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Jerry Bridges 1929-2016

Jerry Bridges, an author who challenged Christians to take seriously God’s command for holiness, died this past Sunday at 86 years old. This Bible teacher and speaker served with The Navigators discipleship ministry for nearly 60 years, and wrote the popular book The Pursuit of Holiness among many others.

I was involved with The Navigators during many of the years that Jerry was leading this ministry and it was an honour to meet this man. He was authentic, loving and humble.

He was not a man who was known for his academic credentials or worldly accomplishments. He was a man who was known for his holiness, for his godliness, for his desire to teach others what the Lord had taught him.”  Tim Challies

In a 2014 Tabletalk interview, Bridges shared 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. (Meaning that we are responsible to deal with sin in our lives so that we grow but we are also dependent on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to do so. Bridges calls this, “dependent responsibility.”) 

The fourth is my understanding and acceptance of the doctrine of God’s sovereign election in our salvation. (Meaning that we are Christians because God chose us before the foundation of the world) 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. 

Jerry told the interviewer that he learned these lessons in the chronological order that he spoke of them and that it took him 50 years to figure it all out. He shared that his spiritual life was a matter of “Too soon old. Too late smart” and that he wanted to encourage young people to learn these truths earlier in their lives.

Wise words from a wise man.

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