A friend recently asked, “What book should new Christians read?” I immediately referred him to Basic Christianity by John Stott. First published in 1958, Stott’s work has sold over 2.5 million copies and was named “Book of the Century” by Christianity Today.
The book begins by focusing the attention of the reader on the divine initiative. It is God who has taken the initiative in creation, revelation, and salvation. The basic framework of the book is linked to these two realities: God has spoken (revelation) and God has acted in Christ (salvation).
The author proceeds to clearly and thoughtfully describe Christ’s person, man’s need, Christ’s work, and the necessity of man’s response. He provides a basic overview of critical doctrines such as justification by faith alone, sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit, the necessity of repentance, and indispensable principles of the Christian life.
Stott repudiates the modern-day notion that a sinner has the option of believing in Christ but refusing to submit to his lordship: “The astonishing idea is current in some circles today that we can enjoy the benefits of Christ’s salvation without accepting the challenge of his sovereign lordship … To make Christ Lord is to bring every department of our public and private lives under his control.”
The label, “Book of the Century” may be a bit overstated. But it is indeed, an important book. Basic Christianity is not only essential reading for new believers; it is a vital tool in the hands of mature believers as well.