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I just began meeting with one of my Pastor’s on a weekly basis for accountability and encouragement. We decided to read a book to discuss – The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges. I thought I would share a few quotes that stuck out to me from the Introduction and 1st chapter.

“All of us, regardless of how long we have known Christ, need to bathe ourselves in the gospel every day.”

“… we have a truncated view of the gospel, tending to see it only as a door we walk through to become a Christian.”

He further says that we fail to see the gospel as the basis of our day-to-day acceptance with Him. That the gospel is good news that directly addresses the ultimate bad news of our lives. “…one sign of spiritual growth is an increased awareness of our sinfulness.”

The gospel is more than just fire insurance into heaven, it is our life and breath. Looking forward to diving into this book!

This past Sunday I had the privilege to preach and my text was Hebrews 12:1-3, one of my favorites. As I tried to unpack this passage and explain what this text meant to the original audience and how it can apply to us, one phrase stuck out. “laying aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,”. An encumbrance is simply a bulk, weight or mass of some kind. It isn’t necessarily bad. But as the author says, we need to lay it aside. So, I started asking myself what are the encumbrances that I need to lay aside so that I can run the race of faith better? Television, internet, books, relationships…. what is slowing me down? This is not an easy question and sometimes not a pleasant one to answer.

The author then continues to press his point by saying we need also to remove the sin that entangles us. This entanglement is harasses or attacks us. It trips us up. Like running the race with our shoes untied. So what could this sin be that seems to be constant in our lives? Jerry Bridges in his book Respectable Sins, details some of the sins that we passively overlook in our lives. It could be discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, lack of self control, impatience & irritability, anger, judgementalism, envy, tongue or worldliness. One thing that is common with all sin – IT ISN’T PASSIVE.

Sin is active.

C.J. Mahaney wrote an article a little more than a month ago concerning the issue with Tiger Woods and the deception of sin:

“Deception is part of sin’s DNA. Sin lies to us. It seeks to convince us that sin brings only pleasure, that it carries no consequences, and that no one will discover it. Sin works hard to make us forget that character, conduct, and consequences are interconnected. And when we neglect this relationship—when we think our sins will not be discovered—we ultimately mock God.”

Some of us have been lulled into thinking that if we can suppress sin long enough it will just away; we have fooled ourselves by saying sin is not really a big deal. And in reality we have mocked God. Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” What sin(s) in our lives do we need to confess to God? We have the promise in scripture that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Thank God for his long-suffering for us His children!

CoverThere are very few books that take me longer than a month to read through entirely because of content and not length. This book is one. I was drawn to this book because of the deep content and fluid writing style of Jerry Bridges.

The book is laid out in two parts: (1) Christ’s Atonement: Overview and Context (2) The Apostle-authored Scripture on Christ’s Atonement. At first glance you might think that it is another theology book that just dives into the facts of Christ’s atonement throughout the New Testament and not much more. But as I finished part one and started part two, I knew this would be a different kind of beast.

I really could have finished this book in a week (only 290 pages) but as I started part two I knew that I needed to take my time and chew on each chapter. I won’t go into great detail of what I read, because that would result in a really long post. (If you would  like a better breakdown of the book, check out this website put out by Bridges & Bevington) But I have referenced this book in prior posts along the way of reading it. (you read them here, and here.)

I will close with a endorsement on the back of the book by Michael Horton,

“The Gospel announces a great exchange: the innocent God-Man assuming our debt as we inherit his righteousness. Those who love to hear that story will love to read this book and will be filled with fresh enthusiasm to share it with others.”

That is exactly what this book has done in my life. It has given me a greater passion for ministry and evangelism as I read along with Bridges & Bevington the great gospel truth throughout the New Testament pages, that a Holy God sent His Perfect Son to die in my place. And with His death a Great Exchange happened that could never be accomplished on my own.

May God receive all the Glory!

I highly recommend this book for reading of any and all believers that would like to grow in grace and knowledge of their Lord Jesus Christ!

You can download the Foreword, Preface, and Introduction – PDF from Monergism Books website.

I have been reading another Jerry Bridges book for some time. Actually it’s been months, but not because it is boring or not interesting; but because it is a lot to chew on. The book is “The Great Exchange – My Sin for His Righteousness“.

It is just when I think that I pretty special, like I am someone important, that God brings me back to ground and shows me my “true” worth. Today it was in Bridges book and the following scriptures. The whole idea of this book is to showcase the incredible and indescribable beauty of our God in His atonement on our behalf. We are all still stuck in our sinful bodies and as Paul writes to the Corinthian church he is dealing with the issue of sinful practices that had crept into the church. “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:18-20

Paul is saying we need a change of mind concerning our salvation through Christ’s atonement. If we say we are a believer, then our actions should reflect that. Bridges says,

“By laying down his life for us at the cross, Christ purchased us for God – all parts of us, body, soul, spirit, and mind. As a result, God owns us. But this goes beyond the rights of God can inherently claim as our creator; we are doubly owned by him, first by virtue of his creator rights and then by virtue of his redeemer rights.”

We were once enslaved to sin and Christ paid the ransom price and redeemed us from that sorry state. “The amount he paid is displayed in the nature, intention, and scope of Christ’s obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8).” What a Savior we have!

What should our response be to this, “Glorifying, magnifying, and making much of God is to be our response to the great love God demonstrated in Christ’s purchase of us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8).”

May God be glorified today in our lives!

-jeff

I was thinking today about the section in Jerry Bridges book, “Respectable Sins” in which he is dealing with pride as a sin that we tolerate and excuse in our lives. He says,

…the assumption that whatever my doctrinal beliefs are, they are correct, and anyone who holds another belief is theologically inferior.” (p.92)

I think it is a great statement that needs to be made in light of our present situation in Christendom. We all can be guilty of this sin of pride, whether we are dispensational or covenant theology or calvinist or arminian. What struck me as I thought about this subtle sin, is that we somehow justify our attitudes, words or actions in the name of Christ or His Word. When we say that we have cornered the market on a certain doctrinal belief, we are actually saying that we are Spiritually superior.

Now, by no means do I condone not being passionate about our convictions from Scripture. But my point, along with Bridges, is that we need to hold to those beliefs with an attitude of humility. Bridges brings out the passage in 1 Corinthians 8:1 as a support of how we sometimes allow our doctrinal stances to turn into sin. “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor. 8:1, ESV) Bridges writes, “Paul agreed with their ‘knowledge’ — that is, their doctrinal belief regarding eating food offered to idols — but he charges them with doctrinal pride. Their ‘knowledge’ had puffed them up” (p.92)

I have just recently been in a conversation with a believer who was very upset with those that hold to post-tribulational view of end times. He was so disgusted with this view that he was sharing how he couldn’t see how he could even be a friend to those that hold to that belief. He was choosing isolation over friendship because of his doctrinal pride. The issue is not the belief, but the attitude in which we deal with the differences that we have. Maybe we don’t have anyone right now in our circle of friends (or acquaintances) that differ from our belief system, but we will someday.

My hearts desire is to hold to my doctrinal beliefs with passion and zeal; but also to hold to them with genuine humility that honors the name of Jesus Christ.

-jeff

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