Taken from the blurb on the back of this volume: “Paul Washer ministered as a missionary in Peru for ten years, during which time he founded the HeartCry Missionary Society to support Peruvian church planters. Paul now serves as one of the laborers with the HeartCry Missionary Society (www.heartcrymissionary.com). He and his wife, Charo, have three children; Ian, Evan, and Rowan.”
I don’t think there is a single living man that I have never met that has done more for my spiritual life than brother Paul Washer. His passion, devotion, piety and humanness demand one’s attention and respect. He has taught me how to preach, how to pray, how to date and how to study the Bible unlike anyone else. I owe much to brother Paul though he does not know it.
When I saw that brother Paul began to write full length books I was elated! His series “Recovering the Gospel” put out by Reformation Heritage Books contains three volumes of scripture saturated truths about the message of the gospel and the effects it has on those who believe it.
This 28-page pamphlet titled “The Gospel of Jesus Christ” seems to be a succinct presentation of the marrow of those three volumes. If I could read, give away to my congregation and re-read only one book on the gospel it would be this pithy volume by brother Paul. I have already given many away.
This book is clear, concise and even devotional. Though this volume is short, brother Paul cuts no corners in his presentation of the gospel’s truths. “The central message of Christian is the gospel of Jesus Christ … Indeed, it offers the only solution to our most pressing crises. No educational program, political party, or psychological therapy is able to address the deepest problem of the human race … The gospel reveals that God has come and won the victory for us. It is good news precisely because it is not about what we have done or can do, but what God has done and will do on behalf of His people. The gospel declares divine intervention into a hopeless world.” (pg.1) This is just in the opening two paragraphs!
He continues to sum up the gospel by saying, “His [Christ’s] death satisfied the demands of God’s justice against sinners and made it possible for a just God to pardon them. His resurrection three days later testified that He is the Son of God and that God accepted His death as full payment for our sin.” (pg.1) After this introduction every statement is supported by many Biblical citations. Paul obviously wants us to look to the Bible and not to him to find the truths he espouses.
Brother Paul conveniently breaks the book up into sections which plainly lay out for us in bite-size portions the anatomy of the gospel. He begins with the character of God, that He is love, but at the same time holy and righteous. Because of God’s righteousness He must by nature, “judge every person according to the standard that has been revealed to them. There will come a day in which God will judge everyone according to the strictest standards of justice and fairness, rewarding the good that is done and punishing the evil.” (pg.4)
This glimpse of God in His holiness, Paul writes, “humbles us and threatens to undo us.” (pg.5) This leads us into the next category, “The Character of Humanity” (pg.5). He walks us through scripture after scripture showing us that humanity is morally corrupt and stands guilty/condemned before God.
Brother Paul leads his readers to the main point and thrust of the gospel, what he calls “The Great Dilemma” (pg.7). What is this dilemma? It is that God is just and therefore cannot pardon the wicked. “How can God be just, yet pardon those who should justly be condemned? How can God be holy, yet befriend those who are evil? Anyone who justifies the wicked is an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 17:15). How then can the Lord justify sinners like us and still be just (Romans 3:26)?” (pg.7)
Paul tells us that the only answer he can find is the one God gives, “God’s Answer to our Dilemma”. “The answer to this greatest of all dilemmas can be found only in the gospel. In justice, God condemned humanity and demanded complete satisfaction for our crimes against Him. In love, God took humanity upon Himself, bore our sin, suffered the penalty we deserved, and died in our place. The same God whose justice demanded satisfaction for our sin made satisfaction by offering Himself in our place. This is what makes the gospel truly good news!” (pg.7)
Brother Paul proves this statement in the following sections where he gives an exposition of this paragraph looking into the Scriptures at every turn. He walks us through topics concerning the gospel like: “Jesus Christ, Our Substitute”, “The Cross”, “Christ Bore Our Sin”, “Christ Suffered Our Curse”, “Christ Was Forsaken by God in Our Place”, “Christ Suffered the Wrath of God for Us” and “Christ Died in Our Place”. (pgs.7-12) Coming to the topic of the resurrection he includes the following sections: “The Resurrection Is Proof That Jesus Is the Son of God”, “The Resurrection Is Proof That God Accepted Christ’s Death as Full Payment for Our Sin”, “The Resurrection Is Proof of the Believer’s Future Resurrection” and “The Resurrection Is Proof That the World Has a Lord and a Judge”.
The next section is “Christ’s Accomplishment” where brother Paul writes on the peace we have with God now through Christ’s finished work!
In true Puritanistic and Spurgeonistic fashion he leads us to the application of the gospel doctrines just taught. How do we respond? He covers this in the section titled, “Our Response” (pg.14) where he talks about repentance (change of thought, emotion and action) and Self-Examination. Brother Paul even leads readers through what true saving faith looks like.
Brother Paul’s pastoral heart shines through in his section, “The Assurance of Salvation”. Once we have a true understanding of the gospel, “How Then Shall We Live?” he asks. He stresses the importance of Bible study, prayer, baptism, fellowship within a Biblically-sound Church, sanctification, service in the local church and service in the mission field.
I cannot recommend this little volume on the gospel highly enough. I have benefited from it greatly in my own personal life and hope many others in my congregation will also! Pick up and read, tolle lege!