“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
What is a Tract?
A tract is a pamphlet or a piece of paper that has a certain message written on it. Widely used to inform a populace, its purpose is to persuade people to accept an idea. The subject matter changes depending on the intent of the tract, but in our case, we will use the gospel tract, which sums up the gospel and the way of salvation by repentance and faith in Christ. This is done with a brief summary for the reader and should be easily understood.
Tracts range widely in appearance, from simple pieces of paper with regular fonts to fake $1 million bills with the gospel written on the back. There are many examples of tracts and many creative designs, but the most important aspect is the message they contain. The message is the arrow that pierces the heart, so it must be biblically sound. Otherwise you are merely handing out waste paper.
The message should be obvious. First of all, it must contain the gospel. If the tract fails to recognize the sacrifice of Christ and repentance, you might want to find another one. Heaven and hell are key topics as well, along with the Ten Commandments. Some tracts are specialized for certain holidays, while others target a certain age group and audience. Regardless of its appearance and specific appeal, be sure that the tract you use is biblically sound and speaks of the purpose of Christ and how we are to respond to him as sinners. The goal is to give these messages to people, either through passing them out personally or leaving them in a place where people can find them.
Gospel tracts are powerful weapons in the evangelist’s arsenal, and I pray you will use them as the Lord leads. They are like little beads of gunpowder, ready to explode in people’s hearts.
Is It Biblical?
The use of writing dates back past Moses’s time and is a key artifact of human existence. While we use electronics to send digital messages today, for thousands of years, many messages have gone back and forth over large distances on tangible material, including the Holy Scriptures. We were created for communication, and our ability to write and receive a message is part of God’s plan. There’s a reason why God told his prophets to write down his words and a glorious purpose in us having the ability to understand those words. Our Lord desires to communicate the very ideas of heaven so that we may know his will and fulfill it.
The Word of God is powerful and penetrates the heart, whether heard or read. When you pass someone a truly powerful message, it has the potential of changing his or her life just as it has done throughout human history.
So what does the Bible say about the subject? Do you remember what happened in Acts 8?
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:26–31)
When we hand someone a tract, we give the person the gospel with an explanation of what the gospel means. It would be very difficult to give someone a page out of the book of Revelation or one of the prophets like Isaiah and expect him or her to understand what it means. The purpose of the tract is to provide a written version of the gospel with an explanation of what the gospel means for the one who receives it and how he or she should respond. Indeed, the effect Philip had on the Ethiopian after he read the Scriptures was life-changing and led to his baptism. Just imagine if you could give the explanation to 100 “Ethiopians” as they pass by on the path. Each tract can be a “Philip” explaining the prophecies of Christ.
I used the passage of Scripture above to establish the importance of interpretation, the need for comprehension, and our role in the process. The tract is a tool for anyone to use to bring the interpretation of Scripture to any soul willing to receive it. We should all strive to be like Philip and be able to communicate the gospel clearly to our hearers (in the next chapter I’ll explain the use of personal dialogue as evangelism, but for now, I am building a basis for all to stand upon in the wide arena of evangelism). Tracts can be the simplest approach to spreading the gospel. It takes nothing more than reaching into your pocket for a tract and handing it to an individual. Our desire should be to win souls wherever we may be. Ultimately, it is how the Spirit leads us, so pray that the Spirit leads you in spreading the blessed message of redemption and forgiveness in Christ our Lord in whatever way seems fit to him. “We declare God's wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Corinthians 2:7).