We live in a society in which admitting one’s own sins is seen as a sign of weakness.
Ten reasons why Will Graham admires the American preacher, Paul Washer.
Almost all of my heroes are dead. The good thing about following dead folk is that they can’t put their foot in it! Whilst they’re alive, there’s always the possibility they’ll slip up. But once their six-feet under, there’s no such danger! Just as well…
Nevertheless, “almost all of my heroes” doesn’t mean “all” of my heroes. There are some great living servants of the Lord who continually inspire me. One such bondservant is our beloved brother in the Lord Paul Washer (1961-).
After his sudden heart-attack last week, I felt burdened to translate the following text I published in the Spanish Evangelical Press way back in October about ten reasons why I love Brother Washer. I hope this brief list will encourage you all to download some of his material because I’m 100% sure it’ll bless your socks off!
Here goes! Oh, and let’s keep praying for our heavenly Father to keep sustaining His precious son in these times of physical frailty.
1.- I love Paul because he preaches the Word
Washer is an old-fashioned preacher of the Word of God. In all of his messages it’s easy to see how nothing so enthuses him as the straight-teaching of the blessed, infallible and inerrant Scriptures. How refreshing it is to encounter a preacher in our days who “rightly divides the word of truth” as a faithful workman (2 Timothy 2:15)!
What’s more, not only does Paul dive into the Scriptures but he explains everything in such a simple way that it’s impossible to not understand him.
In the midst of a generation which majors upon ego, human self-worth, potential, carnal dreams and self-help, Washer’s Word-saturated sermons gleam as precious treasures. Thanks be to the Lord for raising up such a messenger!
2.- I love Paul because he’s Gospel-centred
Nowadays in Christian circles there are so many programmes and events that run-of-the-mill saints can easy get caught up in the evangelical whirlwind. We have conferences and workshops about almost any kind of topic except for the theme of themes: the Gospel of the free grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ!
Washer’s messages are always Gospel-rooted. Even in his ‘hardest’ and ‘most aggressive’ sermons, Brother Paul leads his listeners to contemplate the Good News of Christ as the only means of escape from impending condemnation.
I have encountered few preachers who speak so wonderfully of our treasured Lord Jesus Christ from the pulpit. It’s also worth pointing out here that Washer’s Jesus isn’t the ‘Barbie Jesus’ or the ‘Butterfly Jesus’ of the 21st century. His Jesus is the holy Christ of Scripture. May the Lord send us 100,000 more Gospel-centred ministers!
3.- I love Paul because he speaks with great plainness
Sadly our postmodern context believes that the sin of sins is offending someone. As we all know, emergent-church preachers never bother anyone (except Bible-believing Christians, of course!) But the Lord has cleansed Washer’s lips with a burning coal so that he may speak in apostolic fashion with “great plainness of speech” (2 Corinthians 3:12).
I guess this is one of the reasons why Washer is so popular amongst young believers. I sense a whole multitude of Christian youth are fed up with happy-clappy religion and want a real word from the Lord. They long for clarity and for preachers who don’t preach to please men (Galatians 1:10).
Many of our teens and twenty-something-year-olds are sick and tired of speakers beating about the bush for half-an-hour in the pulpit without ever getting to the point. They’re losing respect for folk who don’t have enough integrity to call things by their name.
J.C. Ryle’s admiring observation regarding Charles Spurgeon comes to mind: “I have often thought that one great secret of the marvellous honour which God has put on a man who is not in our communion (I allude to Mr. Spurgeon) –is, the extraordinary boldness and confidence and with which he stands up in the pulpit to speak to people about their sins and their souls. It cannot be said he does it from fear of any, or to please any.
“He seems to give to every class of hearers its portion – to the rich and to the poor, the high and the low, the peer and the peasant, the learned and the illiterate. He gives to every one plain dealing, according to God’s Word. I believe that very boldness has much to do with the success which God is pleased to give to his ministry. Let us not be ashamed to learn a lesson from him in this respect. Let us go and do likewise”.1
I’m sure if old J.C. were still around, he’d have something pretty similar to say about Brother Paul.
4.- I love Paul because he keeps focused on the family
Instead of seeking to become an Evangelical superstar, Washer has spent a great part of his life investing in his marriage and children, teaching them the fear of the Lord. Something our American friend has taught me via his sermons is that I can’t be a minister of God if my domestic life is a disaster.
He’s also shown me that having a Christ-centred family is far more important than ministerial success.
It sure does a whole heap of good to encounter a preacher who draws a congregation’s attention to those things that really matter in life. Unfortunately, many have deified success in a quest for Church Growth at any cost and high-flying positions in our Protestant denominations and para-ecclesial ministries.
For some weird reason we tend to think that the most anointed preacher is the one with the most Facebook-followers. Perish the thought!
The most faithful Evangelical is the one who loves his wife with the love of Christ and instructs his little-ones in the ways of the Saviour. Even before heading to church on a Sunday morning, our home should be a little congregation (as the godly Puritans so desired).
I thank Paul Washer for delivering many of us younger Evangelicals from the desire of being Christian celebrities!
5.- I love Paul because he’s humble
I preached alongside Brother Paul some seven-and-a-half years ago at the Sermon Index Conference held in Dublin (Republic of Ireland). I had the chance to have a nice chat with him and to go out for some supper together (traditional Irish fish-and-chips).
Although we didn’t get to spend too much time together, I could perceive the humbleness that characterizes him. Even back then he was an internationally-renowned preacher in the Anglo-Saxon world and I think that almost all of the folk at the Conference showed up to hear him; nevertheless, he was a man with his feet firmly planted on the ground with no arrogance or haughtiness.
One thing I’ve come to learn over the years whilst preaching is that guest-speakers are somewhat distant and if you ever get the opportunity to talk to one of them one-on-one, you can spot their pride in a nanosecond. T
hey have no desire to talk about the Gospel or the things of Christ. They’re only interested in their ministerial success, projects and having their name in lights.
But none of that is true of Washer. His heart burned for the Lord both in and out of the pulpit in Ireland and he treated all of us as a true gentleman, an authentic brother in the Lord.
6.- I love Paul because he calls us to holiness
Holiness is a word that almost belongs to a bygone generation. To many, it smells like legalism. That’s because so many professing believers want to live however they like. But true holiness is a joy for any regenerated soul.
As 1 John 5:3 puts it: “His commandments are not grievous”. Every born-again saint knows that’s true. God’s commands are bliss to the Lord’s sheep.
Washer’s message upon holiness is growing increasingly vital as a significant part of contemporary Christendom seems interested in leading a selfish, piggish-like existence. God doesn’t want self-centred soldiers in His army but holy, pure, set-apart warriors of light who live exclusively for His magnificent glory.
Today’s watered-down preaching erases the line between God’s Kingdom and this world, making sinful culture out to be something desirable. That explains why there are so many Christian night-clubbers amongst us. However, Washer reveals that one who is truly born again will long to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
7.- I love Paul because he loves missions
Washer doesn’t just preach about missions but he lives missions. Not only has he served as a missionary of the Lord for many years but he continues to support numerous missionaries throughout the world even as you read. It was this blazing passion for missions that helped birth Heart Cry Missionary Society into being.
We should all take our hat off in the presence of a servant of God who has denied himself the commodities of Western life in order to preach Christ amongst the poor and down-and-outs. Few Evangelical superstars would be willing to do likewise.
His love for missions is yet another fruit of his zeal for the Lord of hosts and for the multitudes of lost souls that need to be saved before Christ comes back.
8.- I love Paul because he loves everyone
It’s amazing to see how Paul enjoys fellowship with brethren all across the Evangelical spectrum. Although he’s a Baptist, he’s never limited his ministry to Baptist congregations.
I was taken aback (in the good sense of the expression) when he promoted Leonard Ravenhill’s biography a few years ago. In spite of Washer’s love for the Reformed doctrines of grace, he was able to highlight how our Arminian brother Ravenhill’s devotional life was most worthy of imitation.
Washer’s open heart is able to see the blowing of God’s Spirit outside of his own circles. In this sense he has a lot to teach those of us who think that our denominations have a monopoly on the Spirit of God.
Gospel-unity is what really matters whether we be Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Reformed, Congregationalist, Brethren or whatever other name we might like to call ourselves.
9.- I love Paul because he’s serious about theology
When I was younger, I loved seeing how Washer combined fiery sermons with deep theology. I had heard plenty of moving sermons with little doctrinal substance and I’d also listened to plenty of theological messages without much fire. But in Washer the two traits joined hands.
I’ve come to learn that it’s Washer’s theological foundation that gives his messages so much spiritual weight. This is a powerful lesson that all us young preachers need to learn in the 21st century. It’s not enough to lift up our voice in the pulpit! It’s not enough to be cool and charismatic rhyming off funny jokes and moving illustrations!
What is most needed in our days is T-H-E-O-L-O-G-Y. Without such a doctrinal basis, Washer could never have become the preacher that he is today. Every great spokesman for the Lord down throughout the ages has always blended fire with doctrine.
10.- I love Paul because he’s my brother
Last but not least, I love Brother Paul because he’s my brother in Christ. How am I not going to love someone for whom my Saviour died and in whom the Spirit of God has taken residence?
As 1 John 4:20 puts it, “If a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar”. I love Brother Washer because he’s my brother in the Lord. That simple!
I hope this brief article spurs you all on to listening to some of Washer’s material. So, to sum up, why do I love Paul Washer?
- Because he preaches the Word.
- Because he’s Gospel-centred.
- Because he calls things by their name.
- Because he’s focused on the family.
- Because he’s humble.
- Because he calls us to holiness.
- Because he loves missions.
- Because he loves everyone.
- Because he takes theology seriously.
- Because he’s my brother.
1 RYLE, J.C., Warnings to the Churches (Banner of Truth: London, 1967), p. 36.