Some weeks ago, a dear sister sent me a link to a message by Paul Washer. Deep in my spirit, I had a notion that this would not be an ordinary message but one the Lord would have me listen to. Being a two-hour message, I knew I had to have the time and space to fully concentrate on the contents. Most certainly, I wouldn’t want to be flippant to gloss over a sermon entitled “Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church”.
This afternoon, the opportunity presented itself. There was work to be done, but I didn’t have the mind nor heart to do anything. This message came to mind so I retrieved the email, clicked on the link and listened to the entire two-hour discourse by Paul Washer. I was deeply challenged and provoked by each of the ten indictments. Without doubt, I have been guilty of many of the points Washer raised. That said, I also found many answers to the issues I had been wrestling with; issues which many like myself have taken for granted having grown up in the church but no less clear about certain critical doctrines and beliefs.
I love the way Washer challenged with the statement, “It’s one thing to believe the Bible is inspired and inerrant, but another to believe it is sufficient.” His declaration that Christians are totally ignorant of God and His attributes struck such a chord in my heart, for of late, I have been crying out to understand and grow “in the knowledge of God”. And because there is no knowledge of who God is, there is no fear of Him. How true!
I also fully agree that there is such a failure today to address the depravity of humanity and sin. Washer states, and rightly, that without a true awareness of self, there can be no repentance and no desire to be saved. We have treated sin superficially and blocked the work of the Holy Spirit who comes to convict the world of sin!
Washer went on to contend that we have misrepresented the gospel of Jesus Christ, replacing regeneration for decisionism! Without a clear understanding of the doctrine of regeneration, we have reduced salvation to a decision rather than a sovereign work of God. No wonder there is no evidence of the supernatural re-creative work of the Holy Spirit in lives! What’s more, for many, the motive for salvation is to get to heaven where there are no more problems. That sounds like a great deal but is unbiblical. As mentioned earlier, it is our recognition of our hopelessness and depravity that renders salvation necessary.
According to Washer, there is no remnant in the Church. Instead, the Church is the remnant! Depending on how we see regeneration and salvation, our definition of the Church will also be affected. Following his argument, only those who are truly saved and regenerated are the Church. These are the ones who truly love the Lord and are being changed into the image of His Son, and being prepared as His Bride. Makes you think harder about the parables about the tares and the goats, doesn’t it?
At the same time, I thank God for affirming me in how I have been preaching and teaching. Issues like church discipline, holiness and godliness are all topics I challenge myself and my students with. It’s encouraging to hear someone else stand on the same points. Yet, it is sad to also note that he also observes the same thing across churches – that church discipline is not administered, that holiness is something frowned upon and that godliness is not being pursued.
Finally, as a husband and a father, I really appreciated Washer’s challenge to Christian families. Instead of standing on God’s principles, we have resorted to worldly advice and perspectives where marriages and families are concerned. No wonder then that we are seeing so many problems in our relationships. He issued the same challenge as I have been raising … that effort should be put into raising and teaching fathers and men! Instead, we see the reverse in our churches. More time, money and effort is being put into our Sunday School programmes than in the lives of our fathers and men.
What a provoking two hours. But time well spent, I must say. It’s been a long while since I heard strong and solid preaching. Dear Lord, enable me by the power of Your Holy Spirit to respond in the way I must. Forgive me for where I have also gone off-track. That said, thank You for stirring in my heart, the same issues and convictions. Draw me deeper and bring my closer in my walk with You. Help me to preach and teach without compromise so that others too can enjoy the relationship I have with you. Amen!