I’ve recently started a series of portraits of some of my favorite Reformed Preachers and I thought it might be a good opportunity to make others aware of their ministries and perhaps help them in their growth in the faith. Each one of these portraits will have a short profile of the preacher, what their impact on me has been, some of my favorite books, videos or articles by them, and some links to further resources. The point of these articles is not to glorify these men, but rather to help point others to useful and biblical content which the Lord has used to grow and deepen my faith. Perhaps through my illustrations others will be brought to encounter more solid Biblical teaching from these men whom God has used in my own journey of faith. I pray that many would find this series to be a blessing.
The first Reformed Preacher Portrait is of Paul David Washer.
Paul Washer was born on September 11, 1961 and is a Reformed Baptist minister who became a Christian while studying to become an oil and gas lawyer at the University of Texas. He has his Master’s of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary. He’s a father of four and husband to Rosario, whom he affectionately calls “Charo”. He served for ten years as a missionary in Peru and founded the HeartCry Missionary Society to support church planters.
Inspired by the approach of George Mueller, Washer decided that HeartCry would not raise funds or try to manipulate God’s people but rather trust that if the work is of God, He would provide the support and help to make it known. This sort of faith stands out starkly against much of the models adopted by many missions organizations today (not that there is anything inherently sinful in fundraising). The heart behind this decision by Washer and HeartCry was to rest their faith in God to supply and a rock-solid conviction that God answers prayer.
Indeed, He does answer prayer! HeartCry supports indigenous missionaries in about 40 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Their focus is on raising up qualified ministers according to the non-negotiable qualities of a minister in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 through the local church.
Impact on Me
Like many others who were impacted by the “Young, Restless and Reformed” movement, I think that Paul Washer’s sermons were some of the first I ever heard when I was coming to understand Reformed Theology or what is known as Calvinism. It is a source of biblical and deep theology that traces its roots historically to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and ultimately theologically back to Jesus and the apostles themselves. I was struck by the piercing conviction of the Word of God delivered with such precision and passion like I had never heard before. Like many others, I remember the impact of Washer’s viral sermon video on YouTube (over 3.4 Million views - Shocking Youth Message) had on me when he dropped that line, “I don’t know why you’re laughing... I’m talking about you.”
However, if one were to judge Washer by the YouTube videos of him which go viral you would have a very different picture from reality. Many consider him a fiery preacher, but up close one realizes this is not all to the man. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at a small Chinese church in the Greater Toronto Area and was struck most by the humility and kindness of this man. The group I went with stayed back after the event to see if we could grab a picture and a short chat with Mr. Washer. We were surprised that we got much more than that! Although he would have clearly been tired, he patiently and kindly took his time to greet each one of us and find out about each of our lives and what God was doing. We must have conversed there in that hallway for at least an hour before his host was calling him away to go get something to eat. That really stood out to me more than his preaching (which was great as usual).
Never underestimate the powerful impact of humility and kindness to someone. I can't for the life of me remember what he preached, but I do still remember the kindness he showed us that day.
Washer has said,
“Like any other Christian, I’m a needy man in constant need of grace… Sometimes, people think that a person is used of God in an extraordinary way because they’re an extraordinary person. For the most part, that’s not the case. God uses the runt of the litter so that, when something good happens, everyone knows it must be God.”
Though I do not personally know him except for one brief encounter and through his books, videos and sermons, Paul Washer’s impact on me has been profound. Though this is no replacement for the local elders and pastors whom I am incredibly grateful for, I remain thankful for his ministry and how God has used him to bless the Church. I have learned a lot from his teachings about the importance of being very clear on the Gospel - its message and call, as well as his emphasis on true conversion by biblical standards, not by what is popular in contemporary Evangelicalism. I don’t know if I ever had considered the fact that there might be something such as a false conversion until God used his sermons to alert me to this reality. I’ve also gleaned much wisdom about Biblical manhood and discipleship from his ministry.
Perhaps most impactful has been his emphasis on the local church and Christians living out a genuine Christianity conformed to Scripture. He says,
“A lot of unbelievers look at what’s called the Church today and they’re not seeing genuine Christianity, and they’re turned off by something that’s not truly Christian, and yet Christianity is being blamed for it, whether it’s the prosperity gospel or legalism or whatever… Revival and reformation always come back to a return to the Scriptures and a return to what we would call a historical Christianity, a historical evangelicalism.”
To that I give a hearty “Amen!” and list a few of my favorite resources from Paul Washer below. I pray that God would use it to bless you as much as and more than they have blessed me.
I had the opportunity to produce this video with Tim Challies on Paul Washer’s most famous sermon...
Below are a few other videos of some of Paul Washer's messages:
The Gospel Call and True Conversion I actually first read this book in Portuguese in preparation for my first longer-term mission trip to Brazil. It was incredibly helpful in bringing better clarity on the Gospel and building my Portuguese vocabulary to communicate it effectively! This book is part of Paul Washer’s 3-part series called “Recovering the Gospel” which also includes, “The Gospel’s Power and Message” as well as “Gospel Assurance and Warnings.”
Knowing the Living God: The Doctrine of God - part of the Biblical Foundations for the Christian Faith series.
HeartCry Missionary Society - https://heartcrymissionary.com/
Paul Washer Audio Sermon Archive at Grace Community Church - https://www.gracechurch.org/leader/washer/paul
Sermon Audio archive - https://bit.ly/2TauTXD
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