Book Review: The Transforming Power of the Gospel

Many think the Gospel is this: the “Good News” of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus so that we can go to heaven. That is certainly part of the gospel. But what about that transforms us?

Jerry Bridges devotes a whole book to addressing that question. The Gospel doesn’t start and end with heaven. The goal of God was not to save us from hell, although He does do that. The goal of God in sending Jesus was to reconcile us back to Himself. And then to give us Jesus-power to live the Christian life, for Him, and for all to see, that others may know Him and be reconciled back to Him as well.

This Gospel isn’t just for unbelievers. It is for Christians. We need a higher and better concept and grasp of the Grace of God. Jerry Bridges will practically help you see yourself for who you really are and by contrast, see God for whom He really is.

Read this book and see what a daily embracing of the Gospel looks like. See how spiritual disciplines will move you deeper and closer in your relationship to the Gospel and to Christ Himself. See how we are responsible to live out the commands of Jesus, while at the same time depending “on the Holy Spirit to both do His own work and enable us through His power to do the work we must do.”

Rating: B+
Definitely Worth Reading
 

Title: The Transforming Power of the Gospel
Author: Jerry Bridges
Length: 192 pages
Genre: Spiritual Life

Fruit From the Vine: Chacah, Batach, Yachal

I think we might (it’s also quite possible I am just speaking for myself here) get a little confused when it comes to trusting the Lord. When I ask my child to trust me that I’m not going to let him fall, it’s because I really am not going to let him fall. So we naturally think that when we trust the Lord, it provides supernatural protection against all major and most minor harm.

So when you’re faced with no job or cancer or no money coming in or no financial plan for the future or retirement and you say, “I’m just trusting the Lord,” it seems really spiritual. Except really what you’re saying is, “God is going to make a job fall in my lap” or “God is not going to let me die from cancer” or “He meets all of our needs, we don’t need to worry. Our cell phone and TV and car payments will still be paid even without the numbers working out on paper.” This sometimes does happen. God sometimes does the miraculous in our lives, and for that I am thankful. But our picture of trust is tainted, still.

What about the Christian, who really is trusting the Lord with all their heart and not leaning on their own understanding, that is dying of a disease or that can’t pay the bills and is going into foreclosure or whose desires of their hearts aren’t being met? Not enough faith? God not being faithful?

The word trust has a few different meanings in Scripture. One word in the Hebrew that means trust is chacah and it means “to take refuge”. Another one is batach which means “to have confidence in, to set ones hope in.” Another is yachal, meaning “to wait, hope, expect.” (Note: The word list is not exhaustive…there are many more in Hebrew and Greek.)

With any one of these words, the definition is NOT: “trust because He will make everything work out okay. That’s God’s job.”

Trust does not mean that Jesus will work it all out just because you commit the situation to Him. It doesn’t mean safety, peace, comfort, prosperity, health, or even life. It certainly doesn’t mean that all of your American dreams or wishes are met. Yes, he has plans for you. But have you considered the possibility that those plans could be bankruptcy or disease or being murdered?

I don’t think I have considered this much in the past. God is indeed faithful to Himself and His promises but a good, prosperous, safe life with every desire being met is not one of his promises. When I say, “I trust you Lord,” what I mean is “I take refuge in You. I have confidence in You, that Your plan is better than mine. I put my hope in you and I wait for You. I expect you to be Faithful, because that is Who You are.”

Anything that I desire cannot be compared to Him and His glory. All things, material and otherwise, are to be in service to Him and point to Him. He does not serve US and the things in our lives. We gladly use and give thanks for the gifts He gives, holding on to them very loosely, knowing that we are not owed any of them. They are ALL evidence of grace. Our right response is to love Him, serve Him, obey Him, trust Him.

I cling to him during times of uncertainty or worry because He has Sovereign hands. And I trust Him, not because it will all work out for what I think is good, but that it will be what He deems good for me. Maybe that’s life, maybe that’s death. Maybe that’s poverty or illness or persecution or famine. Whatever it is, I place my trust in Him, because He is trust-worthy.

Thoughts on Bin Laden

Believers, I have a question: Are we to rejoice that our enemy is dead? Don’t get me wrong, I love America and it is a good thing that a dreadful enemy of our country and one that is responsible for taking many American lives is now no longer on the earth. Nationally, it is a great victory. Militarily, it is a great victory and makes me proud of our SEALS. Many civilians and military alike have died because of this enemies evil and hatred and false religion.

But as I read many Tweets and Facebook status updates, I can’t help but feel conflicted and a bit saddened. We are to love what God loves and hate what God hates, right? And to be sure, God does hate wickedness. But His Word also says, He has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (Ezekiel 33:11) And wicked Osama Bin Laden was. So is our Christian response to be rejoicing in this time? Or mourning?

Like I said, please don’t misunderstand me. I think it a great victory for our country and really, for the world, in terms of safety and morale. But for a Christian to say, “I’m glad he’s finally getting what he deserves” and “I’m glad he’s burning right now”… WOW. I’m just not sure that’s what a godly reaction would look like.

Yes, justice is being served. Yes, he is paying for the sin he committed. Moreover, he is paying the price of the rejection of God’s Son.

But what about your unsaved mother? Or your unbelieving best friend? Or your child who has rejected Christ’s atonement. Do you wish the same for them? They are in the same place Osama Bin Laden was: at war with God. No, they haven’t murdered people. Or have they? (anger). No, they don’t think they’re getting 70 virgins when they get to heaven. But they have lusted. And they are guilty by the same standard as Bin Laden was. They are just as deserving of eternal damnation and hellfire. But would you rejoice and be stoked on the fact they are “burning”? I think not.

Christians, let’s have God’s heart and mourn a sinner that is most likely in the depths of hell as we speak. Not because we are wishing he was still here threatening and plotting against us, because, of course we aren’t. But because he is getting all that he deserved.

(*To be fair, the verse quoted above is God speaking to the Israelites in their disobedience. Also, God is completely just in his judgements and his ways. So I am not saying we should mourn the sinners death because they don’t deserve it. They had chance after chance after chance to turn from their wicked ways and live. They rejected God’s right path and walked on their own path… right into hell. So I am not kicking against the plan or the Way that God set up for justice to be served. I am just saying, let’s not rejoice over eternal damnation of a wicked sinner when even God Himself is not rejoicing to send one to hell.)