To write a commercially successful book, you of course need to offer Christians something which they will want to buy and read. In the culture of the Church today, Christians usually want to know how to receive some personal blessing from God—whether physical healing, finances, deliverance from curses and demons, or personal provision of some sort. In short, they would like their prayers answered. So let’s begin with a suggestive title that promises to satisfy both their needs and wants. A good template would be “How to Receive [fill in the blank] from God.”
In order to be classified as Christian, the content of the book should include Scriptures which should be followed in order to obtain God’s blessings. For example, you need to include standard verses like:
- Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
- Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
- Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
- Deuteronomy 28:13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
Few Christians don’t want God to throw open the floodgates of heaven for them so that they can become the head.
Things you must avoid
At the same time, there are Scriptures to be studiously avoided if you want your book to adorn the window displays of Christian bookstores. Here is a sampling of such verses:
- Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
- Luke 14:33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11 Aim for perfection…
- Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…
- 2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
- Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Such verses speak of self-denial, and that can make your readers squirm. Most of them simply want to know what God can do for them, and how to get Him to do it. Few of them are interested in what they can do for God in obedience to His commands—unless of course it results in some kind of return for them on earth.
Without a doubt they are interested in getting to heaven, which they have been taught involves believing that Jesus died on the cross for them. But after they have been taught to pursue what earthly blessings His death has purchased for them. Beyond salvation, they are not terribly interested in heavenly reward—which in all likelihood they have never heard of anyway.
No one’s perfect
So do not include teaching on heavenly reward above and beyond salvation—which involves personal holiness and good works in obedience to God’s commands. That would confuse them since all they’ve heard is they’re saved by grace through faith, and not by works or by being good. (No one’s perfect, anyway.)
Therefore under no circumstances should you include sobering Scriptures like:
- 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord…
- 1 Corinthians 3:13 …his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
- Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…
Scriptures which involve judgment for our works while in the body and living self-controlled, upright and godly lives on earth all smack of legalistic works and run contrary to the comforting message of God’s unconditional grace and love which they hear every Sunday in church. All we need to do is believe (and give our tithes)!
The fear of God just doesn’t sell
Write only about God’s unconditional love and loving God. Stay away from the taboo subject of fearing God since “there is no fear in love.” “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) Just ignore Proverbs 1:7 which says that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Fearing God doesn’t sell. But God’s unconditional love for us does.
So if you want God to bless your book, avoid the subject of fearing God and pleasing Him. May He grant you the wisdom to pick and choose the Scriptures which only build up and make your potential readers feel good about themselves. Above all, stay away from “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). You must rather constantly reassure your readers that no one’s perfect.
Don’t worry about standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ where you will receive what is due you for the things you did and wrote while in the body, whether good or bad. After all, Jesus did it all and paid it all for you!
But if you foolishly attempt to write a book encouraging Christians to set their hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, and to set their minds on things above, not on earthly things, then prepare yourself for disappointment. It’s not going to be a bestseller on earth. Few Christians will be interested. Their hearts and minds are set mostly on what God can do for them here and now. While God may want to give them the desire of their hearts on earth, He actually has so much more in store for them in the next age.
You may as well just forget pursuing earthly “success” as a Christian author, and instead write to store your treasure in heaven which will be waiting for you in the next age. And if you first seek His kingdom and His righteousness, He will certainly provide for all your needs on earth according to His glorious riches in Christ.