I love short books, I love books on the gospel, and I love Jerry Bridges…. That means that ‘the bookends of the Christian life’ by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington is clearly a great book in my estimation.
This short book (154 small pages) looks at how the Christian can live his life free from the three gospel enemies of self-righteousness, persistent guilt and self-reliance. The problem, as Bridges and Bevington so clearly see, is like a book shelf. We have all our books (which represent all the area’s of our lives, both Spiritual and day-to-day) on the bookshelf of our life and they try to stay standing on their own, but they fall over. Therefore we need bookends to keep everything in their place. Often. we try to do this by leaning on the book end of ‘try harder’. But that always fails.
So, what are the 2 bookends? How can we live our lives in a God-exalting and honouring manner?
The first is ‘the righteousness of Christ’. The first half of the book unpacks this concept and is basically a mini ‘disciplines of grace’. It is a really heart warming set of chapters that help you glory in the gospel of Christ and see that Jesus has done everything and therefore there is no need for self righteousness or persistent guilt. Even if you have read Bridges before and have been bombarded with ‘preach the gospel to yourself every day’, you still need to read this…ultimately because it will help you preach the gospel to yourself that day :).
The second bookend is where we see a development in Bridges theme – ‘The power of the Holy Spirit’. In NWA10 Bridges expressed that he felt his earlier books didn’t clearly show where the power to change came from – this book is his attempt to redress that over sight. Basically, he shows from Scripture that the Holy Spirit gives us the power, through pointing us to the gospel, to change, and so we don’t need to lean on self-reliance.
This second section is well worth reading and meditating on. It helps you to understand the relationship between the work of the Holy Spirit and the Christian. The authors make no attempt to hide the fact that they simplifying John Owen, and that is the beauty of the book: this is classic, Biblical theology given in simple, short and satisfying chapters.
So, who should read this book?
- If you have never read a book by Jerry Bridges, you must, and this is the one to start with.
- If you are struggling to enjoy God and His gospel, this book will help.
- If you are applying the gospel to your life but are still struggling with besetting sin, this book will really help.
There is one draw back to this book….it is a hard back. That means that you are paying a little under a tenner for a very short book. I feel that is a little unfair. But, if you think of it like technology – you pay more for the smaller product! So, pay a bit more so that you’ll not waste your time on a longer, less edifying book.