Gospel Assurances and Warnings by Paul Washer
Paul Washer is keen on getting the gospel right for his readers. This new volume, Gospel Assurance and Warnings is a foray into the assurance that we have in Christ, false assurance in our churches, and the need for living obediently before Christ. Washer minces no words in this book and seeks to dispel the notion that a sinner’s prayer is enough to warrant full assurance of faith. With chapter devoted toward confessing sin, God’s commandments, loving Christians, and rejecting the world, Paul covers much ground in his quest for giving assurance to believers that is both gospel saturated and biblically faithful. What turns out is a book that provides a robust example of a writer who is not concerned with appearances of faithful living but transformed lives from the heart leading to the righteous actions. This book is a wave of fresh air in a culture that is easily swayed by quick prayers and non-existent accountability.
In the chapter on Keeping God’s Commandments, Washer gets honest with his readers about their weakness but also their growth in righteousness. He writes, “Second, in spite of the believer’s true weaknesses, there will be notable differences between his relationship with the commandments of God and that of the unconverted. The Christian will grow in his delight of God’s commandments, and he will make progress in applying them in obedience.” (49) We still are ravaged by sin, sickness, and death, but this truth does not evacuate the parallel truth that the Christian grows in obedience as he follows God’s commandments. As life continues, there will be greater submission to the will of God and growth in grace. This might not look like much in the present state of life, but as we look back over a lifetime of living, growth in obeying God’s commandments will come to the light. This is important because often we feel like our lives are not much different than our unconverted neighbors, yet Washer reminds us that obedience is over a lifetime even if we are blind to its fruit today.
In his discussion about eternal life in 1 John, Paul brings up an important distinction worth noting. He writes, “Here, Jesus does not regard eternal life as a quantity of time but as a quality of life in fellowship with God and His Son.” (146) The emphasis is not on duration but enduring intimate relationship. This is not a fairweather friend relationship, but a binding one that seeks the service of Jesus for all of life. To know is usually in context with a personal relationship with someone. This important truth goes a long in dispelling the myth that quality of relationship is not as important of length.
I think this book goes a long way in giving hope to believers and warning them of false assurance that holds onto someone other than Christ. I think many will benefit from the truth and Paul’s faithful teaching here.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Reformation Heritage Books for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.