Doctrine of Salvation: Recommended Reading

from Oct 05, 2010 Category: Articles

When Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi, the jailer asked them: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). Our Father sent His only begotten Son into the world to save us sinners (John 3:17). This precious truth is something we must understand clearly. In systematic theology, the study of the doctrine of salvation is termed “soteriology.” There are a number of helpful books available on the subject. Among those I have found useful are the following:

Introductions to the Five Points of Calvinism

Michael Horton – Putting Amazing Back Into Grace. While written at an introductory level, Horton’s book is still thorough enough to place his discussion of the five points into their proper context. Very readable. Very helpful. 

David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn – The Five Points of Calvinism. The first edition of this book was one of the first books I ever read on the five points. It’s strength is in the amount of biblical evidence that is provided. 

R.C. Sproul, Jr., ed. – After Darkness, Light. This festschrift for Dr. R.C. Sproul contains chapters on each of the five points of Calvinism and chapters on each of the five solas of the Reformation.

Duane Edward Spencer – TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture. Spencer’s book is a very introductory level look at the five points. May be a good place to start for those who are interested in studying the issue but who will not read anything lengthy yet.

Edwin Palmer – The Five Points of Calvinism. Of all the books on this subject, this one probably lends itself most easily to a Sunday School or small group study. It includes very useful discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

Erroll Hulse - Who Saves, God or Me?. Hulse’s book provides a bit more historical context in its discussion of the five points of Calvinism. He also includes a helpful chapter on hyper-Calvinism.

The Ordo Salutis (“order of salvation”)

Sinclair Ferguson – The Christian LifeI’ve sometimes described this book as an easier to read version of Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied (see below), but it shouldn’t be disregarded for that reason. Christians should read everything by Ferguson they can find. This book is a great place to start. 

John Murray – Redemption Accomplished and Applied. This little modern classic traces the accomplishment and application of redemption from the atonement through final glorification. A must read.

Anthony Hoekema – Saved By Grace. This is a seminary level textbook covering much of the same material found in the works by Ferguson and Murray. It covers every aspect of soteriology from a Reformed perspective.

Election, Effectual Calling, and Regeneration

R.C. Sproul – Chosen by God. Need I say more? One of the main reasons, humanly speaking, that many of us are now Reformed.

Thomas Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware, eds. – Still Sovereign. This book is a collection of fourteen of the best chapters from the original two-volume The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will. Includes chapters by John Piper, D.A. Carson, Edmund Clowney, and others. 

Robert A. Peterson – Election and Free Will. This book examines what each section of Scripture teaches concerning the doctrine of election. A helpful work for those who think election is something invented by Calvin.

Stephen Charnock – The Doctrine of Regeneration. After three centuries, this work by one of the greatest Puritans is still one of the best books on this subject.

Saving Faith and Justification

R.C. Sproul – Faith AloneThis is the place to begin in order to understand the importance of the doctrine of justification. 

James Buchanan – The Doctrine of Justification. This is the classic that Dr. Sproul requires his theology students to read. A great work. 

J.V. Fesko. – Justification. This recent work provides a good supplement to Buchanan. Fesko brings the discussion up to date, dealing with contemporary challenges to the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

John Owen – The Doctrine of Justification by Faith. Jown Owen was arguably the most brilliant of the Puritan theologians. Like all of his works, this one is a must-read.

John Piper – Counted Righteous in Christ. A brilliant response to attacks on the doctrine of imputation.

Sanctification, Perseverance, and Glorification

John Owen – Overcoming Sin and TemptationThis volume, edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, combines in one volume three classic works by Owen: The Mortification of Sin in Believers, Temptation, and Indwelling Sin. The Mortification of Sin is a classic and well worth the price of the book, and if you read no other book on sanctification, be sure to read it. 

John Owen – Communion With the Triune God. In this volume, Owen places sanctification in its broader context of life in communion with God. Another classic work by Owen. 

G.C. Berkouwer. – Faith and Perseverance. This is a seminary level textbook on the doctrine of perseverance by one of Dr. Sproul’s former professors. Not an easy read, but helpful historical information.

Robert A. Peterson – Our Secure Salvation. A study of what each section of Scripture teaches us about the perseverance of the saints.

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Articles in this Recommended Reading series: Systematic TheologiesDoctrine of ScriptureDoctrine of GodDoctrine of the Works of GodDoctrine of Man and SinDoctrine of the Person of ChristDoctrine of the Work of Christ, Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.