Learned late last night about the passing of Jerry Bridges on the weekend as tributes poured in creating a top-ten trending item on Twitter. I was blessed to have been influenced by one of his books at a pivotal time in my past ministry life; and equally blessed today to have a number of files in my computer to share with you…
The first speaking engagement I ever had, I thought they were booking me as a musician. “No, we want you to speak, not sing;” said the guy on the other end of the phone. “It’s a winter weekend retreat. We’re doing a book study on Flirting With The World by John White and you’ll be speaking four times for an hour each time.”
Somewhere along the line, I picked up a copy of The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges and actually referred to both books equally that weekend. I’ll never forget the line, “We never see sin aright as we see it as against God.” So often we sin and think we failed ourselves; like going off a diet or something. We forget that we sin against God. Not our friends, family or church family.
For a long time I kept the devotional book by Jerry Bridges, Holiness – Day by Day: Transformation Thoughts for your Spiritual Journey next to the computer. Today I wondered what writing by Bridges might be available online and found this excellent quotation site. Here are some highlights in the category of holiness — plus a few others — this represents about one page of 17 pages available by him.
- We abuse grace when, after sinning, we dwell on the compassion and mercy of God to the exclusion of His holiness and hatred of sin.
- Jesus said, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). We must honestly face the question, “Am I willing to give up a certain practice or habit that is keeping me from holiness?” It is at this point of commitment that most of us fail. We prefer to dally with sin, to try to play with it a little without getting too deeply involved.
- As we grow in holiness, we grow in hatred of sin; and God, being infinitely holy, has an infinite hatred of sin.
- As used in Scripture, holiness describes both the majesty of God and the purity and moral perfection of His nature. Holiness is one of His attributes; that is, holiness is an essential part of the nature of God. His holiness is as necessary as His existence, or as necessary, for example, as His wisdom or omniscience. Just as He cannot but know what is right, so He cannot but do what is right.
- We need to call sin what the Bible calls it and not soften it with modern expressions borrowed from our culture.
- What is holiness? The best practical definition that I have heard is simply “without sin.” That is the statement that was made of the Lord Jesus’ life on earth (Hebrews 4:15), and that should be the goal of every person who desires to be godly. Granted, we will never reach that goal in this life; nevertheless it is to be our supreme objective and the object of our most earnest efforts and prayers.
- I believe a word that forcefully captures the essence of Jesus’ work of propitiation is the word exhausted. Jesus exhausted the wrath of God. It was not merely deflected and prevented from reaching us; it was exhausted. Jesus bore the full, unmitigated brunt of it. God’s wrath against sin was unleashed in all its fury on His beloved Son. He held nothing back.
Oh, as for the four-hour speaking gig, as a group we had a number of late night discussions as people chose the warmth of the large fireplace at Muskoka Woods Sports Resort over the raging blizzard outside, and added an extra session on the Saturday afternoon. In total, I believe I spoke or led discussions for eleven hours! Great memories; and I was so fortunate to have such an excellent source book with which to guide the weekend. Every Christian should read The Pursuit of Holiness.
This is from Jerry Bridges Holiness devotional (p. 94) and is also a selection from his book, The Discipline of Grace.
I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake. Is. 43:25
God uses several metaphors and colorful expressions to assure us that our sins have been literally carried away by our Lord Jesus Christ. One of them is in Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (NIV). Here was an infinite distance as great as human vocabulary could express.
Jesus not only bore our sins on the cross, He carried them away an infinite distance. He removed them from the presence of God and from us forever. They can no longer bar our access to God’s holy presence. Now “we have confidence” – or “boldness” as the King James Version more strikingly puts it – to enter God’s presence. (Hebrews 10:19)
Reinforcing this message is Isaiah 38:17, where King Hezekiah said to God, “You have cast all my sins behind your back.” When something’s behind your back, you can’t see it anymore. It’s out of sight. This is how He has completely dealt with our sin and put it away.
There’s an emphatic ring to Hezekiah’s words. They suggest a deliberate, decisive action on God’s part. God Himself has cast our sins behind His back and He is not hesitant or reluctant in doing this. He has taken the initiative and He did so joyfully and gladly. God takes pleasure in putting our sins behind his back because He takes pleasure in the work of His Son.
Do we believe this? Do we believe the testimony of Scripture, or do we believe our guilty feelings? Only to the extent we believe God has indeed put our sins behind His back will we be motivated and enabled to effectively deal with those sins in our daily lives.
Loyalty and Obedience
“Consider the holiness of Christ. We need this first of all to be firmly grounded in our security in Christ…. It is important therefore that we understand the righteousness of Christ, and the fact that His righteousness is credited to us.
On numerous occasions the Scriptures testify that Jesus during His time on earth lived a perfectly holy life.
But the holiness of Jesus was more than simply the absence of actual sin. It was also a perfect conformity to the will of His Father.
It is possible to do the right action from the wrong motive, but this does not please God. Holiness has to do with more then mere acts. Our motives must be holy, that is, arising from a desire to do something simply because it is the will of God….
Consider the holiness of Christ, because His life is meant to be an example of holiness for us….
Consider then His statement, “I always do what pleases Him, “Do we dare take that as our personal goal in life? Are we truly willing to scrutinize all our activities, our goals and plans, and all of our impulsive actions in the light of this statement: “I am doing this to please God”? …
This is the example we are to follow. In all of our thoughts, all of our actions, in every part of our character, the ruling principle that motivates and guides us should be the desire to follow Christ in doing the will of the Father. This is the high road we must follow in the pursuit of holiness.
(From The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges)
The Purse-uit of Holiness: In Evangelicalism, nothing says you’ve entered the mainstream like some friendly title parodying. I never read this book, but it shows how widespread was the readership of Bridges’ classic title.
The loss of any key Christian author, pastor or missionary always causes me to ask, “Who will replace them?” For someone reading this, maybe it’s you.
Read a number of other quotations from Jerry Bridges at Christianity 201.