In this video, Steve Lawson talks about what book, outside of the Bible, has influenced him most.
Well, outside of the Bible, the most influential book in my life—and to answer that needs a footnote, which is where I was at that time in my life and how I needed to hear what that book had to say—would be A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson. I was a card-carrying Arminian at that point and wrestling with the issues of Reformed theology and the sovereignty of God and salvation and then over all of life. And it was while reading that book—A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson, the great Puritan—God used that to open my eyes to the reality of who He is. In fact, there was more of God in the table of contents in that book than there was in the other contemporary books that I had been looking at. That is a wonderful exposition of the [Westminster] Shorter Catechism.
Thomas Watson preaching through the Shorter Catechism, and his ability to communicate truth in a pithy, winsome way was medicine for my soul. It was instruction for my mind, and it has shaped my preaching because it has established the substance of my preaching. And what’s most important in preaching is not style; it’s substance. And that book opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of who God is and how salvation is administered, authored and administered, in my life. And then I’ll never forget his chapter on providence. Just when I came to grips with the sovereignty of God in salvation, then I come to this chapter on providence and that God is sovereign in every circumstance of my life. And I was like Job. I just put my hand over my mouth and it’s like: “I just need to be quiet because I’ve been wrong so long. Where else am I wrong?”
I will forever be indebted to A Body of Divinity for its God-centered doctrine and application and the manner with which it is written. It was like a lifeline. It was like medicine. It was like a searchlight before me. And I carry that influence with me. On top of that, the foreword was written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, which is a pretty good person to write a foreword, which was written a couple hundred years later. Watson died in his prayer closet, and Spurgeon said he just went from glory to glory. He said Watson may not have even known he had died, and he just went from the presence of God to the presence of God. I mean, he was just a great Puritan. So I love that book.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 16, 2019.