The Christian community lost a good friend when Navigator statesman and author Jerry Bridges passed away March 6, 2016 at the age of 87. It wasn’t only the people who knew Jerry personally who called him friend; his millions of readers thought of him as a friend and teacher, too.
Consider this comment on Facebook the day Jerry died: “Author Jerry Bridges died today. During my wife’s cancer and after her death, he was a dear friend of mine via his book Trusting God.”
Reading any of Jerry’s books is like having a conversation with a wise, caring friend, someone who had learned profound spiritual truth and simply wanted to share with you what he’d learned.
Pastor and radio teacher Alistair Begg called Jerry a friend. He said, “In the calling of Jerry Bridges into the nearer presence of Jesus, we have lost a friend, brother, and Christian statesman. Jerry embodied the fruit of the Spirit, and in an age of large egos, he was the epitome of selflessness.”
Jerry came to faith in college, and met The Navigators shortly thereafter, during a two-year stint in the Navy. After his discharge, Jerry went to work for an airplane manufacturing company. He was assigned the task of writing technical instructions for shop and flight line personnel. He credited this experience with teaching him how to write complex information in simple language.
During those years, he was mentored by Navigator Glenn Solum who brought Jerry to a Navigator conference in Colorado Springs in 1955. There Jerry met The Navigators founder Dawson Trotman, who asked him to join the team.
Jerry went on to serve in several administrative capacities, including office manager, treasurer, and vice president for corporate affairs—work he found both challenging and fulfilling.
U.S. President of The Navigators Doug Nuenke said, “My most significant memory of Jerry will be his humility and service to the Lord for more than 60 years. Even after becoming a well-known author, his humility and God-focus were always evident.”
Jerry’s first book, The Pursuit of Holiness, was published by NavPress in 1978, and sold more than 1.5 million copies. Jerry followed that book with nearly 20 others, including The Discipline of Grace and Respectable Sins.
His final book, The Blessing of Humility, was just released by NavPress in June. Humility was a topic Jerry wanted to write about for more than a decade, but he was reluctant to posture himself as an “expert” on humility. But then he was asked to write an article on the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 and realized he’d found the biblical framework for teaching humility. In the introduction to the book he wrote, “Here is an objective description outside of myself that I can point to and say, ‘That’s what humility looks like. That is humility in action in everyday life.’”
While it was appropriate—and characteristic—of Jerry to base his teaching on Scripture, Jerry also modeled humility. Bible teacher and author R.C. Sproul spoke of Jerry’s legacy, saying, “Jerry Bridges reminded the evangelical church that holiness was not just a doctrine to be studied but a calling to be pursued. And he modeled that pursuit with a humility grounded in a deep-seated grasp of God’s glory, our frailty, and the victory of Jesus.”