One of the best things Christians can do to stir their affections for God is to read books focused on Jesus. These books help us follow Paul’s pattern of looking up to Jesus as the means by which we start looking like Jesus. “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Nothing refreshes the heart like a few sips of Christ’s glory.
Two of my personal favorites in this category are Rejoicing in Christ by Mike Reeves, and John Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke. Below are some of the Christ-centered quotes from each of them (and yes, you should buy these two books to read more).
Rejoicing in Christ
“Most of our Christian problems and errors of thought come about precisely through forgetting or marginalizing Christ. That is, that despite all our apparent Christian-ness, we fail to build our lives and thoughts upon the Rock.”
“Perhaps I should be clearer: it is not that we look, get some sense of what Christ is like, and then go away and strain to make ourselves similar; we become like him through the very looking. The very sight of him is a transforming thing. For now, contemplating him by faith, we begin to be transformed into his likeness (2 Cor 3: 18), but so potent is his glory that when we clap eyes upon him physically at his second coming, then “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3: 2). That full, unveiled, physical sight of the glorified Jesus will be so majestically effecting it will transform our very bodies around us. The sight of him now by the Spirit makes us more like him spiritually; the sight of him then, face to face, will finally make us—body and soul—as he is.”
“For all our dreams, our dark and frightened imaginings of God, there is no God in heaven who is unlike Jesus…In Christ the Word, we exchange darkness for light as we think of God. For he perfectly shows us an unsurpassably desirable God, a kind God who is against all that is wrong, a God who thaws us.”
“If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in him [the Son], then he must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us. ￼In every situation, for eternity.”
“All [Jesus] is he has been given to us, so that all he has he can share with us.”
“Jesus had become one of us, but now by the Spirit he would wonderfully become one with us.”
“There can be no life or true fruitfulness apart from [Jesus]. On our own we are but withered sticks. Which knocks the wind out of you if you think of yourself as strong and capable. For what can all your brilliance, determination and oomph achieve? Precisely nothing. Or nothing positive, in any case, apart from him. It means we do not try to produce fruit in order to join the vine, or to stay in it; we bear fruit when we receive the life of the vine. Our part is to remain there. Then the fertile sap of the Spirit will flow through us, producing fruit.
…There is the center ground of the Christian fight: to have the gospel of Christ’s love as our sap and food. It means being full of Scripture, ignorance of Scripture being ignorance of Christ.”
Newton on the Christian Life
“If the Christian life is Christ, then looking to him is the great duty of the Christian life. Looking to Jesus marks the beginning of the Christian life; looking to Jesus is the end goal of the Christian life; and looking to Jesus is the daily privilege of the Christian life, which is Newton’s way of saying that we never outgrow the gospel.” (69)
“If you have Christ, you have all of Christ, and to have all of Christ is to have free access to Christ’s all-sufficient grace. Grace is not a gate to fence us back from him. Grace is not a substitute for Christ. Grace does not stand between me and Christ. Rather, says Calvin, ‘All graces are bestowed on us through Christ.’ Grace is shorthand for the full and free access we have to all the merits and power and promises to be found in the person of our Savior (John 1:16-17; Eph. 2:7; 1 Cor. 1:4; 2 Cor. 8:9; 2 Tim. 2:1). Repeatedly, Newton accents ‘the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’ Grace is a stream from Christ, the fountain of all grace, he writes.” (46)
“In our abiding union with Christ we find the context of the Christian life. Grace not only connects us to Christ; grace is the daily motivation for us to press closer toward Christ, to ‘be daily hungering and thirsting after him, and daily receiving from his fullness, even grace for grace; that you may rejoice in his all-sufficiency, may taste his love in every dispensation.’ We seek more grace by seeking to experience more Christ.” (47)
“Discovering the amazingness of grace requires that we focus on the amazingness of Christ.” (47)
“To behold the glory of Christ is ammunition against unbelief and power for sanctification.” (75)
“Every sight of Christ we take is an attack on evert delight of sin left in our hearts.” (79)
“The life of Christ is divine glory, and as we behold the glory of his life, we ourselves are changed (2. Cor. 3:18). Christ’s glory is the operating power in our Christian holiness…Newton is clear: we become by beholding. ‘By beholding we are gradually formed into the resemblance of him whom we see, admire, and love.’” (131)
“Spiritual maturity is expressed by a suspicion of the heart’s tendencies and a quick turn to the sufficiency of Jesus Christ in every time of need.” (148)
Other good books in this category would be Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick; Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper; The Glory of Christ or Communion with the Triune God by John Owen; Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson; and Salvation Accomplished by the Son by Robert A. Peterson.
Any books or quotes you would add?