Book Review: The Gospel for Real Life, by Jerry Bridges
Synopsis: By now, many of us are familiar with the slogan so often trumpeted by Jerry Bridges (as well as others), that we should â€œpreach the gospel to ourselves everydayâ€. But what is the gospel, exactly, that it should be able to stand up under the weight of this life-encompassing dictate? Surely, after enough time has lapsed, this will become dull and redundant, right? Surely, in all of life's multifarious exigencies, some problem will arise that requires some other answer, some more practical solution, will it not? Perhaps, if this is our perspective, it is because we have a reductionistic understanding of what the gospel is, and all the benefits it entails. And if this is the case, then Jerry Bridges' book, The Gospel for Real Life, will prove a valuable resource for working through just what the gospel is, and what it means for everyday life.
Jerry Bridges' book, The Gospel for Real Life, practices what it preaches. In different works in the past, Bridges has argued that the gospel should be central to our lives, that we should meditate on it everyday, and employ its precious promises in all our struggles for perseverance and faithful endurance in the midst of sin and opposition of all kinds. So now, when he writes another book called â€œThe Gospel for Real Life,â€ he'll address real life, right? He'll spend most of his time cataloguing problems and situations that we come up against, and apply the gospel to address those situations in a sort of concluding paragraph after each chapter, won't he? After all, he's already spent much time in the past speaking of â€œthe gospelâ€; so now, won't he simply assume the truth of the gospel he's talking about and dedicate his attention to the â€œreal lifeâ€ part of the equation?
To be honest, that's what I expected when I picked up his book; but I couldn't have been more mistaken. The Gospel for Real Life is in reality nothing more than a clear, scriptural unpacking of the gospel â€“ just what it is, all of the benefits it entails, all of the wonderful and various things that Christ accomplished in his work of redemption. It is heavy on the â€œgospelâ€ part, and hence, the â€œreal lifeâ€ applications cannot but follow naturally. For when I really understand the gospel, there is no area of my life that is not dramatically impacted.
Capitalizing on the multitude of biblical words, descriptions, and illustrations of what the cross accomplished, Bridges unfolds in easy-to-follow and yet true and profound language just what the gospel is: it is the representative work of the second Adam in the Covenant of Grace, the drinking of the cup of God's wrath and thus providing a cup of blessings for his people, the slaughter of the sacrificial goat and the sin-removing flight of the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement; it's the price paid for our ransom, every step taken for our reconciliation with a holy God, a great exchange of our sin and curse for his righteousness and blessing, rebirth as biological children and adoption as legal children with all the rights of inheritance; it's the power of sanctification now, the promise of perfect holiness in the future, the guarantee of the spread of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth and through all of time. In short, the gospel is a many-faceted splendor, which not just contains an answer to all of life's problems, it casts life in a whole new perspective, gives existence a whole new meaning, places us an a different sphere, a different Kingdom, with different goals, purposes, and values that we could have understood before. The gospel has all the answers because it changes all the goals, and provides all the means to all the glorious ends that it awakens us to, and promises to accomplish in us.
In sum, this is a book about the gospel: it is understandable, comprehensive, and scriptural in its language, illustrations, and explanations. And because it is about the gospel, the true gospel that is powerful in its impact on who we are and where we are going, it is therefore, by default, about the gospel for real life.
Available at Monergism Books.