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Book Review: The Transforming Power of the Gospel

IMG_4483The Transforming Power of the Gospel is a book written by Jerry Bridges. Bridges was an author, speaker and staff member of The Navigators.

In the book, Jerry Bridges aims at helping readers to become more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Sharing his own story in the journey of becoming more like Christ, Jerry shows the two extremes that Christians tend to fall into. On one extreme, one assumes that we could live the Christian life by moral willpower: “Just read the Bible and do as it says”, it is said, instead of relying on the Holy Spirit. One doesn’t realize how the internal fighting between the flesh and the Spirit wearies them. After being so wearied out, many give up on themselves and despair. On the other extreme is a passive approach to spiritual transformation where it is said: “let go and let God’’. This approach teaches that you can do nothing for your transformation but trust in Jesus. Soon this turns out to be discouraging as there is no evident change in a Christian’s life.

In light of this, based on a careful study of the Scriptures, the writer teaches on dependent responsibility. The book is basically divided into two. The first part he labors to show how the gospel is the foundation and motivation for spiritual transformation. In the second part he helps us understand how the gospel through the Holy Spirit brings transformation to believers. Jerry Bridges gives a very clear outlay of the gospel throughout the book. He follows a systematic approach starting with the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. He helps us understand how serious God’s holiness is and why His wrath is necessary. Jerry shows how sin is not just a mistake but an active rebellion to God. Sin is an utter despising of God’s law. Once we understand how pervasive our sinful nature is, it is easy to get discouraged, he writes. The gospel keeps us from discouragement as we see how continually we come short in obedience, from self-righteousness because the gospel is only for sinners and finally, the gospel is the great motivator for pursuing spiritual transformation.

The good news of the gospel is not that we are not so bad: the good news is that God, through Christ, has dealt with our badness. Knowing this truth is the solution to a performance -based relationship with God that tends to either go toward self-righteousness or continual sense of guilt. A daily embracing of the gospel reminds us that the moment we trusted in Christ alone, we were declared right with God because He gave us the state of Christ which is complete righteousness. This means we are never more or less righteous regardless of our performance. In fact, believers are as righteous in our standing with God as we will be in heaven.

The grace of God in achieving a forever-righteous standing with Him through Jesus motivates the believer to be more like Jesus. The security in knowing that our standing with God is not affected by our performance keeps us from getting discouraged from our failures. Even after we are aware of this security we still rely on the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin, create good desires in us and create change. The way we connect to the power of the Holy Spirit is by faith – renouncing any confidence in our own willpower and relying entirely on the Holy Spirit to empower us. Jerry shows how the Holy Spirit uses spiritual disciplines (which he calls instruments of grace) to conform us to the image of Christ.

I would recommend this book to every believer. The book covers a very important aspect of Christian life; transformation. It shows how the power of the gospel equips us for holy living. It is divided in small chapters that are easy to follow and it could be done as an individual or small group setting. It has really helped me to grasp what the gospel means and how it empowers me to be more Christ-like.

This book review has been written by Lillian Wambui who was an apprentice last year serving at Medical Missions Africa. She’s now an alumna. 

About Conversation Team

iServe Africa is an indigenous Kenyan gospel-driven organisation that exists to promote faithful Bible teaching and servant leadership.

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