Hello. My name is Lisa and I wear guilt like a second skin. This is perplexing to me as I consider that, as a believer in Christ, my sins have been forgiven. The Bible tells me I am free, I am forgiven, I am righteous before God and that I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ.
Yet sometimes I don’t feel so free. I sin. Too much. Certainly more than I care to admit. And that sin? It produces that demoralizing, debilitating guilt that keeps me feeling defeated and discouraged.
In their book, The Bookends of the Christian Life, authors Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington employ a metaphor of a bookshelf to demonstrate the necessity of two key bookends: the righteousness of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Both are essential and both are critical to living a life pleasing to God the Father: Christ’s righteousness transferred to humble repentant sinners and the indwelling power of the Spirit fueling genuine and radical transformation.
They address questions like
• How can I overcome persistent guilt?
• How can I deal with the pressure to measure up?
• Where can I find the motivation it takes to grow?
• How can I live the Christian life with both my head and my heart?
• How can I be sure God loves me?
• How can I change in an authentic and lasting way?
Carrie and I both read this book; hence this dual review. For my part, I found this book to be both pastoral and practical. Not only did the authors offer wise instruction on what it means to balance the bookends, they outlined common pitfalls and encouraged practical application of the Biblical truths they teach.
Guilt need not be my constant companion. Instead, as I employ the truths of the The Bookends of the Christian Life metaphor, I will grow in understanding that the grace of God is just that, grace, undeserved and unmerited, as I remember I am wholly dependent on Christ’s righteousness alone. I can’t try harder and somehow effect change; only through the power of the Spirit can I know true transformation. I highly recommend The Bookends of the Christian Life for anyone seeking to live for Christ in freedom and power.
Carrie here. I asked Lisa to go first in writing up this review – take the plunge sort of thing. She summarized the book and it’s message quite nicely so I won’t add anything to the general overview, but will just tell you how it spoke to me, personally.
Somewhat contrary to Lisa, I don’t make a habit of living with too much guilt. I generally don’t think ill of myself (which my husband will tell you is most unfortunate at times). I think better of myself than I ought to. My dad always used to say I’m “no wilting violet.” (Guilty as charged.) So I found the book useful in a different way than Lisa did. It reminded me that I AM a sinner. (I know this and I have to repeat this to myself because it is true.) It presents the two “bookends” that, as Christians, we should couch ourselves in – the righteousness of Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit.
I’m the type of person that likes to control things. I’m a first born and everything that means. I rely on my own strength far too often and then when things are falling apart left and right I’m asking exactly what it was that I did wrong. Learning to rely on the true righteousness of Christ, and not my own perceived righteousness and relying on God’s wisdom and guidance is a message I need to hear. And I need to hear it often.
I’m fascinated reading Lisa’s thoughts on this book and I’m enjoying adding my own (after all) because it reminds me that God created us with personalities and giftings that, although they are different by person, are still useful and can be used for His glory. This book can speak to numerous personalities and be exactly what we need to hear in our various stages of the Christian walk. I, too, heartily recommend this book as being one that can have a very effective ministry to each individual reader. I’m grateful for it and can see that Lisa clearly is too. I expect the same of you, should you decide to pick up a copy.
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.