In the December 2012 issue (No. 591) of The Banner of Truth magazine, Iain Murray asked the question, ‘Where are the Best Tracts?’ As indicated in the February 2013 issue (No. 593), we received some very helpful responses to his question, although not all were included in the magazine. A number of pastors said that they wrote their own tracts, and had them printed either ‘in house’ or professionally. From the examples we have been sent, we give below the wording of a selection. Please note that these do not follow the formatting in the actual tracts, some of which included appropriate illustrations.
From Danny Hawkes of The Granary Evangelical Church, Rainham, Kent.1 This tract is printed for the Church by Action for Christ, as mentioned in the magazine, and is produced 2-sided in full colour on (approx) A5 size paper. Action for Christ are able to write, design and print tracts to individual specifications. All this is undertaken at reduced rates. The result is a professional looking tract that is tailored for the individual church.
To enter the UK you must go through Customs. Anyone found with restricted or illegal goods faces a severe penalty. Diplomats have some immunity and may sail through customs untroubled.
Entering a different country: A Heavenly one
Life is like a queue for heaven. Most people see two ways of entry:
Nothing to Declare
Many people expect to get to heaven through this gateway. They say, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong.’ They see nothing in their life that would make their entry to heaven illegal.
They have either not read or ignored the restrictions for entry. These are called the Ten Commandments and they are written in the Bible. ‘Well,’ says the person in this queue, ‘I’m sure I’ve kept them . . . generally.’
Yet failure to keep them all spells disaster. The Bible says, whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (Jas 2:10).
We have all broken God’s rules. The Bible says: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Therefore no one will be able to stand before God and say, ‘I have nothing to declare.’
Something to Declare
People carry heavy bags to this gateway, filled with all the good things they have done. ‘With these,’ they say, ‘I shall enter heaven.’ Jesus met some very religious people who also thought that God would be impressed with them. Yet Jesus tells us even they were not good enough: unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:20).
Only one Man could go through any gateway to Heaven
The Lord Jesus could say, ‘I have nothing to declare.’ He was ‘without sin’ (Heb 4:15-16). He alone was good. In the Bible He is called: The Lord Our Righteousness (Jer 23:6). Jesus is able to claim diplomatic immunity: He is the Son of God.
Yet when Jesus stood at heaven’s border control, He willingly carried the baggage of others. Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2). In dying on the cross for sinners, He took the severest penalty.
Now we too can claim ambassador status; acceptable to God through Christ. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).
Do you have immunity?
Which queue are you in? Do you say, ‘I’m not too bad’? Or, ‘Hopefully I’m good enough.’ Unlike at Heathrow,2 all will be searched, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:1 0). The only way to pass border control is through Jesus Christ. Repent of your sin and trust Him alone; then you too will have immunity.
Notes [not part of the tract]:
1. Pastor Hawkes is not from the USA as indicated in the magazine!
2. Heathrow is London’s principal airport; Rainham is just to the south-east of the capital.
From Jeremy Walker of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, W Sussex. These examples are all produced as A6 (folded A5) size leaflets on coloured paper. On the back page are details of the Church and service times, with the invitation: ‘If you would like to know more, if you have any questions, or if you would be interested in talking to us, we warmly invite you to join us at . . .’
These are fearful words to most of us, and rightly so. To be told that you have heart disease is to be told of a fundamental threat to life. Sometimes the only options are radical surgery and a complete revolution in our lifestyle. Most of us – were we or one of our family members in such a position – would be very quick to do whatever was necessary to put the situation right. After all, our life would be on the line.
But there is a yet more terrible heart disease which we are often all too ready to ignore, but which kills us all. Even as you read, you are suffering from this heart disease, and you need to know the symptoms, diagnosis and cure.
Its symptoms are very evident. Are you self-centred? Are you envious of what others have? Do you lie and cheat? Do you curse and blaspheme? Do you get drunk? Have you ever stolen? Do you want or have you had a sexual relationship with someone who is not your husband or wife? Are you often angry? Do you hate someone? Do you never go to worship God? Do you ignore Sunday, God’s day, and do whatever you like? Do you think nothing of Jesus Christ? Are you disobedient to your parents? If any or all of the above symptoms are present, then you suffer from this heart disease.
The diagnosis is equally plain. ‘From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man’ (Mark’s Gospel, chapter 7, verses 21-23). In other words, you have a sinful heart that is contrary to God and his law, and for which you deserve to be condemned and punished. In one sense, you are already dead: dead in trespasses and sins.
Critically, then, is there a cure? Yes! God has provided a means to be healed from this most terrible disease of sin, but it requires radical surgery and a complete revolution in lifestyle. In Psalm 51, verse 10, we find a man with a sinful heart crying out to God, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.’ Only this can save you from your sins. You need a new, clean heart from God, and you need to depart utterly from all your sinful ways.
Consider what is at stake: with your terrible heart disease of sin, you have only misery and condemnation to come. Get a new heart from God: he is rich in mercy to make men who are dead because of sin alive together with Christ. Come, then, to Jesus Christ, and you shall have everlasting life.
“I JUST CAN’T COPE!”
It’s all too much.
I can’t take it any more.
Perhaps you remember feeling like this? Maybe you feel like this every day? Do you feel like this now?
Sometimes things get too much for us. Problems, difficulties, and worries build up until they become a terrifying mountain too big to climb over.
Where can you turn when it all gets too much to cope with?
Some people try to ignore the problem in the hope that it will go away.
Others try to drown out the difficulties in alcohol, drugs, or wild pleasure, hoping that if they can forget about it, it will disappear.
Others may resort to desperate measures to solve the problem, and end up in even more trouble than before.
Does the situation seem to improve? Is there another crisis round the corner? An old worry coming back to haunt you? Are you always afraid that the same or a worse problem might be waiting?
How can you deal with these things once and for all?
There is only one way to be delivered from this uncertainty and fear. A king in the Bible called David was often close to being killed by his enemies.
How did David deal with such things?
David wrote: “I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
He sought the Lord God, and put his trust in him alone. God heard him, and God promises to hear all those who call upon him. God does not promise that the problems will disappear, but he gives strength and grace to cope with every situation; God alone can take away all our fears.
TELLING THE CHILDREN
Being the parent of a child is a wonderful privilege and can bring great happiness, but it is also an awesome responsibility.
Our children have bodies for which we must care, but they also have souls that will never die, and those need care too. The big questions that children ask show that they have minds made to think about truth, hearts made to feel things deeply, and souls that long for the true satisfaction that only God can provide: “Where did the world come from?” “What happens when we die?” “Who made right and wrong?” “Does God know everything?” “What is heaven?”
Would you have an honest and true answer if your child asked those questions? If your child does not have such questions now, they will have them one day.
Too often children are brushed aside, or given empty answers, or told outright lies when they ask deep and probing questions. You may simply not know how to answer such questions. But the Bible, the Word of God, speaks the truth, and offers hope to children as well as adults.
You might have questions too. Perhaps no one has ever given you the answers to the big questions, and so you have never had answers to give anyone else.
The Bible has the answers. God made us the way we are, and he has given us answers to the big questions that come from the depths of our souls. Whether we are young or old, we need answers to those questions if we are to enjoy peace with God.
The Bible is an honest and a realistic book. It answers big questions about life and death, about heaven and hell, about who God is and what he is like. It answers that vital question: “How can I know God?”
Do you know the answer to that question for yourself? What would you tell a child who asks you that question? Will you have any answers for your child when they look into your eyes and ask you for answers to questions about their life and death, and their soul, and their relationship to God?
It is right that we care for the bodies of our children, but are you caring for the soul of your child? Can you tell them how sinners can find peace with a holy God through faith in Jesus Christ?
What will you tell the children? Will you point them to Jesus Christ the Saviour, who receives all who come to him? The Bible speaks truth, and offers real peace with God, and everlasting life. If you have no answers for your children or for yourself, we warmly invite you to come to _________ Church, where you can hear God’s wonderful answers to the big questions.
From Daniel Chamberlin of Covenant Baptist Church, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. We have no information about the format of Pastor Chamberlin’s tracts once printed. They are more substantial than the others reproduced in this article. One example follows.
Have You Ever Really Heard The Gospel?
Are you sure?
My friend, as I listen and observe, I am convinced that many people have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“But Pastor, you are preaching to the choir. I go to church.”
Friend, just because you go to church (or used to go) does not necessarily mean that you have heard the gospel. It appears that whole churches and denominations cannot give a clear answer to the simple question, “What is the gospel?”
Many have bought a message which was hawked as the gospel, assuming it to be what it was labeled. On the other hand, some have rejected the same teaching, and now they refuse to hear even the true gospel.
If I gave you a sheet of paper and asked you to write down the answer to this question, what would you say? What is the gospel?
Everyone in the Bible-belt of America knows that the term gospel literally means good message, good news, glad tidings. Let us first consider what it is not, and then we will consider what it is.
What the gospel is not:
- The gospel is not: Everything will be all right, anyhow, somehow. (That is simply blind optimism; it is faith in fate or in mathematical probability. Such is fodder for cults and psychologists. God has nothing to do with this at all.)
- The gospel is not: Everyone is basically good to begin with, but we all have a few minor flaws. However; by doing the best we can, by being a nice person and helping others. we win God’s approval. It doesn’t really matter If you are a Buddhist or a Moslem, etc., as long as you are sincere. (This is all patently false, because in God’s sight none of us is good, not even one; nor can we do what the infinitely Holy One regards as good. Notice that Christ does not even enter the equation in this erroneous gospel.)
- Here is a variation of the preceding: If I do the best I can, Christ will make up for the part that is lacking; and of course I’ve always been a pretty good person, so there isn’t much to make up. (But this too is a mixture of works and grace, which the Bible utterly condemns. Christ will not be relegated to the level of an auxiliary.)
- The gospel is not: God loves everybody and everybody is going to heaven. God, like Santa Claus, makes big threats, but in the end He overlooks all our sins, except maybe those of Adolf Hitler. (This, of course, is what we are led to believe at most funerals. Alas, some even hold out hope for Hitler!)
- The gospel is not: You will get rich and never again be sick if you come to Christ. (This is the prosperity gospel of many televangelists. With our naturally selfish nature, it is not surprising that this get-rich-quick scheme is readily accepted. Covetousness is now called a virtue!)
- The gospel is not: Feel good about yourself. You are someone special. Let’s boost your self-esteem to new heights with this psychological self-help program! (Even a cursory reading of Holy Scripture gives the lie to such flattery. Pride is an accomplice to all sin.)
- The gospel is not: Salvation is found in a church. I just leave it to the professionals or priests to sweat the details and dispense my salvation to me.(This detached posture makes man, not God, to be the savior. Man, not Christ, becomes the object of trust in this subtle shift.)
- The gospel is not: The Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to point out the way, to show us how to live, to teach a good philosophy of life. By following His example, we will enter heaven. (The truth is, Christ is the way. More, than a teacher, He is the curriculum! Thank God for His example – but we need a Redeemer.)
- The gospel is not: Get this eternal fire-insurance policy, which becomes binding when you say the “sinner’s prayer”. Make Jesus your Savior now, but not necessarily your Lord. (Eternal punishment is not avoided simply by repeating a prayer as if it were a magical formula. If a person is saved from hell, he is also saved from the dominion of sin which leads to hell. Multitudes have been deceived into thinking that they can live like hell and still go to heaven.)
- The gospel is not: Jesus Christ has made it easy now to be saved – at least easier than it was in the Old Testament time, when the Israelites had to offer sacrifices and keep the law in order to be saved. All we have to do now is believe. In the New Testament time, believing takes the place of working; believing is the easiest work of all. (No, there has ever been only one way of salvation, namely, through the obedience and sacrifice of Christ. It is all by God’s grace.)
- The gospel is not: Everyone is made potentially savable by Christ’s work on the cross . . . as if God puts everyone on the starting line, and those who cross the finish line get an applause. Good luck! (Some are even applauded at the altar call nowadays! This whole impersonal scheme actually saves no one. It is anything but good news.)
- Similarly, the gospel is not: Christ has done all He can do to save your soul; now you must do the rest. Together, you and He can make it happen. All you have to do is contribute your _________. Fill in the blank with whatever your church teaches: i.e. baptism, sacraments, money, prayer, decision, faith, tears, tongues, etc. The equation looks like this:
Christ’s death + your baptism = acceptance with God.
Christ’s death + your cooperation = acceptance with God.
Christ’s death + your anything = acceptance with God.
(Yes, even faith is commonly regarded as a work of merit by which you “get saved”. But the Bible plainly tells us that faith is a gift from God, not a praiseworthy donation originating in us, not a sort of compliment we pay to God.)
What then is the gospel?
Christ’s death in the sinner’s place = acceptance with God.There is nothing to add – Christ does it all! The problem with all twelve of the items above is that they in one way or another make man his own savior, as he contributes some kind of work.
In ourselves, we are guilty before a just and holy God, our Creator and Sovereign. Our sin and our sins have separated us from Him who is infinitely holy and pure. We have broken His commandments and deserve nothing but His punishment.
Further, we are utterly bankrupt and incapable of paying the debt we owe. Nor can we do anything which would reverse this just sentence upon us, or secure His approval of us.
But out of the sheer goodness of His heart, not due to anything good in man now or ever, God has freely taken upon Himself to redeem sinners. How is this possible? How could a holy God receive unholy sinners? How could the Judge acquit the guilty and maintain justice? The answer lies in the gospel!
God the Father sent His only begotten Son, co-eternal and co-equal with Him, from heaven to earth to pay the price of sin. After living a perfect and sinless life, He laid down that life on the cross of Calvary. There, the wrath of God was poured out on Him. There, the transaction was accomplished, the debt canceled, a real atonement made. The death of Christ in and of itself actually secured redemption for all those for whom He died. The Father in heaven was satisfied. Justice was upheld. At the same time, the guilty were pardoned and reconciled. Thus, God is morally self-consistent in His justifying of the ungodly.
The very heart of the gospel lies in two facts:
- First, the sins of Christ’s people were laid on Him, and He died.
- Second, the perfection of Christ was laid on His people, and they live.
This two-way imputation is the good news. Both events always work in tandem. Wherever the first occurs, the second also occurs. That is simply to say that Christ was a substitute for individual persons, and He is indeed a “personal Savior”. God’s gospel is so amazing, so full of wonder! How many judges do you know who would punish their own son, and set the criminal free? How many would then adopt him into the family forever? Such a love is uniquely divine. This is truly the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Anything less is no gospel at all to unworthy helpless rebels like you and me.
Friend, you do not need to add anything to what Christ has done. To attempt to do so is the height of arrogance and blasphemy, a desecration of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not need your help. Rather, you need His help and deliverance. Come to Him, look to Him, bow to His authority as the King who rose from the dead and sits on the right hand of the Father. Turn away from your sin. Repent of your evil deeds as well as your good deeds and flee to Christ. Trust only in His merits. Believe on Him.
“But Pastor, didn’t you just say that faith does not save? Now you are telling me to have faith.” Exactly! It is not faith per se that saves, but Jesus Christ Himself who saves. You must receive everything from Him. He is the source of all things that pertain to life and godliness. He must be the object of your faith. Don’t look to your faith, look to the Savior! Say with the hymn-writer,
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
Even your clinging is a work of His grace! Otherwise, you could not cling to Him at all. By His enabling, cling to Him now!
Dear reader, this is the only true gospel. Don’t be deceived by a counterfeit. Your soul cannot afford to be fuzzy on this issue. Is this the gospel you have believed? Is this the gospel you have rejected?
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