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The Discipline of Grace Paperback – April 28, 2006
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The same grace that brings us salvation also teaches us to discipline ourselves as we pursue holiness. DOES LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE FEEL LIKE AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK? Remember that your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace, nor are your best days ever so good that you are beyond the need of it. We know we need grace. Without it we'd never come to Christ in the first place, but being a Christian is more than just coming to Christ. It's about growing and becoming more like Jesus?it's about pursuing holiness. The pursuit of holiness is hard work, and that's where we turn from grace to discipline?and often make a big mistake. Grace is every bit as important for growing as a Christian as it is for becoming a Christian. "The pursuit of holiness," writes Jerry Bridges, "must be anchored in the grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure." Grace is at the heart of the gospel, and without a clear understanding of the gospel and grace we can easily slip into a performance-based lifestyle that bears little resemblance to what the gospel offers us. According to Bridges, many Christians don't have a good grasp of what the gospel message is. In The Discipline of Grace, he offers a clear and thorough explanation of the gospel and what it means to the believer. Bridges discusses how the same grace that brings us to faith in Christ also disciplines us in Christ, and how we learn to discipline ourselves in the areas of commitment, conviction, choices, watchfulness, and adversity. If you've ever struggled with what your role is and what role God takes in your growth as a Christian, this book will comfort and challenge you as you learn to rest in Christ while vigorously pursuing a life of holiness.
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Perhaps it was the timing of my reading it: I was a Freshman in college. I have always struggled to balance legalism with license to sin (anti-nomianism). The Discipline of Grace is all about staying out of these two ditches on either side of the road that is the Christian life. I struggled because I wanted to pursue godliness and holiness so much, but found myself doing it to gain God's approval. And in other seasons, I would almost justify my continuing sin by banking on God's grace. Enter this book.
Bridges shows how grace actually teaches and trains us (Titus 2) and we actually use the good news of the gospel and the love God has already given us to motivate us to pursue holiness. It's a high view of grace/justification and high view of holiness/sanctification. I had never heard this message in my entire life.
Preaching the gospel to yourself has become my mantra for my entire life since reading this book. I try to get it into as many hands as I can.
*A great companion book to read alongside this is "A Gospel Primer" by Milton Vincent - which was actually written as a response to this book.
God bless you, Jerry Bridges.
I am presently rereading the book and working slowly on the work book. I believe it to be well worth the investment of time.
I just ordered one to give away and may get another for that reason. There may be better books out there on this topic, but this one I believe, has given me answers that ought to keep me working and pondering for the duration of my life. I have recently gotten a better understanding of the gospel by listening to Paul Washer's sermons, he is always preaching on it. So, I was ready for information to help me apply it daily, as I consider my walk before God regarding all the failures He is enabling me to see....
Some of the best things so far:
* Spiritually "bad" days and "good" days alike are covered by His grace -- it doesn't matter how good or bad we are, we can't measure up, but He covers us anyway.
* "refined sins": his analysis of gossip and pride were really striking, particularly when he pointed out that if we consider ourselves perfect (pride), we mentally remove ourselves from the scope of God's grace: only sinners need grace, and if we don't consider ourselves sinners, we are not eligible for God's greatest gift to us.
* "preaching the gospel to ourselves every day": his overview of the gospel is really encouraging, but also a great exhortation to holiness.
Overall, I've enjoyed this and find it very Biblically-based. A few times I've wished he'd gone into a bit more detail when defining terms, but he's done really well so far explaining both God's grace and the obedience He asks from us, without falling into either legalism or "God loves everyone! Hearts and rainbows!" that can result from discussions of grace. This is well-grounded in an acknowledgement of our sinfulness but also the hope we have through our Messiah's grace. I would (and have) definitely recommend this to people who are serious about maturing into Him who is our Head.