Notable Christians: Jerry Bridges

To millions of earnest Christians around the world, Jerry Bridges would be a household name. The author, speaker and champion of Christian discipleship has had a huge impact, and it is with great sadness that we learned of his death today, age 86.

He was born in a Christian home in Texas in December 1929. At the age of 18 he committed his life to Christ. He spent some years in the US Navy, and served in the Korean conflict. In 1955 he joined the staff of the Christian parachurch organization, The Navigators, and served them faithfully for over half a century.

The author of some 25 books, some of which are now classics, he always had as his main goal to see Christians develop into mature, holy, disciples of Christ. His first and still most important book was the 1978 classic, The Pursuit of Holiness, (NavPress) which has sold over a million copies. In 17 brief but powerful chapters he laid out the case for holiness, stressing the role of the believer in actively pursuing holiness.

bridges 5Other terrific volumes followed, including:

The Practice of Godliness (1983)
Trusting God (1988)
Transforming Grace (1991)
Is God Really in Control? (2006)
Respectable Sins (2007, 2013)

In 2014 his brief autobiography was published, God Took Me by the Hand: A Story of God’s Unusual Providence. There you will learn much about this great man and his great ministry, and his keen sense of the providence of God in his life. It is well worth getting and reading. It will encourage you just as his other books have done.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the importance of this man and his mission is to simply offer a number of quotes from this book. Here are just some of the great lines from this vital volume, and some of his other books:

“It is impossible to be devoted to God if one’s heart is not filled with the fear of God. It is this profound sense of veneration and honor, reverence and awe that draws forth from our hearts the worship and adoration that characterizes true devotion to God. The reverent, godly Christian sees God first in his transcendent glory, majesty, and holiness before he sees him in his love, mercy, and grace.”

“There is a healthy tension that exists in the godly person’s heart between the reverential awe of God in his glory and the childlike confidence in God as heavenly Father. Without this tension, a Christian’s filial confidence can easily degenerate into presumption.”

“The pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part. God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But He has given to us the responsibility of doing the walking; He does not do that for us.”

“In addition to my own personal Bible study on the subject of holiness, I have profited greatly from the writings of the Puritans – and those who followed in their school of thought. . . . This is particularly true of the writings of John Owen and of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.”

“The idea of exactly how to be holy has suffered from many false concepts. In some circles, holiness is equated with a series of prohibitions – usually in such areas as smoking, drinking & dancing. The list of prohibitions varies depending on the group. When we follow this approach to holiness, we are in danger of becoming like the Pharisees with their endless lists of trivial do’s and don’ts, and their self-righteous attitude. For others, it means a particular style of dress and mannerisms. And for still others, it means unattainable perfection, an idea that fosters either delusion or discouragement about one’s sin. All of these ideas, while accurate to some degree, miss the true concept. To be holy is to be morally blameless. It is to be separated from sin and, therefore, consecrated to God. The word signifies ‘separation to God, and the conduct befitting those so separated’.”

“Our first problem is that our attitude towards sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own ‘Victory’ over sin than we are about the fact that our sin grieves the heart of God. We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success oriented, not because we know it is offensive to God.”

“We must face the fact that we have a personal responsibility for our walk of holiness.”

“Consider the holiness of God. This is where holiness begins. Not with ourselves, but with God. It’s only when we see His holiness, His absolute purity and moral hatred of sin that we will be gripped by the awfulness of sin against a holy God. To be gripped by that fact is the first step in our pursuit of holiness.”

“Many Christians have what we might call a ‘cultural holiness’. They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them. As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy. But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.”

“As we grow in holiness, we grow in hatred of sin; and God, being infinitely holy, has an infinite hatred of sin.”

“The holiness of God is an exceedingly high standard, a perfect standard. But it is nevertheless one that He holds us to. He cannot do less. While it is true that He accepts us solely through the merit of Christ, God’s standard for our character, attitudes, affections, and actions is, ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ We must take this seriously if we are to grow in holiness.”

“Scripture speaks of both a holiness we have in Christ before God, and a holiness we are to strive after. These two aspects of holiness complement one another, for our salvation is a salvation to holiness: ‘For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life’ (1 Thessalonians 4:7).”

“God does not require a perfect, sinless life to have fellowship with Him, but He does require that we be serious about holiness, that we grieve over sin in our lives instead of justifying it, and that we earnestly pursue holiness as a way of life.”

“If we try to search our own hearts, we are likely to fall into one or both of two traps. The first is the trap of morbid introspection. Introspection can easily become the tool of Satan who is called the accuser (Revelation 12:10). One of his chief weapons is discouragement. He knows that if he can make us discouraged and dispirited, we will not fight the battle for holiness. The second trap is that of missing the real issues in our lives. The deceitfulness of Satan and of our own hearts will lead us to focus on secondary issues. Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to see areas to which we are blind.”

“In our day we must begin to recover a sense of awe and profound reverence for God. We must begin to view him once again in the infinite majesty that alone belongs to him who is the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the entire universe. There is an infinite gap in worth and dignity between God the Creator and man the creature, even though man has been created in the image of God. The fear of God is a heartfelt recognition of this gap—not a putdown of man, but an exaltation of God.”

“In our day we seem to have magnified the love of God almost to the exclusion of the fear of God. Because of this preoccupation we are not honoring God and reverencing him as we should. We should magnify the love of God; but although we revel in his love and mercy, we must never lose sight of his majesty and his holiness.”

“The love of God has no meaning apart from Calvary. And Calvary has no meaning apart from the holy and just wrath of God. Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life; he died to save us from the wrath of God. He died to reconcile us to a holy God who was alienated from us because of our sin. He died to ransom us from the penalty of sin—the punishment of everlasting destruction, and of being shut out from the presence of the Lord. He died that we, the just objects of God’s wrath, should become, by his grace, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”

“How much we appreciate God’s love is conditioned by how deeply we fear him. The more we see God in his infinite majesty, holiness, and transcendent glory, the more we will gaze with wonder and amazement upon his love poured out at Calvary. But it is also true that the more deeply we perceive God’s love to us in Christ, the more profound will be our reverence and awe of him.”

“The pursuit of holiness requires sustained and vigorous effort. It allows for no indolence, no lethargy, no halfhearted commitment, and no laissez faire attitude toward even the smallest sins. In short, it demands the highest priority in the life of a Christian, because to be holy is to be like Christ — God’s goal for every Christian.”

“Your 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.”

Rest in peace Jerry Bridges.

[1644 words]

5 Replies to “Notable Christians: Jerry Bridges”

  1. Truly inspirational. Thanks, Bill.
    Indeed, he is with Christ, the ultimate victory.

  2. Wonderful statements of truth. How refreshing it is to read what is discovered when one searches out the true reason for and meaning of “Holiness”. For so long I was burdened down by legalism and Pharisaical attitudes of self-righteousness driven by tradition of men in their adherence to their lists of what is right or not.

    I am so grateful God delivered me from that bondage through recognizing that the focus of my gaze is upon Him and not myself. That only through a fear and reference and love for God can I truly walk according to His Word and Will, and not my own.

    Thank you Bill for introducing me to this man of God. I will definitely be reading his works.

  3. Reading Bridges’ book “Trusting God even when life hurts” has a profound impact on my life, both in terms of learning how to trust, and also starting to grasp the immensity of who God is and the depth of his character. It is wrong to limit God by trying to understand Him completely and put our boundaries around Him, but it is totally right to trust that He is good, Holy and perfect.

    I’m not sure that Jerry Bridges is merely “resting in peace” – rather he has entered into incredible joy for eternity!

  4. Thank you Bill for bringing this to our attention, a much loved man gone to be with the Lord. A great call for celebration.
    I have read some of his books, the Joy of Fearing God, for one. Must read more of his writing, especially his autobiography, as you recommend.
    Bill Heggers Bridgetown W.A.

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