Breakfast With Mr. Bridges

By Ryan Habbena

Reflections On A Morning With The Author Of “The Pursuit Of Holiness”

Earlier this month, I was blessed to attend a breakfast with Jerry Bridges. For those unfamiliar with this man, he has worked with the Navigators for nearly 50 years and is widely known for his writings on sanctification. In 1978 he wrote a bestselling book titled “The Pursuit of Holiness.” He followed up this work with titles such as “The Practice of Godliness,” “The Discipline of Grace” and “Respectable Sins.” In a small group setting, Mr. Bridges gave us a stirring message from the Scriptures and we had ample time to interact with him. While there were many memorable moments, two matters really “hit their mark,” stirring me to remembrance to how I need to pursue conformity to the image of Christ.

I. Pursue Sanctification Because Of The Gospel

Bridges preaches and teaches Gospel-driven sanctification. The call of conformity to the image of Christ is given throughout the Scriptures. However, it becomes easy for us to become, in Bridge’s words, “duty-driven” rather than “gospel-driven.” To further define, we often see the pursuit of sanctification as something we must do to earn or remain in God’s favor. This thought may be a subtle thought in the believer’s mind. Yet, we still can fall into this erroneous way of thinking. Bridges clearly and boldly established that we are called to pursue conformity to the image of Christ because we are saved. We are totally pure in the eyes of God because what Christ has done on the cross. We are totally secure in the love of God because of what Christ is doing right now—interceding for us at God right hand. We are destined for the resurrection because of His promise to raise us up with Christ when He returns. These are the truths that should be spurring us on to good works, and causing us to pursue holiness. A Scriptural passage that teaches this truth is Romans 12:1. After declaring the glorious truths of salvation by grace through faith throughout the first eleven chapters, the apostle Paul exhorts believers:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

At the time of our breakfast, Mr. Bridges was on the threshold of his 80th birthday. At a time when most people in our culture are long retired, this man is traveling the globe, preaching the Gospel and teaching the word. Yet as he spoke, Mr. Bridges frequently noted his continuing struggle with sin. There have been times in the past I would (wrongly) assume that by the time the body reaches its elderly state, the deeds of the flesh will have been brought to the point of a virtual non-existence. My time with Mr. Bridges reminded me of this subtle, misguided notion. Sin is intensive. The closer we get to our Savior, the more we see the depths of our own sinfulness. Romans chapter 8 teaches our continual contention with corruption.

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13)

While we walk the way to glory, this text declares our ongoing battle: we must always be “putting to death the deed of the body.” This contention will not reach its end until we are with the Lord. Therefore, may we all gird ourselves with the expectation of conflict with sin in order to be faithfully contending until we enter His glory.

Running The Race

For those of us who believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ, our beloved King has saved us, secured us and destined us for the resurrection. He has lived the perfect life and our sins were nailed to cross. “Sin had left a crimson stain, and He washed us white as snow.” We are guaranteed to finish the race—our risen Lord has provided everything we need. And more than this, He is the One that will carry us across the finish line by His all sufficient power. I was both humbled and motivated by Mr. Bridges message that morning. May these biblical principles be fixed in the hearts of all those who love Jesus Christ, as we eagerly await the return of our King.