June 8th, 2009
Bridges, Jerry and Bob Bevington. The Bookends of the Christian Life. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 160 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Westminster Books.
Bevington and Bridges have teamed up once again to bring Christendom a Christ-saturated book. Their first collaboration was The Great Exchange which discussed in some detail the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ for those who believe. Bookends offers pastoral counsel in living a life of victory.
Perhaps the least known fact about these two authors is that Jerry Bridges is Bob Bevington’s mentor. This is evident in their writings as you get the feel of two men who are discussing how they can better walk in the ways of their Lord and Savior.
With a title like The Bookends it only makes sense that this book is divided into two sections. The first bookend is the righteousness of Christ. The second bookend is the work and power of the Holy Spirit. No, the chapters in between are not the books. The books are actually representative of your life—spiritual and temporal.
In discussing the righteousness of Christ they explain the greatest problem most Christians face is that all too often they start to believe that God does or does not bless according to how well we are obeying Him at the moment. After discussing what Christ’s righteousness means for the believer, they list two enemies to the gospel that clash specifically with this first bookend.
The first enemy is self-righteousness. This enemy ensnares many Christians when they think that they are “good enough” to be saved or have been “good enough” to be blessed by God. However, in my opinion, it is the second enemy that traps the believer without his even being aware of it—perhaps this is because I saw myself on the pages. The second enemy is persistent guilt—feeling as though you are not good enough for what God has done for you (or is doing for you).
As mentioned above, the second bookend is the power of the Holy Spirit. They detail the importance of the work of they Holy Spirit and how we work with Him (synergism) and how He works alone (monergism) in the life of the believer. After discussing the Spirit’s work, they introduce the third enemy to the gospel—the first specifically for the second bookend. This enemy is self-reliance in which we depend not on God but ourselves.
They close each half of the book with a chapter sharing how we can and should lean on each of the bookends. The last chapter challenges the reader to take these two bookends and use them as the basis for one’s personal worldview.
As I stated above, I found myself, quite unexpectedly, on the pages of this book. The good news though is still the good news. That is what makes this book so great. You are pointed to the cross page after page and instructed to put all of your trust in Christ’s righteousness. As though that were not enough, you are then pointed to trust in the work of the Holy Spirit who continues to work in and with you as you grow in Christ.
The accompanying website, TheBookendsBook.com, is an excellent resource as you seek to make the bookends your worldview. At that site you can download an excellent study guide to use for group and personal discussion. You may want to consider purchasing this book for your small group studies or even your own accountability group. This book was a great encouragement to my soul and one that I will add to my yearly reading list. You would do well to read it for yourself.