Jerry Bridges.1996. The Practice of Godliness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra, Author of Simple Faith and other books available online.
If you are like me, I always confused the words holiness and godliness, thinking that they were synonyms. Apparently, we are not alone. Bridges explains: “This book is a sequel to an earlier book, The Pursuit of Holiness. In Ephesians 4:20-24, Paul urges us to put off our old self and to put on the new self. The Pursuit of Holiness dealt largely with putting off the old self—dealing with sin in our lives. The Practice of Godliness focuses on putting on the new self—growing in Christian character.”(7)
This explanation made perfect sense to me because I read one right after the other.
What is Godliness?
Bridges describes the Bible as “a book on godliness.” (11) He highlights these verses:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”(Gal 5:22-23 ESV)
Other such lists can be found in Colossians 3:12-16, Ephesians 4:2-3,32, James 3:17, and 2 Peter 1:5-7 (7). I have always associated these lists as practical translations of Exodus 34:6, where God describes his character:
“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”(Exod 34:6)
Being created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), our utmost desire is to emulate God in all we see him doing, which leads us to godliness because of his own self-disclosure of characteristics.
A key aspect of godliness in life and in ministry is the gift of joy. Bridges writes:
“But we are not to sit around waiting for our circumstances to make us joyful. We are commended to be joyful always. (1 Thes 5:16)”
Sometimes we need to give ourselves and others permission to be joyful.
Bridges sees four stumbling blocks to joy: (1) sin, (2) misplaced confidence, (3) God’s disciplining, and (4) trials and tribulations (109-112). He advises another four practices in practicing joy: (1) confess and forsake sin, (2) trust in God, (3) take the long view in life, and (4) give thanks in all circumstances (115-117). If we practice joy, he sees two benefits: (1) God is pleased and (2) we will be strengthened physically, emotionally, and spiritually (117-118).
This is interesting advice because I have prayed for strength daily for several years.
Background and Organization
Jerry Bridges (1929 – 2016) studied at the University of Oklahoma, served in the U.S. Navy, and worked on the staff of The Navigators, an evangelistic Christian group headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He authored numerous books on the Christian life. Bridges writes in eighteen chapters, each centered on a particular passage of scripture. These chapters are preceded by a foreword and preface, and followed by a postscript.
This is almost the exact same format as Bridge’s other book and, as such, NavPress later issued the two books together with a Bible study as a compendium (2001).
Like his earlier book, Jerry Bridges’s book, The Practice of Godliness, is destined to be a Christian classic. The wisdom found in this book has informed my walk with the Lord for almost twenty years. It is easy to read and well worth the effort.
Bridges, Jerry. 1996. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress. (Review)
Bridges Practices Godliness
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