Gospel: Assurance and Warnings by Paul Washer
This book is Part Three of the Recovering the Gospel series by Paul Washer. Book One is The Gospel’s Power and Message. Book Two is The Gospel Call and True Conversion. Based on the clear writing style of the author, in his ability to make basic Christian doctrines easy to grasp and understand, I would love to read the first two books in the series. But it is equally clear that the reader does not necessarily need these books to benefit from the message Paul Washer conveys in this volume.
I don’t know one genuine believer in Jesus Christ who doesn’t need the assurance the Scriptures teach us. In addition, the warnings in this book were written to aid the believer in keeping this relationship with Christ as close to Scripture as possible, thus as pure as is humanly possible. So there are several topics covered in this book that may be considered controversial by some.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest of all treasures given to the church and the individual Christian. It is the power of God for salvation, and the greatest revelation of the manifold wisdom of God to man and angels.”
“Each generation of Christians is a steward of the gospel message, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God calls upon us to guard this treasure that has been entrusted to us. If we are to be faithful stewards, we must be absorbed in the study of the gospel, take great pains to understand its truths, and pledge ourselves to guard its contents [note: not to hide any secrets, but to be certain its message stays true to the original]. In doing so, we will ensure salvation both for ourselves, and for those who hear us.”
The author has divided this book into two parts. Part I is a study of biblical assurance based on the following premise, “Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, yet the nature of salvation guarantees that saving faith will have real and practical evidences.” He uses many Bible verses to formulate this premise, but my favorite one is, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). The author then examines the apostle John’s first epistle and uncovers twelve doctrinal and moral criteria we can use to test ourselves. He dedicates a chapter to each one.
In Part Two, Paul Washer turns his attention to admonitions and warnings in the Scriptures. This study is based on the premise that care must be taken not to trivialize the moment of our salvation, the moment when the heart is justified and made new, nor believe that our journey toward sanctification is easy. Grace is not cheap, and the work of the Holy Spirit must not be seen as trite or haphazard. There is nothing easy about being a follower of Christ. If our walk with Christ lacks the interaction of God’s hand of discipline and re-direction, then we should re-examine the status of our hearts. Are they truly regenerated?
As I read through the twelve tests we are to use to examine ourselves, I remembered the early years of my life when I recall how God worked over time to prepare my heart for salvation. It took many years because the church I attended did not preach the biblical Gospel. Yet, I distinctly remember a “before” and an “after”, attesting to the moment when I placed my trust in Christ for salvation, and He gave me a new heart. These chapters were written so well that I had no trouble identifying each of the tests and finding them fulfilled in my life (not to my credit, but to Jesus’). It’s true as John wrote: “These things have I written to you…that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). I’m certain this part of the book will be encouraging for many.
The author writes boldly and plainly, yet not in an overly severe tone. His is one of the best explanations I have ever read that makes the way of the gospel clear. My impression, as I read through these chapters, is that Mr. Washer has a genuine concern that his readers experience a true conversion through faith in Christ Jesus. He does not want us to be deceived by those who would over-simplify the doctrines of regeneration and perseverance and live in false hope. It was obvious to me that he desires us to have a living and loving relationship with our God.
The latter half of the book serves as a reminder that there is always a danger of watered down biblical teachings and misdirections, leading many to experience false assurance of salvation. It is the position of the author that there are too many people sitting in our churches who fall into this category. He makes it clear that it is not difficult or too late for us to have unshakable faith, based on a firm biblical foundation. Overall, the book is written to appeal to the everyday person; you don’t have to have a theological degree or be a seminarian to understand the author’s precepts, or to put them into practice.
Because this book is written clearly enough to be used by anyone who is looking for a biblical basis for assurance of salvation, it would serve well as a personal Bible study or group Bible study. The book also encourages its readers to live out our lives as living signposts, pointing others to the reason we walk with such confidence and joy from day to day–Jesus made us completely whole.
About the author: Paul Washer ministered as a missionary in Peru for ten years, during which time he founded the HeartCry Missionary Society to support Peruvian church planters. Paul now serves as one of the laborers with the HeartCry Missionary Society. He and his wife, Charo, have three children: Ian, Evan, and Rowan. HeartCry Missionary Society
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC)on behalf of Reformation Heritage Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”