Paul Washer is a popular name among those who support a Reformed gospel. Many have read his books or heard his preaching. The thing is, is Paul Washer giving us the true gospel message? This four part series of posts will attempt to examine Paul Washer’s book The Gospel’s Power and Message to see exactly what Paul is saying and consider if it is the Biblical gospel.
My comments are in ( ) and Paul’s are in quotes. Early on we are greeted with this:
“Until God regenerates a man’s heart, that man will address the gospel in the same way the demons of the Gadarenes addressed the Lord Jesus Christ: “What have we to do with You?”15 The carnal man can have no true interest or appreciation in the gospel apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and yet this miracle takes place in the heart of a man through the gospel preaching which he at first disdains.” Washer, Paul (2012-10-12). The Gospel’s Power and Message (pp. 7-8). . Kindle Edition.
(The implication here is that regeneration needs to take place before faith but this is a grave Reformed error. Remember though in going through this that this is part of the lens through which Paul Washer views the gospel.)
“The preaching of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, and other like-minded preachers would be ridiculed, lampooned, and laughed to scorn by modern man.” (p. 8).
(Please note here who Paul is looking up to and identifying with. The three mentioned here were compromised on the gospel as well.)
“Since there is no affinity or friendship between the gospel and the world, to receive the gospel is to reject the world. This demonstrates just how radical the act of receiving the gospel can be. To receive and follow the gospel call is to reject all that can be seen with the eye and held in the hand in exchange for what cannot be seen.1 It is to reject personal autonomy and the right to self-government in order to enslave oneself to a Messiah who died two thousand years ago as an enemy of the state and a blasphemer.” (p. 9).
(To accept the gospel is not to reject the world. It is to reject any other method of salvation than by faith in Christ alone. It also is not the rejecting of self government.)
“Secondly, a man who receives the gospel trusts exclusively in the person and work of Jesus Christ as the only way of right standing before God.” (p. 10).
(Isn’t this the first and last point?)
“A genuine receiving of the gospel not only involves a disdain for and turning from sin but also a disdain for and turning from any confidence other than Christ, especially a confidence in self. It is for this reason that a person who is truly converted will become almost nauseous at even the slightest suggestion that his right standing before God might be the product of his own virtue or merit. Although his new life in Christ produces good works, he has cast off all hope in good works as a means of salvation and trusts exclusively in the person and perfect work of Christ.” (p. 10).
(Wait, what about the point above? I sense a contradiction. Repentance during conversion does not have to do with disdain or turning from sin. The part about turning from any confidence other than Christ has merit but the works have already been added in. Faith plus works equals works. The new life in Christ does not produce the good works itself. Also, casting off all hope in goods works as means of salvation would have meant that they quit trusting the idea that turning from sin merits salvation. Remember, Washer does not see turning from sin as works because he believes in regeneration before faith.)
“God does not call men to make Jesus Lord (as though they had such power), but to live in absolute submission to the Lord He has made. Therefore, the man who desires to receive the benefits of the gospel must first decide if he is willing to turn over all autonomy and self-government to the Lord of the gospel.” (p. 11).
(God has called all men to believe the gospel. He desires that all men repent (change their mind) and trust Christ alone to save. Submission comes after were are saved and is not automatic. It is a continual part of the process of progressive sanctification. No believer reaches the point where they are submitted perfectly always. This is because the sin nature is still present with us until we receive our glorified bodies in heaven.
Here also is a big error. Washer’s conclusion is that the person desiring salvation must not just believe but decide if he is willing to turn over all autonomy and self government. This is really what Lordship salvationists mean by make Jesus the Lord of your life. They don’t mean make Him God but they mean to put yourself in submission to Him as God / Lord. However, this is not the gospel. It is an addition to the Biblical gospel and is indeed another gospel. This takes it even one step further than the error of turn from sin for salvation.)
“The true convert does not receive the gospel as an addition to his previous life, but in exchange for it. To receive one is to lose the other. This is the clear teaching of Jesus: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (p. 12).
(Obtaining salvation is NOT an exchange. It is not this for that. It is not a barter deal or a bilateral contract. Talk about error. That verse is relating to discipleship not conversion or the decision to trust Christ. Look at the preceding verse in context.
Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.)
“The man, woman, youth, or child who has truly received the gospel will stand upon it, and in their standing they prove that they have truly received it.” (p. 15).
(Even if this were true, what have you proven if you stubbornly stand upon a false gospel? I say that Christ alone is the proof of someone’s conversion. Have they trusted Him alone for salvation or not? It is that simple. If so, we have the promise of God’s Word that they are saved. Unless, that is, that we don’t believe God’s Word when it promises that! Jn 3:16 – more verses are listed below.)
“…we would do well to cry out to the masses, “Jesus Christ promises you two things: an eternal salvation in which to hope and a cross on which to die.16”(p. 20).
(No, this is error because it is mixing the grace offer of salvation with discipleship.)
“The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is one of the most precious truths to the believer who understands it.” (p. 20).
(No it isn’t. The believer that understands it exposes it for the error that it is. Remember, Calvinitsic Perseverance of the Saints is not Biblical eternal security. It just means that God’s pre-chosen ones are enabled to live the Christian life and are prevented from falling away from the faith. It centers on works and there is no assurance in this system because any bad works might be a sign that one really is not truly one of the elect. It takes what should be security and turns it into insecurity.)
“In the text at the beginning of the chapter, the apostle Paul writes, “You are saved, if you hold fast that word.” The word if introduces a conditional clause that we must not ignore and we cannot remove. The logic is clear: a person is saved if he holds fast the gospel, but if he does not hold fast, he is not saved. This is not a denial of the doctrine of perseverance but rather an explanation of it. None of those who truly believe unto salvation will ever be lost to eternal destruction. The grace and power of the God who saved them will also keep them until that final day. However, the evidence that they have truly believed is that they continue in the things of God and do not turn away from Him. Although they will still struggle against the flesh and be subject to many failings, the full course of their life will reveal a definite and notable progress in both faith and godliness. Their perseverance does not save them or make them objects of grace, but it reveals that they are objects of grace who are truly saved by faith. To put it plainly, the proof or validation of genuine conversion is that the one who professes faith in Christ perseveres in that faith and grows in sanctification throughout the full course of his life. If a person professes faith in Christ and yet falls away or makes no progress in godliness, it does not mean that he has lost his salvation. It reveals that he was never truly converted. (p. 21).
(Paul Washer just described what I said. This is the explanation of perseverance of the saints and it is flat out error and amounts to Lordship legalism as a method of sanctification. It leads to law bondage and fear. People that have been rescued from this madness can testify of this experience.)
“They help us to discern the difference between true and false conversion, and they function as a warning for the believer to apply all diligence in making his calling and election sure. (p. 22).
(There is no such thing as a false conversion. Making your calling and election sure is part of sanctification.)
“There are many who believe they are saved and thoroughly Christian because they once prayed a prayer and asked Jesus to come into their hearts. However, they did not continue on in the faith. They never came out of the world, or if they did, they quickly returned. They possess no practical reality of the fear of the Lord. There is no fragrance of divine grace in their lives. They show no outward evidence of inward transformation. There is not even a hint of the divine discipline that God provides to all His children.25 Yet they stand assured of their salvation because of one decision in their past and their belief that their prayer was truly sincere. No matter how popular such a belief may be, it has no biblical grounds.”(p. 22).
(Let’s make no mistake here. Prayer itself does not save. That is not the issue. Faith alone in Christ alone saves. So a past decision to trust Christ alone for salvation does have Biblical grounds because it is THE only way to receive the gift of salvation that has already been purchased by Christ. Simply trust him for it.)
“However, biblical assurance that a person has passed from death to life finds a basis not merely upon an examination of the moment of conversion but also upon an examination of his or her life from that moment on.” (p. 22).
(This is false. I can see why a Reformed person coming at this from that perspective would say this but it doesn’t hold up to the Word. Consider some of these verses:
Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Notice it does not say works are required. The promise of eternal life is for all who will believe, not all who will believe and show enough evidence by way of good works.
Joh 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
Joh 11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
(This is a good question for Lordship salvationists.)
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Eph 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
(After we believed we were sealed. It does not say after we showed enough good works we were sealed.)
1Jn 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
1Jn 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
1Jn 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
1Jn 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
(Notice specifically verse 10. We that believe have the witness because we have believed the record that God has given us of His Son. There is no amount of works that have to be quantified or qualified. It is not about works! Thankfully salvation is about Christ and His righteousness applied on our behalf. All those who come to understand their need (that they are sinners before a Holy God) and trust Christ the Son of God based on His provision (death, burial, resurrection) are saved from eternal damnation and stand assured of eternal life. Praise God that no works enter this equation or else the would be no one good enough to be saved. I’ll close with verse 14.)
1Jn 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
(My prayer is that Paul Washer himself will come to understand the error that he is making and that he would trust Christ alone for salvation. I pray that those currently under this style of error are freed from it and embrace the gospel of grace and that those that are discerning would be bold in their defense of the one true gospel and true method of obtaining the free gift of eternal life. Eph 2:8-9)