Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 04/22/2010 by John Bird.
Recommended. Salvation by grace alone meets sanctification by disciplines of grace in this classic Christian living text.
Jerry Bridges is best known for his book The Pursuit of Holiness, which has sold over one million copies. That book, he says, "dealt largely with putting off the old self—dealing with sin in our lives." Its sequel, The Practice of Godliness, "focuses on putting on the new self—growing in Christian character."
The first four chapters of Bridges' book discuss godliness in general: what is it, why is it important, what is its proper motivation, and how do we develop it? Throughout these chapters and the remainder of the book, Bridges emphasizes the Christian's responsibility in developing godliness. While the Holy Spirit's work is essential, believers cannot expect to become godly without effort. We must pursue it:
We Christians may be very disciplined and industrious in our business, our studies, our home, or even our ministry, but we tend to be lazy when it comes to exercise in our spiritual lives. We would much rather pray, 'Lord, make me godly,' and expect Him to 'pour' some godliness into our souls in some mysterious way. God does in fact work in a mysterious way to make us godly, but He does not do this apart from the fulfillment of our own personal responsibility. We are to train ourselves to be godly.
The remaining fourteen chapters cover specific characteristics of godliness with practical ways to grow in each. These virtues draw primarily from Paul's list in Galatians 5:22-23, but Bridges draws from other passages as well. They are: humility, contentment, thankfulness, joy, holiness, self-control, faithfulness, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and love.
This book is grounded in an understanding of salvation by grace alone. It is not legalistic. Bridges is clear that both salvation and sanctification are the work of God. Yet the New Testament teaches that true believers will seek to live godly lives out of gratitude for that grace. This book is Bridges' effort to help us do just that. I was both challenged and encouraged while reading it.
When I read Bridges, I feel as though I'm sitting with my grandfather while he humbly and patiently teaches me from the Word of God. And I sense that I am with a man who intimately knows his God. His books are clear, biblical, full of wisdom, and easy to read. This one is no exception. Like all of his books, I recommend it.