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5 Stars Out Of 5
How can I know that I'm truly a child of God
May 8, 2014
How can I know that I'm truly a child of God, that I've been born again of the Spirit? These are questions that all that claim Christianity need to know the right answer to. But many have been led to a false assurance of their salvation, due to a misunderstanding of what the Gospel actually is, and that puts many people that profess Christianity into a dangerous position, which will lead to them crying, "Lord, Lord, didn't we _ in Your Name?" and Jesus replying, "Depart from Me; I never knew you." Paul Washer answers these very important, basic questions, by God's Word, in Gospel Assurance & Warnings, the third book in the Recovering the Gospel series.
Washer takes the call of God to "guard this treasure that has been entrusted to us" (the Gospel,) seriously, believing that many that are lost are not hardened to the Gospel, but ignorant of what it really is, and that many who think they know what the Gospel is and that they believe it, are also ignorant-and also lost.
Because the Gospel has been distorted in many ways, Washer clearly explains the Gospel, as given by God in His Word, at the beginning of this book, desiring that all know the truth about this truly Good News. He also lays out how the reduction of the Gospel to easy-believism, decisionism, and faith in the "sinners prayer" has led to many of the problems the church deals with, (being filled with many who have falsely believed they are "saved".)
Then he jumps into the meat of this topic. This book is divided into 2 parts, the first, Biblical Assurance, consists of 14 chapters, each covering an area of evidence of the Christian life, such as; walking in the light, confessing sin, keeping God's commands, imitating Christ, rejecting the world, purifying one's self, etc. Washer calls us to examine ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith.
The second part of the book, Warning to Empty Confessors, (5 chapters,) lays out the dangers of a false profession, as given in Scripture. Washer's tone is never condemning, but rather that of compassion and warning. While he doesn't pull any punches, he lays the full truth out there in love.
This book is not light and easy reading, but forces one to think through the truth of salvation and God's Word. I think it is a good read for all who profess to "believe in Jesus". I believe the results of reading this book will bring joy and biblical assurance to believers. I also pray that those who think they are saved, but have never really heard the true Gospel, and have trusted in their own decision and "good works", will through this book hear the true Gospel, perhaps for the first time, and by Grace through Faith will be led to true repentance and conversion.
In this world where the Gospel has been so distorted by easy-believism, decisionism, and assurance in the "sinner's prayer", may Washer's presentation of the Gospel, and God's Word on how to be assured of salvation, and warnings to false believers, be a clarion call that God uses to prevent many, who would say, "Lord, Lord _", from hearing "depart from Me; I never knew you."
You have heard conversion stories of people who said a prayer, signed a card and/or came down to the front during the altar call and believe that they are saved. Yet when you look at their life afterward you question whether that conversion was real. Paul Washer, in his wonderful book Gospel Assurance and Warnings, takes us to Scripture to see how we can know whether we are truly saved. And no it isn't any of those things I have just mentioned.
What struck me first about this book is how engrossing it is. Washer is addressing a topic that is hard hitting, that makes us reflect on our life as a Christian, and yet I couldn't put it down. I wanted to stay up and keep reading the next assurance of salvation that Scripture promises us. Next, like his book The Gospel Call and True Conversion (my review here); I realized how easy it is to read. He writes with the reader in mind. The last thing that caught my attention is the tone of his writing. He isn't judgmental in pointing out how many people have a false assurance of salvation. His goal is to get you to see from Scripture that you may not truly be saved all the while he also gives great assurance to those that are truly saved. A fine line to toe and he does it well.
Washer draws his content mainly from I John and Matthew's gospel. When one takes the time to look deeply in Scripture they will find a wealth of content to strengthen or question the faith that we have. Paul does that for us in this book.
The only book I have read more than once is the Bible. It's an almost guarantee that I will read this again on a regular basis. I need the assurance that I am God's child. From time to time I will also need to be convicted and nudged back on the path that leads to God.
Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books through CrossFocused Reviews for this review. All that was required of me is that I review it, positively or negatively, on my site.
"Each generation of Christians is a steward of the gospel message, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God calls upon us to guard this treasure that has been entrusted to us. If we are to be faithful stewards, we must be absorbed in the study of the gospel, take great pains to understand its truths, and pledge ourselves to guard its contents [note: not to hide any secrets, but to be certain its message stays true to the original]. In doing so, we will ensure salvation both for ourselves, and for those who hear us."
The author has divided this book into two parts. Part I is a study of biblical assurance based on the following premise, "Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, yet the nature of salvation guarantees that saving faith will have real and practical evidences." He uses many Bible verses to formulate this premise, but my favorite one is, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves" (2 Corinthians 13:5). The author then examines the apostle John's first epistle and uncovers twelve doctrinal and moral criteria we can use to test ourselves. He dedicates a chapter to each one.
In Part Two, Paul Washer turns his attention to admonitions and warnings in the Scriptures. This study is based on the premise that care must be taken not to trivialize the moment of our salvation, the moment when the heart is justified and made new, nor believe that our journey toward sanctification is easy. Grace is not cheap, and the work of the Holy Spirit must not be seen as trite or haphazard. There is nothing easy about being a follower of Christ. If our walk with Christ lacks the interaction of God's hand of discipline and re-direction, then we should re-examine the status of our hearts. Are they truly regenerated?
The author writes boldly and plainly, yet not in an overly severe tone. His is one of the best explanations I have ever read that makes the way of the gospel clear. My impression, as I read through these chapters, is that Mr. Washer has a genuine concern that his readers experience a true conversion through faith in Christ Jesus. He does not want us to be deceived by those who would over-simplify the doctrines of regeneration and perseverance and live in false hope. It was obvious to me that he desires us to have a living and loving relationship with our God.
The latter half of the book serves as a reminder that there is always a danger of watered down biblical teachings and misdirections, leading many to experience false assurance of salvation. It is the position of the author that there are too many people sitting in our churches who fall into this category. He makes it clear that it is not difficult or too late for us to have unshakable faith, based on a firm biblical foundation. Overall, the book is written to appeal to the everyday person; you don't have to have a theological degree or be a seminarian to understand the author's precepts, or to put them into practice.
Because this book is written clearly enough to be used by anyone who is looking for a biblical basis for assurance of salvation, it would serve well as a personal Bible study or group Bible study. The book also encourages its readers to live out our lives as living signposts, pointing others to the reason we walk with such confidence and joy from day to day--Jesus made us completely whole.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC)on behalf of Reformation Heritage Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."