Title: The Gospel Call and True Conversion
Author: Paul Washer
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Publishing Year: Reformation Heritage Books
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)
Probably one of the greatest scourges upon the modern evangelical church is that of easy-believism. Easy believism is the idea that one can truly express saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but not be willing to submit to Him as Lord. It’s justification with no sanctification but still hoping for future glorification. In other words, a supposed convert may make a confession of faith, yet be completely unchanged by this statement. Their lives produce little to no evidence of any fruit of godliness but still are convinced of their own salvation. What this false teaching produces is nominal Christians who live like the world and have no real connection to the Lord. These are false sheep clear and simple. Paul Washer, in his latest book, The Gospel Call and True Conversion, leaves little doubt that this heresy is both unbiblical and dangerous for churches and individuals alike.
Before reading this book I was not too familiar with its author, but had heard him recommended by people I would respect. After reading this book, I can see why. Washer not only does an excellent job defending the true, powerful gospel of Christ but does so in a way that leaves little doubt of what Scripture actually teaches on the subject. Every sentence this man writes drips with Scripture. I’m reminded of what was once said of John Bunyan – prick him anywhere and he will bleed “bibline”… I think the same could be said of Washer. His great familiarity and sound exegetical study of the Word of God will leave you impressed, edified and convicted. This certainly creates a desire to listen to more of his teaching.
The book is divided into three parts. In part one, The Gospel Call, Washer sets out to define just what is meant by the use of words and doctrines such as repentance, faith, belief and the real meaning of receiving Christ. In part two, New Hearts and the Nature of True Conversion, we are shown salvation from God’s perspective. We see His sovereignty, work and care in the salvation of the believer. In part three, New People and the Nature of True Conversion, we see what ought to result in the life of the believer should God’s saving work genuinely be applied to His life.
Paul Washer leaves us with little doubt that a truly converted believer will be changed both inside and out. There is no room in Scripture for a supposed believer that shows no evidence of his faith or no desire to follow the Lord in discipleship. We tend to focus only on one’s personal aspect of salvation, the remorse of a crying sinner or the sincerity of his prayer. If this is our only focus, than easy believism would be appealing for how could we judge another man’s sincerity or remorse? Yet, salvation is not accomplished by human means. We do not become converted simply because we are sorry for sin or wish to turn over a new leaf. We are not saved simply because we want to be saved. We are saved only because of the love of God, atonement of Jesus and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. If it were possible to be saved but not changed in the least, this would imply that God’s work was not powerful enough or somehow lacking.
“Is salvation so weak that it has no effect upon a person unless he follows up with a lifetime of intensive personal discipleship and accountability?” – pages 47-48
“God in Christ is not only the author of our salvation, but also its finisher. Therefore, participation in the process of sanctification is not an option in the Christian life that a believer may choose for himself. It is a certain and indispensable aspect of salvation over which the unfailing providence of God presides. The God who has justified the believer and has given to him His sure promise of future glorification will also sanctify him until that final day.” – pages 186-187
If there is one thing you walk away with after reading this book is awesome power and sovereignty of God! That is what I think I appreciate most about this book, his God-centered focus.
I also appreciate the balance this book strikes. Again, there is no doubt that a genuine Christian will be forever changed by his encounter with Christ. However, not all people will be changed in the same way or to the same extend or right away. Likewise, every true believer in Christ will continue to struggle and fight against sin this side of glory.
“It is imperative for us to understand that these characteristics of genuine repentance will not necessarily appear in their fullest or most mature form at the moment of conversion but will continue to grow and deepen throughout the believer’s life. It would be terribly misleading and destructive to suggest that true conversion requires that a person should attain a depth of repentance and faith that is rarely seen in the life of the most mature Christian.” – page 5
“…Even the most mature one will find the Christian life to be a great struggle against sin with frequent battles, great victories, and discouraging defeats. On this side of heaven, no believer will ever make a complete break with sin to be immune from its deception and free from all moral failure. Although true believers will grow in their forsaking of sin, sin will still be a repetitive malady in their lives. Although it may become less frequent or pronounced, sin will never be eradicated completely until the believer’s ultimate glorification in heaven.” – page 12
“The radical nature of our conversion cannot be overstated. Nevertheless, the Christian is not perfected on the day of his conversion. We are all still awaiting our final redemption and ultimate glorification. In spite of all of the Holy Spirit has wrought in us, there is an aspect of our fallenness that remains. It sets itself against our new nature and fights against every attempt at conformity to Christ and true piety.” – page 165
While I certainly recommend this book for all, this is not an easy book to get through. First, there are hard spiritual truths there that some Christians will find hard to take. But second, Washer tends to be a little wordy in my opinion as well as a little technical at times. It’s a heavy read, but it is worth it!
I close my review with the warning that concludes this book: “Let the struggling believer be comforted; let the apathetic church member be warned.” (page 188)
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Purchase the book here.