Posted on October 27, 2015 by David Lee
Hebrews 12 describes the Christian life as a race, with us strategically laying aside anything that would encumber our goal of pursuing Christ. But any good race has a great cheering section, and the Christian life is no different. Verse 1 reminds us that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” encouraging us on in the race. Fellow believers play a critical role in ensuring that we stay the course and are running with persistence.
But there’s a demographic of our cheering section that we tend to neglect: dead people.
God has filled his history with faithful saints who have run and finished their own races. And while we may not meet them until we join them in glory, we can still hear their stories cheering us on from the past. Whenever I read biographies, I am convicted of my own sin, challenged by my brothers’ and sisters’ faithfulness, and cheered by God’s sovereignty over the course of human history.
So here are some links to Christian biographies that will encourage you in your race.
I got my introduction to Christian biographies by listening to John Piper’s biographical sermons. Once a year at his pastors’ conference, Piper studies the life of an important hero of the faith and delivers a lecture/message on that person. it’s an incredible blend of biography, preaching, and application. You can see the full list of all the biographies here. My personal favorites are the ones on Charles Spurgeon, Adoniram Judson, William Cowper, and John Newton.
Most of the theology that has impacted me most significantly has the 18th century pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards as its fountainhead. Edwards offered me a compelling, all-encompassing view of God that demanded Christ’s supremacy in every facet of my life, and that would give me the greatest joy and satisfaction. This massive, magisterial volume gives a rich insight into the life and mind of important theologian, and you’ll know better the man and his God if you sink your teeth into this biography.
It makes sense that one of the most important theological heavyweights in the history of the church gets a biography that is literally a heavyweight. If reading a 640 page biography seems like a little more than you can handle, then try Marsden’s MUCH shorter (176 pages) A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards.
Anything by Iain Murray
Iain Murray is the king of Christian biographers. Anything he has written is worth taking a look at. Some of his best include his biographies on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and John MacArthur.
The incredible story of a 19th century baptist missionary to Burma. Much of John Piper’s biography of Judson was appropriated from this book. I hate to give away too much, but let’s just say that if someone wanted to make this man’s story a movie, we would write it off as being too fantastical and unbelievable. The ways that the Lord worked in Judson’s life are remarkable and are incredible fuel for our own devotion to the Lord.
Southern Seminary President Al Mohler compiled a list of some of his favorite Christian biographies. Helpfully he includes some choice quotes from many, so if one catches your eye, look into it!
The indefatigable Christian blogger Tim Challies has his own list.
See you Sunday!