Recently, a good friend emailed me for recommendations on my favorite books on the cross. He wanted me to focus on books God has used to make a profound impact on my soul. When I sent the list, it included great titles like The Cross of Christ by John Stott, Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney, and several titles by John Piper. But as I scanned through my shelf of books on the cross, I realized that over the past few years I’ve come across a number of lesser-known, but richly valuable, books. And so in my list for a friend I added a subcategory of books that have great value in meditating on the cross, but don’t get much attention or are now out-of-print.
So here are five of those titles (in no particular order):
1. Christ Crucified: The Marrow of the Gospel in 72 Sermons on Isaiah 53 by James Durham (Naphtali Press; $30). I’ve written a more extensive review of this volume so I’ll keep this description brief. Christ Crucified is a precious Puritan work on the work of Christ. Yet when this volume appeared in print in 2001, it had not been previously published since 1792! In 72 sermons Durham slowly walks through Isaiah 53:1-12, pulling out the doctrine of the cross and calling the reader to respond with praise, joy, and obedience. The editor behind this contemporary edition did an outstanding job of making the text clean and easy to navigate. In the front cover of his personal copy, C.H. Spurgeon simply wrote, “Much prized.” I would agree.
2. Caleb’s Lamb by Helen Santos (Reformation Heritage; $7.50). A family favorite, my wife and I read this book with our children. The 100-page chapter book is the story of Caleb, a reluctant boy forced to work with his shepherd dad. Caleb personally despises the sheep. The narrative develops within the context of the Old Testament Israelites in the months leading up to the Exodus. Long story short: Caleb rescues a spotless, newborn lamb from wilderness danger and his dad passes on to Caleb a personal responsibility to care for this sheep. The story progresses around Caleb’s growing maturity and his growing bond with lamb. But rumors are stirring of Moses and a coming deliverance from Egypt. Every household must prepare for the coming angel of the Lord by sacrificing a spotless lamb. It’s a sobering yet wonderful story for children capturing the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
3. The Precious Things of God by Octavius Winslow (Soli Deo Gloria; out of print, buy used, read online). For a while now, I have considered Winslow to be one of the most influential writers on my soul. This book—The Precious Things of God—has the unique distinction of being classified as my most personally life-transforming book (apart from Scripture itself). The chapter on the preciousness of Christ’s blood really opened my eyes to the fuller experience of the cross within the Christian life. It impacted my life at a time when I needed to get away from very technical theology books and simply needed someone to remind me again of the cross. A faithful friend pointed me towards Winslow. And this precious book was a success. Here is one excerpt.
4. The Fullness of Christ by Octavius Winslow (Reformation Heritage: $12.00, read online). Drawing his framework around the history of Joseph and his brothers, Winslow captures the sufficiency of Christ. You may not agree with Winslow’s hermeneutic but through the framework he is faithful to the character and work of Christ. It’s a unique work and a treasure I return to often I my personal devotional time. Here is one choice excerpt:
This quote captures the passion, skill, and articulation of Octavius Winslow. What a treasure!
5. Outrageous Mercy: Rediscovering the Radical Nature of Christianity by William P. Farley (Baker; out of print). Pastor Farley has become a friend over the years. His book, which briefly appeared in 2004 from Baker, is a gem. This is one book on the cross that you should make sacrifices to find. Here is one excerpt:
I’m hopeful Outrageous Mercy will be printed again in the future.
So those are some important, lesser-known books on the cross I would encourage you to incorporate into your library of resources and spiritual diet.
Now, what about you? What books have ministered the cross of Christ to your soul?
18 thoughts on “Some lesser-known, Cross-centered books”
Solid Ground Christian Books is currently offering Durham’s book at a 38% discount. If you order before midnight tonight you will save an additional 10%!
Sometimes “Outrageous Mercy” is available here:
It’s where I got my copy for $6.
_Hymns of the Passion: Meditations on the Passion of Christ_ by Hallgrimur Petursson, 1666. Trans. Arthur C. Gook, 1978.
Okay, Tom, you’ll need to clarify why you like this priest from Iceland …
Heaven Taken By Storm by Thomas Watson published by Soli Deo Gloria (out of print; can be found on ebay and booksellers.com) and The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson (Banner of Truth). Watson is direct and cuts to the bone.
“Arise, my soul, my heart, my mind,
And all that I within me find,
Come, help me, tongue, my Lord to own
And make His wondrous passion known!
Paul, the Apostle, chose the theme;
To preach it was his task supreme–
The Passion of the Crucified,
That sinners might be justified.
Since Jesus gave His latest breath
To save me from eternal death,
Should not the powers He thus renewed
Show forth to Him my gratitude?
At last repentance rends my heart,
How poorly have I played my part!
What Jesus suffered in my place
I oft forget, –to my disgrace!
My soul, behold the sacrifice
which paid our trespass’ awful price,
Restored the rebel sinner’s state–
What joy on this to meditate!”
Halgrimmur Petursson, Chapter 1, stanzas 1-5.
And so forth for another 200 plus pages.
Need I say more? Perhaps a few more stanzas from another chapter:
“In sin’s dark dungeon lying
A helpless captive I,
My conscience crucifying,
Heave sigh on weary sigh.
My mortal wound no balm can find,
No help I see around me,
Or solace for my mind.
The Law with heavy lashes
Chastised me for my sin,
Brought me to dust and ashes
With cruel discipline.
No hope I saw; my case was lost,
My heart was bowed with sorrow;
My spirit tempest-tossed.
But Thou dist hear my groaning
And hasting to my aid,
For Thy poor child atoning
Thy sacrifice was made.
The spotless soul was chastened sore
That I should be delivered —
My pains by Thee were taken,
That healing might be mine.
In darkness Thou, forsaken,
Gav’st light on me to sine.
The chastisement on Thee was laid,
Wounded for my transgressions,
And thus my debt was paid.”
My heart with grief is stricken
When I survey Thy woes.
Oh! That my love may quicken
To guage how much it owes!
The grief I caused Thee I lament,
My sin has brought Thee sorrow.
Oh! How I now repent”
These are great. Thanks, “Tom Bombadil”. How would one go about buying Hallgrimur’s prose in book format?
PS- Hallgrimur sounds like a made-up Tolkien name, too.
That’s right Tony. “Hallgrimur” could happily fit into Tolkien’s legendarium. I’m sure he thought of it.
My edition is a lovely little paperback (I normally don’t like paperbacks, but this one has leather-like quality, published by Hallgrim’s Church, Reykjavik, 1978.
There’s at least 1 copy of my edition on the ABE. However, I only paid three dollars for my mint copy, in a used bookstore, hidden deep beneath a pile of “rubbish”. I’m sure every book lover can relate to that sort of joyful experience.
Blessings to you Tony,
Nice find. Thanks for sharing this! T
The Dutch are doing better: I have a Dutch translation of Durham’s Christ Crucified from 1926.
tony, the Durham book is simply amazing!!! can be a bit repetitive at times, but is full of gospel gleams. i would recommend Andrew Grey’s loving Christ by RHB as well if you like Durham’s.
I was trudging around a spare room in my house…the catch all room! there was a pile of books that were in there and I truly couldn’t believe what I saw, it was the Outrageous Mercy book by William P. Farley! My wife and I frequent a book clearing house when we have the time and I think that the pile was from our last trek there, my wife must have picked it up. Anyway, just wanted to share that with you.
Thank you so much for all of the effort that you put into this blog, I appreciate all of the reviews and commentary, it’s helped me immensely in my growth in Christ and in selecting great books to add to my library.
I’ll be posting an announcement about Bill Farley and Outrageous Mercy (sounds like a band name) at http://www.DiscerningReader.com tomorrow (Friday) morning. Just to let you know!
‘A Gospel Primer for Christians’ by Milton Vincent, Focus Publishing 2008
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Outrageous Mercy: Rediscovering the Radical Nature of Christianity has been reprinted. I found it on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Outrageous-Mercy-Rediscovering-Radical-Nature/dp/1596381345/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1266446317&sr=8-1