Tracts vs. the Preaching of God’s Word

At a site on Facebook, the author put up the suggestion that when we go out to eat dinner at a restaurant, we leave a healthy tip, and a gospel tract. He suggested that even when the service is horrible, leave a bigger tip and a tract.

This seems like such a righteous thing to do. But alas, this is contrary to what the Bible says when it comes to the spread of the gospel. No where are we told to share gospel tracts. The Scripture is quite clear that we are to preach the gospel.

We see this in Romans 10:14-15

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

The Reason

There is a theological reason that God has chosen preaching to reach His elect. It goes back to the Garden of Eden when the temptation of Adam and Eve took place. Satan tempted the first couple through the spoken word. Satan had no power over Adam. All he could do is use words to tempt them. Sadly, it was enough.

Surprisingly, it is through the spoken word, or preached word, that God has chosen to undue the work of Satan. We are to be the people of God, who are of the preached word. This is why the Scriptures says So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It is also why the word says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

By hearing Satan’s claims, Adam fell into sin. It is through the hearing of the work of the Second Adam that we will be saved. Given that, let us support those faithful preachers who proclaim God’s word, and quit depending upon the inventions of men to do what God has not told us to do, which is preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).

The Rebuttal

One more point. The author of the site came back with the rebuttal that his uncle was saved through reading the Bible, and another person was saved through reading a tract. The author was appealing to the exception clause of the rule, thereby making it the rule. The rule is that we preach God’s word faithfully. The exception is that GOD MOVES when and where and how He pleases. Yes, God can use the tracts we pass out. Yes, God can use the reading of God’s word for ourselves. But this is not what He has CALLED us to do. He has called men in the body of Christ to preach the word and teach it. He has also called some to be evangelist (Ephesians 4:11-12). Through those offices, He operates through the ordinary means of grace. He can use any means He has chosen. But it up to us to be obedient in the use of the means He has given us.


6 thoughts on “Tracts vs. the Preaching of God’s Word

  1. I agree that the primary method of getting out the gospel is preaching, but I would tend to side with Paul on this (Phil 1:18). Preaching the Word is best, but I’m not opposed to God using other means — to “over-seeding”, so to speak.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Stan, the problem with the reference from Phil. 1:18 is that those Paul was speaking of were actually “preaching” the gospel, but doing so in order to make trouble for Paul. They were still preaching, not passing out tracts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Timothy,

    Quite a thought-provoking post!

    Do you have any thoughts on the Reformation teaching of the “efficacy of the Word”. For those who have never heard this, in brief, it says that the Holy Spirit works to create faith in people only through the Word, and that the Word preached, spoken, or read always accomplishes God’s purpose. Basis for “efficacy” is in Isaiah 55:8-11, Heb. 4:12-13, 2 Cor. 2:14-17, and elsewhere.

    I agree with you that the Scriptures are clear that the Word preached is the primary way God has chosen to bring salvation. People hear, believe what they hear, and are then justified.

    One aspect of tract distribution which is sometimes forgotten is the encouragement it gives to believers.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Alec,

      Nothing comes to mind directly on the efficacy of the Word, but the WCF on Effectual Calling.

      All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call,[1] by His Word and Spirit,[2] out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ;[3] enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,[4] taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;[5] renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good,[6] and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:[7] yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.

      That is one of my favorite sections in the WCF, because it shows us how God-centered the gospel is in its application to us. He does all these things in us, so that we do believe, trust, and rest upon Him for salvation. No mere amount of man’s self exertion will come close to God’s simple work of redemption in us.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Also, tracts may encourage believers as well, but true preaching and reading of God’s word should be doing the same. Let us open His word and be encouraged. Let us hear good preaching and be encouraged.

      Liked by 1 person

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