Monday, January 24, 2011

Review of The Practice of Godliness Study Guide by Jerry Bridges

A couple years ago I read Jerry Bridges’ The Gospel for Real Life and Transforming Grace.  These two books were phenomenal and caused me to have a great amount of appreciation for Jerry Bridges—but more so a great appreciation of the Jesus he worships.  For that reason I was excited for the opportunity given me by the good folks at NavPress to review Bridges’ new small-group curriculum for The Practice of Godliness.

This curriculum has the complete text of Bridges’ book The Practice of Godliness.  Off to the side, which is really helpful, is a large blank space for notes.  Honestly, I wish more books had wider margins for notes.  I loved this particular part of the resource.  Also, at the end of each chapter there are helpful questions and biblical passages to interact with. 

I was unable to use this book in a small group setting but I did read it for my own personal use and sampled it as a pastor thinking about suggesting this as a resource for a Sunday school class.  That was one of my goals in reviewing this book—to determine whether I should encourage a class at our church to use this material.  I will be suggesting it. 

Bridges has a helpful balance of grace and the believers need to pursue holiness and godliness.  Bridges consistently reminds us that “godliness is no optional luxury for a few quaint Christians of a bygone era” (10).  For Bridges, godliness is devotion in action.  And he labors to show that godliness is more an attitude toward God and not an activity (11). 

Throughout the book Bridges relates various characteristics of the Spirit-filled life to the fear of God, our love for God (and his love for us), and a desire for God.  In the first part of the book Bridges develops the theological foundation for godliness (this is the first three sessions) and then he practically deals with the fruits of the Spirit in the next 8 sessions) and closes up the book by discussing love and painting a picture of the goal of godliness—Christ Himself. 

Often believers do not see how their character formation affects how they relate to God.  It is assumed that theology and godliness are optional and they have no bearing on our relationship with the all-loving Lord.  It is thought, how can my relationship with a God that loves unconditionally be shaped by my practice of godliness?  The two do not seem to go hand in hand.  But Jerry Bridges has once again masterfully shown us that our view of God shapes our character and our character shapes our view of God. 

It may read a little slow at times but it is certainly worthy of the effort.  I’ll be looking for a Sunday school class to take this study up.  I would suggest that you purchase this curriculum for your own personal study as well. 

Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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