When I started seminary, the first assignment I ever received was to read (and write about, but we won't go into that here!) “Foundations of the Christian Faith” by James Montgomery Boice. It was the best assignment I could ever have gotten. I learned more from this book than I have learned from any other book I've read in my life, except for the Bible. God used this book to take me from living out of my emotions, to living in faith and assurance of Who He is and what He will do.
“Foundations” is deep. It follows the general outline of Calvin's famous “Institutes of the Christian Religion”… meaning, it goes into DETAIL. Lots of detail. It's not for the faint of heart. However, if you feel that longing to be in God's presence; if you have ever felt like you were born out of your time; if you identify with the heroes of faith and Christian mystics of centuries past, this book is for you.
Boice writes in very readable language. He uses lots of great quotes. He takes nearly every aspect of the Christian faith, and systematically explains it, supports it with facts, and leaves you in a weeping puddle of awe before our loving Father. It's a long read, but it's an awesome read.
“Foundations” is divided into four sub-books (just like Calvin's Institutes). Each sub-book has 18 chapters, and each chapter is about 8-10 pages long. You can expect that it may take you several months to read it from cover to cover, as it did for me … but this is a book that will change your life. Among Boice's topics are:
- Why we search for God;
- What is the Bible, and how we can prove that it's 100% true;
- God's attributes (not in as much detail as Tozer's “The Knowledge of the Holy,” here, but still incredible material);
- How we can prove that Jesus is both fully God and fully Man;
- 30+ pages of material you never thought of about the beauty of God's plan of salvation through Jesus;
- How we can prove that Jesus rose from the dead;
- The Christian's new life after she meets God;
- The keeping power of God;
- The church and its role in God's kingdom and in the modern world;
- Service to others; and
- Heaven, our true home.
The one area in which I disagree with Boice pertains to his treatment of the spiritual gifts. He only discusses the spiritual gift in about one chapter, so it's a very small part of the book. Nevertheless, Boice does not believe that the sign/power gifts–healings, miracles, tongues–still operate in the church today. I disagree, and Boice didn't have a leg to stand on in the few pages he wrote about this. (I defended the current operation of the power gifts when I completed my seminary assignment. If the power/sign gifts interest you, you would benefit from reading “Awakened by the Spirit: Reclaiming the Forgotten Gift of God,” by Dr. Ron Phillips.
Despite our disagreement on the power gifts, I would still say this book is a must-read. It's a marathon, not a sprint; but it will bring you a new understanding of what you believe and why you believe it. It will help you live from the presence of God. By reading this book, you will come to understand who God is and why He is absolutely reliable. God will use this book to turn shaky faith into strong, rock-solid faith.
I will keep this book for the rest of my life, and will read it over and over. Don't miss it! Click on the link above to get your copy on amazon.com. You will thank God for this book many times over!
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