Jerry Bridges impact in my life
On March 6, Jerry Bridges passed away from heart failure. His writings have made a deep impact on my life. I first read his oldest and most famous book, The Pursuit of Holiness, as a new believer in university. It was a book that awakened me to the full force of what the Bible taught about sin and seeking holiness. He dealt with the typical sins as well as plenty of what he called “respectable sins” and showed me how sin not only fuels our rebellion but mars our attempts at goodness.
“Even our tears of repentance need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.”
““Be holy, for I am holy,” commands God. But holiness is something that is often missed in the Christian’s daily life.”
― Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness
The Pursuit of Holiness was hard to read at times. It was deeply convicting. And so when Bridges released Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love, many people wondered how it could have been written by the same person. The former book wasn’t afraid to talk about Biblical categories like working out your salvation (Philippians 2:12) and striving for holiness (Hebrews 12:14), but the latter book was captivated with all that God had done for us in providing for us in grace. The problem was that both books were wonderful, but most people didn’t know how they fit together. That tension resulted in a book that is one of my favourites, The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. Here Bridges combined a thorough treatment of sin and our responsibility for holiness, with a profound treatment of grace and God’s provision for us in Christ.
In The Discipline of Grace, Bridges helped me to see how the gospel changes my day-to-day battle with temptation and taught me to, “Preach the gospel to myself every day.”
“It is only the joy of hearing the gospel and being reminded that our sins are forgiven in Christ that will keep the demands of discipleship from becoming drudgery. It is only gratitude and love to God that comes from knowing that He no longer counts our sins against us (Romans 4:8) that provides the proper motive for responding to the claims of discipleship.”
“Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.”
― Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness
Spurred on by these amazing books I learned to trust God and experience the amazing comfort of knowing that He is truly in control through his book, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts. It helped me to understand prayer, God’s rule in this world, and the often inexplicable trials and circumstances that we often find ourselves in.
“Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelms us.”
“God’s plan and His ways of working out His plan are frequently beyond our ability to fathom and understand. We must learn to trust when we don’t understand.”
― Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
Finally, I came across another of his books, The Joy of Fearing God, and learned the power of deep reverence and awe towards God. It rescued me from both an impersonal pursuit of the Bible and its principles, and a sloppy view of a buddy God who may be near but doesn’t inspire wonder or holiness.
“Had sin never entered the world it still would be fitting for us to fear God—to bow in reverential awe before Him. We would gladly join the seraphs in calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” But sin did enter the world—and because of His holiness, God now reveals Himself as the hater of sin and the just punisher of sinners. But He also reveals Himself in the person of His Son as a merciful and gracious Savior. Our awe of His holiness can be joined with amazement at His love. Reflect on these words from John”
― Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God
I’ll miss Jerry Bridges because I wanted him to continue writing more books but I commend him to you and thank God for him. If you’ve never read him, maybe you might start with this article that he wrote on Finishing Well (https://www.crossway.org/blog/2016/03/4-essentials-for-finishing-well/). With a 60-year ministry with the Navigators marked by godliness and a deep impact in people around the world, it was a topic he was better equipped than most to write on.
In awe of Him,