By Michael D. O’Neal
Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church
P.O. Box 3071, Albany, GA 31706
I’ve often been asked, “What books do you recommend to start a preacher’s library?” My recommendations are personal preferences, which may not match the interest of another preacher. For instance, I don’t really recommend books on church history, manners and customs of Bible lands, the Bible and science, etc., although I have books on these subjects. I have never read anything in these subjects that I think is authoritative enough to make a significant difference in the ability of the preacher to know and declare the word of God.
2. A good concordance (Strongs Exhaustive without the appendix). Even better than a concordance is a computer with a Bible program in it for doing searches and comparing scripture with scripture.
3. A good English dictionary.
I would recommend:
4. Dispensational Truth, by Clarence Larkin. A lot of preachers own this book, but not many preachers have read and studied the book. A year’s heavy study in these first four books will have the beginning preacher miles ahead of the average preacher when it comes to doctrine. As money is available, all of Larkin’s books should be purchased and studied.
although not necessarily in this order:
5. Prayer, Asking and Receiving, by John R. Rice. This is one of the very best. I used to recommend E.M. Bounds’ books on prayer, mostly with regard to motivation to pray. I have, however, in more recent times found that he has written some things that are extremely unscriptural on salvation, so I have withdrawn my recommendation.
6. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe. This book is inspirational in its account of suffering by God’s children. It also shows the tyranny and murderous nature of papal Rome.
7. The Two Babylons, by Alexander Hislop. This book shows historically the origin of many traditions of Roman Catholicism. My copy is small print and reads like an encyclopedia (boring). For an easier read, try Babylon Mystery Religion, by Ralph Woodrow.
8. Why Our Churches Do Not Win Souls, by John R. Rice. All of John R. Rice’s books are motivational for soul-winning and church-building.
9. Things That Are Different Are Not the Same, by Mickey Carter. This little book is a good introduction to the King James Bible controversy. There are now dozens of good books on this subject. A few of them are:
Final Authority, by William P. Grady
New Age Bible Versions, by Gail Riplinger
The Christian’s Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, by Peter S. Ruckman
The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship, by Ruckman
10. How to Win Souls and Get Them Down the Aisle, by Curtis Hutson. This is a little booklet, but it was very inspirational to me.
11. Why Revival Tarries, by Leonard Ravenhill.
12. All commentaries by Peter S. Ruckman. I have many commentaries, but Dr. Ruckman’s are the best. I have never met a thorough student of our KJV Bible who was not also a student of Dr. Ruckman’s writings. His large commentaries could be cut in half if it were not for lists and rabbit-chasing, but they are still worth the time it takes to go through them. Sadly, there are a few of his Bible study books that have language in them that I could not recommend for any Christian.
13. All of Dr. Hyles’ books on pastoring and on Christian living. I believe Dr. Hyles is at his best when he writes on practical subjects of the Christian life. Brother Hyles is my favorite preacher.
14. Any books on finances by Dave Ramsey and Larry Burkett.
15. Christian biographies for inspiration.
16. Southern Baptists, Wake Up, by John R. Rice. This is dated but necessary material. A companion book is Southern Baptists and Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, by John R. Rice.
17. … and, of course, all of MY books. Click here — Pastor O’Neal’s Study and Sermon Helps
If money is limited, try to buy the first four on the list. Use the local library. Listen to good preaching and teaching as much as possible. Live in the Book and on your knees. God will teach you.