Jerry Bridges is one of my favorite authors. His writing is always clear, concise, saturated in Scripture and very edifying. The Gospel for Real Life is certainly no exception. Bridges gives his straight forward and simple thesis 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.'”
Bridges’ burden in the book is to help the Christian reader fully understand the gospel so that they can preach the gospel to themselves, everyday. Why? Because he is convinced that there are many sincere Christians in the church today who have a deep, troubling, yet private anxiety about their relationship with God.
He tells of a ministry colleague of his who “recently confessed that he felt overwhelmed and anxious even in the midst of fruitful ministry.” He quotes Richard Lovelace to articulate the problem: “below the surface of their lives [they] are guilt ridden and insecure…[and] draw the assurance of their acceptance from God from their sincerity, their past experience of conversion, their recent religious performance or the relative infrequency of their conscious, willful disobedience.” Where does this come from? Bridges contends that it flows from an inadequate view of the gospel.
Therefore, Bridges seeks to unfold the riches of the gospel of Christ in 15 chapters, discussing gospel essentials such as the depth of our sin, justification, atonement, Christ’s sacrifice, reconciliation and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, just to name a few. He finishes the book with a final chapter (chapter 16) focusing on our responsibility to take this glorious gospel to the world. This responsibility, however, is not a duty to be done out of slavish fear or mere obligation, but an act of loving obedience in response to the glorious grace revealed in the gospel–the gospel that he labored to help the reader understand in the previous 15 chapters.
Personally, I have already read this book twice and I plan to read it again. It is very refreshing and strengthening. It keeps me away from the tyranny of trying to earn my righteousness and from the soul killing power of legalism. It is a simple book, and, as Bridges explains, not a theological treatise. But God help us if we think we are “beyond” such things. This is a book for baby Christians and seasoned theologians alike because it brings us back to where we are to constantly remain: relying fully on Christ and His gospel.