CHICAGO – I will never forget the first time I met Warren Wiersbe. It was in the early 1980s. I had seen a newspaper advertisement that said he would be teaching a series of messages at Peoples Church in Toronto.
I had read several of his Bible commentaries, including Be Joyful, Be Free, Be Rich, Be Right, and Be Ready. I was always waiting for the next BE series book to be published. I was excited that night. I was going to hear “the pastors’ pastor” – the man I called “the common man’s commentator.”
I hoped that not only would I hear him but that I might also get to meet him. Meeting him was a bit of a reach. Peoples Church, founded by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, was, at the time, not only the largest church in Toronto, but it was also the largest church in Canada – long before the term “mega-church” had been coined.
Imagine my surprise when I passed the outer doors and entered the lobby. The first person I saw was Warren Wiersbe. He walked directly toward me, looked me in the eyes, graciously extended his hand, and began a brief conversation.
I honestly can’t remember what Scripture he taught that night. I probably still have my notes somewhere. Being a gospel quartet fan, I was surprised to find myself wondering how much longer the Back to the Bible Quartet would keep singing. I wanted to hear Dr. Wiersbe teach the Word. That’s what I had come for.
Just a few days ago, on May 2, 2019, Dr. Wiersbe went home to BE with Jesus. He is now where he has always longed to BE. He was just two weeks shy of his 90th birthday.
The Lord used Warren as a prolific Christian author, pastor, teacher, radio broadcaster, conference speaker. He pastored the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago for nearly a decade in the 1970s. While there, he was a regular contributor to Moody Monthly magazine. He taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Dallas Theological Seminary. Early in his career, he worked for Youth for Christ as their Director of Literature and as Editor of Campus Life magazine. He spent six of his 10 years at Back to the Bible as general director.
Christianity Today where Wiersbe was once a regular contributor, noted that “His wisdom and teaching has left an indelible mark on countless pastors and Christian leaders.”
One of those who was privileged to sit under Dr. Wiersbe’s tutelage is Dr. Erwin Lutzer, his eventual successor at Moody Memorial Church and, himself, a prolific author and Bible teacher.
“He always had time for us; he always made us feel as if we were the important ones in the room; it was never about him but always about us. How I still remember him closing his books on his desk when we entered, sitting back, welcoming us, eager to discuss how our ministries were doing. We talked about the challenges of the city, the challenges of shepherding people, and the pressures of time for sermon preparation, etc. Then we would find some hidden room in the church and intercede for the needs of the city and the great need for a revival such as was experienced during the ministry of D.L. Moody.”
Perhaps the most accurate representation of Warren Wiersbe is his self-description.
“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. 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.”
We will miss you, Dr. Wiersbe, but someday soon, we will BE with you.
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- Christianity Today, Died: Warren Wiersbe, Preachers’ Favorite Bible Commentator
- Moody Church Media, Warren Wiersbe: A Tribute
- Baptist Press, Warren Wiersbe, ‘one of evangelicalism’s giants,’ dies
- The Christian Post, ‘Pastor’s Pastor’ Warren Wiersbe, prolific Bible commentator and teacher, dies at 89
- Warren Wiersbe, Facebook