Skip to main content

Recovering The Gospel - A Review

The Gospel is a Treasure

The most important book in the lives of all Christians is the Bible. The truth of first and foremost importance in the Bible is the gospel. If you're looking for a resource to help you understand the treasure of the gospel, outside of the Scriptures themselves, look no further than Paul Washer's Recovering The Gospel series.

This series includes three separate books:
  1. The Gospel's Power & Message
  2. The Gospel Call & True Conversion
  3. Gospel Assurance & Warnings
I've read a number of books that attempt to describe the glory of the gospel in a paragraph. I've read others that relegate it to a chapter. Paul Washer has been a faithful preacher of the gospel for decades. He gives the gospel the breadth and depth it deserves. Even still, Washer understands that he is only scratching the surface of this glorious truth.


Greatest Strengths

Paul Washer is my favorite modern preacher to listen to. Those who know me know my great fondness for Washer's ministry in my own life. I must resist the urge to go overboard with strengths. Here are my top three.

1. Layout and Approach

Washer takes a massive topic and breaks it into very manageable sections. Each book is divided into two or three major parts. Each section contains several chapters that each contribute to the main section without being overly long.

I've read each book, in their entirety, more than once. I appreciate the short chapters because the depth of information and the glory of what is being discussed make it difficult for me to take more than a chapter or two in any one sitting. This is not a book to breeze through. It is a book to meditate on with your open Bible nearby.

2. Content

Although the layout and overall approach make the books enjoyable to read, the content pulls no punches. Washer dives into topics and aspects of the gospel that many preachers and teachers have either forgotten, never learned, or are unwilling to discuss openly.

This is the reason Washer wrote these books in the first place. Washer states in the preface of the series, "One of the greatest crimes committed by this present Christian generation is its neglect of the gospel, and it is from this neglect that all our other maladies spring forth." I believe that Washer's assessment is correct.

I've met some professing Christians who have been around the church a long time who are angered and sometimes surprised by the content of Washer's books. It is a tragedy that people can be associated with the church for years without ever hearing the full gospel presented in any meaningful way. Washer further states,
"Untold millions walk our streets and sit in our pews unchanged by the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet they are convinced of their salvation because one time in their life they raised a hand at an evangelistic campaign or repeated a prayer. This false sense of security creates a great barrier that often insulates such individuals from ever hearing the true gospel."
I know this is true because I have met many of these insulated individuals while sharing the gospel on the streets. This strength leads very naturally into the final one I'll mention.

3. The Encouragement and Warning to Those Who Profess Christ

The Bible commands Christians to examine themselves and see if they are genuinely in the faith. The Bible does not provide the test of church attendance. Neither does it point to a time in the past when you were baptized, raised your hand, or repeated a prayer with some sense of sincerity.

So what does the Bible say? Washer's final book gives both stark warnings to those who claim to follow Christ but whose lives do not match their profession, along with genuine biblical tests for true salvation. For those who are born-again these tests are given by God to be a wonderful assurance of the salvation we have received in Christ. For those who are unregenerate these same tests can serve as a diagnostic and warning to repent while we still have breath.

We who profess the name of Jesus can be sure if we are saved. We must never be so foolish to trust any other evidence other than what the Bible gives us. Washer's third book is a great resource for the Christian who desires to soberly examine themselves in light of biblical standards.

Greatest Weaknesses

I find Washer's three books to be wonderful resources and worthwhile reads. However, if forced to discuss weaknesses I can come up with two.

1. Book Two, Part Three

Of all the parts of the series, I personally found the third section of The Gospel Call & True Conversion to be the weakest in general. If I had to lose an entire section it would be this one. The first two parts of the second book I found to be more edifying and beneficial. However, that's not to say there was nothing edifying in this section.

There were aspects of this section that I found Washer to be interpreting passages in a way that I wasn't sure were completely accurate. There is a good chance that he is correct and I am in error. However, the other sections were built off better exegetical reasoning and explanation.

2. The Assurances Section Was Not Exhaustive

Washer's approach in the assurance section (Book 3, Part 1) is essentially a study of 1 John. This is an excellent place to start. However, this is not the only relevant biblical section to study. As a result, Washer makes an excellent yet incomplete presentation of the topic.

While this is a weakness, I must admit that the tests Washer covers from 1 John are fantastic. He just didn't cover everything. In fact, Washer doesn't even include every test from 1 John. As a result, this stands out to me as a weakness. I would have liked to see this section expanded.

A separate chapter could be added for, at least, these three passages outside of 1 John:
  • the evidence of God's discipline in your life (Hebrews 12:1-13)
  • the leading of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13-14)
  • the presence of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24)
Despite these other tests being absent I believe Washer's goal in writing was achieved. Anyone who claims to follow Christ could genuinely examine themselves with what Washer provides.

Concluding Thoughts

Paul Washer's series, especially the first and third books, come with my highest recommendation. I not only encourage Christians to read this who haven't already but would also encourage those who've read it before to read it again and again.

The material in these books is faithful to the Scriptures. The glorious truth of the gospel is no doubt neglected in our own day. Let us not neglect it ourselves.

Comments

Popular Posts

Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example.

A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results.

For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated).

The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche, which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be included…

10 Things An Evangelist Is Not

You've probably heard the term Evangelist before.Most people have. The term most likely brings something to mind. Sometimes positive. Often negative.

Does your idea match what other people think of when they hear the term evangelist?

More importantly, do any of these ideas match what the Bible tells us an evangelist is?

The truth is that most of the popular ideas about what an evangelist is and does are based on the culture, not the Bible.This is a problem.

The cultural idea of an evangelist is so popular that it is beginning to be used by companies. If you go to popular job sites and put the term evangelist into the search bar you will find many non-church jobs looking for evangelists. Many of these positions include the duties of spreading knowledge about a particular company, product, service, or idea.

The Bible tells us that Jesus gave some Evangelists for His church.And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (Ephe…

5 Keys To Effective Witness

Content is important. But it's not the only thing. Some evangelistic methods are presented as if they are the perfect witnessing method. Some think memorizing a method and mechanically delivering the content means you have effectively witnessed.

Witness throughout the New Testament demonstrates this is not accurate. There is not a cookie-cutter approach that is applied the same way every time.
Content is extremely important. Without the right content our witness cannot be effective. Messing with the content of the gospel voids its power. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. (1 Corinthians 1:17) Focusing only on content fails to recognize that we are not preaching to the air. We are preaching to persons.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel,…

Lift Up The Son, Part 2

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(Romans 15:4)


(If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.)

The Apostle Paul quoted a verse from Psalm 69 before making his comment in Romans 15:4. When he speaks of whatever was written before he means what we have recorded in the Old Testament. He simply called them the Scriptures.

God inspired the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament. Paul said they were written for the instruction of New Testament believers. Through perseverance and encouragement in the Scriptures we can have hope. The Old Testament is not supposed to be ignored by Christians.

As we apply this to our task of lifting up the Son, that in and through Christ our Father may be glorified, we encounter a word of caution.

It is easy to agree on the surface that the church ought to talk about Jesus. That's a given. But are we aware that not everyone means th…

Fullness By Design

My wife and I are expecting our 8th child this year. I want my children to grow to full maturity. That's not to say that I want to skip the fun things that accompany young kids. I don't want to skip any of it. As each day passes I realize how quickly these moments are gone.

The march toward adulthood is inevitable. Every day, we all get older. I must be aware that my children are growing up, whether I like it or not.

But maturity is not the same as age. It is possible to get older while never really growing up.

When I say that I want my children to grow to full maturity what I mean is: I desire my children to realize their potential. I want them to grow into responsible adults.

I don't want my three sons to live in my house indefinitely. They shouldn't be expecting their mother to cook and clean for them into their thirties. Part of my responsibility as a father is to steward the children God has so graciously given us. We are to raise them so that they can be delivere…