Jerry Bridges passed away this week. I, for one, am thankful for his ministry to me through his books.
My “relationship” with Jerry Bridges began when I was a young Christian. I stumbled upon The Pursuit of Holiness. Over the years I have read, and marked up my copy quite a few times. This lead me to The Practice of Godliness which I still refer to periodically. Bridges didn’t just teach me about holiness.
He also taught me about God’s providence, and trust. I discovered Trusting God. This book was one of the first I had read on this subject. I wasn’t really expecting to read about God’s sovereignty, but it is the true and biblical foundation for our trust (along with His goodness).
I then went through a big R.C. Sproul phase. But while I was in seminary, there was a one-week class based on his new book, Transforming Grace. While he was not a dynamic speaker (something he shared with J.I. Packer), it was a deep and helpful course. It was a very good week talking about his very good book. I recall a question about John MacArthur’s book The Gospel According to Jesus. His response was wise and penetrating. MacArthur neglected the role of regeneration in this particular question. He was not harsh or bombastic, but insightful.
His next book tied the Pursuit of Holiness to Transforming Grace and was called The Discipline of Grace. This really is, in my mind, an under-rated book. It was not simply about the goal, what holiness looks like, but how God gets us there.His illustration of the wings of a plane has stuck with me, and is one I use often (we need both discipline and grace). I also use the phrase “dependent discipline and disciplined dependence” fairly often to express these ideas.
At some point I read The Crisis in Caring, which I think has since been renamed True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia. It is a theological and practical guide for living in the church.
Bridges then tackled a very neglected topic in The Joy of Fearing God. There are few books on this topic which means this is a book that most Christians should read. He, of course, ties it into the gospel.
He returned to the gospel with The Gospel for Real Life. It was less theologically oriented and more accessible for lay people. It is another excellent book. He then returned to the subject of holiness with Respectable Sins. Nearly forming a chiastic structure in his library, or at least my engagement.
The last book of his I read was the one with Bob Beaveridge on the atonement, The Great Exchange. It was a good book, but not nearly his best book.
Bridges was not the most prolific author. It didn’t suit his personality. He was thorough, and I suspect a plodder. He was like the tortoise, not the hare. He has crossed the finish line, an example of the grace and discipline he taught. His life commended his teaching, as the Apostle Paul said it should. I’m thankful for his writing ministry, and recommend his books. He doesn’t seek to be provocative, but faithful to the Scriptures and the theology found there. I owe him a big debt. He has found Christ faithful.