The best reading material is that which keeps you in Scripture itself, and opens up the Bible for you to understand. These initial works are the most important as they do just that. Although I greatly appreciate the books listed below and other lists which will come soon, if you give yourself only to the constant reading of the Bible you will have missed out on nothing essential for life and godliness.
KJV – From a child the Authorised Version of the Bible has been my great favourite and close companion. This year marks its 400th anniversary. It is still the most popular and reliable of all English versions. The greatest and most popular of arguments put forth against using the KJV is the “Thee’s and the Thou’s.” This is usually put forth by very intelligent persons who say they cannot understand it. My simple plea is that as a child and teenager I struggled greatly with dyslexia and was far behind most in educational ability, yet this was the English that led me, encouraged me and kept me in a close walk with the Lord. Most new versions are smaller than the KJV simply because there are many statements and sentences missing.
Thompson Chain Reference Bible – If you are thinking of a study or reference Bible then this is certainly extremely helpful. It is filled with cross-references, study guides, simple overviews of Books, characters and subjects. There is very little of mans thinking in the notes; it simply guides you to compare scripture with scripture. It is valuable as an aid to studying the Scripture itself rather than the thoughts of man on the scripture.
Full Life Study Bible or the newer updated title Life in the Spirit Study Bible - A number of excellent notes and study guides from a Pentecostal perspective. Clearly deals with issues of true salvation, holiness, obedience, prayer and the baptism in the Holy Ghost.
Amplified – A handy tool in considering the fullness of meaning of individual words in the Hebrew and Greek text. As its name reveals it is simply an amplification of the text – not adding to – but giving the full meaning rather than simple one word translation. Although it is not a version I have or would just read it is good for reference on difficult or obscure passages.
Bible Study Aids
M’Cheyne’s Daily Reading Schedule - This is one of the best tools I can suggest to you. There is nothing more fitting for a Christian than to constantly, day by day, and year by year, to be reading through the Bible. This Scheme will take you through the whole Bible once a year and through the Psalms and New Testament twice a year. Once through the Bible in a year should be a minimum for most believers.
Every preacher should maintain this pattern in their own morning times before and beyond any other study for ministry. Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-43) died at the age of 29 but left the testimony of being one of the godliest young men who ever walked with God.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (Hendrickson) – This gives you the ability to check out the meaning of each Hebrew and Greek word in your Bible. This is the best aid to study I have used. This is now available on E-Sword as well as free on-line. Every believer should know how to use it.
While overseeing a previous church we taught every member how to use Strong's as an aid to Bible study.
Vines Expository Dictionary – Mr Vine gives a short but thorough explanation of each Greek Word used in the New Testament. It is simpler than Strong’s and very easy to use.
The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge – This gives a listing of cross references to each word and phrase in each verse of the Bible. Again this is a good tool for study. It is like a much expanded reference Bible.
Theological Word Book of the Old Testament Vol.1 & 2 – If you have mastered Strong’s and Vine’s and are looking for something deeper and more explanatory, I would suggest these volumes for Old Testament study.
Mathew Henry (1662-1714) – This is of course the classic commentary of the Bible known by most and appreciated for some 300 years (published 1706). Henry was counted amongst the English Puritans. Whitefield said every preacher should have read this commentary through once before stepping out into preaching. It is very readable and warm. You can buy the full commentary or a condensed volume which contains the meat and substance of this work.
Adam Clarke (1762-1832) – Clarke was born in Ireland and later succeeded John Wesley as leader of the Methodists. He finished this commentary in 1826 having laboured on it for 40 years. Another great commentary although at times setting forth the odd unusual interpretation of a scripture.
Albert Barnes (1798-1870) – Although an American Presbyterian, Barnes found himself at loggerheads with extreme Calvinists because of his simple and careful exposition of scripture. These are brilliant notes especially on the New Testament. They were first intended for the use of his people being written over a period of 40 years (1832-72). Over one million copies were sold before his death.
The Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon - This was the fruit of twenty-two years of expounding the Psalms in his magazine on a weekly basis which was completed in 1885. He gives the background to each Psalm then expounds each verse simply and concisely. He then gives comments and quotes from various Puritan writers on verses within the Psalm.
The Book of Acts by Stanley M. Horton – This is a very beautiful, simple but deeply insightful, studied exposition of the Book of Acts. Every believer should have a grasp of the first thirty years of Church history and this book is a good place to start. As an initial introduction for studying Acts this is excellent. It is thoroughly Pentecostal in its view of Scripture (310pgs).
Acts by I. Howard Marshall (Tyndale New Testament commentary) – A slightly more comprehensive commentary on Acts. For a full exposition of each verse this is ideal. Very good (427pgs).
A Sure Foundation by Alan Cairns – A comprehensive but concise overview of each book of the New Testament. Each chapter lays bare the heart, message and context of each book. Christ is made the centre and subject of each chapter (306pgs).
Revival (Biography & Teaching)
Revival! A People Saturated With God by Brian H. Edwards – This book is certainly one of my favourite as it presentments a very good overview in topical fashion concerning revival. It draws on biblical revivals as well as a great host of snippets from Church history. Highly recommended (pgs275).
The Revival We Need by Oswald J. Smith – Simple readable chapters including revival testimonies and impassioned pleas to seek God for a genuine revival. This book will drive you to your knees in prayer. All of Smith’s books are highly recommended (pgs120).
Opened Windows by James A. Stewart – This book will certainly open up the reality that revival is a return to the Book of Acts. A New Testament Church is a revived Church. Revival is not the normal state of things but the fruit of revival is. Stewart experienced a number of such revivals in Eastern Europe. Again all of his books are highly recommended (pgs191) .
I Saw The Welsh Revival by David Matthews – A testimony of the beginning and progression of the 1904 Welsh Revival from an eye witness account. This was published in 1951. Very inspiring (pgs126).
Rent Heavens by R.B. Jones – the story of the great revival of 1904-05 in Wales. Published in 1931. This enthralling testimony also traces the revival to its many sources. The writer was a preacher in the midst of the revival in close contact with all he writes of (pgs108).
Another Wave of Revival by Frank Bartleman (Other versions called Azusa Street) – This book traces the Pentecostal Revival at its beginnings in LA when the Lord used one of Spurgeon’s students and a one eye black preacher as instruments in His hand during the initial outpouring that would spread across the world.
Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill – This classic book was released in 1959 by this prophet of God. Maybe not the easiest to read because of style, yet absolutely necessary reading for all preachers and strongly recommended for all believers. Every senctence is convicting, passion-filled and weighty (pgs168). It would be impossible to recommend Ravenhill’s books too highly. Please buy them all:- Revival Praying, Revival God’s Way, Sodom Had No Bible, Meat for Men etc
The Torch of the Testimony by John W. Kennedy – This 2000 year history of the church is certainly one of the best for its size, insight and readability. It traces much history that has been lost to the knowledge of the average believer. It traces a pathway of persecution, evangelism, revival and faithfulness to Christ and His Word (pgs244).
The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent – If Kennedy’s book above is read and enjoyed then this book will take you a few further and deeper. Or you could start with this book. Again 2000 years of Church history is revealed and a church seen throughout the 1000 year Dark ages which is almost unknown to most believers today (pgs400).
The Great Reformation by R. Tudor Jones – This book traces a 200 year period of history from John Wycliffe to John Knox which spread across the nations of Europe. It sets forth the Reformation as a genuine Heaven sent revival to the church. In a day when the Reformation is mocked, scorned and apologised for this book should be read (pgs260).
The History of the Christian Church by Philip Schaff – If smaller books on various areas of Church history have been consumed and enjoyed then this seven volume set is a needed addition. Very readable but packed to overflowing with all needed information. Schaff explores many areas of interest and diagnosis the condition of things accurately. Also good for general reference.
Scots Worthies by John Howie – This book is filled with short testimonies including the last words, last letters, and the martyrdoms of some of the finest preachers, leaders and believers that Scotland ever produced. It roughly covers a period stretching from the 1520s to the 'killing times' of the 1680s. This is a wonderful and unique book. Without doubt one of my favourites. These men fed on God's Word, plumeted the depths of the divine love, purpose and council of God. They walked with God in Covenant and sealed their testimonies with their blood.
The Church (Order, Leadership & Ministries)
The Normal Christian Church Life by Watchman Nee – This unique book was at least a generation ahead of its time. It draws out general principles from scripture which were implemented in the church in China. Apostolic ministry and the function of the local church is dealt with thoroughly. A true defintion of the local Church and the place of local eldership within that church.
Rediscovering God’s Church by Derek Prince – In the very typical logical, readable, insightful and simple manner Prince deals with a variety of pictures of what the church is to be in character and ministry. He also deals with the various Ephesians 4 ministries of leaders. He lays out very distinctly the difference between local static ministry and travelling ministries (pgs420).
The Church and the Churches by W.E. Vine – This little book deals thoroughly with the scriptural definition of the ekklesia (church) and defines the meaning of this God given name as well as the relationship of different churches to each other as well as the function of the church and its leaders.
Ablaze For God by Wesley L. Duewel – This is a book on leadership which sets forth a man ablaze as the example of true biblical leadership. Chapters deal with power, love, accountability, prayer, anointing and integrity. The need for a Spirit filled experience is emphasised throughout (pgs316). If you are only going to read one book on leadership then read this one.
Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders – This book deals with every realm and angle of leadership in the church. It is a vision, call and challenge to leadership as set forth in the scriptures as well as in the example of a great host of leaders throughout church history (pgs158).
Paul the Leader by J. Oswald Sanders – Sanders uses Paul as the ultimate example of what a leader is to be in life and ministry as well as his writings. Who can doubt that Paul was the best of examples in every realm of what a leader is to be. Paul was given by God as an example to follow, especially by leaders (pgs178).
Concerning Shepherds and Sheepfolds by Donald Gee – A very rare book, little known and hard to get hold of yet a precious bit of writing by this gifted teacher. A practical and wise exhortation for every true Shepherd who desires to lead the flock of God into maturity (pgs89).
Prophetic Ministry by T. Austin Sparks – This small book will give you a unique insight into true prophetic ministry like no other book available. This is not a ‘how to’ book on handing out prophesies to people like smarties, but is a challenge for a true return to prophetic ministry which will call the Church back to the divine intention of God and stand against the tide of compromise. A true prophet is like a solid stone in the midst of a mighty flowing river.
Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – This book is considered the classic manual on the preacher and his preaching. In it the calling of the preacher is considered to be the highest and most vital of callings. Although there might be much in this that will be scorned or thought not relevant by preachers today I think any serious preacher in a time of crises will find much comfort and encouragement here (pgs325).
Christian Life & Character
The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee – A spiritual classic on the Christian life. Beginning with a chapter on the blood of Christ this book progresses through the biblical teaching on walking with god in a close intimate union of fellowship. Highly recommended for young Christians as well as mature, new as well as seasoned. (Pgs.192)
Aspects of Holiness by R.C. Ryle – An abridged and rewritten version of Holiness by Ryle. Twenty short, simple but profound chapters on such subjects as sin, sanctification, holiness, the fight, the cost, growth, and much more. Highly recommended for young Christians as well as mature, new as well as seasoned. (Pgs.144)
Walking with God by R.C. Ryle – An abridged and rewritten version of Practical Religion by Ryle. He deals with such subjects as self-examination, prayer, bible reading, love, zeal, formality, the world, and much more. Highly recommended for young Christians as well as mature, new as well as seasoned. (Pgs.144)
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - this book is certainly a Christian classic. It will challenge the very heart and foundation of your Christian walk. The message of this book concentrates on Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Vital reading. Bonhoeffer challenges the contemporary call to cheap grace by Christ’s call to costly grace. (Pgs.233)
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges – a very practical, biblical book on a life of holiness. He deals with the issue of struggling with sin as a believer as well as the way to victory. One of the most practical teachings on holiness. Highly recommended for young Christians as well as mature, new as well as seasoned. (Pgs.158)
Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray – another classic for those who truly desire to walk with God. Murray deals in simple clear terms with what is involved in a full surrender of the heart and every area of life to Christ. A beautiful and helpful book. (Pgs.127)
Humility the beauty of holiness by Andrew Murray – a wonderful and simple book on this vital issue of humility. Humility is revealed in the life and teaching of Christ as well as in the life of the disciples of Christ. Murray was a man who lived what he preached. Every preacher and leader should read this then be sure to live it and teach it to the church. (Pgs.99)
A Life of Prayer
The Hidden Life of Prayer by D.M. McIntyre – A classic on prayer. McIntyre laboured with the godly Andrew A. Bonar of Scotland and succeeded him in ministry. Prayer is primarily hidden to man but very much seen by God. Prayer is the secret to success. Hidden prayer will be rewarded by God. (pgs.94)
Prayer by O. Hallesby – this vital book was written by this Norwegian leader and translated into English. It deals with the problems and difficulties of prayer and will aid all in moving forward in prayer. (pgs.143)
The Path of Prayer Samuel Chadwick – this godly Englishman lived what he preached. He lived a life of consecrated prayer so speaks with such with power. This man of Prayer mentored such young men as Leonard Ravenhill. A man of prayer births men of prayer. The message of this book will stir within your life a fire for prayer. (pgs.195)
How to Pray in the Spirit by John Bunyan – This famed preacher and writer was primarily a man of prayer. While spending time in prison in the 17th century his thoughts on prayer was forged on the anvil of religious persecution. This book encourages to prayer in both mind and spirit. (pgs.140)
E.M. Bounds on Prayer – This man was little known in his own day, but because of his life of prayer and writing on prayer he has been well known and appreciated since his death. This volume contains many books bound as one. Great value for money. Every Christian would do well to purchase this book and read it on your knees. (pgs.622)
Andrew Murray on Prayer – Most of Murray's books were written late in life and so he drew on a wealth of spiritual experience from matured thought. This wonderful volume deals with every aspect of prayer. Six books compiled in one volume: Abide in christ, The Prayer Life, Waiting on God, With Christ in the School of Prayer, The Ministry of Intercession and The Secret of Intercession. Great value for money. (pgs.656).
Family, Relationships & Order
25 Surprising Marriages by William J. Peterson – This fascinating book gives 25 testimonies of famous Christian marriages. Amongst these you find the Moody’s, Luther’s, Spurgeon’s, Booth’s, Wesley’s, Bunyan’s, Edward’s and many more. This reveals the good, the bad and the ugly. I read this through together with Candace on our honeymoon. It was thoroughly enjoyable and readable. These lives will give warnings, insight and encouragements. A previous smaller book by the same author to this was Martin Luther Had a Wife which I believe had just seven of these same testimonies and was also thoroughly enjoyable (502pgs).
God is a Matchmaker by Derek Prince - The Divine pathway to marriage. This book deals with God's ways for individuals to prepare for marriage. Instruction on attitudes, guidelines and preparation from Scripture as well as wise practical advice (190pgs).
The Marriage Covenant by Derek Prince - Explains marriage from God’s standpoint as a covenant union between a man and a woman with God. One of the best little booklets on marriage I know of. Covenant is the foundation of marriage and is a mystery to reveal the beautiful relationship between Christ and His Church (121pgs).
God, Marriage and Family by Andreas J. Kostenberger - Rebuilding the biblical foundation. A very comprehensive book dealing with being single, marriage, divorce, remarriage, children, contraception, homosexuality, church leadership, and much more. More academic but for those who want a more detailed thorough research into these issues this is a good book. (416pgs)
The Pursuit of a Godly Seed by Denny Kenaston – An inspiring A to Z training manual filled with old-fashioned bible principles of child training and home life. Radical, inspirational, practical and most certainly scriptural and spiritual (424pgs).
Classic Biographies & Autobiographies
The Real Saint Patrick by J.M. Holmes - This wonderful book contains the authentic writings of the man who is known as Saint Patrick of Ireland. This book sets aside all the myths of man and presents him as he truely was by his own writings. These two short letters reveal him to be the Apostle Paul of the 5th century. A man of prayer, a man of the Word, of fire, of zeal, of deapth and of stature. Those who have never heard the true story of the real Patrick must read this. (92 pgs)
The Man who Believed God – The Story of Hudson Taylor by Marshall Broomhall – This is the best short Biography I have read on Taylor. You can read other far bigger works than this, but for readability, enjoyablity and for the stirring of your heart this is an excellent work. (230 pgs)
Moody without Sankey by John Pollock - The best biography on the life of D.L. Moody. He was certainly one of God's very unusual vessels. Although business minded , gifted and worldly wise his turning point came with his enduement of power. From obscurity the Lord raised up this man to shake nations with the power of the Gospel. This testimony will inspire, challenge and stir the heart.
Vanya by Myrna Grant – this is the testimony of a young Russian soldier who makes a stand for christ during the cold war. Within the army this young man experiences persecution but amazing supernatural interventions from the lord. A real classic. (159 pgs).
Christmas Evans by B.A. Ramsbottom – This is the simple story of one of Wales greatest revival preachers. Some called him the Bunyan of Wales; other called him the Spurgeon of Wales. Fascinating read. (119 pgs).
Mountain Rain – Biography of James Fraser by Eileen Crossman – This is the story of a young man who goes in faith as a missionary to China supported by the prayers of his mothers little prayer group. After much labour the windows of Heaven open. This book is little known sadly. (246 pgs).
The General Next to God by Richard Collier – The Story of William booth and the Salvation Army. This amazing testimony will make your heart burn with holy fire for the souls of men. I know of no such movement in the western world today. What a challenge. (260 pgs)
David Livingstone: Man of Prayer and Action by C. Silvester Horne – This is one of the best short testimonies of this great missionary I have read. Livingstone was a Scottish pioneer missionary to Africa (1813-1873). Saved at 12 years old he went on to be one of the greatest explorers, missionaries and abolitionists. Mauled by a lion, shot at by slave traders, plagued by malaria but triumphant in Christ in opening a pathway for other missionaries.
Duncan Campbell a Biography by Andrew Woolsey – Campbell is best known as the preacher used during the Lewis Revival (Hebrides). This is the story of the man, his life, his struggles and his ministry. (191 pgs)
Spurgeon by Arnold A. Dallimore – A well written and fantastically inspiring testimony on the prince of preachers C.H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon preached regularly to several thousand people. This book deals with his preparation as well as the 1859 revival. (244 pgs)
George Whitefield Evangelist of the 18th-Century Revival by Arnold A. Dallimore – This is an excellent testimony of this young preacher who is often over shadowed in preference for John Wesley but who was already in the midst of the rising tide of Revival before Wesley was saved. (223 pgs)
“Take your Glory Lord” by Mary Garnett – this is the testimony of William Duma a humble black preacher from South Africa. Duma was an outstanding man of God, a man of prayer and fasting, who was anointed to preach the gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons. The title says it all. (180 pgs)
Smith Wigglesworth: Apostle of Faith by Stanley H. Frodsham - The official biography of Smith Wigglesworth the illiterate plumber from England. This is the faith inspiring testimony of a man who lived in the midst of the Pentecostal revival in Britain and across the world from its beginning till after the II War. Testimonies of salvation, baptism in the Holy Ghost, healings and the dead raised to life. A must read. (158 pgs)
High Adventure in Tibet by David V. Plymire – Pioneer Pentecostal missionary to Tibet. Victor Plymire was one of the first AG missionaries. This testimonies reveals his trials, troubles as well as enthralling adventure.
The Life of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar – this is the testimony and diary writings of a young Scottish preacher used of the Lord to prepare a people for revival. He died in 1843 at the age of just twenty-nine. This wonderful book reveals just why the lord was able to use him so mightily in a short period of time. He was outstandingly a holy man. The first time I read this I frequently wept after just reading a page.
Against the Tide – The Story of Watchman Nee by Angus I. Kinnear – This fascinating testimony is the life of one of China’s greatest Bible teachers. His life, ministry, and finally his persecution and imprisonment as China’s government changed for the worse. He was not only a great bible teacher and author but the influence behind a wonderful spiritual movement in China called the little flock.
John Sung by Leslie T. Lyall – This is an amazing, dramatic and dynamic testimony of one of China’s greatest evangelists. Sung was a fire-brand in the hand of God. A soul winner who preached the gospel with signs following.
Sermons & Foundational Doctrine
What The Bible Teaches by R.A. Torrey – Over 50 Biblical doctrines are listed and laid out in a simple easy manner. The great feature of this is that it simply lays out scriptures rather than comments. Great tool. Would advise all younger growing believers to get one. (Pg.535)
What is an Evangelical? by D.M. Lloyd-Jones – Being Evangelical is not the same as being evangelistic as some confuse. The term Evangelical comes from the New Testament word “Gospel” or euaggelion meaning evangel. It meant ‘to have a true grasp of the true Gospel.’ To be Evangelical has always meant that the written Word of God was absolutely authoritive over every doctrine, tradition and practise in the church, in ministry and in life. This short book is taken from messages preached in 1971 and is vital reading for every preacher and leader. In our generation this term has been almost utterly destroyed. (Pgs.91)
Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible by Myer Pearlman – Another simple overview of biblical doctrine taught by one of the American AoG’s greatest Bible teachers and writers. (pgs.394)
Revival on Broadway by David Wilkerson – Messages to the Church from Times Square Church. Thirty powerful messages drawn from the ministry of David Wilferson at Times Square Church in New York. Great messages, encouraging and prophetic. (pgs.291)
Hungry For More of Jesus by David Wilkerson – One of America's strongest and clearest voices in recent decades. While many were running after games and gimmicks of religion this man of God was calling the church back to Christ. A confrontational message calling all back to communion with christ and to righteousness. This book is for all those whjo are hungry for more of Jesus. (pgs.221)
The Covenant of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon – Nine wonderful sermons by the Prince of Preachers on various theme’s of covenant in scripture. This is the best introduction to understanding Covenant as taught in the Word of God. Such themes as Christ in the Covenant, The Blood of the Covenant and Twelve Covenant Mercies.
Christ in All the Scriptures by A.M. Hodgkin - this book draws forth lovely pictures of christ from each book of the Bible. Every book in the Old Testament, every Book in the New Testament speak of Christ, reveal Christ and teach Christ. We are told of Christ: "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luk 24:27). In an hour that has lessoned the value of the OT in relation to learning Christ this book is important.