Thursday, May 6, 2010

Book Review: The Bookends of the Christian Life

The Bookends of the Christian Life. Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington. 2009. March 2009. Crossway Publishers. 160 pages.

Most of us have experienced the difficulty of putting books on a bookshelf without having a set of bookends to keep them in place. You know what happens.

I loved this book. I love, love, loved this book. It's short. It's straight forward. Its message is oh-so-relevant. It's a book I think everyone would benefit from reading. (And I don't say that lightly, I don't say that about every book I read.)

Bridges and Bevington argue that there are two bookends of the Christian life. The first bookend is the Righteousness of Christ. The second bookend is the Power of the Holy Spirit. (In a way, you could say this book was all about justification and sanctification.) By understanding these two bookends, these two concepts, readers will get a very good picture of the gospel, a good idea of what it means to be a Christian.

The book also addresses three gospel enemies: self-righteousness, persistent guilt, and self-reliance. I can't say how much these three chapters helped me! I am so thankful that this book was written.

Here is one of my favorite passages:
There's an old play on the word justified: "just-as-if-I'd never sinned." But here's another way of saying it: "just-as-if-I'd always obeyed." Both are true. The first refers to the transfer of our moral debt to Christ so we're left with a "clean" ledger, just as if we'd never sinned. The second tells us our ledger is now filled with the perfect righteousness of Christ, so it's just as if we'd always obeyed. That's why we can come confidently into the very presence of God (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19) even though we're still sinners--saved sinners to be sure, but still practicing sinners, every day in thought, word, deed, and motive.
The perfect righteousness of Christ, which is credited to us, is the first bookend of the Christian life. The news of this righteousness is the gospel. Christ's righteousness is given to us by God when we genuinely trust in Christ as our Savior. From that moment on, from God's point of view, the first bookend is permanently in place. We're justified; we're credited with his righteousness. Or to say it differently, we're clothed with his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) so that as God looks at us in union with Christ, he always sees us to be as righteous as Christ himself. And that changes everything. (26-27)
That does change everything. If only every Christian would remember that, could know that with certainty. Oh what a difference this could make!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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