Remembering Jerry Bridges

Remembering Jerry Bridges March 14, 2016

Jerry Bridges, an author whose books I have recommended to counselees and church members more often than any other, died last Sunday at age 86. As Christianity Today put it, his “pursuit of holiness has come to an end.”

Along with tens of thousands of other people, I was first introduced to Bridges’ writing through his outstanding book The Pursuit of Holiness (which CT obviously alluded to in their tribute). Years later, I led a group of students through his Crisis of Caring and saw them grow from self-centered, consumer Christians into a sharing, caring, Christian community. I continue to recommend his Trusting God as the best popular-level treatment I’ve ever found of God’s absolute sovereignty over all things. Some of you probably remember when we used his Respectable Sins for an adult Bible study class here at Parker Hills several years ago.

Undoubtedly, Bridges’ book which shaped me most profoundly is The Discipline of Grace. It’s here where Bridges popularized the saying, “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.” Some of the chapter titles themselves speak volumes: “How Good is Good Enough?” “Preach the Gospel to Yourself.” “Disciplined by Grace.” “Dependent Discipline.” It is no exaggeration for me to say this book began a Copernican Revolution in my understanding of the power of the gospel and of how to grow in the Christian life.

But enough from me. I’d like you to hear from Mr. Bridges himself. In the CT article I quoted above, Bridges recounts the six “most significant lessons” God had taught him:

“In the order that I learned them, the first would be that God’s Word, both His precepts and promises, is meant to be applied to specific situations in our lives.

“The second is the importance of our union with Christ, both as our representative before God in His life and death, and then as the source of our spiritual life as Jesus taught us in the vine-and-branches metaphor of John 15.

“The third is that the pursuit of holiness involves our most diligent efforts, but with a dependence on the Holy Spirit to bless those efforts.

“The fourth is my understanding and acceptance of the doctrine of God’s sovereign election in our salvation. This is probably the most life-changing of all the lessons.

“The fifth is that the gospel is not just for unbelievers and their coming to Christ; rather, all of us who are believers need the gospel every day because we are still practicing sinners.

“The sixth is an increased understanding of the role of the indwelling Holy Spirit to apply the work of Christ to us and enable us to grow in the Christian life.”