But I also try to organize my reading to include titles that might have a bit of a broader appeal—titles that are useful in discipleship, for evangelism, towards personal sanctification, and for pastoral insight. I want to tell you about four that I've finished fairly recently, taking a couple sentences to make the case why you should read it, and providing a representative quote. Maybe a long one. We'll go one at a time, so more posts coming over the next few days, but we'll start with my favorite.
A Sure Guide to Heaven, by Joseph Alleine
This is basically an evangelistic tract, before the gospel had to fit on a 6-panel leaflet, targeted to people who assumed they were Christians because of their baptism and their religiosity. Punchy and quotable, this is one of the most readable and enjoyable of the Puritan Paperbacks. Alleine just brutalizes the non-lordship view of "conversion"—what a friend of mine used to call the "Not So Great Salvation" view. In other words, this isn't a gospel John MacArthur made up:
The unsound convert takes Christ by halves. He is all for the salvation of Christ, but he is not for sanctification. He is for the privileges, but does not appropriate the person of Christ. He divides the offices and benefits of Christ. This is an error in the foundation.
Whoever loves life, let him beware here. It is an undoing mistake, of which you have been often warned, and yet none is more common. Jesus is a sweet Name, but men do not love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They will not have Him as God offers, "to be a Prince and a Saviour" (Acts v 31). They divide what God has joined, the King and the Priest. They will not accept the salvation of Christ as He intends it; they divide it here. Every man's vote is for salvation from suffering, but they do not desire to be saved from sinning. They would have their lives saved, but still would have their lusts.
Indeed, many divide here again; they would be content to have some of their sins destroyed, but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah, or divorce the beloved Herodias. They cannot be cruel to the right eye or right hand. O be infinitely careful here; your soul depends upon it.
The sound convert takes a whole Christ, and takes Him for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He is willing to have Christ upon any terms; he is willing to have the dominion of christ as well as deliverance by Christ. He says with Paul, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Anything, Lord. He sends the blank for Christ to set down His own conditions. (45-46)