‘How then should we live?’ What does God expect from us as Christians and how are we to simultaneously shun legalism whilst living a life worthy of the gospel? The gospel is one of grace and yet there is also a call to holiness - Jerry Bridges explains how these two meet and are two sides of the same coin in his award winning book The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. This book is somewhat of a follow up book to his title “The Pursuit of Holiness”. However, this book may be read on its own. The Discipline of Grace was published first in 1994 by NavPress. Currently it has been rated 4.3 on Goodreads and on Amazon its rating stands at 4.8. It received the 1995 Gold Medallion Book Award in the category of Christian living.
1) Gain a fuller understanding of grace
Jerry Bridges does a phenomenal job of describing the true meaning of grace in chapters 1 - 7 of this book. Lest we fall into the common trap of thinking the ‘discipline’ means that we can improve ourselves, a prideful and Pharisaic view, Jerry Bridges goes to great lengths to explain that true, biblical ‘discipline’ can only result from true, biblical grace. He goes on to explain that we are to continually live in the gospel of grace, reaching the gospel to ourselves daily, in order to be transformed by the gospel.
2) To see where your sinfulness meets grace and holiness.
It is also easy to assume a ‘woe-is-me’ attitude when considering the issue of sin. We are indeed all sinners - that is the message of the gospel. But does that mean we cannot access the discipline of grace? IF we are sinners, how are we to pursue holiness? I love his words on page 76: ‘Grace is the only provision from God whereby we can deal with sin and make any progress in the pursuit of holiness.’
3) If you want to understand how 'Obedience is Love'
Jesus' words to his disciples, recorded in the gospel of John, were that to love Him we should obey His commands. These words echo the Old Testament laws, as Jerry Bridges points out, that love and obedience go hand in hand. If we are not compelled or motivated to obey God out of love, we will find that our motives in the pursuit of becoming holy through discipline may be idolatrous.
4) If you want to understand God's role vs your role in growth.
The Bible teaches us that in being sanctified we are to fully rely on the Holy Spirit. Jerry Bridges in The Discipline of Grace gives a fantastic image to understand how we are to depend on Him whilst simultaneously making efforts to grow. A farmer works hard on his crops by sowing, plating, fertilizing etc. He has control over all of these processes, just as we have control over how we use our time to pursue growth in God. However, it is God alone that can make a plant grow. A farmer cannot force a plant to grow. So too, are we dependent on God in the discipline of grace.
5) If you want to dive into some character-building disciplines
Jerry Bridges reserves his last chapters to discuss a few disciplines that he deems important in Christian living, namely convictions, choices, commitment and watching. He does a superb job of teaching these disciplines as rooted in the grace of God. I highly recommend that you read the first few pages on Amazon to see if this book is for you.
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