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?