A friend put forth a challenge to write a gospel tract that we would actually want to put into the hands of a non-Christian. He specified that it should be no more than a thousand words and have no quotes other than Scripture. Also, it should be something that you would be okay with anybody copying and making into physical tracts for free distribution. The goal is to get used to explaining the gospel concisely and succinctly.
Will you take up the challenge? Write up a gospel tract and put a link to it in the comments below!
The following is my go at it. It was challenging to keep it so short, there were many things I wanted to say but couldn’t fit. It was also challenging in a different way than personal evangelism is because there is not a person to interact with and see where they are at spiritually, you have to assume a certain level of biblical familiarity when writing a gospel tract. I’ll admit that it is slightly over a thousand words and that there is some catechism language in here, but I did not cite it. I found it very spiritually edifying to write and I hope you find it edifying too and perhaps a fun exercise to do yourself!
God is eternally self existent, the one and only creator of all things (Genesis 1:1). He is entirely unique and holy. He is perfect, righteous, just, and beautiful. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
God created mankind, male and female, in His own image in holiness and without sin, yet capable of sinning (Genesis 1:26-28). Adam and his wife Eve were the first two people God made. He entered into a covenant with them and all their descendants, to glorify and have fellowship with Him and to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest they die (Genesis 2:17). Adam and Eve did not obey God. They gave in to the temptation of Satan and ate from the tree out of rebellion to Him (Genesis 3:6-8). Instead of submitting to God and loving Him, they tried to become gods themselves, and became covenant breakers, sinners. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15).
Sin is the biblical term for failing to meet God’s righteous and perfect moral standards, and for going against His holy will. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Since Adam and Eve are the first parents of all humanity, when they broke the covenant with God and rebelled against Him, all of their descendants fell into an estate of sin and misery as well. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). The moment they sinned against God they died spiritually and would later die physically. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Death is not natural or good, it is the result of sin and separation from God. True life is fellowship with God, but since God is perfect and holy, He cannot have fellowship with sin (1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:5). Since He is righteous, He must punish sin. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment…[i.e. Hell]” (Matthew 25:41 & 46a).
It is perfect justice for God to punish sinners eternally in Hell. Even the smallest sin against the infinitely holy God is deserving of infinite punishment. But our sins are not small. The ten commandments are a summary of God’s moral standard and we break them constantly (Exodus 20:1-17). Ask yourself, have you ever loved God as much as He deserves to be loved? “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Have you ever loved others as much as you love yourself? “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18). These two commandments are a summary of God’s moral Law (Matthew 22:36-40), and if you are honest, you will admit that you fall very short.
Human beings are incapable of saving themselves from death and everlasting punishment. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20a). Even if our good deeds could out weight our bad, that is still insufficient to earn favor with God. God is holy and therefore requires perfection. So how can we be saved from God’s righteous wrath? Only God Himself can save us.
Before even creating anything, God decided that He would save some people and give them everlasting life (Ephesians 1:4). Several thousand years after the Fall of mankind into sin, the eternal Son of God became a man (Colossians 2:9). Jesus Christ was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary and, having not received Adam’s sin nature, was born completely sinless (Luke 1:27-42). “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life (1 Peter 2:22). He always loved God with all His heart, soul, and mind. He always loved His neighbor as Himself. He never valued anything above God, never worshiped God in a way God did not want to be worshiped; He never blasphemed, never broke the Sabbath, never dishonored His parents, never unjustly hated anyone, never lusted after a woman, never stole, lied, or coveted.
Jesus performed many miracles, demonstrated Himself, and was confirmed by God, to be the prophesied Savior of mankind (Matthew 17:5; Mark 1:11; John 2:11; 1 John 5:6-10). Jesus was hated for preaching the gospel and was tortured and crucified. On the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on sinless Jesus, instead of on His sinful people. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus fully paid the penalty, He bore Hell, for those whom He came to save. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9). Jesus died and was buried for 3 days, but death could not hold Him and He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
Jesus freely offers this salvation to anyone who will repent, i.e. turn away from their sin, and turn toward Him for salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). To escape Hell and receive life with Him you must trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sin. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). Cry out to God for salvation in Jesus Christ! He is the only way to be saved! “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69).