“Two Ways to Live”: tract review

This is the “Two Ways to Live” tract from “Matthias Media”, in its pictorial form. This tract sets out to present the gospel of Jesus Christ, but fails.

Instead, this tract sets out what is called “Lordship salvation”, which pays lip service to salvation by faith, but amounts to a call to salvation by works.

This tract is not going to cause a man to believe on Jesus Christ as saviour, but to vainly believe that he has laid down the excesses of his rebellion, and that because of that he’s okay.

Matthias Media: Two ways to live: the choice we all face.

There wasn’t a subtle snake in the background originally. I added that.

Here’s the review. It might be superfluous to mention that I don’t much like it:

1.Way to live

The name of the tract gives it away: this tract is about how you live, and in the sense which it presents, it’s about how you live your earthly life. If the gospel were about changing your life, this would be a great thing.

The Bible says that justification is without works of the law – it’s not about changing your life at all: But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:5)

2.Rebellion, not sin

Says the tract, “God won’t let us rebel forever”:

This tract sets out to cure rebellion, and not to cure sin. Rebellion is one particular sin, committed knowingly by wicked sinners who know that they are rejecting God. Not every sinner is a rebel: many sin without properly understanding what they are doing wrong.

The natural cure for rebellion is that the rebel should cease his rebellion, and seek merciful terms of surrender. The problem is that the cure for sin is death. It is a perfectly good cure

This tract does not have any message for children, of whom Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:15). Instead of being able to receive the kingdom of God, the child is expected to grow, rebel, and then only to be cured of his rebellion.

Sin is not rebellion. Sin is the transgression of the law. All unrighteousness is sin. These statements appear just like this in 1 John. Since only rebellion is being cured, the standard of practical righteousness being asked for is “don’t rebel”. The actual standard for holy living is to live according to the law: be ye perfect. By dealing with rebellion, the tract avoids the observation that God’s law is yet being broken, even after the excesses of rebellion have ended.

Rebellion is a particularly wicked sin. When Saul rebelled against the Lord, he was already saved – he had already been chosen by God as his king. He was punished for his sin by being rejected as king. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:23) When Saul attempted the solution that this tract offers (laying down his rebellion), he was rejected by Samuel. This is an allegory for the failure of salvation by works.

3.Death, not death and hell

There is only the faintest hint of hell in this tract, being the reference to “judgement” after death. Limiting what happens after death to mere “judgement” suggests that our sins might just perhaps not take us to hell. It doesn’t say this, but it leaves room for doubt, and doubt is the enemy of faith.

The truth is that those that die with their sins unforgiven will most certainly be cast into hell:

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:44,46,48)

4.Works, not faith

The cure offered by this tract is that you should “submit to Jesus as our ruler”, and then to rely on his death and resurrection. Now what, I ask you with tears, would it mean to submit to Jesus as your ruler, and yet not submit to his law? If you submit to his rule, then you are undertaking to obey his law. This is why they disposed of the law pre-emptively, and dealt only with “rebellion”. The acknowledgement given to relying on his death and resurrection does not cure this defect.

Everyone knows that salvation is not by works of the law, but people don’t as easily recognise it when it is dressed up in unbiblical terms.

5.Comparison to a competent gospel outline

This tract is somewhat difficult to analyse because it is not a competent gospel presentation with a few deadly flaws. It also does not deal with the correct topics.

What this tract does NOT set out in any way are the following important aspects of the gospel:

  • The cause of our predicament is sin
  • Our failure is that we sin
  • We deserve to burn in hell eternally for our sins
  • Jesus shed his blood on the cross – it’s actually quite important
  • Salvation is a free gift: it is by faith, not by works; it is a gift
  • Salvation is eternal: it cannot be lost, nor returned with or without a receipt.

Real deal: 1. Every one is a sinner (Rom 3:10: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one, Rom 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God)

Raw deal tract: Does this tract convict the world of sin? Well, no: it doesn’t use the word sin.

Real deal: 2. Every one deserves to go to hell (Rom 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rev 20:14-15: And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Rev 21:8: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.)

Raw deal tract: Does this tract convince you that you deserve the punishment of sin? It doesn’t connect sin and death, but presents death as punishment for rebellion – instead of going with the scripture, they’re going with the analogy.

Real deal: 3. Jesus died on the cross for us so we could be saved (the events of the cross, the blood, the death, burial, and resurrection) (Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ; 1 Pet 2:24: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.)

Raw deal tract: The exact form of the resurrection is left open to interpretation. The mangling offered by the NASB (“alive in the Spirit”) implies that he did not bodily rise from the dead. The choice of 1 Peter 3:18 is also poor, because it is just part of a larger sentence which is very easy to get misled on.

Real deal: 4. You must believe on Jesus Christ as your only way to heaven (Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. ; John 3:16 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. )

Raw deal tract: the existence of such a thing as faith by which we are saved is absent from the explanation, and only present in the mangled bible verses presented. The false choice in the false versions between believe or obey, or between believe and reject falsely supports the narrative of this tract.

Real deal: 5. When you believe on Jesus Christ, God gives you eternal life (illustration: receiving a gift: explain eternal security in detail) (Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)

Raw deal tract: this tract has nothing to say about how secure you are in Christ. That’s okay, because by the time you have done everything this tract says, you are no more in Christ than you were when you started.

Good question: 1. Do you believe that you have sinned?

Tract answer: No, well maybe, but I know I’m a rebel.

Good question: 2. Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for YOUR sins and rose again from the dead?

Tract answer: No, it was more a demonstration that I can be forgiven my rebellion.

Good question: 3. If you were to ask Jesus to save you right now would he do it?

Tract answer: No, not unless I stop my rebellion

Good question: 4. How long would you be saved for?

Tract answer: Until I resume my rebellion – that would show that I never really laid it down and was never saved.

Good prayer: “Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I know I deserve to go to hell. But I believe that you died on the cross for my sins. Please save me and take me to heaven when I die. I’m trusting only you, Jesus. Amen.”

Tract prayer: If this tract were to offer a model prayer, it would say, “Dear Jesus, I have been a rebel, and I’m going to die. I don’t want to die a rebel. I’m going to stop my rebellion now. I’m sure that your death and resurrection makes this okay. So seriously, you’re my ruler now, and I’m going to attempt to obey your rules. Please like me when I change. Amen.”

Real John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Appendix: Fake Bibles

The “Bible” quoted by the comic tract is the NASB. Other editions seem to use the NIV – but it doesn’t much matter, because all the revisionist versions mangle things away from the truth in similar ways. This tract doesn’t much care which false version is quoted. The NASB is a particularly good choice for “Lordship salvation”, since its creatively edited John 3:36 says you must “obey”.

Both of these editions are unfit for the purpose of salvation, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Faith does not come from hearing the word of men, as are the NASB and NIV.

Here are the specific problems with the presentation of the verses chosen:

FAKE NIV Revelation 4:11 You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.

Real Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Apart from the spurious “and God” added by the fake bibles, the aspect of pleasing God has been removed. We are not supposed to just do what he says, but to actually please him.

FAKE NIV Romans 3:10-12 There is no-one righteous, not even one; there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God. All have turned away.

Real Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Here the fake bibles offer “turned away” in the place of “gone out of the way”. Turning away is a conscious decision, but going out of the way includes all manner of wandering off. This chosen mangling of the Bible agrees with the tract’s theme of setting out to cure rebellion (turning away), rather than sin (deviating from the way).

FAKE NIV Hebrews 9:27: Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

Real Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Appointment has a cause, while destiny is just predicting the future. The fake judgment is a personal kind of judgment, where “the judgment” is where all men will be judged.

FAKE NIV 1 Peter 3:18: Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

Real 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

The fake bible says that he died (a past tense historical observation), but the real Bible says that he has suffered – a present tense observation of the way it is. The one says there was a death, the other says that the suffering has been completed. The fake bible says that he did it for Peter’s audience, as if Peter did not need to be saved, but the real Bible says that he did it for Peter and his audience.

FAKE NIV 1 Peter 1:3 In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Real 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

The real Bible says that we are actually born again and that God is our Father, and the fake says that he has given us something mystical.

FAKE NIV John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

Real John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The fake bible suggests that to be damned you must consciously and deliberately reject Jesus, but the real Bible says that simply failing to believe leaves you where you were: under God’s wrath. Reading the fake people will think something like: “I’ll not reject him now, but I’ll think about these terms later”.

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