Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top Books of 2012

Yesterday I posted my reading for the year 2012. Today I would like to share with you my top reads of 2012. I read many wonderful books last year, but I will select my best of the year from those titles published in 2012. Many of the older books are classic that would be on "must read" lists and their oldness, rather than taking away from them, are one of the things which makes them so wonderful; they have passed the test of time. However, three books published in 2012 rise above the rest in my estimation.

Tied for Top Spot

Two books I read this past year were edifying and enjoyable and enriching enough for me to suggest they were the best. But I cannot decide between the two. So I give you them both.

Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches

I have a review of the Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches here. It is an wonderful collection of 37 sermons on the book of Revelation and is written by Jim Hamilton. This book has many great qualities but there are two which are most significant in my estimation. First, the balanced and intelligent passion that Hamilton has for eschatology is evident on every page of this book, and it is infectious. It is clear that the author is excited about this book of the Bible and he manages to effectively transfer this affection to the reader in the pages of his book. And the main thing that this apocalyptic letter demonstrates, in the view of the author, is the magnificent and glorious all-sovereign God and the beauty of Christ his Son. Hamilton shows how these sometimes confusing passages demonstrate the glory and grace of our Savior and the all-powerful working of our God. Hamilton conveys these ideas and it follows that our affections for Christ are raised. The Christ-centered approach to this book is an endearing quality which is both edifying and enjoyable. Secondly, this book does a wonderful job of espousing the escatalogical position known as historic premillenialism. Hamilton explains difficult passages and clarifies confusing sections while humbly admitting that there is mystery present as well. His use of illustrations brings both clarity and cause for worship. Because of Hamilton's writing, I will never look at the canonical book of Revelation the same again.

The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections of the Humanity of Christ

I read this book in the last two weeks of the year. And right from the start it was obvious that it would be one of the best reads of the past 12 months. This relatively short book-156 pages-is overflowing with awe-inspiring reflections on the humanity of Christ. Author Bruce A. Ware delivers a book that encourages exultation of our wonderful Savior and also explains an evangelical position on some of the difficulties that appear when one considers the divine and human Jesus Christ.Ware explains how we should consider the suffering of Jesus; the growth of Jesus' faith, wisdom, and understanding; the taking on of a human nature; the manner of Christ's temptations to sin; and many other issues that Christians have struggled with. The Man Christ Jesus contains sections pertaining to the application of what has been discussed and these sections are gold. There are also many surprisingly helpful illustrations which I have already used in explaining the books ideas to others. This book would make a wonderful small group study with its topic and contents but the questions at the end of each chapter make it even more appealing as a small group resource. This book appropriately came to me at Christmas, when the incarnation of God's Son is already on our minds. It filled me with wonder about and worship for our Savior, the God-man Jesus Christ. I will be posting a full review of this book early in the new year.

A Very Close Second

Gospel-Centered Discipleship

I received Jonathan K. Dodson's book Gospel-Centered Discipleship as a gift and it has been the gift that keeps on giving throughout 2012. This book explains how a Christian's discipleship and growth in grace is anchored in the very same thing that brought him to salvation in the first place; the gospel. Dodson deftly describes how the gospel is of first importance in our coming to Christ and our staying in Christ. The gospel applies in a foundational way to how grace saved us and how grace keeps us and Dodson shows how we should think and act about our discipleship with this in mind. I found this book very helpful in integrating a Jesus-Cross-gospel centered approach to my daily sanctification. It builds on ideas of Christian hedonism as espoused by John Piper and clearly relies upon Jonathan Edwards as well. This excellent book was a welcome read in the past year.

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