Book Review: The Discipline of Grace by Jerry BridgesJune 27, 2013
Jerry Bridges uniquely joins together the seemingly opposing forces of grace and discipline in this classic book on spiritual formation. The Discipline of Grace is just one of many books by Bridges, but I believe it is by far his most convicting and piercing work.
The premise of the book connects our role with God’s role in the pursuit of holiness. Bridges unapologetically promotes grace as the ultimate catalyst for righteous living; and the very grace that saves should cause us to live yielded lives under the direction of the Spirit. Therefore, there is a great union, as Bridges puts it, of “dependence and discipline.” We ultimately depend upon grace to lead us into holiness, but we are responsible to embrace the disciplined life.
The author sheds great light on his premise by quoting John Owen, “If holiness be our duty, they would say, there would be no room for grace; and if it be the result of grace there is no place for duty. But our duty and God’s grace are nowhere opposed in the matter of sanctification; for the one absolutely opposes the other. We cannot perform our duty without the grace of God; nor does God give his grace for any other purpose than that we may perform our duty.”
This is one of my top ten books of all time, perhaps my favorite on the subject of spiritual formation. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about understanding their position in Christ, and how that position leads to personal holiness. I literally have hundreds of statements highlighted in this book, but here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“The pursuit of holiness requires sustained and vigorous effort. It allow for no indolence, no lethargy, no halfhearted commitment, and no laissez faire attitude toward even the smallest of sins”
“The pursuit of holiness must be anchored in the grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure”
“Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”
“Let us turn our attention from our own performance, whether it seems good or bad to us, and look to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is God’s provision for our sin, not only on the day we trusted Christ for our salvation but every day of our Christian lives.”
“The gospel is not only the most important message in all of history; it is the only essential message in all of history.”
“How often do we think, speak, or act with the aim of pleasing the Father? Of course, we will never attain that aim to the extent Jesus did, but the question remains, what is our aim? Is it to please the Father in all we do, or is it to just get through life as comfortably as we can?”
“The more sanctified a person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will be be of the gravity of sin which remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it”
“Christ has thus freed us from sin; it shall not have dominion. There may be the turbulence, but not the prevalence of sin. It may get to the throne of our heart and play the tyrant in this or that particular act of sin, but it shall never more be as a king there.”
“Sanctification is a work of God begun in regeneration, conducted through life and completed in death”