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The Bookends of the Christian Life Hardcover – March 9, 2009
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"Through his many books, Jerry Bridges has been shepherding my soul since I first became a Christian sixteen years ago. He has done it again. As I have come to expect, he has provided a sea of theological matter in a drop of devotional language. Here you will find God-centered doctrine that is delectably deep and down to earth at the same time. I promise that if you read this book carefully and prayerfully, you will gain both an informed mind and an enlarged heart."
—Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; author, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
"Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington have provided another marvelous instrument for guiding believers to the provisions of a gospel-blessed and gospel-driven life. In this volume the surpassing righteousness of Christ joined with the power of the Holy Spirit is clearly displayed from God's Word. Thanks from all of us who desire to make disciples that will follow Christ purposefully and passionately."
—Harry L. Reeder III, Senior Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama
"Forgiveness of sin and power to change-I can think of no more essential topics for a Christian to study than these twin blessings of the gospel. And I can think of no one better to write on these topics than Jerry Bridges. Jerry has provided for me over the years a constant diet of gospel-saturated writing, and here is a fresh feast. I trust you will enjoy it as much as I have."
—C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
"Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington look at the Christian life through a wide-angle lens, examining the framework that supports, stabilizes and secures the believer's life in Christ. They teach elements of a distinctly biblical worldview, leaning upon the righteousness of Christ on one hand and upon the power of the Holy Spirit on the other. A wise and powerful book, one I heartily recommend."
—Tim Challies, blogger, Challies.com; author, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
"Thinking you understand the gospel but applying it only to salvation is like barely releasing your sail and slogging through the waves. Bookends will equip you to release that sail, catch the mighty wind of God, and see every "book" in your life transformed."
—Dee Brestin, author, Idol Lies and The God of all Comfort
"With their latest publication, the authors display how sound theology is transformational and how understanding enhances true piety and produces profound worship."
—Robert M. Norris, Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, Maryland
"Martin Luther said, 'Man in his search for truth is like a drunken peasant. You help him up on one side of his horse and he falls over the other side.' This book, perhaps more than any other, is designed to keep you on the horse living in the truth of the gospel. There are few books you will find more valuable on your shelf."
—Joe Coffey, Lead Pastor, Hudson Community Chapel, Hudson, Ohio
About the Author
Jerry Bridges is a longtime staff member of the Navigators and currently serves with their collegiate ministry. In addition to his international speaking ministry, he has authored ten books and three devotionals; among them The Pursuit of Holiness, which has sold well over a million copies, and the award-winning The Discipline of Grace and I Will Follow You, O God.
Bob Bevington has practiced optometry since 1980 and cofounded several companies. His passion, however, is the message of the cross.
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Enter Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington. Bridges and Bevington provide an extended metaphor to explain two provisions on which believers must rely-the righteousness of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bookends of the Christian Life aims to help readers understand and apply the doctrines of justification and sanctification. As is usually the case with Bridges, the book is written simply, clearly and biblically.
The authors are not just giving doctrinal overviews here either. They are mixing it up in our kitchens. In the section on the righteousness of Christ, the authors unveil the twin joy killing enemies of self righteousness: self-imposed moralism and self-imposed guilt. They show how these errors undermine the work of Christ by seeing his righteousness as inadequate. There are also several application questions that are routinely asked throughout the chapters to help readers see how their individual lives intersect with the issues at hand. This is truly helpful.
Some of the intensely practical questions that are answered in the book are:
* How can I overcome persistent guilt?
* How can I deal with the pressure to measure up?
* Where can I find the motivation it takes to grow?
* How can I live the Christian life with both my head and my heart?
* How can I be sure God loves me?
* How can I change in an authentic and lasting way?
As you read this book you are struck with the gospel-wrought humility that has been forged in their hearts. These men are aware of their sin and overjoyed with the reality of the work of Christ. So this book is as refreshing as it is helpful!
As a pastor I am regularly looking for books to recommend that are gospel centered, clear, and personal. The authors do not compromise doctrine for application or vice versa. In this sense the book is a gem. It is written in a simple, understanding way but at the same time they are dropping 100 lb. truth on your lap. The book itself is fairly short (160 pages), small (7.2 x 5.2 x 0.6' ) and weighs in at only 7 oz. So it is not a long or difficult read. But it is a book that talks to you, in a good way, after you put it down.
They have also published a free study guide on the website ([...]
I am excited about how this book has used the gospel to personally refreshed me on the twin bookends of the righteousness of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. I am eager to share with others as well.
This book relies upon a metaphor that extends from cover-to-cover: the metaphor of bookends. I think we have all experienced the difficulty of putting books on a bookshelf without using any bookends. You know what happens. The books on the end inevitably tip over and once they fall, the ones beside them fall too. Soon the whole line of books has tipped over and several of them may have crashed to the floor. The solution, of course, is to install a couple of sturdy bookends on either side of the shelf. This will support the whole row, keeping them right where they are supposed to be.
"Think of your life right now as a long bookshelf," say Bridges and Bevington. "The books on it represent all the things you do--both spiritual and temporal. There's a spiritual book for each activity of your Christian growth and service, perhaps with titles such as Church Attendance, Bible Study, Daily Quiet Time, Sharing the Gospel or Serving Others. The temporal books might include Job Performance, Educational Pursuits, Recreation and Leisure, Grocery Shopping, Driving the Car, Doing the Laundry, Mowing the Grass and Paying the Bills, to name a few. Our temporal books are intermingled with spiritual books on our bookshelf, since all our activities are to be informed and directed by the spiritual dimension. ... Without adequate bookends, even if we succeed in getting all our books to remain upright, their stability is precarious at best."
Through the bookend metaphor, the authors use this book to teach about God's solution. "When we become united to Christ by faith, God places a set of bookends on the bookshelf of our lives. One bookend is the righteousness of Christ; the other is the power of the Holy Spirit. Though they're provided by God, it's our responsibility to lean our books on them, relying on them to support, stabilize, and secure all our books--everything we do."
The authors dedicate half of this book to each of the two bookends. In the first half they look at the righteousness of Christ as a means of assurance in our day-to-day relationship with God. It is only because of the righteousness of Christ that God can see us as righteous. As our sin was transferred to Christ on the cross, his righteousness was credited to us. And so we live now in the present reality of being justified before the Father. In the second half they turn to the power of the Holy Spirit to fight with us and for us as we battle against indwelling sin. Here we see both the Spirit's monergistic work in giving us new life, in giving the gifts of repentance and faith, but we also see the necessity of synergistic work where we cooperate with the Spirit in putting sin to death (though obviously this is a qualified, uneven synergism much in the same way my six year-old daughter may help me shovel the driveway).
In each case Bridges and Bevington look to gospel enemies that can cause our books to begin to tip over and in both cases they offer a series of focal points that will help the reader keep his life and his faith focused on that particular bookend. As he progresses, the reader will find answers to such questions as: How can I overcome persistent guilt? How can I deal with the pressure to measure up? Where can I find the motivation it takes to grow? How can I live the Christian life with both my head and my heart? How can I be sure God loves me? How can I change in an authentic and lasting way?
In The Bookends of the Christian Life Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington look at the Christian life through a wide-angle lens, examining the framework that supports, stabilizes and secures the believer's life in Christ. They teach elements of a distinctly biblical worldview, leaning upon the righteousness of Christ on one hand and upon the power of the Holy Spirit on the other. This is a deeply pastoral book that constantly encourages the reader to look to Christ and to depend on the Holy Spirit. I have read it twice and have benefited from it both times. A wise and powerful book, it is one I heartily recommend.
The authors write from a very personal point of view by choosing to use pronouns "we" or "us" in many instances and often quoting from their favorite books. It is quite evident while reading the book that they themselves have been living out these wonderful gospel truths in their lives and that is why they are able to put their point across so effectively. This short powerful book effectively explains how believers must depend on the above two gracious provisions of God in order to lead gospel-centered lives. It has proved to be a great motivator to me in my spiritual journey and I sincerely believe that it shall be a blessing to all believers.