Someone has observed that a belief is what you hold, but a conviction is what holds you. You may live contrary to what you believe, but you cannot live contrary to your convictions.
JERRY BRIDGES, The Discipline of Grace
To do’s with Scripture
Do you have many convictions?
Beliefs deep enough that they affect who you are?
In Chapter 10 of The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges comes down hard on forming our convictions through intentional time spent with Scripture.
We must commit ourselves to be proactive. We must memorize key passages (or carry them on cards) so that we can think about them. We must be alert for those times during the day when we can turn our minds to the Word of God, and then we must do it.
Even the practice of daily Bible reading is insufficient if we go the rest of the day without meditating on some truths of Scripture.
We must choose to meditate instead of thinking about other things, or listening to the radio, or watching television.
We simply have to decide which end of the influence continuum we want to live on and take steps accordingly.
At one time, I would have had no problem with these statements.
And even now, I agree these are wonderful practices that I’d highly recommend.
But is it time spent with Scripture that makes the difference?
Or is it time spent with the Lord (even through Scripture)?
I’m troubled with the language. As I tweeted yesterday (yeah, this stays on my mind a lot):
Giving Bridges the benefit of the doubt—I’ve read enough of his writings lately!—I confidently say he counts Jesus as Lord, too, not a book. But that’s all the more reason to be clear about it.
I’m uncomfortable with his words that elevate things we *must* do with scripture. (And let’s not forget that most people in the world don’t have a dozen or more copies of The Holy Bible in their house like many evangelical believers do here in the States, so they might not could do these things even if they wanted to.)
Our righteousness doesn’t hinge on the practice of daily Bible reading or memorizations or meditations, but on Jesus Christ. [Again, I’m confident Bridges would agree, but I need to be plain about this for me.] We can draw nearer to Jesus through daily Bible readings and memorizations and meditations—and I do!, but I won’t draw hard lines on daily practices of them for everyone.
As a more contemplative person, these practices feel natural to me. And the Holy Spirit uses them for my transformation.
But for someone like my husband, he’s more transformed into Christlikeness with a chainsaw in his hand clearing someone’s property after a storm.
Yes, he still reads his Bible and values the Word—just as I also value serving in tangible ways—but he’s more influenced in the doing, not in carrying around a 3x5 card with a memory verse on it (a practice that *I* treasure).
Where’s the grace?
By the end of the chapter, Bridges brings up the question himself. And he does rely on grace—he points that out. He explains beautifully that the disciplines we use are never to earn acceptance with God; we’re gifted with acceptance solely through the work of Jesus Christ.
These disciplines of Bible study, Scripture memorization, continual meditation, and application of Scripture are avenues God has established to aid us in following him. I agree.
The goal of it all is to live lives that honor God, not to make deposit after deposit of information in our brain account.
We should pray for knowledge of truth that will change our lives rather than simply inform our minds.
We seek truth in the scripture to know perfect Truth here and now.
We read words in the Bible to love the living Word in our life.
* * *
Am I overly sensitive to Bridges’ word choices in this chapter? Perhaps.
Read what others say on this chapter at Challies.
My summaries on Chapters 1-9
It’s Day 11 of . . .