Gospel Tracts are Just a Starting Point: 12 Books to Deepen your Grasp of the Gospel
A 3-year-old boy doesn’t know much about electricity. He doesn’t know anything about circuits and breakers. He probably doesn’t even know there are wires running through the walls of his house, connecting that light switch in his room to the light on the ceiling.
He doesn’t understand everything, but he understands enough to flip that switch, believing that the light will come.
This is the experience for every Christian. When people first come to faith in Christ, they need to understand the basic gospel truths about who Jesus is and what He came to do. And they need to respond to those truths with repentance and faith. But they don’t need to understand everything the Bible says.
They don’t need to understand all the ways that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. They don’t need to understand how to defend every doctrine of the Bible. They don’t need to understand all of the objections that unbelievers may have to the gospel.
That understanding comes over time, as they grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures. And as they grow, they don’t need to go back and question their faith at the beginning. God is simply opening their eyes to see more of the wonder of His plan of redemption. They’re building on that faith, not replacing it.
They’re like the little child who learns for the first time about the wiring in the wall. This new information doesn’t take away from the experience of flipping that light switch. It adds to it.
The average gospel tract has about 200 words in it. That’s remarkable. With just a couple hundred words, you can present the basic truths of the gospel.
That’s what makes a gospel tract such a wonderful tool for sharing your faith. Almost any believer can take a gospel tract and share the simple gospel message with someone else. It’s the perfect starting point for that conversation.
But it’s just that - a starting point.
The gospel is wider and deeper than we can even fathom, and the riches of the gospel certainly can’t be exhausted in 200 words.
To be effective and authentic witness for Christ, we should be constantly deepening our grasp of the gospel. We will spend our entire lives exploring the ocean of the gospel. It is inexhaustible. And we should expect that our ability to share the gospel will grow as we grow in our love for it.
Thankfully, we are blessed with countless resources and books on understanding the beauty of the gospel and on sharing the message of the gospel with others. Here are 12 books to get you started. These are books that will deepen you love for the gospel and challenge you to share the gospel faithfully.
Are you surprised that the Bible tops this list of book recommendations? Probably not. In the world of books, the Bible is without equal. It is inerrant, sufficient, living, and active. The 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon, puts it this way: “All other books might be heaped together in one pile and burned with less loss to the world than would be occasioned by the obliteration of a single page of the sacred volume.” In the pages of Scripture, we watch the story of the gospel unfold in all it’s wonder and glory. If you want to deepen your love for the gospel, start here.
This short book (97 pages) is a perfect example of the kind of book that will stir your love for Christ and the gospel. Divided into four parts, this book is aimed at helping believers preach the gospel to themselves daily. Part one gives 31 reasons to rehearse the gospel daily to yourself. Parts two and three give the gospel narrative in a prose and poetic version. And in part 4, the author provides the back story for the entire book. The more we understand and enjoy the gospel in our own hearts, the more effective we will be in sharing it with others.
In this book, the author takes aim at legalism in all its ugliness. He expounds the gospel of grace with passion and clarity, and he shows how this revolutionary message is the only way to fuel a life of joy, freedom, and worship. He puts it simply: “The gospel produces in us what religion never could: a heart that desires God.” He also shares a “gospel prayer” that he uses daily to saturate his heart with the gospel.
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism - Mark Dever
Another short book (124 pages) specifically aimed at laying a biblical foundation for personal evangelism. Dever tackles many of the misunderstandings and excuses that come up in discussions with Christians who are reluctant or fearful to share their faith. He seeks to answer four questions in the book: Who should we evangelize? How should we evangelize? What is evangelism? Why should evangelize?
This is probably the most challenging book on this list. It’s essentially a training manual on evangelism, so it’s both theologically rich and intensely practically. The unique focus of the book is the contrast between God-centered and man-centered evangelism. And the list of resources at the end are excellent.
Do you understand the power of a question? This book is aimed at helping you do that. The author explains and then illustrates the benefits of questions in evangelism. This book will help you ask natural questions in gospel conversations. It will help you engage people with the gospel without jumping into a sales pitch presentation or bailing on the responsibility to proclaim Christ.
Living Proof: Sharing the Gospel Naturally - Jim Petersen
Unlike most books on evangelism, this one gives a lot of helpful suggestions for long-term evangelism. It encourages believers to develop relationship with unbelievers, understanding that many people come to faith in Christ after months (even years) of preparation. It’s the perfect book to challenge the false assumption that personal evangelism is a mechanical and impersonal activity.
Sharing your Faith with Friends and Family - Michael Green
As the title suggests, this book is starting gospel conversations with the people closest to you. There are unique advantages and challenges with this kind of evangelism, and the author does a great job covering all the essentials. This is a very readable and accessible book on reaching those closest to you with the life-transforming gospel message.
The Heart of Evangelism - Jerram Barrs
All Christians are called to take the gospel to those who do not know Christ. But many Christians struggle to be faithful in this task. It’s easy to get discouraged with one-size-fits-all approaches to evangelism. In this book, the author mines the New Testament for examples of gospel presentations. You might be surprised by the variety that we find in the Scriptures. Instead of trying to cram everyone into the same gospel presentation, this book encourages you to witness naturally in whatever context God places you.
The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something worth Believing - Jonathan Dodson
This is a refreshingly honest and personal book on evangelism. Dodson is very upfront about his struggles with sharing the gospel. And yet, he understands the biblical responsibility that we have to be faithful witness for Christ. In the last section, he gives some very practical thoughts on sharing your faith using the five main gospel metaphors for salvation.
Unlike many books on this topic, the author uses Scripture to clearly ground philosophy and practice. Even if you don’t agree with all of the conclusions, you’ll still benefit from his process of interpreting and applying Scripture. In this book, you’ll find practical, ground level application and real-life illustrations and stories. And in the stories, the evangelist is not cast as the hero, which is refreshing. If you want to be inspired and instructed to be a more effective witness, this book would be a great starting point.
Marks of a Messenger: Knowing, Living, and Speaking the Gospel** - J. Mack Stiles
This is an excellent, foundational book on personal evangelism. It warns against the type of pragmatic evangelism that only asks, “What will work?” and encourage the reader to embrace a bold, authentic witness that asks, “Who should I be as a witness for Christ?” Stiles describes the marks of someone who is gospel-centered and others-oriented. The section on consistently meditating on the rejoicing in the gospel was excellent! This is a great read for anyone who wants to grow in the area of personal evangelism.
Gospel tracts are a wonderful resource for believers and churches. If you don’t have customized gospel tracts for your church, you should definitely check out the great designs at ProChurch.
But remember, gospel tracts are just a starting point.
The gospel is an inexhaustible storehouse for the riches of God’s grace. But even though we will never understand it fully. we should never stop trying to go deeper in our understanding. Part of the joy of the Christian life is the ever-deepening experience of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ.
We will spend our entire lives exploring the depth and beauty of the gospel, and according to Ephesians 2:7, we’ll still need all of eternity to really get it.