Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Are You Going to Heaven?

Gospel Assurance and Warnings. By Paul Washer. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books. pp. 288. 2014. (List Price $20.00 Paperback | $9.99 Kindle)

I'll start off by commending Gospel Assurance and Warnings to pastors, church leaders, and to anyone who wants to effectively communicate the gospel to others. As a matter of fact, I am going to seek permission from the publishers to share copies of Chapter 15 "Gospel Reductionism" with leaders at my church because it challenges us to ask the right questions of potential converts to see if they are really responding to the gospel and not to gimmicks or empty promises.

I will caveat my recommendation, however. Washer is responding to a culture of "easy-believism" and smiling preachers who are all too happy to pronounce someone saved and eternally secure because they prayed to "accept" Jesus. He paints with a broad brush and describes modern evangelicals very negatively: "Far too many evangelicals seem content to be ignorant of Scripture’s teaching, free from its reproof, untouched by its correction, and unshaped by its training." To some extent he's right, but he risks alienating readers who agree with him by lumping them into this category. It sometimes feels as though he's talking down to his reader, although I am fairly certain that is not his intention.

Despite the tone, I stand by my words that this book is a good resource for pastors and church leaders. Its treatment of Bible passages giving assurances and warnings is superb, and the gospel issues at stake are that important. I would only caution church leaders to be diligent in showing compassion because this book is not gentle. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say that the author's urgency trumps his compassion, and I would not share it with someone who I honestly believed showed signs of true faith but was struggling with assurance, lest he become discouraged. Yet, for those who are secure in their faith and who have a biblical assurance, this book is extremely helpful by highlighting assurances and warnings we should be communicating with our churches.

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review.

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