Growing up, it was difficult to not know who Warren W. Wiersbe was in my household. My mom loved his writing and would often read to me from his books. Over time, his section of our family library grew considerably (we must have at least half of his acclaimed 50-volume BE commentary series today). I don’t doubt that this may well be true for many Christian households, who have used his devotionals during quiet time or family prayer.
By now, you may have heard that Wiersbe passed away yesterday, just two weeks shy of his 90th birthday. If there is one thing he was known for, it was for how prolific he was in his writing. With more than 150 books to his name that have sold millions of copies around the world, it makes one wonder what spurred him on to write as he did. A conversation I came across between Wiersbe and publisher David C Cook on a book he’d brought out last year, Delights and Disciplines of Bible Study (which is an excellent read, by the way), held some answers. In that short interview, Wiersbe was asked what influenced him to write this book and his response was this:
All I’m doing is using what He’s given to me to teach people, and to give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, Wiersbe once said
“Writing to me is a ministry. I’m not an athlete, I’m not a mechanic. I can’t do so many of the things that successful men can do. But I can read and study and think and teach. I published my first book when I was 15 years old, and I’ve been writing ever since… I have 173 books that I’ve written and published. To me, this is a beautiful, wonderful gift from God. All I’m doing is using what He’s given to me to teach people, and to give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I love that Wiersbe not only recognised writing as a gift, but he used it faithfully till the very end. It is one thing to identify your spiritual gift — but it is absolutely another to commit to using it faithfully. Wiersbe’s life is an example for many of us on how to be grounded, submit our gifts to the Lord and see Him use it for His glory. His desire was to always teach and help his readers find delight, joy and comfort in God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ — qualities that always inevitably shone through in Wiersbe’s writings.
It was only after I started to cultivate a habit of reading when I was older that I began reading Wiersbe’s works for myself, on the recommendation of a missionary I’d once met. The most recent one was his exposition on the book of Galatians. I’d been reading through the epistle to the Galatians, post which I was looking for extra resources at my college library when I came across his commentary Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality. I picked up the book without a moment’s hesitation and here’s the reason why. On the cover was this line: “CAUTION: This book may be hazardous to your ideas of Christian living!”.
I already knew exactly what Wiersbe was on about, having had my ideas extensively challenged during my reading of the epistle of Galatians. I was keen to read Wiersbe’s take on it though — and he didn’t disappoint me one bit. Here are some truths that really challenged me — and I hope they will do the same for you.
“Millions of believers think they are “spiritual” because of what they don’t do—or because of the leader they follow—or because of the group they belong to. The Lord shows us in Galatians how wrong we are—and how right we can be if only we would let the Holy Spirit take over.”
Takeaway: In his epistle, Paul goes after the Galatians for their legalism. They had begun looking beyond the gospel and emphasising traditional law as an additional requirement for being saved. But Wiersbe reminds us that the believer who truly yields to the Spirit’s working is free — in that he is fully justified or fully saved — and it is that status that builds up the Church. When we are filled with the Spirit, there will be liberty, not bondage; cooperation, not competition; glory to God, not praise to man. The world will see true Christianity, and sinners will come to know the Saviour. It is a thought that echoes what Jesus Himself said: the world will know Me through your love for each other. This kind of love can only come about by allowing the Spirit to work.
“Paul was not a politician; he was an ambassador. His task was not to “play politics” but to proclaim a message.”
Takeaway: It is, no doubt, essential to live a life that blesses the lives of believers around you — but, as Wiersbe rightly notes, it shouldn’t be a life lived to gain their favour. He challenges his readers to be careful not to pervert the Gospel, like the false teachers in Galatians, who preached a ‘modified’ gospel in order to please other Jewish believers instead of Christ. They were ready to compromise the Gospel to gain the favour of man. But as Wiersbe concludes, “A true servant of God does not ‘use people’ to build himself up for his work; he ministers in love to help people know Christ better and glorify Him.”
“Prayer is to the spiritual life what breathing is to the physical life, and if you stop breathing, you will faint.”
Takeaway: In a world filled with all kinds of pleasures and distractions, the truth is that none of them will ever satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts. We can fill our lives with them — but, over time, we will start fainting in our spiritual walk because only God can meet the deepest needs of our souls.
We can fill our lives with pleasures — but will soon start fainting because only God can meet the deepest needs of our souls
Believers, there is a need for us to be on our knees, seeking God, His will and His strength for everything that we do in our lives; else, we will faint. We are fighting an ongoing battle with our flesh, but only God can give us the spiritual strength we need to overcome — and prayer is a huge part of that process.
Wiersbe spent all his time studying God’s Word in depth for his own spiritual growth — but he also did so in order to stir the hearts of men and women around the world to love the Word of God. I am one of those people.
Although Christians around the world are mourning a great loss today, we thank God for His redemptive work through Jesus Christ. Though Wiersbe is absent from the body, he is present with the Lord right now. And on this day, we thank God as we celebrate the life of Warren W. Wiersbe. May we have hearts like his that delight in his Word — but also seek to share that joy with all around.
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