Biography

God Took Me By the Hand

Jerry Bridges. God Took Me by the Hand. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014. 192 pp. $12.60

When Jerry Bridges went to be with the Lord in March, 2106 I set out to write a tribute. Bridges played a key role in shaping the theological foundations of my early Christian life. After writing several pages, words simply could not capture the influence of Bridges on my life.

Jerry Bridges fine work, God Took Me by the Hand sums up in many ways what I originally meant to write in my tribute. This autobiographical account of Bridges’ life summarizes the important details that characterize the man so many have grown to love over the years.

The highlight of the book is nicely captured in the subtitle: A Story of God’s Unusual Providence. Most biographies capture the essence of one’s life, and rightly so. But this biography reads like a divinely inspired tapestry as the author refers over and over again to the invisible hand of God’s providence. He surveys the good, the bad, and the ugly – but in the final analysis, all the events which unfold in his life prove to be good (Rom. 8:38; Gen. 50:20).

If Jerry Bridges has influenced you or encouraged your Christian life, I commend God Took Me by the Hand. The book is packed with biblical wisdom and will no doubt, encourage many.

BOOK REVIEWS · Theology

WHAT IS PROVIDENCE?

Derek W.H. Thomas answers the question, “What is Providence?” with a deep biblical knowledge and an ability to connect with a wide range of people.

He begins by citing the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.”

Thomas emphasizes the word “all” in the confession, namely, everything from the smallest atom to a renegade army are subject to God’s providence.  He is providentially in control of every event.

The author moves to the Bible and discusses a few key stories that illustrate the truth of divine providence including the stories of Naomi and Ruth, Joseph, and Job.

Thomas summarizes three prominent views of providence including the Augustinian/Calvinistic view, the Arminian view, and the Molinistic view.  He deals with human free will and includes a helpful biblical definition of free will (a rare commodity in a culture that places a premium on so-called libertarian free will, what I refer to as the “love affair with free will).  Built into this discussion is a terrific refutation of openness theology (open theism).

Thomas proceeds to present eight biblical pieces of evidences that help bolster the case for the doctrine of divine providence.

Finally, the author answers key questions that pertain to suffering, sin, and human responsibility.

At the end of the day, the doctrine of divine providence leads Christ-followers to trust his grand plan; it enables them to place confidence in his ability to preserve and govern all things.

This volume is perhaps one of the best introductions available on the subject of providence.  It is short, lucid, biblical, and thought-provoking.  My hope is that Thomas’ work will motivate readers to consider further works on this subject as noted below:

All Things for Good – Thomas Watson

The Mystery of Providence – John Flavel

God’s Lesser Glory – Bruce A. Ware

The Invisible Hand – R.C. Sproul