“The vast majority of believers do not understand what it means to be ‘in Christ’ and to find their basic identity in him.” p. 95
“Who am I?” is one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves, not just as believers but in general as humans. How we answer this question reveals how we view ourselves, the world, and our place in that world. While we ask this question (both explicitly and implicitly) all our lives, it’s an especially relevant question for college students and other young people who are making decisions that have the potential to affect the rest of their lives based on their answer to this question.
In this short book from Cruciform Press, Jerry Bridges gives an eight part answer to this question, answering from the perspective of what it means to our identity that we as Christians are “in Christ.” You could think of this book as “Identity in Christ 101”-what are the practical effects of identifying with God? What does that say about me and my place in the world that God made me, loves me, and purchased me with his blood to be adopted into his family?
Jerry distinguishes the eight facets of our identity in eight chapters:
- I am a Creature
- I am in Christ
- I am Justified
- I am an Adopted Son of God
- I am a New Creation
- I am a Saint
- I am a Servant of Christ
- I am Not Yet Perfect
While the whole book is excellent, of special note is his treatment of what it means to be justified. I can’t think of anyone who can more clearly explain both the realities and the practical ramifications of justification like Jerry Bridges can.
There are two plays on the word justified that may help us see this more clearly. You can think of it as meaning “just as if I had never sinned”…you can also think of justified as meaning “just as if I had always obeyed.” p. 36
My one issue with the book is his discussion of “calling” in chapter seven. Bridges (admirably) tries to combat the notion that those called to full-time vocational ministry have some sort of “higher” or “better” calling than those believers who are not called to such positions. However, immediately after saying that those not in active vocational ministry are just as called to their positions in the marketplace, he says that calling to a non-ministry vocation “typically…is mostly a matter of wise judgement” (p. 81). He distinguishes this situational judgement from the method of a minister’s calling, in which there “is often present to a more marked degree a subjective element involving the person’s perception of God’s will” (Ibid.). Perhaps he is simply observing rather than giving an imperative statement and perhaps it’s more the current view of calling that many seem to hold that I’m really at odds with. Either way, this is a relatively small quibble overall.
In summary, if you’ve never read any of Jerry Bridges’ books before, this is an excellent distillation of and introduction to his writings. And if you’ve already read some or most of them, you’ll recognize and appreciate his distinctive, simple, and deep communicative style.
This is a book that is an invaluable resource whether you’re reading these truths for the very first time or you need to be reminded in a fresh way what these truths really mean. Highly recommended.
What do you think of Bridges’ eight-part answer to the question “Who am I?” What would you add, what would you change/modify, and what would you take out?