More on Recommended Books
I suppose I should add the following two books to the list of really helpful books:
21. "Sketches from Church History", SM Houghton
22. "Systematic Theology", Louis Berkhof.
The first I have read through, but the second I have only read sections of. Both of these books are highly recommended.
About the other books: Some of these are available, surprisingly, on the Ages Software CD. I say "surprisingly" because Ages is, as far as I can tell, quite committed to the Pentecostal/Wesleyan holiness teaching - and yet they have, along with Wesley, Finney and Agar Beet (Wow! What was his mother thinking when he named him that?), staunch Puritans like John Owen and Calvin! But I am glad they do. Ages has done a real service in their software, making many works conveniantly available that would otherwise cost quite a bit to purchase, not to mention hard to find. About a few of the particular books mentiopned I might single out these (Hmmm, it is thundering outside. I may not write as much as I planned).
"No Place for Sovereignty" by R. K. McGregor Wright is the initial eye-opener for me. This book introduced me to the case, and history of, the sovereignty of God and of all of the ramifications. I thought I believed in God's sovereignty. But Wright - and John Owen, as quoted in this book - showed me that I believed no such thing. This was a real shock to me, and an intriguing challenge as well. Once I accepted this newfound truth about God, that He is truly in charge, that He can save - or pass over - whomever, then my whole belief system took a major hit. In its place there was a much more awesome and life-changing Christianity than the one I had.
The book Wright often quoted was "The Death of Death in the Death in the Death of Christ" by John Owen. After getting hold of this (buying a John Owen CD from Ages software for $30 - great buy!) I studied this work of Owen's and was totally convinced of that last TULIP petal, Limited Atonement.
An important point about Matthew Henry's Commentary: To paraphrase Mark Twain, there is about as much similarity between Henry's unabridged and abridged commentaries as there is between lightning and the lightning bug. The Reformed theology is almost all squeezed out Henry when it comes to those "concise" editions. The editors should rather call it "excised" rather than "concise", since they seriously trim much of the meat from his work. In the process they leave him saying much of the obvious truths that needn't even have been written!