The Summer Book Club | World Challenge

The Summer Book Club

Rachel Chimits
July 31, 2020

Good books are a treasure to unearth, especially when they give us better insight into the God we follow, so here are some golden authors to check out.

“Does God care about what novels we read?” Leland Ryken, emeritus professor at Wheaton College, asked then answered, “He does. He expects us to exercise good stewardship of our time, which includes a realization that leisure is a Christian calling in the sense that God commands it.

“With that as a starting premise, what constitutes a good use of our leisure time? Growth. Leisure can edify as it refreshes.”

With this concept in mind, we have a few book recommendations from Gary Wilkerson, president of World Challenge. Between these pages is knowledge well worth having as a follower of Christ, which will encourage us toward a more thorough understanding of God’s character and a firmer faith in his presence.

The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer 

More than 60 books may be tallied on Tozer’s list of works, many collections of sermons he gave in his lifetime. The Knowledge of the Holy, however, is still considered to be one of his most famous and a Christian classic.

Tozer’s family was too poor to put him all the way through high school, much less college, but the simple act of calling on God to supply what lacked in himself was a characteristic of Tozer’s entire life. After he was ordained, he went into the woods and prayed, “Give me vision to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow thee."

If this book is anything to go by, God answered his prayer.

The Attributes of God by Arthur W. Pink

Pink’s work started people when it first began to circulate in a small magazine in 1922. The keen understanding of the gospel and biblical living expressed so passionately and clearly reminded many readers of the great preacher Spurgeon who had died a few decades before.

Pink pastored churches in both the U.S. and Australia, meanwhile struggling with inexplicable internal pain and what were very likely severe anxiety attacks. About these health concerns, he wrote, “I can see nothing else than to attempt to seek grace to bow to the Lord's sovereign pleasure, and say, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’” This spirit of submission and reverence echoes through his book The Attributes of God.

Passing away in almost total obscurity, Pink died as he lived, pointing people beyond himself to the God who captured his full attention and devotion.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Packer was a student at Oxford when he heard an incredible lecture by a balding man with an Irish accent whose words captivated him. That man was C. S. Lewis, and his influence would become monumental in Packer’s life, work and writing.

As he worked in North America, Packer became increasingly disturbed by how the church was being influenced by modern ideas about God as well as many believers’ confusion about how to address modern skepticism. He sat down and penned Knowing God to address these two troubling areas, writing, “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”

This book has gone on to help Christians around the world discover the joy of a true relationship with God for almost 50 years.

The Confessions of St. Augustine by Augustine of Hippo

A masterpiece of western literature, Confessions is the autobiography of Augustine’s early life and conversion to Christianity. In it, he reflects on his lust for knowledge, unbridled pursuit of pleasure and the many griefs that he experienced through an early life void of any submission to God.

Augustine muses philosophically on how the death of a close friend frightened and depressed him with the questions of ‘What is the meaning of life?’ and ‘What happens after we die?’ Even after he begins to follow Christ as his Savior, Augustine still struggles with shame over his sexually immoral past and the continuing consequences he feels.  

Augustine’s battle to understand how to view his own past and how God views him are touchpoints with which any believer can empathize. Confessions is a heartfelt classic every Christian should attempt to read.

The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper

Hedonism, or pleasure-seeking, may not be a word we often associate with following God, but Piper advocates that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" and man's deepest and most durable happiness come from the pursuit of joy in God.

This attitude, Piper argues, must extend from the private lives of believers into the church. He urgently writes, “Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: ‘Show me thy glory!’”

The Supremacy of God in Preaching is a call back to a biblical standard in the pulpit, an essential guide for those seeking a healthy church and for preachers new and old who wish to see the Holy Spirit move in their community.

The Power in Preaching” in themelios (The Gospel Coalition)

The writers and theologians of themelios aptly observe, “Remove wonder-working power from Christianity, and what do you have left? Religious franchises managing community service programs.” This image, they argue, is in direct contrast to the church we see in Acts and the witnesses we are called to be in this modern age. “Real Christianity is pervasively miraculous.”

This three-part series covers how we begin the process of crucifixion of self, the way that divine power is kindled in our work and how understanding God’s power brings delight. Church leaders and preachers are the assumed audience for these discussions, but the underlying principles are applicable to anyone.