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Are Gospel Tracts An Effective Way To Evangelize The Lost?
What are gospel tracts? Aren’t they a sort of hit-and-run form of evangelism? Can they really be an effective means of communicating the gospel?
In evangelism, there are many tools and resources Christians use to assist in witnessing and sharing the gospel with the lost. A gospel tract is one of those tools often used to help do that. Gospel tracts became popular during the Protestant Reformation. The invention of the printing press in the late 1400s made the mass production of gospel tracts easier and faster. Usually made of a single sheet of paper or into small booklets, they were easy to place in a person's hand; thus, they spread quickly as a means of evangelization.
Gospel or Bible tracts usually come in simple formats that are easy to read and understand. They are often created and presented in unique ways to grab people's attention. But are gospel tracts really effective? Aren’t some of these tracts more distracting and unhelpful in their gospel presentation? Should Christians use gospel tracts in their witnessing? These questions and more are answered on this week's edition of the Straight Truth Podcast. Join us and listen in as Dr. Richard Caldwell and host Dr. Josh Philpot have a candid discussion regarding the use of gospel tracts in Christian evangelism.
Dr. Philpot tells us that many tracts he has seen come from an Arminian understanding of the gospel. As a result, he wonders if there is any usefulness to using gospel tracts in witnessing since many take that angle? He asks Dr. Caldwell if he would share something about this and some thoughts, in general, regarding the use of gospel tracts.
Dr. Caldwell tells us the gospel is the gospel, and it never changes. But if you understand salvation in a way where you believe regeneration is the result of a decision, then what is aimed at when the gospel is shared is getting someone to decide for Christ. This is an Arminian understanding of how the gospel works. The goal is for someone to make a decision, a profession, or say a prayer, then they are saved. Whereas if you believe that faith is the result of regeneration, that God does what only God can do, granting life and light in the soul, and the result is a penitent faith in Jesus Christ, now your job in sharing the gospel is different.
You will aim to do this in a way that God means for the gospel to be given. You will share the gospel passionately from your heart, sincerely and genuinely, in a way that exhorts and reflects God's own pleading with sinners. We are heralds who want to faithfully share as messengers of God, reflecting His attitude and heart. We want to appeal to sinners with His message and plead with them because souls are at stake. This is different from the approach taken by those with an Arminian view. This is the reformed view (Doctrines of Grace) that sees God sovereign in salvation. So then, when it comes to gospel tracts, these are the two ways and approaches that are taken.
Dr. Caldwell says that gospel tracts can be helpful we just want to make sure they are sound and solid if we use them. They can be especially helpful when there isn't an opportunity for a long conversation, something you can give to a person when time doesn’t permit for a complete presentation of the gospel. They are something you can put into a person's hands that can get into their home, heart, and mind when you are not around.
Gospel tracts can be helpful when you sit down with a person to communicate the gospel. If the tracts are done well, they will contain Scripture references, enabling you to walk through them, sharing that you aren’t the authority, that you aren’t just giving someone your opinion. However, he doesn’t think they are necessary and rarely uses them himself. He just talks to people face to face with the Scripture, and that is sufficient. He reminds us that if we are saved, we know the gospel. We know how God saves sinners. We're able from our own life, through the transformation that took place in us, to tell people how to come to Christ.
Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Philpot discuss a few tracts they are aware of that can be helpful. Dr. Philpot mentions other gospel tracts he has seen that have cartoonish depictions of judgment on sin, some containing pictures of a sinner being dragged into hell. Dr. Caldwell doesn't recommend those. But, in general, he says there is a time and place where tracts can be helpful. Still, what needs to be stressed is what we actually bring to share with people. We come bringing words from God. It is a message, and that message is the authority. People don’t need pictures or depictions; the words are sufficient; that is what we are called to take to people.
We are commanded and have an obligation to share the gospel. But evangelism isn't just the transfer of information. We share the gospel because souls are at stake, and the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
About The Straight Truth Podcast
The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.
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