A Book and a Sermon


In this blog I would like to motivate you and encourage you to read a book and listen to a sermon. The book is by Jerry Bridges, and the sermon is by our pastor and friend Mark Bates. The sermon is the memorial service Mark preached for Jerry.

On March 11, 2016, Barbara and I attended the memorial service of a humble man who served a great God. The March 14 NavWeekly stated: "Jerry Bridges, beloved evangelical statesman and Navigator author, passed away Sunday, March 6, 2016, from heart failure. He was 86. Jerry was perhaps best known as the author of the bestselling NavPress book The Pursuit of Holiness. But to those who knew him best, he was a kind, gentle soul who desired nothing more than to walk humbly with his God."

My wife and I have known Jerry since we moved from Egypt to Colorado Springs in January 1991. I was blessed by his willingness to be one of those who wrote an endorsement of my book Unshackled and Growing. For the past couple of years, as he and his wife sat in the pew right behind us in our church, we saw one another at church frequently. Barbara and I were also blessed by being on his list of prayer partners. We had the privilege of seeing him closely living out 2 Corinthians 4:16-18,[1] where physically he was deteriorating but inwardly and spiritually he was being renewed day by day. He was a model for us of what it is like to keep going and to finish well.

The Book

I have read several of Jerry Bridges books, but the book that brought about a huge transformation in my life and in my understanding of the gospel is Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. I have read this book several times, and I might read it again. I highly recommend this book to you. The back cover of the book says:

"We know we need grace. Without it we'd never come to Christ in the first place. But being a Christian is more than just coming to Christ. It's about growing and becoming more like Jesus—it's about pursuing holiness. The pursuit of holiness is hard work, and that's where we turn from grace to discipline—and often make a big mistake. In The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges offers a clear and thorough explanation of the gospel and what it means to the believer. Explore how the same grace that brings us to faith in Christ also disciplines us in Christ."

The Sermon

Since arriving in Colorado in 1991, we have been members of the same Presbyterian church in Colorado Springs. God has blessed us with many godly pastors, and our current senior pastor is Mark Bates. At the Memorial Service on March 11, Mark preached a message on Philippians 3:3-11. It was one of the best messages I have ever heard. It is in video format and is 27 minutes long. The whole memorial service was recorded, but the sermon starts at minutes 52:20 and ends at 1:18. After listening to this sermon, I was motivated again to preach the gospel to myself on a daily basis.

I encouraged my friend Gwen Sellers to listen to the sermon. Gwen is an associate Editor at Got Questions Ministries. After she listened to the sermon, she wrote: "Thank you for the sermon recommendation. I am so glad I listened to it. I especially appreciated the thought that justification is not "just as if I'd never sinned" but also "just as if I've always obeyed." Counting our "righteousness" as an impediment to the gospel and then seeing how our true righteousness in Christ really gives us passion for God's work is pretty incredible… The gospel is so different from our natural way of thinking. God is truly incredible! And, yes, I need to preach this to myself more regularly as well."

I am hoping that you would start out by listening to this sermon and then purchase the book and read it. I can't think of a better investment of time and resources.

[1] Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (NIV)

Dr. Nabeel Jabbour