Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
The Lord has used Jerry Bridges and his writings in significant ways in the lives of many Christians. Some of those influential and formative books are The Pursuit of Holiness, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness, and Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.
Bridges has certainly influenced me through his writings. His works are biblically and theologically faithful, they are written with transparency and honesty about his own struggles, and they contain clear guidance regarding application of these truths as we live the Christian life.
I have read numerous interviews with Bridges and I never tire reading/hearing each one. I recently read another one: Pursuing Holiness. In this interview two responses encouraged me, which I highlight below.
In this question he was asked about his statement in one of his books that many find it difficult to trust in God in difficult circumstances. In the midst of these challenges, he was asked about how we can learn to trust God.
Trusting God in tough times involves believing first of all in the sovereignty of God; that He is in absolute control of all the events and circumstances of our lives. Second, we must believe that He is just as loving as He is sovereign, and that He allows nothing into our lives that is not for our ultimate good. It also involves believing that He will never leave us nor forsake us in the midst of these tough times. Though these are the main points, we must also realize that God’s ways are often mysterious and inscrutable, so we are called to trust Him even in circumstances that we do not understand.
In this question, he was asked about “the most significant lessons that God has taught you over a lifetime of ministry.” Bridges replies with key six lessons.
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.
The fourth is my understanding and acceptance of the doctrine of God’s sovereign election in our salvation. 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.
What do you appreciate about Bridges’ answers? If asked, how would you respond?