My wife and I went to Chick-Fil-A for a free sandwich the other day, and while there I went to the men's room. As I walked in, I noticed a gospel tract on the cork bulletin-board, and I took it down to read it. It was simply one small piece of paper printed on the front with nothing on the back. What it said was:
"The Bible says in Romans 10:9, "That if thou (you) shalt confess with they mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine hart that God hat raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, thou (you) shalt be saved!"
It's that simple! If you will believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, then say this prayer--just say, "God I believe in my heart that Jesus died, shed His blood, and arose from the dead. Jesus, come into my heart and give me eternal life. I now confess that Jesus is my LORD! Thank you, Father for saving me!"
Next, find a local Bible-Believing church and attend regularly. And study God's Word--Get a Children's Bible Story Book, read through it several times. It will give you an overview of the whole Bible from cover to cover. I did it.
You will fail and make mistakes, but DON'T QUIT! Simply ask Jesus to forgive you when you fail, and He will! He is not a hard taskmaster; He is tender, loving and full of mercy. He knows who you are and loves you very much."
Several things were troubling to me in this tract. As I read tracts, I like to try to read them through the eyes of a lost guy, thinking as he does, and wondering what he would think if he read this. And what I saw was this tract could very easily confuse a sinner into thinking that "saying the prayer" outloud alone vocally would be all that's needed for him to do to save himself. Where is the "believe in the heart" in this?
As I looked further, I found in the prayer itself it said: "God, I believe in my heart that Jesus died, shed His blood, and arose from the dead." This was good. And you might be asking: If that's true, then isn't a guy saved? Isn't that all's that necessary, just believing! I say, "YES!" Believing is all that's needed to be saved.
However, what if the sinner prays that prayer from the mouth, with no belief from the heart. In other words, he "repeats" the prayer but doesn't believe in Christ when he does so. Isn't he still lost? Sadly, he is. For prayer and repeating words, save no one. FAITH is what saves.
Next, the tract instructs the sinner to say: "Jesus, come into my heart and give me eternal life." But, where is this found in the Bible? This is the modern new age gospel that has its roots in the Unitarian/Universalist movement. (Which started the "ask Jesus into your Heart" stuff).
The Bible clearly teaches if a man believes, then Jesus does enter in. Why then would a man try to command God to come in to him when God already promised He would at the very moment the sinner believes? Doesn't make much sense.
Later down in the tract is the worst part. It says "You will fail...simply ask Jesus to forgive you..."
If I read my Bible right, and I believe I do, when a person is saved, they are forgiven of all sins: PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE. When then would a person ask God to forgive him after he's saved? Does that mean God didn't forgive him before?
No, the Bible speaks about confessing your sins to God, not for forgiveness, as a true believer already has that, rather for fellowship. When we sin as Christians, we should confess our sins to God alone, and tell Him we are sorry. This is not so we don't go to Hell. It's so that God will not chastize us here on earth. In other words, it's for Him to be merciful to us here. (Prov. 28:13)
Can someone be saved reading this Gospel tract? Sure. If a guy has had a seed planted before and wants to be saved, he can get saved reading this tract. I'm not saying he couldn't. But I am saying the wording of this tract is quite confusing. Why do people write tracts that are so confusing? For a man who knows nothing and simply reads this can end up praying and then trusting his PRAYER. He then can just beg God for forgiveness everytime he sins thereafter, and what has he become? Nothing more than a lost religious person.
Where's the blood in this tract? And where is FAITH alone IN THE BLOOD in this tract? It's not there. Sure it mentions the blood, but it doesn't instruct the sinner to trust the blood atonement alone for salvation.
This tract looks to me like a compilation of all the various methods or instructions that many are preaching today for a sinner to get saved. It's like the tract is trying to cover all the bases, so Christians who read the tract will like it, each one seeing what they want to see. In the tract we find salvation is by:
1. PRAYING THE PRAYER
2. ASKING JESUS TO COME INTO YOUR HEART
3. CONFESSING THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD
4. ASKING JESUS TO FORGIVE YOU YOUR SINS
And more. To me, this is an "eccumenical" tract, and who ever put it out would do much better to simply quote 1 Cor. 15:1-4 and other verses and then point sinners to Christ through FAITH ALONE in His SHED BLOOD.
To those who claim I'm "straining at gnats" let me give a brief testimony. Before I was saved, I read tracts like this all the time. Mostly, I read Chick Tracts. I "prayed the prayer" over conservatively 1500 times from age 13 to age 18. Never once was I saved. The tracts were confusing me. They told me I had to pray, and I was trusting my prayer to save me. The fact that I had to pray it again and again showed I wasn't saved.
I'm not the only one that this happened to. My wife went through the very same thing. And many others we've spoken to and heard from. This is a real problem today in Modern Christianity. Untold millions are confused by Gospel tracts instructing them to DO something rather than simply believing upon what Jesus has already DONE for them.
If this is true, that means there are countless millions of people who think they are Christians but they are utterly lost. Instead of modern ministers addressing the problem and seeking to see them saved, they gloss over the issue, often times just calling it a problem of "semantics." They just don't want to think that so many could be lost and on their way to Hell. But what if they are?
I believe there is nothing of any greater value to God in this universe than the human soul. It is so precious and dear to Him, that he died on the cross to save it. With this in mind, shouldn't we take a look at this problem? Shouldn't souls be as precious to us as they are to God?
A clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a plain pointing of sinners to Christ crucified in their place for their sins should absolve all confusion. Preaching the Blood alone for salvation and man's faith in it (Rom. 3:25) completely obliterates all confusion, for as the old Hymn states, "There is power in the Blood!"
With this in mind, let me just show one more tract that I recently was sent in the mail from a famous Tract printing organization that I believe is very confusing, which proves my point that instead of CLARIFYING SALVATION, modern Christians are CONFUSING SINNERS.
The tract is entitled, "I'm a Pretty Good Person." And on the front cover it continues, "I would never hurt anybody. I am honest. I love and care for my family. Surely I will go to Heaven when I die."
Now identify yourself with a lost sinner. When you read that, you might be thinking, "Yep, that pretty much describes me!"
To add to confusion the tract continues on the next page, "It is true; most people are pretty good."
Thankfully, the tract goes on to quote Romans 3:10 and 23, proving Biblically man is not good, but inheritantly evil and in need of salvation.
But as the tract continues, it reads, "You must believe that Jesus died for you." This is great! But it doesn't stop there. The tract continues on the back page with the following:
"...Ask Him (God) to save you and take you to Heaven when you die...Please call on Him today...What a tragedy it would be for a good person like you to die and go to hell."
What??? First it instructs a sinner to ASK God to save them and take them to heaven (instead of simply TRUST him to do so by Faith), and then it calls the sinner a "good person." Weird? I thought it earlier quoted that there was NONE GOOD, no not ONE!
Finally, it ends with the following prayer: "Dear Jesus, I realize I am a sinner and you paid for my sin on the cross. Please forgive me, save my soul from hell, and take me to Heaven when I die. Thank you, Lord, for saving me. Amen."
Notice it doesn't say, "Lord, I trust you and your finished work on the cross." Or "Jesus, I accept by faith your shed blood as sufficient to wash my sins away."
It further instructs the sinner to say, "Please." Will God save someone who is sincere, and who begs him nicely for salvation apart from BELIEVING in his Atoning work? Not on your life!
What a confusing tract. It confuses a sinner from the get go, by making him think he is good, then telling him that according to the Bible he isn't, but then in the end stating he is. What??? Am I the only one who sees a problem here?
Then, instead of instructing a sinner to simply BELIEVE upon the finished work of Christ -- i.e. His Shed Blood -- it instructs the sinner to only realize (rather than believe) Jesus died for his sins and then beg Him for forgiveness.
You might say I'm a stickler for things like this and I'm being too critical. But am I? The Devil specializes in deceiving people and he'll use anything he can to damn souls to Hell, even confusing Gospel Tracts!
Why not print Gospel tracts like they did back in the 1800s when they didn't instruct a sinner to do or pray anything? What's wrong with simply ending with, "Trust the blood to be saved or reject it and go to Hell!" Why do they "pressure" a sinner to do something. (By the way, the only thing a man can do that's not a work is believe!)
This is why my wife and I print our own tracts. We can't in good conscience pass out tracts that can and often do confuse sinners. I pray if you are passing out tracts, you'll make sure to pass out good ones with a clear and concise plan of salvation pointing sinners to salvation through God's method--through His blood atonement. For souls are at stake. And if you are Christian, some day you will give account to God. Are you prepared? Do you feel the tracts you use clearly present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a non-confusing manner? If not, then get some good tracts, or else do what we are doing, print your own.