Tolle Lege: The Gospel for Real Life

April 20, 2012 by


Jerry Bridges has long been one of my favorite contemporary writers on “practical divinity,” which is an older term for what we might simply call the Christian life. Bridges has spent five decades providing amazing books aimed at lay people, works that answer Francis Schaeffer’s famous question that must be asked if we believe the Gospel to be true: “How then should we live?” One of my favorite books by Bridges is The Gospel for Real Life: Turn to the Liberating Power of the Cross Every Day (NavPress), a work that operates on the assumption you hear in my teaching almost every week that Christians need the Gospel for growth in Christ-likeness.

Bridges is an expert guide. The book is intended to answer three questions that are fundamental to the Christian life: (1) What is the Gospel we should preach to ourselves? (2) Why do we, who are already believers, need to preach it to ourselves? (3) How do we do it? Writes Bridges in the preface, “This book is not meant to be a theological treatise. To borrow an expression from the collegiate world, it is intended to be ‘Gospel 101. . . All of us, regardless of how long we have known Christ, need to bathe ourselves in the gospel every day.” Indeed.

The book unpacks the unfathomable riches of the cross of Christ in simple terms, beginning with the question “Why the cross?” and spending separate chapters on Christ’s obedience, Christ’s satisfaction of God’s justice, His role as a wrath-bearer, His role as the true scape goat, His ransoming of sinners, His reconciling sinners with God, the great exchange of 2 Cor. 5:21 and several chapters on the application of the cross to a believer’s everyday life. If you are serious about daily growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, you need to bring the Gospel to bear on your life daily and this book is an excellent place to begin learning how to undertake such a life-changing endeavor.

The book is well-written, engaging and is easy to understand. As in all his books, he writes clearly and avoids using theological jargon without defining the terms, a reality that can frustrate and confuse readers. Bridges has written many books and I would commend all of them to you. Here are a few of his best-known titles: The Pursuit of Holiness (one of my all-time favorite books on the Christian life), Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (you’ve heard me quote that one many times), Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness and The Transforming Power of the Gospel.