Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges. 343 pages. NavPress. 1991
I’ve read most of the books written by Jerry Bridges, who went home to be with the Lord in 2016. I first read this book in a class at Covenant Seminary about eight years ago, and I recently read and discussed it again with a friend.
Bridges writes that the Bible teaches we are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day of our lives. He tells us that it is this important aspect of grace that seems to be so little understood or practiced by Christians. A key point is that many of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. That is, if we have performed well (had our “quiet time”, etc.), then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. Bridges tells us that though we are saved by grace, we are often live by our own performance. The realization that our daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on our own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience.
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Bridges tells us that the entire Christian life from start to completion is lived on the basis of God’s grace to us through Christ. Jesus has already paid for every blessing we will ever receive from God the Father. We are loved and accepted by God through the merit of Jesus, and we are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing we ever do will cause Him to love us any more or any less. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience. This truth needs to be reaffirmed daily, and that’s what this helpful book is all about.
Subjects that Bridges addresses in this book include spiritual bankruptcy, the parable of the generous landowner, the performance treadmill, progressive sanctification, legalism, holiness, the sufficiency of God’s grace, prayer, garments of grace, and many others.
Reading this book is like having a private conversation with the author about the wonderful subject of God’s grace.
Here are 10 of my favorite quotes from the book:
- Most of us have actually declared temporary bankruptcy. Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us to heaven, but we do think they earn God’s blessings in our daily lives. We were saved by grace, but we are living by performance.
- God is not keeping score, granting or withholding blessings on the basis of our performance. The score has already been permanently settled by Christ. We so often miss this dimension of the gospel.
- To the extent you are clinging to any vestiges of self-righteousness or are putting any confidence in your own spiritual attainments, to that degree you are not living by the grace of God in your life.
- Our love for God, expressed through obedience to Him, is to be a response to His love, not a means of trying to earn it.
- To live by grace means we understand that God’s blessing on our lives is not conditioned by our obedience or disobedience but by the perfect obedience of Christ.
- When our Father looks at us, He does not see our miserable performance. Instead, He sees the perfect performance of Jesus.
- More often than not, we try to earn favor with God in the area of manmade rules, or we feel guilty because we have failed in keeping them.
- Everything we are and everything we do that is of any value, we owe to the grace of God.
- One great paradox of the Christian life is that we are fully responsible for our Christian growth and at the same time fully dependent upon the Holy Spirit to give us both the desire to grow and the ability to do it.
- The Courage We Need for Mission. John Piper’s new book Providence, is about the precious doctrine of God’s providence. On the Ask Pastor John podcast he is looking at a few of the ten implications. On this episode he looks at implication number nine.
- Reparations: A Critical Theological Review. Kevin DeYoung reviews Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair by Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson. He writes that the authors “have put forward the most compact and most learned Christian defense of reparations to date. Well written and thoughtfully presented, this is an important book that deserves to be taken seriously.” He goes on to write “It is also a book with which I have profound disagreements.”
- Faithful Leaders. Tim Challies reviews Rico Tice’s new book Faithful Leaders and the Things That Matter Most. He writes “Anyone in any kind of leadership will benefit from reading this book and being reminded of such basic but crucial truths.”
- On My Shelf: Life and Books with Carl Trueman. Ivan Mesa asked Carl Trueman – professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and author of the acclaimed book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self – about what’s on his nightstand, his favorite fiction, influential biographies, and more.
- How John Piper Became Besotted with the Providence of God. Bruce Baugus reviews John Piper’s new book Providence. He writes “Read it to become what Piper prays we all become—and what he has written Providenceto help us become: God-besotted people living in a God-entranced world.”
- RTS Book Notes. In these short videos, Ligon Duncan recommends books for pastors, teachers and students grow in grace and edify others.
BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 6: Overview from Abraham to the Age to Come. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:
- It is important to see that God’s election of Israel, and his making her the focus of his saving blessings in the Old Testament, sets the stage in world history for the global impact of Jesus Christ and his saving work for the sake of the nations.
- From the beginning, God planned to make the history of Israel serve all the nations of the world through the coming of the Messiah. There are not two stories. There is one story of redemption in history. And this single story will prove to have one overarching purpose.
- The record of God’s saving dealings with the world—dealings that led men out of the ruin of sin into a relationship with God—was a record of God’s focus on Israel. This is what the Old Testament is.
- The story of Israel’s history really is a story of God’s providential action. The Bible is radically oriented on God as the decisive actor in the history of Israel.
- God’s securing a name for himself and God’s securing joy for his people are one. That joy is his name—his reputation, his glory.
- God’s ultimate goal in the history of Israel is not only the exaltation of his glorious name in the joy of his people; it is also his own joy in their joy in him.
- God’s glory is our joy. And our joy in God’s glory is his joy.
- God’s name is a message. And the message is about how he intends to be known. Every time his name appears—all 6,800 times—he means to remind us of his utterly unique being.