Sunday, July 12, 2015

In defense of using gospel tracts.

As God has chosen to use the written word as the primary means of revealing to us not only himself, but the sum of all truth in the Holy Writ, we can hardly overemphasize the importance of communication in this manner. Christianity has always spread furthest and widest among people groups who could generally read and write as a populace. Nor has it only been through inspired scriptures that people have been informed of God’s truth, but from the careful record keeping of the kings of Israel, to the copious volumes written by the Jews concerning their history, laws, and traditions, to the overwhelming amount of doctrine written by the early church fathers, to the reformers and puritans who were famous for their detailed writings on the effect of scripture on every aspect of life, the written word has helped God’s people in all ages not only in their own day but as a way of preserving orthodox truth from generation to generation.
It is also helpful to recognize that a work does not have to be lengthy and comprehensive in order to be impactful and serve the purpose for which it was written. The Apostles’ Creed is a very short statement, yet it has been the standard of Trinitarian Christianity for millennia. Some of the letters that were written as inspired epistles were only a couple of paragraphs long. Paul’s statement to the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Is a poignant message that needed later teaching in order to be brought to fruition, but was the proverbial “foot in the door” that God used to begin the process of salvation to that jailer and his household.
These truths being recognized, it then follows that there is a real and helpful place for gospel truths that can be communicated through the written word. Nor does every piece of literature have to be fully comprehensive of every gospel truth, but some may present the truths of God’s law condemning sinful man, others may more fully explain the propitiation of Christ through his perfect life, death and resurrection, still others may exhort and teach particular ways in which those who have believed are to live and think and act.
As Satan used even the very words of God in an evil way in his temptation of Christ, so we must recognize that the depraved human heart will find a way to twist every good thing for his own devises and we are not exempt from some of those temptations. When we use such good pieces of truthful literature as have been afore mentioned in order to check off a legalistic checklist, as a means to hide our identity as Christians by only anonymously leaving them places for people to later find, or for other sinful reasons, God may and will use the dissemination of truth for his glory and purposes (Phil. 1:15-18), but we will be judged for our sinful motives. Some lawful uses for such tracts might be to leave somewhere in a public place for someone to later find with whom you would never otherwise have the chance to share truth, to hand to someone with whom you do not have time to engage in lengthy conversation (grocery store cashier, delivery man, etc.), to give to someone who has asked you a specific question that you believe is better explained in the pamphlet than you could explain yourself, etc.
Whether such tracts must be simply black and white booklets, or may be designed to draw the eye to them seems to me an obvious answer. So long as we are not using ungodly means in an attempt to justify a “godly” end, I suppose we ought to be more creative, purposeful, and bold than we already are in drawing in the lost world’s attention that we might tell them of Christ and pray that the Spirit would give entrance of the light into their hearts! I suppose that there are many in today’s Christians circles who would condemn Paul for using an alter to an unknown God to capture the Athenians attention only to tell them of Christ. But I believe we ought to all be more like Paul, using every means that is afforded us to share the glorious truths of the gospel, understanding that it is only by the word that faith comes!

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