I stumbled upon Jerry Bridges book Growing your Faith: How to Mature in Christ in a local thrift shop (the copy’s even been signed by the author!) and have really been delighted with every passing page!
Though I find myself doing a double take with the title every time I pick up the book – this due to recent controversies which emphasize obedient faith as saving faith – Bridges is not really taking about that. Thus the subtitle, “How to Mature in Christ,” is probably the operative phrase.
I love how careful Bridges is to explicitly state and re-state the gospel of free acceptance in Christ by faith alone. He devotes several chapters to this from the outset, but even as he progresses through various Christian disciplines, he reiterates this. Bridges realizes that even Christians are incredibly good at forgetting the gospel, and reverting to the law!
I thought I’d share this nice section:
Living by grace means you are free from having to earn God’s blessings by your obedience or practice of spiritual disciplines. If you have trusted in Christ as your Savior, you are loved and accepted by God through the merit of Jesus, and you are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. He loves your strictly by His grace given to you through Jesus.
How does this emphasis on God’s free and sovereign grace make you feel? Does it make you a little nervous? Does it seem a bit scary to hear that nothing you do will ever make God love you any more or bless you any more? Do you think, Well, if you take the pressure off like that and tell me all of my effort will never earn me one blessing, then I’m afraid I’ll slack off and stop doing the things I need to do to live a disciplined Christian life?
This type of response is always a possibility. In fact, if our concept of grace does not expose us to that possible misunderstanding, then we do not thoroughly understand grace. I believe it is because we are afraid of this attitude that we often change the doctrine of grace into a doctrine of works.
Bridges goes on to quote Romans 6:1 where Paul himself faced – and answered – that very wrong response! He then continues:
The solution to the problem of misunderstanding and abusing God’s grace is not to add works to grace. Rather, the solution is to be so gripped by the magnificence and boundless generosity of God’s grace that we respond out of gratitude rather than out of a sense of duty. As Stephen Brown said, “The problem [isn't] that we made the gospel too good. The problem is that we didn’t make it good enough.”
This book too is a delightful little read!
Christ Reformed Church