Able to Teach

Content adapted from Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti Anyabwile

Paul’s criterion “able to teach” in 1 Timothy 3:2 refers to the ability to communicate and apply the truth of Scripture with clarity, coherence, and fruitfulness. This ability is not limited to public teaching from the pulpit. Some men are not exceptional public speakers, but they are teaching and counseling the people around them from the Scriptures all the time. Such men should not be disqualified from the office of elder.

Teaching ability is the unique gift associated with the office of elder, and aspiring men must possess it. We must not overlook this qualification when assessing a candidate for pastoral leadership: Can he teach?


1. Pastors must look for ways to provide men in the church opportunities to teach in order to assess giftedness and ability.

Men who have an interest in teaching and who meet biblical qualifications for the office of elder should be given opportunities to teach in appropriate settings, such as Sunday evening services, Sunday school, mid-week Bible studies, or training and workshop experiences. Whatever the local situation, pastors and churches should create opportunity to observe and affirm the teaching gifts of men in the congregation.

2. Assuming a man has had a number of opportunities to teach, how capable is he?

Pastors should probably grant a man several opportunities to grow and learn as a teacher. His ability need not be judged on a maiden voyage. But over time, it needs to be asked whether the man demonstrates skill in interpreting a text, outlining a sermon, communicating biblical ideas clearly, applying the Scripture appropriately, and anticipating objections and pastoral needs in the body. Cultivating and assessing this gift requires clear, honest, and patient appraisal.

3. Does the man show pastoral sensibility in his teaching?

Congregations should look for men who know the body and are able to apply God’s Word to God’s people. Does the prospective elder show discernment in this regard? Is he able to speak to hurts, pains, joys, needs, history, and hopes in the congregation? Does he tend to beat the sheep or feed the sheep? If he knows the people, it should show up in how he nurtures them in the teaching (1 Thess. 2:11–12).

4. Is the prospective elder committed to exposition (or the church’s preaching philosophy)?

Does he agree with the current elder(s) on what preaching is and should be? Widely divergent views about this essential task may cause serious strain on the eldership and on the main preaching pastor as he endeavors to discharge his duty faithfully. Divergent opinions may also affect the sheep as teachers employ fundamentally different strategies in the pulpit. The elders set the character and the tone of the teaching ministry, so unity in teaching philosophy is necessary.

5. Are others edified by his teaching?

Will the congregation, if asked, affirm that this man has teaching ability and that they spiritually benefit from his teaching? Ask around to see how others receive and use a prospective elder’s teaching.

6. Does the man disciple others?

Since not all (or even most) teaching is public, we should look to those smaller, less public areas as well. Does the prospective elder help others grow in Christ in more private settings such as small groups or one-on-one discipleship? Is he faithful to help others work through difficulties or questions? Do others come to him for advice and counsel? And is his counsel consistently and thoroughly biblical? A man may do a great deal of pastoral work in the hallways or in the parking lot after church or over a cup of coffee during the week. Who are those men who teach in this way?

7. Is the man theologically mature and supportive of the church’s theological distinctives?

A man may have a gift, but the gift must be informed by appropriate content. Many are skilled at emotionally rousing the crowd but cannot explain the basic doctrines of the faith. So leaders and churches must assess a man’s theological maturity and knowledge. For the unity of the church, a man with teaching authority should be able to fully champion the church’s distinctives.

8. Can the prospective elder defend the faith?

The ability to defend the truth is another aspect of sound teaching ability (Titus 1:9). Pastors and churches should consider whether the potential elder demonstrates an ability to correct error and preserve the truth, without being argumentative and unkind, but patiently and gently.

9. Is the man himself teachable?

Will the elder candidate be a model to the congregation as someone who humbly and joyfully receives the Word with profit? Being teachable is itself teaching; it models humility before others. If a pastor is not given to learning and submitting to the teaching of his fellow elders, he creates tension inside the eldership and may model hardness of heart before the sheep. Or worse, he may be less the teacher and more the dictator in interacting with the sheep.


As pastors and churches, we must find reliable men and entrust to them the things we have learned from faithful men. In order for the transmission of the truth to happen well, the men we appoint to leadership must be able to teach in various settings and ways. Calling a man who cannot teach, to serve as an elder, is like channeling the pure, wholesome milk of the gospel through rusty, corroded pipes. The Word continues to be milk, but for how long? And who wants to drink milk from a rusty pipe?

Converted people always pray

by J.C. Ryle

I have looked careful over the lives of God’s saints in the Bible. I cannot find one whose history much is told, from Genesis to Revelation — who was not a person of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that “they call on the Father,” that “they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked, that “they do not call upon the Lord” (1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 14:4).

I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, and some were unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, and some were Christians of other names. Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians. Some have loved to use liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing, I see that they all had in common — they have all been people of prayer.

I have studied reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with joy that lost men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in India, in China. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect. But one striking thing I observe at all the missionary stations — the converted people always pray.

I do not deny that a person may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact of a people praying, proves everything about their soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this — there may be deception and hypocrisy.

But this I do say — that not praying is a clear proof that a person is not yet a true Christian. They cannot really feel their sins. They cannot love God. They cannot feel themselves a debtor to Christ. They cannot long after holiness. They cannot desire Heaven. They have yet to be born again. They have yet to be made a new creature. They may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk — if they do not pray.

A Call to Prayer

20 questions that atheists need to be able to answer

from the Wintery Knight  blog

Here are some puzzling phenomena that every person should try to struggle with, and find the answers. (H/T Justin Brierley)

Here’s the full list:

1.What caused the universe to exist?

2.What explains the fine tuning of the universe?

3.Why is the universe rational?

4.How did DNA and amino acids arise?

5.Where did the genetic code come from?

6.How do irreducibly complex enzyme chains evolve?

I’m leaving out numbers 7 and 8 because they lack specificity.

9.How is independent thought possible in a world ruled by chance and necessity?

10.How do we account for self-awareness?

11.How is free will possible in a material universe?

12.How do we account for conscience?

13.On what basis can we make moral judgements?

14.Why does suffering matter?

15.Why do human beings matter?

16.Why care about justice?

17.How do we account for the almost universal belief in the supernatural?

18.How do we know the supernatural does not exist?

19.How can we know if there is conscious existence after death?

20.What accounts for the empty tomb, resurrection appearances and growth of the church?

So here’s the deal. It seems to me that there we can either search for and find answers to these questions, and then adjust our behavior to fit even if we will be less happy and fulfilled, or we can make our happiness and personal autonomy in this life the most important thing, and invent answers to these questions that are speculative. Either we live consistently with the evidence we have now, or we live how we want and hope for future evidence that will overturn the evidence we have now.

I think that this is the choice that we are facing as humans. Either we make truth the top priority, and let our lives change in order to respond to the evidence we have right now or we make our happiness the top priority and speculate that the universe is other than the way it is so that we can pursue happiness unencumbered by the obligation to know the Creator and Designer of the universe.

Everyone always talks about “the meaning of life”. I’ll tell you what the meaning of life is. It’s to puzzle about the questions above and get into an intimate, loving, self-sacrificial relationship with the Creator and Designer of the universe – a relationship bounded by facts, not feelings. What is so objectionable with the idea that there might be a Person out there who has a claim on us? So long as his intentions are good, why are we so unwilling to be his friend and to take his character into account when we decide what we will do with our lives?

Twelve Guidelines for Social Networking

Because Christians  are so involved in social networking – often every bit as much as non-Christians – they are wise to remember to be careful. Even online they are representatives of Jesus by the words, the attitudes, and comments they make. Christians should be upfront at all times, never deceptive; uplifting, never degrading; encouraging, not discouraging. That is why I pass on these words of wisdom by Tim Chester:


1. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say were the people concerned in the room.

2. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t share publicly with your Christian community.

3. Ensure your online world is visible to your offline Christian community.

4.      Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self reflects a self-created identity rather than identity in Christ.

5. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self doesn’t match their offline self.

6. Use social networking to enhance real world relationship not to replace them.

7. Don’t let children have unsupervised internet access or accept as online friends people you don’t know offline.

8. Set limits to the time you spend online and ask someone to hold you accountable to these.

9. Set aside a day a week as a technology “Sabbath” or “fast”.

10. Avoid alerts (emails, tweets, texts and so on) that interrupt other activities especially reading, praying, worshipping and relating.

11. Ban mobiles from the meal table and the bedroom.

12. Look for opportunities to replace disembodied (online or phone) communication with embodied (face-to-face) communication.

A Prayer about God Owning Our Battles

by Scotty Smith

The LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s. 1 Sam. 17:47
This is what the LORD says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:15
     Dear heavenly Father, I love it when you’re selfish with things I don’t really want anyway—especially when you claim ownership of any battle into which you place us. Though, as your children, you call us into warfare and give us armor to wear (Eph. 6:10-18), it’s you we must trust as the Divine Warrior. You’re not a spectator to our conflicts, but a very present help and our great and living hope. Teach us how to do warfare this side of the finished work of Jesus.
     Hallelujah! The gospel frees us from being both fretful activists and disengaged pacifists. Instead, we are to be fully engaged worshipers, beholding the salvation of the Lord. We’re never more than little David facing huge Goliaths with a handful of pebbles. But they are gospel pebbles, and with you, we will not be afraid. Whether it’s a mere skirmish or an all-out assault, the battle belongs to you. Fear and discouragement are not the order of the day; faith and peace are.
     When we’re afraid of events in world history; when it seems like evil and terror will triumph, let us hear the laughter of heaven. Just give us a clearer vision of your already installed King, the Lord Jesus. Just give us an unobstructed view of the occupied throne of heaven, and it will shut up our fears (Ps. 2; Rev 4).
     When we’re under attack by the seducer, accuser, and condemner of the brethren, once again let us see Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He is our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30-31). We boast in Jesus, not in anything in ourselves.
     When we get pulled into petty fights with brothers and sisters in Christ, slay us with the gospel and bring us back to faith expressing itself in love (Gal 5). When we’re in the presence of evil and very broken people, keep us sane and centered by the gospel. When our divided hearts wages war inside of us, come to us in the storm, Jesus, and make peace. You are the consummate Peacemaker, reigning King and returning Bridegroom. In you we will trust. We relinquish our battles to you and follow you into this day. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and triumphant name.

A Godly Response to Criticism

Proverbs 15:31-33 If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself, but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

No one likes criticism, but encountering some is inevitable, so we need to learn how to respond in a godly way. Although you might be tempted to become defensive or angry, remain calm and listen. The words may hurt, but great benefits come to those who carefully consider what is said. We are reminded that we are to submit to one another, even to admonish one another.. We need to listen the wisdom that others offer to us.

If we refuse to accept reproof, we’ll limit our potential for Christ like character development and spiritual growth. Some of life’s best lessons come through difficult experiences. If God allowed the situation, you can be sure that He wants to use it in transforming you into His Son’s image. Whether the criticism is valid or not, whether it’s delivered with kindness or harshness, your goal should always be to respond in a way that glorifies the Lord. Remember that you are responsible only for how you handle yourself, not for how the other person is acting.

When a criticism comes your way, be quiet and listen until the other person has finished. Make direct eye contact to show attentiveness and respect. When your critic finishes, thank him for bringing his concerns to your attention, and tell him that you will consider what he’s said. Ask the Lord if the accusation is valid. Let Him search your heart and either affirm your innocence or convict you.

Every rebuke is an opportunity from God. It’s a chance to let your Christian character shine by showing love to your critic. If he is angrily attacking you, your respect and kindness become a powerful testimony. Criticism is also an occasion to humble yourself and accept the Lord’s correction.

God will not forgive our sins if we do not confess them

by John MacArthur

And forgive us our debts. (Matthew 6:12)

God will not forgive our sins if we do not confess them. John makes that condition clear when he declares, “If we confess our sins, H eis faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Confession simply means we agree with God that our sins are evil and defiling and we do not want them to taint our walk with Christ. Our sinful pride makes it difficult to confess sin, but it is the only way to the free and joyful Christian life (cf. Proverbs 28:13).

It’s been said, “One of the wrest antidotes to the process of moral hardening is the disciplined practice of uncovering our sins of thought and outlook as well as word and deed and the repentant forsaking of the same.”

We must never take God’s promise of forgiveness as a license for sin or as an excuse to presume on His grace. Instead we must view forgiveness as an aid to our sanctification and be constantly thankful to the Lord for His forgiveness.

Your prayer ought to coincide with the Puritan one: “Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, and the exceeding wonder of grace.

I am guilty but pardoned. I am lost but saved. I am wandering but found. I am sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness. Keep me always clinging to Thy cross.

What to Say When Someone Says “The Bible Has Errors”

 By Jonathan Dodson

Most people question the reliability of the Bible. You’ve probably been in a conversation with a friend or met someone in a coffee shop who said: “How can you be a Christian when the Bible has so many errors?” How should we respond? What do you say?

Instead of asking them to name an error, I suggest you name one or two of them. Does your Bible contain errors? Yes. The Bible that most people possess is a translation of the Greek and Hebrew copies of copies of the original documents of Scripture. As you can imagine, errors have crept in over the centuries of copying. Scribes fall asleep, misspell, take their eyes off the manuscript, and so on. I recommend telling people what kind of errors have crept into the Bible. Starting with the New Testament, Dan Wallace, New Testament scholar and founder of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, lists four types of errors in Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning.

Types of Errors
1) Spelling & Nonsense Errors. These are errors that occur when a scribe wrote a word that makes no sense in its context, usually because they were tired or took their eyes off the page. Some of these errors are quite comical, such as “we were horses among you” (Gk. hippoi, “horses,” instead of ēpioi, “gentle,” or nēpioi, “little children”) in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 in one late manuscript. Obviously, Paul isn’t saying he acted like a horse among them. That would be self-injury! These kinds of errors are easily corrected.

2) Minor ChangesThese minor changes are as small as the presence or absence of an article “the” or changed word order, which can vary considerably in Greek. Depending on the sentence, Greek grammar allows the sentence to be written up to 18 times, while still saying the same thing! So just because a sentence wasn’t copied in the same order, doesn’t mean that we lost the meaning.

3) Meaningful but not Plausible. These errors have meaning but aren’t a plausible reflection of the original text. For example, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, instead of “the gospel of God” (the reading of almost all the manuscripts), a late medieval copy has “the gospel of Christ.” There is a meaning difference between God and Christ, but the overall manuscript evidence points clearly in one direction, making the error plain and not plausibly part of the original.

4) Meaningful and Plausible. These are errors that have meaning and that the alternate reading is plausible as a reflection of the original wording. These types of errors account for less than 1% of all variants and typically involve a single word or phrase. The biggest of these types of errors is the ending of the Gospel of Mark, which most contemporary scholars do not regard as original. Our translations even footnote that!

Is the Bible Reliable?
So, is the Bible reliable? Well, the reliability of our English translations depends largely upon the quality of the manuscripts they were translated from. The quality depends, in part, on how recent the manuscripts are. Scholars like Bart Ehrman have asserted that we don’t have manuscripts that are early enough. However, the manuscript evidence is quite impressive:

  • There are as many as eighteen second-century manuscripts. If the Gospels were completed between 50-100 A.D., then this means that these early copies are within 100 years. Just recently, Dan Wallace announced that a new fragment from the Gospel of Mark was discovered dating back to the first century A.D., placing it well within 50 years of the originals, a first of its kind. When these early manuscripts are all put together, more than 43% of the NT is accounted for from copies no later than the 2nd C.
  • Manuscripts that date before 400 AD number 99, including one complete New Testament called Codex Sinaiticus. So the gap between the original, inerrant autographs and the earliest manuscripts is pretty slim. This comes into focus when the Bible is compared to other classical works that, in general, are not doubted for their reliability. In this chart of comparison with other ancient literature, you can see that the NT has far more copies than any other work, numbering 5,700 (Greek) in comparison to the 200+ of Suetonius. If we take all manuscripts into account (handwritten prior to printing press), we have 20,000 copies of the NT. There are only 200 copies of the earliest Greek work.
  • This means if we are going to be skeptical about the Bible, then we need to be 1000xs more skeptical about the works of Greco-Roman history. Or put another way, we can be 1000 times more confident about the reliability of the Bible. It is far and away the most reliable ancient document.

What to Say When Someone Says “The Bible Has Errors”
So, when someone asserts that the Bible has errors, we can reply by saying: “Yes, our Bible translations do have errors, let me tell you about them. But as you can see, less than 1% of them are meaningful and those errors don’t affect the major teachings of the Christian faith. In fact, there are 1000 times more manuscripts of the Bible than the most documented Greco-Roman historian by Suetonius. So, if we’re going to be skeptical about ancient books, we should be 1000 times more skeptical of the Greco-Roman histories. The Bible is, in fact, incredibly reliable.”Contrary to popular assertion, that as time rolls on we get further and further away from the original with each new discovery, we actually get closer and closer to the original text. As Wallace puts it, we have “an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the biblical documents.” Therefore, we can be confident that what we read in our modern translations of the the ancient texts is approximately 99% accurate. It is very reliable.

For Further Study (order easy to difficult):

Jonathan K. Dodson (MDiv; ThM, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) serves as a pastor of Austin City Life in Austin, Texas. He has written articles in numerous blogs and journals such as The Resurgence, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, and Boundless. Dodson has discipled men and women abroad and at home for almost two decades, taking great delight in communicating the gospel and seeing Christ formed in others.

Names of Jesus in the Bible

Here is a list of 100 Names of Jesus we find in the pages of the Bible.  You can find the verses and study the context of each name by accessing the Logos Online Bible.

  • Advocate (1 John 2:1)
  • Almighty (Rev. 1:8; Mt. 28:18)
  • Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8; 22:13)
  • Amen (Rev. 3:14)
  • Apostle of our Profession (Heb. 3:1)
  • Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins (1 John 2:2)
  • Author of Life (Acts 3:15)
  • Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Heb. 12:2)
  • Author of Salvation (Heb. 2:10)
  • Beginning and End (Rev. 22:13)
  • Blessed and only Ruler (1 Tim. 6:15)
  • Bread of God (John 6:33)
  • Bread of Life (John 6:35; 6:48)
  • Capstone (Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7)
  • Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)
  • Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4)
  • Christ (1 John 2:22)
  • Creator (John 1:3)
  • Deliverer (Rom. 11:26)
  • Eternal Life (1 John 1:2; 5:20)
  • Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6)
  • Gate (John 10:9)
  • Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11)
  • Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5)
  • Faith and True Witness (Rev. 3:14)
  • First and Last (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13)
  • Firstborn From the Dead (Rev. 1:5)
  • God (John 1:1; 20:28; Heb. 1:8; Rom. 9:5; 2 Pet. 1:1;1 John 5:20; etc.)
  • Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
  • Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20)
  • Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14)
  • Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23)
  • Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2)
  • High Priest (Heb. 2:17)
  • Holy and True (Rev. 3:7)
  • Holy One (Acts 3:14)
  • Hope (1 Tim. 1:1)
  • Hope of Glory (Col. 1:27)
  • Horn of Salvation (Luke 1:69)
  • I Am (John 8:58)
  • Image of God (2 Cor. 4:4)
  • King Eternal (1 Tim. 1:17)
  • King of Israel (John 1:49)
  • King of the Jews (Mt. 27:11)
  • King of kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev. 19:16)
  • King of the Ages (Rev. 15:3)
  • Lamb (Rev. 13:8)
  • Lamb of God (John 1:29)
  • Lamb Without Blemish (1 Pet. 1:19)
  • Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45)
  • Life (John 14:6; Col. 3:4)
  • Light of the World (John 8:12)
  • Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5)
  • Living One (Rev. 1:18)
  • Living Stone (1 Pet. 2:4)
  • Lord (2 Pet. 2:20)
  • Lord of All (Acts 10:36)
  • Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8)
  • Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16)
  • LORD [YHWH] our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6)
  • Man from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:48)
  • Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15)
  • Mighty God (Isa. 9:6)
  • Morning Star (Rev. 22:16)
  • Offspring of David (Rev. 22:16)
  • Only Begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 1 John 4:9)
  • Our Great God and Savior (Titus 2:13)
  • Our Holiness (1 Cor. 1:30)
  • Our Husband (2 Cor. 11:2)
  • Our Protection (2 Thess. 3:3)
  • Our Redemption (1 Cor. 1:30)
  • Our Righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30)
  • Our Sacrificed Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7)
  • Power of God (1 Cor. 1:24)
  • Precious Cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:6)
  • Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6)
  • Prophet (Acts 3:22)
  • Resurrection and Life (John 11:25)
  • Righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5)
  • Righteous One (Acts 7:52; 1 John 2:1)
  • Rock (1 Cor. 10:4)
  • Root of David (Rev. 5:5; 22:16)
  • Ruler of God’s Creation (Rev. 3:14)
  • Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (Rev. 1:5)
  • Savior (Eph. 5:23; Titus 1:4; 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:20)
  • Son of David (Lk. 18:39)
  • Son of God (John 1:49; Heb. 4:14)
  • Son of Man (Mt. 8:20)
  • Son of the Most High God (Lk. 1:32)
  • Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey him (Heb. 5:9)
  • The One Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5)
  • The Stone the builders rejected (Acts 4:11)
  • True Bread (John 6:32)
  • True Light (John 1:9)
  • True Vine (John 15:1)
  • Truth (John 1:14; 14:6)
  • Way (John 14:6)
  • Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24)
  • Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6)
  • Word (John 1:1)
  • Word of God (Rev. 19:13)

Why I Read Christian Biographies

by Ryan Huguley on his blog

I love reading the stories of those God has used throughout history. The diversity of those He uses is staggering. There is no one personality type, ministry philosophy, nor theological tribe God has been limited to. All of this serves to make much of God and breed humility in us.

Outside the Bible, biographies of the people God has used to make a lasting impact tend to be my favorite reading. The stories of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, D.L. Moody, C.H. Spurgeon, and A.W. Tozer have all served my soul, my marriage, and my ministry. Besides the amazing nature of these stories, there are three primary reasons I read these great books:

1. They stir my affection for Jesus

One of the common traits in those God uses to change the world is their inextinguishable love and affection for Jesus. I have found the more I read of their love for Christ, the more my own affection for Him increases. I can feel my heart burn hotter as I turn the pages through the lives of the Christians who have gone before me.

2. They serve as a practical example

If you are like me, you want to learn how to better love and pursue Jesus. The lives of these flawed, but faithful servants serve as practical examples of how to pray, study God’s Word, prepare sermons, serve the church without sacrificing your family, and endure hardship in a way that honors God and grows our faith.

3. They remind me of God’s faithfulness

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Reading the struggles, suffering, and successes of God’s people reminds me of this. The opposition I face, the fatigue I feel, and the joy I experience are not exclusive to me and they are not new. These great biographies serve as constant reminders of who God is and his faithfulness toward His servants down through history.

If you have not made Christian biography a regular part of your reading rhythm, I high recommend you give it a shot. They will stir your affection for Christ, serve as a practical example of how others have pursued Christ, and remind you of God’s faithfulness.


Here are a few of my favorites:

50 People Every Christian Should Known” by Warren W. Wiersbe

Jonathan Edwards: A Life” by George M. Marsden

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther” by Roland H. Bainton

Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers” by Lewis A. Drummond

A Passion for Souls: The Life of D.L. Moody” by Lyle Dorsett