”The smallest tract may be the stone in David’s sling.
In the hands of Christ it may bring down a giant soul.” ~R.M. M’Cheyne
I turned on my computer this morning and found the following email. I have redacted the person's name to protect their anonymity.
Hi my name is _____ _____. I am 22 years old. I live in Santa Clarita. I found one of your tracts that someone else had thrown on the ground, during the "Concert in the Park". I picked it up, read it, kept it for the past month, went to your website and I just read "Man's problem, God's solution." It makes me doubt what I believe. I do believe that God placed that tract there just for me.I immediately responded to this person with the following email:
I've attended church my whole life. I read my Bible every day, I pray, I attend church. I was baptized, and I've asked Jesus into my heart.I love the Lord very much. I know that Jesus Christ died on the cross, and rose from the grave. Hell exists and so does Heaven. I think God is loving, and I think he forgave us at the cross, when he said "It is finished".
All those who will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God, died on the cross for their sins and rose from the grave will go to Heaven, after this you have to continue to complete your salvation through good works..otherwise, salvation is not finished. Salvation is not complete until we get to heaven. God will then judge us, at the day of judgement, according to our intentions and look at how much we have done for Him. I would consider myself saved, a Born-again Christian.
With all that said, what I've read on your website is NOT the same as what I believe. I think I'm wrong. It saddens me that I might not be saved, according to what I've read. I think I've fashioned a Jesus according to what I want him to be like..not according to the Bible. I've never read, or heard exactly any of this.
I'm pretty sure that I'm wrong on everything. Would you point me to Scripture verses concerning this please? It'd be terrible to think you're going to heaven and then find out you're not, when you stand before God. I don't want that for myself, and I don't want that for anyone else that I come in contact with.
Thank you very much.
______,To My Christian Brethren:
Thank you for contacting me.
I apologize for any typos. I wrote this quickly, as soon as I saw your email.
I am so very glad that you found the gospel tract and read it. While there is no power in the tract, the gospel it contained is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). And, like you, I believe God ordained for you to find that gospel tract.
Based only on what you wrote, I believe I see the problem. You wrote: "All those who will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God, died on the cross for their sins and rose from the grave will go to Heaven, after this you have to continue to complete your salvation through good works..otherwise, salvation is not finished. Salvation is not complete until we get to heaven. God will then judge us, at the day of judgement, according to our intentions and look at how much we have done for Him. I would consider myself saved, a Born-again Christian."
Mere acknowledgement regarding the truths about Jesus Christ does not save anyone. "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder" (James 2:19)! The demons believe everything you believe about Jesus, but they will not go to Heaven simply because they have an intellectual understanding about who Jesus is and what He came to do. The Word of God makes it clear, ______, that salvation is a heart issue, not merely an issue of the mind (Romans 10:9-10).
You wrote: "After this you have to continue to complete your salvation through good works, otherwise, salvation is not finished." And herein lies the heart of the problem, ______. You have not trusted in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. The Bible says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone (Romans 1:17), in Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6). Your good works do not help you to be saved or keep you saved. Salvation is of the Lord and those whom He saves, He keeps (Romans 8:38-39).
It is true that faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:14-17). But many people and many false religions like Roman Catholicism, International Church of Christ, Mormonism, etc., misinterpret passages like this to mean that a person must do good works to earn and keep their salvation. But that is not what the passage means at all.
James is writing to people who are already saved--Christians. What he is telling them is that if a person claims to be saved, but there is no visible fruit (good works) in their lives, then they do not have a real faith in Jesus, but a dead faith. Let me explain it this way.
______, let's say we were neighbors. One day you knock on my door and say, "Tony, I'm going to mow your lawn so I can be your son." While it would be nice that you want to get me out of yard work, and nicer still that you want to be my son, mowing my lawn would never make you my son.
But what if you were my son and you came to me and said, "Dad, I'm going to mow the lawn--not because I want something from you; not because I've got some bad news to drop on you. I'm going to mow the lawn simply because I love you as my father, and I want to do something to show my love for you."
The second scenario makes sense. And this is the life of the true Christian. A true Christian wants to do good works, not because it earns or helps them keep their salvation. Rather, they want to do good works because they are so thankful for the salvation they freely received from God, through Jesus Christ.
Can you see the difference?
You wrote: "God will then judge us, at the day of judgement, according to our intentions and look at how much we have done for Him. I would consider myself saved, a Born-again Christian."
Yes, it is true that each person will die and stand before God to give an account for their lives (Matthew 12:36; Hebrews 9:27). And this is what God thinks of the intentions of our hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it" (Jeremiah 17:9)? And this is what God thinks of our own perceived good works. "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (Isaiah 64:6).Our good works are nothing more than filthy, sin-stained rags in the eyes of the one and only holy God.
______, if you were to stand before a judge inside Valencia Superior Court (a place I spent many hours and days as a deputy sheriff) having been found guilty of breaking the law, and the judge asked you, "______, what do you have to say for yourself;" do you think the judge would let you go if you said this? "Your honor, I know I'm guilty of breaking the law. But I've helped to little old ladies across the street; I've started giving to the poor; I'm going to church, now; and I washed the windows of your Mercedes on my way into court, today. So, because I've done these good things I no longer think I'm guilty, and I think you should just let me go."
______, is a good judge going to let you go? No. Of course not. The judge is going to sentence you, not for the good things you think you have done; but for the crime you committed. Your good works won't help you. They won't get you out of trouble. On the Day of Judgment, God will see your good works as nothing more than an attempt to bribe Him.
Look carefully at what the Bible says.
"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).
Do you see what it says? "He saved us, not because of works done BY US in righteousness, but according to HIS own mercy..."
Your good deeds cannot save you, help you to be saved, or help you to stay saved. Salvation is ENTIRELY a work of God. And those whom He saves, He keeps. Look at what the Bible says...
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ~ John 6:35-40
But ______, you must come to Jesus Christ on His terms. Jesus made it clear that salvation, which is a gift from God (Romans 6:23), comes through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. See what the Bible says:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Repentance, which itself is a gift from God (Romans 2:4), is not merely a changing of one's mind about their life and about Jesus. Repentance is a change of direction. It quite literally is a 180-degree turn from loving sin and a coming to Jesus on our own terms, to loving Christ and coming to Him on HIS terms.
______, have you ever truly turned from your sin and, by faith and by faith alone (not trusting in anything of or in yourself; but trusting ONLY in Jesus), received Jesus as your Lord and Savior? While it sounds like you have made an intellectual decision to believe in Jesus, it does not appear (based only on the limited information I have) that you have truly repented of your sin and placed your faith in Jesus Christ ALONE for your salvation. It appears you have trusted in Jesus AND your own ability to earn God's love, forgiveness, and salvation.
______, salvation is not Jesus + ______'s good works; Jesus + ______'s church attendance; Jesus + ______'s baptism; Jesus + anything else. Salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. There is NOTHING you can do or ever will do to earn God's love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and salvation. It is a FREE gift.
So, ______, my encouragement to and prayer for you is that you will truly believe the gospel. Turn from your sin and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. There is no magic formula. Praying a prayer won't save you. Walking down an aisle during an altar call won't save you. Going to church and reading your Bible won't save you. Being baptized won't save you. Trying to be a good person won't save you; because, like the rest of us, ______, you have sinned against God and broken His Law. Like the rest of us, you are not good in God's eyes.
No. The only thing, the only ONE who can save you is Jesus Christ the Lord. So cry out to Him. Repent. And receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
I look forward to hearing from you again, ______. Until then, you are in my prayers.
How much is one soul worth to you?
Do you see gospel tracts as irrelevant, passe, even corny. Have you been led to believe this lie by a well-intentioned Christian pastor, leader, or friend?
How much is one soul worth to you?
Over the last seven years, I have distributed tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of gospel tracts. I have seen very little return on my investment. But, as this email clearly shows, that does not mean there is no return on the investment. As with open-air preaching, the spiritual and eternal return on the investment of time, resources, energy, and heart, as it relates to the distribution of gospel tracts, will never be fully realized this side of Heaven.
To receive an email like the one I received this morning should be an encouragement to everyone who distributes gospel tracts; and a wake-up call to those who don't, or who even go as far as to discourage it. The gospel IS the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). Our obligation is to simply love God and people (Matthew 22:36-40) enough to engage in the work of preaching and distributing the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 14:23; Acts 1:8); for the gospel is a spoken/written message (Romans 10:14-17).
How much is one soul worth to you?
To my Christian brethren who see the value in distributing gospel tracts: don't quit! Keep distributing gospel tracts, for the glory of God, for the furtherance of the gospel, and for the love of the lost!
Don't let anyone (pastors, teachers, friends, etc.) discourage you from distributing gospel tracts. The gospel IS the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), whether in spoken or in written form. The gospel does not need our help. It need only be communicated to the lost.
How much is one soul worth to you?