Christians may claim that the Bible is the only book, or set of books, that they will read, but the truth is that Christian books can actually help a believer grow in his walk with Jesus. After all, the Bible itself says that it is together with all the saints that we get to know the heights, the depths, the length, and the width of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. This means that Christian books are an excellent way to gain insight into the revelations into His heart that other believers have had, those who may have gone before us over the last several hundred years.
Sadly, not all Christian books can help edify the reader. There are many Christians who do not exalt the cross of Jesus Christ and instead focus on correcting wrong behaviour, emphasizing right conduct and morality more than the saving power of the cross. This results in many books being more of a social self-help book instead of a book that offers a glimpse into different facets of His personality.
If you are a book lover looking for good Christian books to enjoy, the following criteria may help you find those that will truly strengthen your heart in love for Him:
- Is the book true to the gospel of Jesus Christ? The problem with Christians nowadays is that there is a lack of understanding of the gospel. The gospel essentially means good news, and the good news is that we are not able to save ourselves in any way and Jesus came and paid the full price on the cross. The apostle Paul describes this gospel in the Book of Romans as: in this gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed, indicating that the gospel is all about enjoying our being right with God as a result of Jesus’s work on the cross and not on any of our efforts. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul adds that whoever comes preaching a gospel other than the one they have believed and preached should be accursed! This is an important guideline, then, in finding a good Christian book: does it extol the finished work of the cross and not focused on human effort or behaviour?
- Is the book Jesus-centric and not human-centric? Another important clue to whether certain Christian books will likely be beneficial to you is to see if they are Jesus-centric and not human-centric. A human-centric book tends to focus on the reader, such as pointing out things he needs to do or change, whereas a Jesus-centric book is one that focuses on what Jesus has done and continues to do. The book Destined to Reign is a good example of a Jesus-centric book. Although some reviewers think the topic is all about prosperity and human ease of life, when you get to read it, you will see how the author talks about Jesus through and through and what He has accomplished on the cross for you.
- Does the book portray Jesus in a Biblically sound way? A book is essentially the overflow of the author’s heart. This is why Christian books are great indicators of how the authors view God and Jesus. Those who believe Jesus is angry or disappointed with them will wind up expressing that mindset in the way the books come out; they may wind up being legalistic and condemning. In contrast, the Bible as the overflow of His heart shows a heart that is beyond our human understanding, a love that goes beyond any human definition, and a joy beyond our realm of experience. The Deep Unto Deep book by Dana Candler is a good example of a book that describes Jesus as Someone the author knows intimately while remaining true to how He is described in the Bible.
These top three criteria should guide you with how to pick Christian books both for your personal enjoyment as well as for giving away as presents. Just because a book is written by a Christian does not automatically make it worth reading, and knowing how to weed through the helpful and the unnecessary will certainly make a huge difference in the way your heart grows into the knowledge of Him. Rest assured, as you read great Christian books, your heart will grow more in love with Him, and this alone is the acid test of how good a book is.