October 8, 2014

Carnal Christian: Fact or Fiction? Paul Washer Reviewed

This is the second in Paul Washer's ‘Recovering The Gospel’ trilogy of books. The book is divided into three parts and comes in at a relatively short 181 pages in total.

Here he looks at the biblical call to repentance, explaining its eight essential characteristics. We are in a battle, and he helpfully reminds us: “It is important to remember that God does not promise his presence to the one who is perfect, but to the one whose life is marked by a broken and contrite spirit and who trembles at his Word.” (p.13)

I found these first few chapters to be a good corrective to much of the ‘easy believism’ of modern evangelicalism where people think all they need to do is say a little prayer and Bob’s your uncle—instant salvation. I think all of us could do with a refresher course on the true meaning of repentance, what it means to receive Christ, to confess him and to believe in him. Thankfully, he deals with the ridiculously overused and oft misapplied Revelation 3:20. This is a verse, he reminds us, for confused and lukewarm Christians in First Century Laodicea and not an evangelistic tract encouraging us to invite Jesus ‘into our hearts’. Does it have no relevance then to the modern-day sinner? Of course it does, and Washer goes on to explain this. How does he apply it in context? Get the book to find out. I did find myself inwardly applauding throughout this whole section.

New Hearts & The Nature of True Conversion
In this part Washer describes the processes and benefits of spiritual regeneration. A work entirely of God because of God’s love for his own glory and his love of humanity (which springs from his nature).

New People & The Nature of True Conversion
This part is based upon a sermon on Jeremiah 21:31–33. The weaknesses of the old covenant with Israel were “not due to any blight in God's character or failure in His providence. Rather...it was entirely due to man and his fallenness” (p.119). The old covenant was written on stone tablets but the new would be written in the hearts of men, women, and children. That, says Washer, is the heart of spiritual regeneration. 

The problem with ‘Carnal Christianity’, he claims, is that the real issue is that people just haven’t been regenerated by the Spirit of God. They have an unbiblical view of the gospel, faith, repentance, salvation, and regeneration. They are not carnal at all. They are acting as the non-Christians they truly are. This part of the book is just so relevant to our ministry in the schemes. We get so many people making claims of salvation and then, six months in, wandering back to their old lives again. They claim they still believe but their actions deny their claims. Some well-meaning, but deluded, Christians throw the tag ‘Carnal Christian’around to explain this phenomena but I believe they have never really been regenerated.

This is a sobering book. It is also a deeply encouraging book too. Better than the first, he comforts the true believer and warns the apathetic in equal measure. Get on it.

Now, all I need to do is find out who nicked the third one!

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