One of my pastoral colleagues recently asked me what six books I would recommend to a new believer (apart from the Bible, which we hope they will diligently read. As we ourselves all do?) and to state reasons for each recommendation.
I gave the question some serious thought. It is difficult to capture the richness and fulness available to the English reading world in just six books.
I started viewing the question as a serious challenge to choose material that would serve a dual function. First the books must supply a foundational Christian worldview and second it should provide a gateway to further Christian reading.
1 Growing in Christ by J.I. Packer
The first thought that came to my mind is what books do I know that contains profound theological reflections that give rise to the practicality of Christian living. As a Reformed Christian that not only loves the church confessions and catechisms, but see there indispensable value, I wanted to make a recommendation that would introduce a new believer to the Apostle's Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. A serious and openhearted reflection on these three essentials will help the new believer develop in faith, hope and love.
2 Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
I think this recommendation speaks for itself as one of the best selling books of all time. Pilgrim's Progress is a classic that has stood the test of time. There are some profound theological reflections as the reader is drawn into the life of Christian.
3 Attributes of God by A.W. Pink
Anther book packed with deep and thoughtful theology on the knowledge of God. Like Paul Washer once said that you cannot have an encounter with God and walk away unaffected, so will openhearted reading of this book not leave you unaffected. It is worthwhile to turn to again and again.
4 Holiness by J.C. Ryle
A collection of articles by J.C. Ryle. The author himself said "I hope that these papers will help to bring forward the grand truth that union with Christ is the root of all holiness, and will show young believers what immense encouragement Jesus Christ holds out to all who strive to be holy." Though he wrote the work in 1877, his spiritual insights are very contemporary.
5 Prophet, Priest and King: The Roles of Christ in the Bible and Our Roles Today by Richard P. Belcher
A very helpful and practical biblical study in Christology (The doctrine of Christ). The offices of Christ helps us to see more of the depth of our union with Christ that JC Ryle speaks of. I also recommend it because I think it will help the new believer to appreciate the Christ centeredness of the Old Testament. I do not know if we can still refer to the reader as a new believer if he has read and digested the previous 4 recommended books, however I trust that this book will stimulate the Christian to further reading.
6 The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson
I was introduced to this book in my first year of theological college. I have found it very helpful biblical theological work. When we consider the significance of our Bible, we realize that we are reading covenant documents. God who has determined to have a people for himself progressively reveals himself through the Old and New Testament (Old and New Covenant).