellent books provide us with nourishing biblical truths, others warn us against pernicious doctrines and philosophies of life that are equivalent to heresies and hedonism. There are still others (in content, historical and biographical), which open our minds and hearts to good biblical traditions, exemplary behaviour, God-honouring passions and pursuits, profitable ideas and actions, etc. All in all, they provide biblical truths for the building up of the readers’ lives.
The apostle Paul, who wrote more than a dozen of the inspired books of the New Testament, wanted the books that he had owned to be delivered to him. So, he advised Timothy, “The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). The “cloke”, a large, heavy woollen garment that served as both a coat and blanket, was of an urgent need for Paul as he was about to face the winter. “Books” (probably papyrus scrolls) and “parchments” (vellum sheets, made of animal hides) were of little use to provide him with physical warmth or protection. Nonetheless, Paul regarded them as of great importance for his ongoing ministry. They probably included the Old Testament books, and other essential writings and documents. While speaking on 2 Timothy 4:13, Charles Spurgeon commented about Paul’s interest in the books as follows:
“He was inspired, and yet he wants books!
He had been preaching for thirty years, and yet he wants books!
He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!
He had a wider experience than most men do, and yet he wants books!
He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things that it was not lawful for a man to utter, and yet he wants books!
He had written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!”
Beware of loving to read books more than God’s Word, the Bible. Never neglect daily reading and meditation of the Bible. You may read many good books, but you should not neglect the reading of God’s Word in order that you may live by it (Psalm 119:97, 127, 167; Neh. 8:8; James 1:22).
Beware of reading books to impress others, whether it is the size of the book or the number of books you read. Always be mindful to read for the spiritual growth of your soul.
Beware of the content of the books you choose to read. These days, many books made available as “Christian books” are of little profit for spiritual growth. Worse still, not a few of them are unbiblical, posing a serious threat to their readers’ purity of doctrine and practice. Much care must be exercised in choosing books for your consumption. I would strongly warn, especially younger readers (whether in age or understanding), against adhering to contemporary books, which have not been adequately analysed and evaluated. It would be best if you instead choose older books, which have been read and recommended by faithful teachers and preachers of the Word. Choose weighty and worthy Christian books with biblically sound content. Ask mature Christians to recommend books for you, or ask for their opinions about the books you want to choose for reading. Read a variety of books – Bible study books, commentaries, devotionals, biographies, books on theology, church history, apologetics, etc.
We thank God for everyone who has laboured to catalogue and make the books of our church library available to children, youth and adult members and regular worshippers alike. A team consisting of Bro. John Peh, Sisters Ruby Seng, Yeo Geok Hien, Chong Shu Mun, Chairine Chayadi and Jenice Choy have been availing their service to help brethren to obtain books from the church library.
Gethsemane Youth Fellowship started a reading programme last year to encourage our youths to read and grow spiritually. We thank God for the testimonies of a good number of the youths who have benefited from the reading programme. Their testimonies are published today in an additional booklet made available with the church bulletin. I encourage all members and worshippers to cultivate the habit of reading good Christian books for your edification.