by Stephen Rodgers
Editor’s Note: Just because a source is recommended here does not indicate that every doctrine it professes reflects the beliefs of LBC or it’s leaders (if you are interested, you are welcome to read LBC’s Statement of Faith) or with each other. Faithful men of God have held positions on secondary and tertiary issues that differ from our own, and we hold them no less Christian for doing so. God calls Christians to love Him with their mind (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) and to examine every teaching in light of the totality of Scripture (Acts 17:11).
Guide to Recommended Resources
This section is for various Bible-reading plans that you may wish to pursue in order to bring some order and method to your time in the Word.
- First up is Professor Grant Horner’s Bible-Reading System. This is the plan that Pastor John mentioned during his recent visit. It it more of a “life plan” than a “year plan.” The idea is that you read 10 chapters a day, but never the same combination of chapters twice. This allows you to become very familiar with where things are in Scripture, as well as see relationships between different parts of the Bible.
- In terms of one-stop shopping for familiarizing yourself with various plans, it’s really hard to beat the collection of ESV plans. They offer 10 different plans in 5 different formats, and there’s even a podcast subscription for those of you who have joined the iCult (just kidding…mostly).
- If that’s still not enough for you, then I would refer you to any or all of the following articles and posts…
- The MacArthur Daily Bible is also available for free in a variety of formats. I’ve used this plan before, and found it to work well. Each day you have four small readings: One from the OT, one from Psalms, one from Proverbs, and one from the NT.
- A number of years ago, I was really struggling with my Bible reading (and honestly, had been for several years at that point), and I took it upon myself to develop a plan that was so focused and forgiving (in terms of schedule) that I would have been ashamed to have failed. It’s a very simple plan: really read one chapter from the NT every weekday, and use the weekends to catch up. (It has the benefit of being mathematically elegant since 5/7 of 365 is 260, and there are 260 chapters in the NT). It gave me a renewed appreciation for the word, and a much deeper understanding of the NT to boot.
- I would think that should be enough for most people. I’ve personally really enjoyed Horner’s plan, although you do need to read his article to really understand his intentions in designing it. I would encourage you to be familiar with the others and at least read the articles from DG and JT; they both provide some great links to background information and other resources. And if you’re still raring to go, there are many other options as well. (Seriously, there are a lot of options). But as Pastor Patrick wrote, the important thing is how you read the Word, not which plan you use.
For anyone looking to fill their mind with great Christian content, I’ve compiled a “Top 10” list of blogs that you might want to start with. Each of these writers (or groups of writers), consistently put out excellent content. If there’s interest, perhaps we’ll expand this to a “Top 20” list in the future. For now it’s just a list, but I’ll update this in the future with more information about each person/place.
And just to be safe, I’ve put these in alphabetical order so that no one can accuse me of favoritism.
- 9Marks – 9Marks is the ministry of Mark Dever and friends. They regularly post here on issues related to the church. 9Marks also puts out the excellent 9Marks eJournal.
- Al Mohler – Al Mohler blogs several times a week with a focus on current events and cultural issues. Just reading him is guaranteed to make you smarter! And if you’re interested, he has a couple of podcasts you might like as well.
- Desiring God – This is the blog of John Piper and several other folks at his church.
- Grace to You – This is the blog of John MacArthur and several other folks at his church. (Note: John MacArthur does not actually blog regularly here, but they routinely post excerpts from his books, articles, and sermons. Occasionally he will pen a specific article as well).
- Justin Taylor – Justin Taylor is the VP of Editorial at Crossway, and his blog (along with Tim Challies, see below) serves as a content clearinghouse for the Christian web.
- Kevin DeYoung – Kevin DeYoung is a pastor and author. 4/5 days of the week, he posts though-provoking articles that make me jealous. 1/5 days of the week he posts a video about comedy or basketball. Nobody’s perfect.
- Pyromaniacs – Updated daily, this is a team blog by Phil Johnson, Dan Phillips, and Frank Turk. They are some of the most outspoken voices (who can actually support their statements Biblically) on the internet today, and you would do well to give them a read.
- Russell Moore – Dr. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also has a podcast you might enjoy.
- Sovereign Grace (the CJ blog) – This is the blog of CJ Mahaney and several other folks at his church.
- Tim Challies – And last but not least, Tim Challies is another great author and blogger who puts out a remarkable amount of high-quality content.
This section is for various daily devotionals that you may wish to use to augment your study and understanding of the Word.
- DA Carson has an online devotional entitled For the Love of God. For the Love of God is a daily devotional designed to walk a person through the Bible in a year while assisting the reader in discovering the riches of God’s Word. Originally published by Crossway Books (volume 1 in 1998 and volume 2 in 1999), this “blog” is really not a blog at all, but a free digital version of the devotional provided by TGC and Crossway.
- John MacArthur has a number of online devotionals available, also based on some of his previously published works. They are available for free, in a variety of formats (I prefer RSS myself):
- Ray Ortlund has a bit of a mini-devotional blog. Each day, he typically posts a picture, and either a quote or a verse that illustrates a theological truth.
- Charles Spurgeon wrote some fantastic devotional material as well. The website for this is a bit strange (in a technical way; in a theological way they are AWESOME), but you can find the daily readings for both Faith’s Checkbook and Morning and Evening here.
Basically, these are like magazines on the internet. There’s a number of articles, usually centered around a theme, that come out on a scheduled basis. I should warn you that some are far more technical than others, and the length of the articles can vary widely from publication to publication. But this is a fantastic way to challenge yourself to read wider and deeper at little-to-no cost.
- 9Marks eJournal – As you know, 9Marks is an organization that mostly revolves around Mark Dever and his folk. Every two months or so, they put out a new collection of articles on a particular topic. Right now the topic is “Deacons,” but previous issues include topics like “Missions,” “Young Pastors,” and others. There’s also an archive where you can browse past issues. And here on the Beacon, Stephen Rodgers created a topical index of all past issues of it as well, which is an easy way to find what you’re looking for.
- Acts & Facts – An online journal from ICR dealing with scientific issues pertaining to the doctrine of creation.
- Bibliotheca Sacra – DTS has published this journal for over 165 years. Most of the articles require a subscription, but you can find an archive with some sample articles as well.
- Christ on Campus Initiative – This is another TCG publication, and is relatively new but promising. They don’t have a lot of articles up yet, but some are quite good. They focus in particular on issues and objections that collegians encounter on campus.
- Creation Magazine and The Journal of Creation
- CREDENDAagenda – This is the journal of Douglas Wilson and friends. They have several new articles each week, along with an archive of past printed issues. Truthfully, the publication of new articles has slowed down significantly, but the archive has some real gems.
- DBTS Journal – I can tell you this: if the books sitting on my shelf are any indication, anything by Doran is going to be excellent.
- JBC – The Journal of Biblical Counseling has re-launched after a four-year hiatus. Issues are free for the first month, and are then archived (and retrievable for a fee).
- JBMW – The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) actually has a Journal on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (JBMW) and you can view past issues for free. You have to wait 90 days after publication for it to be posted online, but that’s a small price to pay for good material.
- JETS – What was once the Bulletin of the Evangelical Society has grown into one of the larger theological journals. Their website also does a great job of letting you view and search for past articles.
- Pulpit Magazine
- Reformed Faith and Practice
- RPTS Journal
- SBTS Journal of Theology – SBTS (“Al Mohler’s Seminary”) has put all their back issues online for free! Justin Taylor has some recommended articles to get you started. There are some amazing authors there: Carl Henry, Al Mohler, DA Carson, Mark Dever, John Piper, Douglas Moo…the list goes on and on.
- Tabletalk – Ligonier Ministries is the ministry of RC Sproul and friends, so you’ll see articles from other notable folks like Joel Beeke, Tim Challies, and John MacArthur. For example, April’s edition dealt with the topic of changes in culture and technology. They also have an archive where you can check out past issues. They make a number of articles available for free, but to get access to everything, they’d like you to subscribe for a nominal fee. And here on the Beacon, Stephen Rodgers created a chronological index of several past issues of it as well, which is an easy (or at least easier) way to find what you’re looking for.
- Themelios Journal – This is a TCG publication, which has been running strong since 1975! DA Carson is the editor, so expect good stuff. It can be a little hard to navigate, but very useful for finding gems. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s the latest issue, a list of some of the highlights, and a sample book review by Kevin DeYoung.
- TMS Journal – The Master’s Seminary puts a portion of their student/faculty journal online for free. They also publish an issue on a particular theme per year, so hit the link and see what you can find. It’s a fantastic resource.
- WTS Journal – Last but not least, Westminster Theological Seminary also publishes a portion of each issue (usually to articles) online for free. They encourage you to buy a subscription (or a particular article for a nominal fee), but a good selection of sample articles can be read and downloaded for free.
Originally I hadn’t anticipated this section, but I realized that there were a number of good resources out there for preaching that our church could benefit from. After all, while Pastor Patrick handles the vast majority of Sunday morning sermons (for which we are grateful to him), there are others who step up when the need demands (such as our elders and staff). So, here are some resources that they might find helpful.
- Links for Expository Preaching – This isn’t exactly software (mostly it’s PDF files), but I wasn’t sure where else to put it. Basically, it is a website devoted to providing links to free, online commentaries, notes, and resources. And it’s broken down in a handy fashion by books of the New Testament. If you have to preach regularly, or you are studying your way through a book of the Bible, you don’t want to miss this!
- Preaching Christ in the Old Testament – TGC just recently launched a site dedicated to preaching Christ in OT passages. They are continuing to add resources and articles even as this post is being written, so if that overlaps with your preaching, it’s a resource you might want to check out.
- Recommended Commentaries – There are a couple of good lists of commentaries out there, particularly those at bestcommentaries.com and the list that Keith Mathison put together for Ligonier. Bestcommentaries.com is particularly good, in that it often lets you save money on buying other commentary guides (such as the two excellent ones by Dr. Jim Rosscup).
- Recommended Reading for Seminary – Here are some links to various recommended reading lists from several seminaries. In alphabetical order they are: RTS (short list, long list), SBTS (Theology, Culture and Politics, Miscellaneous), TMS, WSCAL, and WTS.
- Recommended Systematic Theologies – The aforementioned Keith Mathison also put together a list of recommended systematic theologies. By and large, I also liked the list that C. Michael Patton put together as well.
Didn’t get enough of the Gospel on Sunday? Good for you! Listed below are links to a LARGE libraries of available and trustworthy sermons freely available on the internet.
- Christ Fellowship Baptist Church – And while he doesn’t blog (at least as far as I know), another fantastic place to get some sermons is from Steve Lawson’s church. The man has a distinctive voice and a distinctive style that really make his messages come alive. And he’s one of my favorite expositor’s to boot.
- Desiring God – John Piper has 30+ years of sermons available here, as well as messages from innumerable conferences. And yes, they are organized, categorized, and have transcripts as well. Honestly, I don’t know what DG feeds their webfolks, but the speed, quality and sheer amount of material that they make available is staggering.
- Grace to You – Another fabulous resource is what GCC affectionately calls “The Vault.” Here you will find 40 years (!) of sermons by John MacArthur, organized by title, scripture, date…if you can’t find something here to help you, then you’re just not looking hard enough. And the vast majority of the sermons have a transcript as well, so you can read them if you prefer that to listening. John just recently finished preaching through the entire NT, so you’ll definitely want to drop by.
- LBC Sermons – Our first stop is the sermon library at our very own church. Ever wish that you could be in two (or more!) Sunday School classes at the same time? Now you can be! As I update this article, there are 695 messages available. The web team is adding and categorizing more sermons all the time, so if you don’t see something up there, ask Kyle or myself and we’ll try to track it down for you.
- RefNet.fm – A free 24/7 internet radio station that streams sermons, teaching, music, and news.
- Sovereign Grace – The folks at SG recently redid their archive, and now you can search by category, speaker, or topic. You’ll find a number of sermons from Joshua Harris, CJ Mahaney, and notable guest speakers as well.
There are a number of good places to get Christian resources from, and a number of them run special deals from time to time. In my experience, here are some of the better places, along with a few you might not know about. The short version is that if you’re trying to build your library, you should spend a little time understanding where the deals are. That’s just a matter of good stewardship.
- Amazon – Amazon does a good job of having consistently low prices. They don’t usually have sales with significant markdown, but they’re a good place to start your search to know what a baseline price is. And they offer free shipping on orders over $25.
- Christianbook.com – Christianbook.com generally also has prices in line with Amazon or slightly higher, and they don’t give you much of a break on shipping. However, where they really shine is their twice-a-week discounts (“Midweek Markdowns” are discounts from Tuesday to Thursday; “Fabulous Friday Specials” are discounts from Friday to Monday), their annual catalogs, the “slightly imperfect” section, and the occasional bulk item. They also heavily discount older editions of books when new editions come out (which is a great way to pick up normally-pricey items like commentaries, at $3-$5 per book). You can sign up to only receive email notices for their weekly specials as well. I also like the way they let you run complicated filters to drill down to the products you’re interested in.
- CVBBS – This is a store that Pastor Patrick likes. From what I saw, they had some good clearance prices, but some of the other places (Amazon, Christianbook.com, WTS Books) seem to be about the same. But it’s always good to compare, so I include them here.
- GBI Store – Again, I hate to say it, but generally I’m not impressed with the prices at GBI. They do have a sale section however, and I think that they let you pick up books from their bookstore at GCC to avoid shipping (at least they used to; if they still do this, then make friends with one of our seminarians; actually, make friends with them anyways). Very occasionally they do have a good-to-great deal though, so I’d recommend signing up for their email list. And on top of that, the once-a-year sale they do in conjunction with the Shepherd’s Conference is amazing (but you have to go onsite to get those prices).
- Ligonier Store – Overall, I’m not thrilled with the prices at the Ligonier store, with one MAJOR exception. Every Friday, they do something called $5 Friday where they select a number of resources that are sold for the flat rate of $5. When they sell out, that’s it. Depending on what they’re offering and how many copies you want, that can sometimes be a great opportunity, but do remember to watch out for shipping.
- Scripture Truth Book Company – Again, Pastor Patrick has historically liked this site. I’ve never used them, so I can’t comment much except to say that from the comparisons I did, you come out ahead at Amazon (it’s just nearly impossible for a smaller company to compete with the free shipping that Amazon offers). But I’ve seen the occasional great deal there as well, so I include them here for you.
- WTS Books – The Westminster bookstore normally has books around the same price as Amazon, although their shipping offers are not as beneficial for the consumer. However, they do have current specials that occasionally are fantastic, a clearance section that is pretty good as well, and they have an “imperfect books” section where they sell discounted copies of books that have minor damage. (I’ve been quite pleased with the imperfect books I’ve bought from them; generally the wear and tear was somewhere between minor and insignificant).
While there is a variety of Christian software available, I chose to highlight the following resources on the basis of my own personal experience with them, or on the strong recommendation of trusted friends, pastors, and/or colleagues.
- Amazon.com – You’d be surprised how often that “look inside” feature comes in handy.
- Biblegateway.com – I’m sure you’re probably already aware of this resource, but this is a handy website for grabbing multiple translations of verses quickly. What you might not know is that they also have more robust search options for passage lookups, keyword searches, and even a topical index. They are also the online home to the IVP commentaries, which is one of the few modern series available for free online. There’s some other tricks that you can do with the site, but that should get you started for now.
- Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) – CCEL is basically an online library of a bunch of old Christian books. That might not sound terribly interesting, but think about it…this means you can have the writings of Athanasius, Augustine, Calvin’s Commentaries, etc…all at your fingertips. It can take a little bit of practice to get used to their web design, but once you figure it out, it’s a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.
- e-Sword – My personal favorite Bible-study software, e-sword makes the ESV Bible freely available. Other study guides such as commentaries, dictionaries, devotionals, and other translations of the Bible are available as well. Some require a small fee, but many are freely available. For ease of use, price, and value, I honestly believe this is the best software out there. (Please note, not everyone agrees with me. e-Sword has made some fantastic improvements lately, but in terms of having digital library support, it falls behind both Bibleworks and Logos, which are generally considered more serious resources…with a more serious price tag. Still, I think that most Christians would benefit from using this software…especially compared with not using any).
- Faithlife Study Bible – I’m still evaluating this, but it’s worth mentioning. I believe you can still sign up for free.
- Google Books and Google Scholar
- Kindle – No, I don’t mean the hardware. The Kindle software (which is free) enables the reading of ebooks, and is available on an absolute slew of platforms (PC, Mac, phones, etc.). Once you have the ability to read ebooks, you might be surprised how many are also free (although you have to hunt around a bit to find them). Typically, anything that is in the public domain can often be found for free, so if you’re more interested in content than fancy formatting, this can be a great deal! I’ve compiled a short list to get you started:
- Libronix/Logos – If you have an ESV Bible, then you have qualified to download the ESV demo version of Libronix. It comes with the full ESV text, several other resources, and it is quite common for new resources to be made freely available (you’ll receive email notifications after you’ve registered). For example, a while back they gave away John MacArthur’s Study Guide to the book of Romans. It’s a bit more complicated to use than e-Sword, but it does give you access to material that e-Sword doesn’t. And since it’s free…why not have both?
- The NET Bible – The NET Bible is a fascinating project. Essentially it is a translation with all of the associated translation notes exposed to the public, and made available to the public for free. They’ve upgraded their website several times recently, which means you have your choice of the web version, the classic learning environment, or the new learning environment. I’m old-fashioned, so I prefer the classic version, but play around with them and figure out what works best for you. The parent site (Bible.org) also hosts a variety of articles that are worthy of your attention as well.
- Online Commentaries – I would caution against only using older commentaries, but they’re a great place to start.
- Online Seminary Classes – There are a number of places you can find these; iTunesU is an obvious resources (with great courses from places like WTS, RTS, Dallas, Biola, etc.) In fact, RTS puts their entire correspondance curriculum online! The Theological Resource Center is another winner.
- Post-Reformation Digital Library
- STEP Bible
- The SWORD Project – The SWORD Project in many ways is similar to e-Sword (my understanding is that e-Sword is actually an offshoot of the project). I include them here for several reasons: they are free, they are committed to providing their materials in multiple platforms, and they have certain resources that e-Sword is missing (for example, they have four Czech translations of the Bible, whereas e-Sword only has one (CBK), and it’s not a modern translation). The packaging of the program isn’t quite as slick as e-Sword, but once you get used to it, it’s still very powerful. In my opinion, this is one of the most-overlooked resources out there, and that’s unfortunate.