Ten Book Picks for 2015

Ten Book Picks for 2015

Here are some of my (Noah Braymen) favorite books of 2015 (not necessarily published in 2015).

Full disclosure here, just so you don’t think I’m anything special.
First, I didn’t start all of these in 2015, but I finished almost all in 2015.
Second, I haven’t completely finished all of them yet, but I have read enough that I feel comfortable to say these are my top reads of 2015. Even if there are a few things I disagree with toward the end of the unfinished, there’s enough to chew on in these that I would like to recommend.
Third, for some of these, this year wasn’t the first time through. That said, in God’s providence God used some of these in particular ways in my life and ministry this year. I’m not a book devouring machine. So, as a reminder, I’m nothing special regarding the reading of books. The caution of this article isn’t lost on me. So, if all of this discourages you from reading the list below, that’s too bad, but there it is.

What are some of your top picks for 2015?

(1) The Holy Bible
I’m serious. As I read, meditate, have conversations with friends about, listen, teach and preach this book I am exposed as a needy sinner, and each year I learn a little more about my self and what I lack. And each year this book supplies my only hope: Christ, the one who was promised in the Old Testament, and the one who fulfilled God’s promises in the New. Each year I learn more of the sufficiency and efficacy of God’s love in the penal substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sinners like me in this book. In such a fallen, confused, and shifting world this is the only foundation of wisdom, beauty, and truth. This is the most aweful and beautiful book I’ve read. God has been kind to reveal Himself through this book, and for that I give Him praise and thanks for His kindness to me. As our Statement of Faith says, the Bible is, “a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction…it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter.” Praise God for His Word! I love this book and pray that God would grow your and my love for it.Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.07.30 AM

 Church Elders – Jeramie Rinne
As a new church in Des Moines, Iowa that constituted and covenanted together in February, we wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding how we think about pastors/elders. This little book was really useful to help us think through what a pastor/elder is according to Scripture. By God’s grace, between studying 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-5 and passing out this book, God has given our church our first elder, and we pray that the Lord would raise up more. We feel equipped to ably recognize God’s gifts through His Word and this little book.Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.33.07 AM(3) Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership – Bobby Jamieson
This book is helpful in thinking about the intersection between church membership, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. As a young church just starting out it can be tempting to try to get as many people together as possible without being thoughtful and careful about these things. Note, this book takes particular positions that some may disagree with, but after prayer and studying Scripture we believe this book is filled with biblical truth. Also, corporately speaking, we have experienced God’s protection by holding these biblical marks of a church together.Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.45.53 AM

(4) A Sober Discourse of Right to Church Communion – William Kiffin
This is basically the Puritan edition of Bobby’s work above. This is largely a response to John Bunyan’s position on the relationship between baptism and church membership. It’s an oldie (really old actually) but a goodie!

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 12.04.32 PM(5) The Christian Ministry – Charles Bridges
As a church-planting pastor, I often feel weak and inadequate for the work God has deployed me to, and I’m constantly humbled by God’s preserving grace. I keep coming back to Bridges for encouragement again and again. Part 3 has been useful to me in the last couple months in particular: Causes of Ministerial Inefficiency Connected with Our Personal Character. This book may be on my list every year for top ten book picks…we’ll see.Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.26.15 AM

(6) The Crucifixion – Martin Hengel
Earlier this year we finished a sermon series in the Gospel According to Mark. This book was helpful to learn more about what crucifixion was, where it came from, how it worked, and it was helpful in holding my hand to lead me to see a little more of the physical horrors of the cross of what our Lord and Savior bore for His people. This was a helpful aide to me as I prepared to preach upon the crucifixion of Christ.Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.29.28 AM

(7) Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 – D. A. Carson
For some help in how to think about the spiritual gifts, pick this puppy up!Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.41.45 AM

(8) The Plight of Man and the Power of God – Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Here are the chapters: (1) The Religious History of Mankind (2) Religion and Morality (3) The Nature of Sin (4) The Wrath of God (5) The Only Solution. If you aren’t sure how to see the relevance of the death and resurrection to your life and to this world, this is a good book to pick up. Lloyd Jones is plain, clear, and blunt. This might be helpful to you if you’re a Christian needing to clarify your understanding of the gospel, or if you have a non-Christian friend who doesn’t get Christianity.

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(9) Psalms – W. S. Plumer
I didn’t read the entire thing (I only read on Psalm 138-145), but every time I come back to the Psalms, I come back to this book. Plumer is careful in his exegesis, plainly speaks the truth of the text, and his Doctrinal and Practical Remarks at the end of each chapter are a goldmine of wisdom, gospel-centered application, and of God’s promises to comfort weak and broken sinners. This could easily compete for the first spot, but here it sits. It’s out of print, but worth the money to pick up used.Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 8.28.37 AM

(10) An Introduction to the Science of Missions – J. H. Bavinck
I’m reading books on how to think about missions in preparation to teach more on how we ought to biblically think about our church’s approach to missions. As you might guess from the title, this book has a logical flow of thought, that helpfully builds a way to think about missions step by step from Scripture. It starts with the theory of missions, its foundation and approach. Then it moves to the aim of missions, elenctics (rebuking errors in other systems), and the history of missions. I appreciate his attempts to assign names, thoughts, methods with biblical terminology. There’s a lot of food for thought in this book.Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.47.00 AM

Honorable Mention…
(11) Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan – Facsimile of the J. D. Watson Edition
One of my neighbors was having a tag sale, and I found this little gem among the things for sale. Pilgrim’s Progress is a great book (and maybe in my all time top ten books), but this edition was great to get, because of the pictures. We’ve read Dangerous Journey to our kids a bunch this year, and as I keep thinking through the story again and again I’ve really enjoyed looking at the pictures in this edition. A close contender for my favorite edition of this book along with the one Christian Focus publishes: part 1 here and part 2 here.photo-70(12) Isaiah by the Day: A New Devotional Translation – Alec Motyer
I read this with some of the men from Redeemer Baptist Church this year. We are fools…again and again we would look at each other and say things like, “I never imagined how relevant Isaiah was to my circumstances when we started this. This book is powerful.” We were fools to doubt the helpfulness and relevance of Isaiah. Well, God woke us up from that thinking pretty quickly. Praise God, that He has given us His Word and faithful Bible teachers like Alec Motyer. If you’re looking for a good book to help you meditate on God’s word in Isaiah for the new year buy this and read it. Better yet, read it with friends! Also, if you’re interested I recorded readings of it here.

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Soli Deo Gloria,