|Volume 23 Number 5 May 2021
“I don’t find Paul’s writings very authoritative,” were the words from a coworker years ago regarding the topic of whether the Bible endorses capital punishment (as it does in Romans 13:1-6). Paul claimed his writings were from God. First Corinthians 14:37 states, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” Yet, some deny Paul’s apostolic authority wherever he wrote about things that they consider offensive, such as what he commanded about marriage (Ephesians 5:23-28; 1 Corinthians 7), women’s role in worship (1 Timothy 2:8-12; 1 Corinthians 14:34) and even about various sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:18-32).
In order to be consistent, to deny that these passages are from God, one must deny the entirety of the letters in which they are contained are also from God. To deny these letters are from God is to deny all of Paul’s writings to be from God. To deny that all the apostle Paul wrote in Scripture is from God is to disregard almost half of the New Testament, since Paul authored thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament.
Furthermore, to dismiss Paul leads to the dismissal of the writings of the apostle Peter, for Peter acknowledged Paul’s writings were from God (2 Peter 3:15-16). If Peter was not able to detect that Paul’s writings were not from God, how can it be said that Peter was inspired of God himself?
To dismiss Paul also leads to the dismissal of the writings of Luke who was a traveling companion of Paul (2 Timothy 4; Colossians 4) and who wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts. In reading Acts 14-28, one will see repeatedly that Luke acknowledges Paul as an authoritative apostle.
Since rejecting Paul implicitly dismisses Peter, this calls into question the inspired authority of Matthew and his Gospel account, for he wrote about Peter as an authoritative apostle (Matthew 10:1-20). This same line of reasoning can be applied to the apostle John who acknowledged Peter to be an apostle (John 1:42; 21:15-25) and who authored the Gospel of John, 1-3 John and Revelation. Likewise, John-Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark, acknowledged Simon-Peter to be an inspired apostle (Mark 1:16-19; 3:16).
As one can see, the books of the New Testament are interlinked like a chain. To dismiss one is to essentially dismiss them all. The kind of approach to Scripture that rejects as inspired passages what one does not like and dismisses their human penman results in idolatry – a remaking of Christ and Christianity according to one’s own image, likeness and desires. Faithful followers of Christ receive the books of the New Testament, not as the words of men, but as they are in truth, the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
What Is the Benefit of a Tract?
We have a tract printed each month for placement on the display tree stand in the foyer at Crockett Church of Christ. They are for anyone’s use. Now, what is the benefit of a tract?
There are several benefits. One, it is small in size and affords a quick reading and subsequent re-reading more readily (and more likely) than reading a full-size book on a subject. Verses are limited, and thereby, they are easily read or encourage follow up in the Bible to see the full context. Such is so helpful to discern real righteousness found in believing in Christ instead of resorting to our personal definitions of righteousness (Philippians 3:9). In this way, we can go back to the examples in the Book of Acts of the Apostles and see how they understood the message and obeyed to receive the righteousness of the Lord.
Two, a tract sums up the subject. The front of a tract usually reveals the subject matter and may even imply a biblical application of the truth about the topic. Sometimes, a tract may use a chart that shows how a person about whom we read in Scripture understood and obeyed the Gospel that he was taught.
Three, a person can underline points to emphasize them. Highlighters and pens work well for providing emphasis of information we don’t want someone to whom we give the tract to overlook. Marking or highlighting makes it possible to immediately revisit the major points. By encouraging a friend in study to give attention to the highlighted areas, the study may be taken to another level quickly and I have had people say, “I never saw that prior to your pointing this out.”
Four, of all the good a tract can do, there is one thing a tract cannot do. It cannot reach out and take anyone’s hand to force a person to take a copy of the tract. Sometimes, the subject is of great enough interest, it seems to cause the tract to fly off the shelf on which you have placed it to be seen and to be taken, but that’s the interest of the reader, not the tract forcing anyone to receive it or to read it.
Have you seen tracts as beneficial for you and your personal work with others? [Editor’s Note: Written literature is always ready when the reader is ready (unlike radio or TV), it has a long shelf life, it can go places we cannot go, and multiple copies of a tract can go simultaneously in different directions. Tracts are more affordable to produce and distribute than books, and they because of their comparative brevity are more likely to be read. A well-written tract provides the crux of any subject discussed therein. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]