The First Five Books Every Young Pastor/Bible Teacher Needs

This morning I want to write about one of my favorite subjects- Books.  Specifically, I want to share my


Library--New Testament Studies
Library–New Testament Studies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


recommendations for the first five books that every young pastor needs to purchase.  As Pastors, we rely heavily on a number of tools that help us to examine and understand the Scriptures.  Like a carpenter’s tool belt, the Pastor’s library represents the tools of his trade.  Here are my suggestions on the first five books that will help you to get started reading, interpreting and preaching the Scriptures.  Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments sections:


1.) Thompson Chain Reference Bible– There is an amazing number of good study Bibles on the market today but my favorite is still the Thompson’s Chain Reference.  There are two reasons I say this: First, the Thompson’s is easy to use.  Literally you can learn to use it in about five minutes.  Second, it gives you access to the best commentary ever written – The Bible.  Rather than giving you lengthy notes, the Thompson’s simply points you to other Scripture passages related to the passage and allows the Scripture to interpret Scripture.


2.) Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance- It may seem simple but this is still one of the best tools for digging into the Scripture.  Once you learn how to use the numbering system you will be able to do deeper word studies.   This is the single most used tool in my Library besides my Bible.  Once you have a good study Bible, make this your second purchase and then learn how to use it.


3.) Holman Bible Dictionary- When reading or studying the Bible you will sometimes come across names of people, places and things that are unfamiliar.  When this happens you need a good Bible dictionary to help you.  The Holman Bible Dictionary is my favorite go to resource when this happens.


4.) Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament– Once again there is an incredible amount of resources available for the Preacher when it comes to doing Word study, but one of the easiest and most accessible is still the Vine’s.  The benefit of the Vine’s is that you do not need knowledge of Greek or Hebrew to use it.  The words are keyed to the Strong’s Concordance number


5.) Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology- This is a tool that I find myself going back to often.  Once I have discovered the theological issues and topics in a passage I will often need additional information.  Grudem is my go to resource for these instances.  His glossary and subject index are thorough and make this a very accessible volume.


Once you have these five books on your desk you are ready to add others and to build your Library throughout your career.

Let my close this post with a word about commentaries.  You will notice that there are no commentaries listed here.  I would strongly suggest assembling these tools before going out and purchasing commentaries, but once the basic tool kit is assembled you will want to start adding some of the best works by Bible commentators.  I would suggest buying commentaries on specific books as you preach/teach through various books.  So for instance, if you are going to preach/teach through Genesis, go out and find three or four of the best commentaries on Genesis and buy them. As you work through the Scripture continue to build your Library.

MY NEW BOOK ON THE BEATITUDES IS AVAILABLE NOW:  For more information click on the link below:

Cultivating a Gospel-Shaped Attitude: Understanding and Living the Beatitudes”


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God is Righteous

Sistine Chapel, fresco Michelangelo,
Sistine Chapel, fresco Michelangelo, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”

Psalm 89:14

I have devoted my Thursday posts recently to an examination of the four basic attributes of God that form the basis for our understanding of the gospel.  So far we have seen that:

Today, I would like to look at the third major attribute of God— He is Righteous or Just. In English the terms righteousness and justice are different words, but Wayne Grudem points out that in the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament, “there is only one word group behind these two terms.” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p.203)  He goes on to say that “God’s righteousness means that God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.” (p.203)

The word “righteous” often invokes negative feelings in people.  We all know people who are self-righteous and look down on others.  Most of us also know people who try to impose their own standards of righteousness on other people.  We often refer to these kinds of people as being “self-righteous.” Thankfully, the righteousness of God has nothing to do with either of these kinds of people.  When we say that God is righteous, we mean that He cannot make a rule or a promise and then not keep it.  In other words, God is always faithful to do what He says that He will do.  This attribute of God helps us to understand the penal or legal aspect of the gospel.  To see what I mean it may be helpful to read Genesis 2:16-17 and 3:1-24.

In Gen 2:16-17 God gave Adam permission to eat from every tree that was in the garden except for one, which is called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  This is a simple and straightforward command.  At the end of v.17, God established a penalty for breaking this command, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  This is a simple and straightforward command; don’t eat of this one particular tree because if you do you are going to die.  For God to be righteous, He must carry out the penalty that He attached to this law.  In other words, Adam and Eve had to die after they ate the fruit or God would not be righteous.  God cannot simply overlook or ignore the rule.  God’s righteousness compels Him to carry out the penalty for sin and this is exactly what He does in Genesis 3:13-19 when announces the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A.W. Tozer points out that God’s righteousness would seem to “destroy the hope of justification for the returning sinner.” (The Knowledge of the Holyp.94) This raises the age-old question that can only be answered by the gospel “How does God spare the wicked and yet maintain His own righteousness?”  To answer this question we must look to the cross of Jesus Christ, where the full measure of God’s righteousness and justice was poured out upon Jesus as He bore the full penalty for our sin.  In the cross, we can fully see both the righteousness and grace of God being displayed.  This is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Come back next week, when we look at God’s grace.

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