Short answer - yes!
One of the great priveledges of my life is knowing Paul Washer. I would struggle to think of anyone I have met who cares more about glorifying God, seeing sinners saved, and being faithful to the Gospel than Paul Washer.
"Newtaste" has been firing off some criticisms on my blog recently and some of it has been specifically aimed at Paul Washer. In view of this criticism and other similar recent accusations I thought it might be profitable to respond to this and other recent accusations brought against brother Washer. Many modern preachers seem to be persuaded that "thou shalt not criticize" is the eleventh commandment and also a good way to immunize oneself against biblical scrutiny. But the truth is that no man should be above biblical critique. However, when the charges levelled are just plain false or reflect a failure to understand good theology then it should be swiftly responded to. Today I want to address the two major complaints levelled against Paul Washer by his critics (there are also others in the "reformed camp" who are also subject to these charges).
False Accusation 1 - Paul Washer teaches that Christians have to stop sinning to be saved.
I would suggest you listen carefully again to his teaching on the atonement, conversion, regeneration, and sanctification. Washer does not, and has never taught that you have to stop sinning to be a Christian. He teaches what the Bible and the Reformers taught - that conversion is supernatural and produces a change in us. Genuine conversion causes us to hate the sin we once loved. It doesn't mean that you stop sinning, but it does mean that you no longer live in wilful habitual sin as taught in 1 John.
Here is an excerpt from Paul Washer's sermon "Ten Indictments Against The Modern Church" preached in 2008:
The doctrine of the carnal Christian has destroyed more lives and sent more people to hell.
Do Christians struggle with sin? Yes. Can a Christian fall into sin? Absolutely. Can a Christian live in a continuous state of carnality all the days of his life not bearing fruit and truly be Christian? Absolutely not or every promise in the Old Testament regarding the New Testament covenant has failed and everything God said about discipline in Hebrews is a lie.
A tree is known by its fruit.
Apples don't make a tree an apple tree. The apples merely reveal the true nature of the tree. Repentance is a fruit of conversion and often reveals that it is genuine. It is not that you have to stop sinning. It is that when God saves you, you turn away from the sin you once loved.
False Accusation 2 - Paul Washer does not teach salvation by faith alone because he insists upon repentance as well.
Jesus death for sins was an act of salvation. To receive God's gracious gift Scripture explicitly teaches that:
Truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now He strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).
Repentance is necessary in order to receive salvation - therefore it is a necessary component of the Gospel we proclaim. This repentance from sin and turning away from it is also a turning to Christ in saving faith in order to receive salvation:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).
And how I kept back nothing that was profitable, but have shown you and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21).
Some people claim that "faith alone" in Ephesians 2:8 negates the need to repent. But we must remember this hermeneutical rule: Scripture cannot contradict itself - therefore in understanding it rightly, it must harmonize with the rest of Scripture. As we harmonize all of Scripture we can clearly see that sometimes only faith or belief is mentioned, sometimes only repentance is mentioned, and sometimes both are mentioned (see the verses quoted in this post).
By harmonizing all of these (rather than focussing on a single verse) we can see that the salvation call is a call to turn away from sin in repentance and a turning to Christ in faith – trusting Him alone to save us. The turning to Christ (faith) necessitates a turning away from our carnal affections (repentance). Man cannot serve two masters. As Todd Friel says; "Repentance and faith are two wings of the same bird that fly us to the Savior".
This salvation is ultimately a work of God. Both repentance (Acts 11:18) and faith (Ephesians 2:8) are works of God. We cannot come to God unless the Spirit draws us (John 6:44). We are not saved by praying a prayer or walking down to the front of a church. It is God who saves. It is God who gives us a love for His law and a desire to live in holiness. It does not mean we stop sinning but it does mean we have a new relationship with sin manifest in a love for God's law and a desire to obey it:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
Paul Washer clears up any confusion his critics may have with regard to his views on repentance and faith in this interview:
Paul Washer is only a fallible man who will be the first to admit that he does get things wrong. But as a friend of his, I have personally talked to him at length on the two subjects discussed in this post and can certainly say that the criticism has no warrant on these subjects. His presentation of the Gospel is biblical and faithful. I thank God for the faithful Gospel preaching of Paul Washer.
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