Jerry Bridges, Navigators Author and Bible Teacher, Dies at 86

jerry-bridges

Jerry Bridges entered into the joy of his Master on Sunday evening, March 6, 2016, at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, the day after he suffered cardiac arrest. He was 86 years old.

CHILDHOOD

Gerald Dean Bridges was born on December 4, 1929, in a cotton-farming home in Tyler, Texas, to fundamentalist parents, six weeks after the Black Tuesday stock market crash that led to the Great Depression.

Jerry was born with several disabilities: he was cross-eyed, he was deaf in his right ear (which was not fully developed), and he had spine and breastbone deformities. But given his family’s poverty, they were unable to afford medical care for these challenges.

The separatist church in East Texas where the Bridges were members had an altar call after every service. Jerry walked the aisle three times, at the ages of 9, 11, and 13. But he later realized that he had not been born again.

His mother Lillian passed away in 1944 when he was 14.

CONVERSION

In August of 1948, as an 18-year-old college student right before his sophomore year began, Jerry was home alone one night in bed. He acknowledged to the Lord that he was not truly a Christian, despite growing up in a Christian home and professing faith. He prayed, ”God whatever it takes, I want Christ to be my Savior.”

The next week in his dorm room at the University of Oklahoma he was working on a school assignment and reached for a textbook, when he noticed the little Bible his parents had given him in high school. He figured that since he was now a Christian, he ought to start reading it daily, which he did (and never stopped doing for the rest of his days).

THE NAVY

After graduating with an engineering degree on a Navy ROTC scholarship, he went on active duty with the Navy, serving as an officer during the Korean conflict (1951-1953). A fellow officer invited him to go to a Navigator Bible study. Jerry went and he was hooked. He had never experienced anything like this before.

When stationed on ship in Japan, he got to know several staff members of the Navigators quite well. One day, after Jerry had been in Japan for six months, a Navy worker asked him why he didn’t just throw in his lot with the Navigators and come to work for them. The very next day, December 26, 1952, Jerry failed a physical exam due to the hearing loss in his right ear, and he was given a medical discharge in July 1953, after being in the Navy for only two years. Jerry was not overly disappointed, surmising that perhaps this was the Lord’s way of steering him to the Navigators.

When he returned to the U.S., he began working for Convair, an airplane manufacturing company in southern California, writing technical papers for shop and flight line personnel. It was there that he learned to write simply and clearly—skills the Lord would later use to instruct and edify thousands of people from his pen.

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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition
Justin Taylor