Complete Gospel Tract Titles

Gospel Tract List
1. How I Received the Holy Ghost
2. Jesus Is Coming Again
3. You Must Be Born Again
4. Stir Up the Gift of God
5. The World's Most Dreaded Hour
6. What is Salvation?
7. Stand Still in Jordan
8. The Returned Father
9. Grieved Hearts
10. The Second Death
11. The Father and the Son
12. Suffering and the Saints
13. Cancer Conquered
14. The Church?
15. How Shall They Preach, Except They Be Sent?
16. Have You Received the Holy Ghost Since You Believed?
17. Patience
18. Alone With God
19. Tithes and Offerings
20. Prayer
21. The True Sabbath
22. The Besetting Sin
23. Saving Strength
24. What Will the Harvest Be?
25. Marriage and Divorce
26. Taking the Name of the Lord
27. Keys to the Kingdom
28. Works
29. Politics and Believers
30. Unequally Yoked in Marriage
31. Unequally Yoked in Worship
32. The Forgiven Woman
33. The New Earth
34. The Sin of Silence
35. Freedom
36. Gods of the Gentiles
37. Why Some Are Not Healed
38. The Seven Pillars
39. Life, More Abundantly
40. Fear
41. The Comforter’s Testimony
42. This is My Friend
43. Conversion
44. The Time Is Drawing Near?
45. Songs in the Night
46. The Master's Net
47. Trials are Opportunities
48. Receiving the Messenger
49. Seven Messages to the Seven Pastors
50. Keep Yourself Pure
51. Jezreel
52. The New Birth
53. Denying Jesus
54. Bruised Reeds
56. The Wise and the Foolish
57. Holiness
58. Is Jesus God?
59. Christ or Christianity
60. Have Faith In God
63. Four Kinds of Soil
64. Communion
66. Baptism
69. Crucified With Christ
70. Homosexuality and the Bible
71. The Kingdom of God
72. The Gospel of Christ
77. Sanctification
78. New Commandments
79. The Sacrifice of Christ
81. Speaking in Tongues
87. Antichrist
88. The Way of Grace
90. Relationships
93. Subdued
94. The Spirit of Christ
95. The Blood of Christ
96. Spirit of a Serpent, Spirit of a Dove
97. Gluttony
En español
El Nuevo Nacimiento
¿Cristo o Cristianismo?
¿Que Es Salvación?
El Sacrificio de Cristo

Gospel Tract #28


Paul said that salvation is "not of works" (Eph. 2:9). But James wrote, "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:24). Again, James asks, "Was not Abraham justified by works?" (Jas. 2:21). But Paul argued, "If Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory, but to him who does not work, but believes on [God], his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom. 4:2, 5).

How could both Paul and James be correct, when one said "not of works", while the other said "by works"? The harmony of their seemingly conflicting doctrines lies in the fact that these two men of God were speaking about different kinds of works! Here is a list of the kinds of works found in the Bible:

  • Good works . . . godly behavior and deeds.
  • Works of Abraham . . . deeds that demonstrate a special closeness to and an obedient trust in God.
  • Works of God . . . miracles that God does or grants to be done by His servants. Also called "mighty works" and "wonderful works".
  • Works of repentance . . . deeds a sinner must do in order to be forgiven by God for past sins.
  • Works of men's hands . . . buildings, highways, industries, and other human accomplishments.
  • Works of the flesh . . . deeds motivated by desires of man's flesh. Also called "wicked works".
  • Works of the Devil . . . deeds inspired by the Devil, but which are performed by men.
  • Works . . . ostentatious religious decrees and devotion (Mt. 23:3-7).

There is a specific definition for each type of work mentioned in the Bible. "Works of the flesh" are not "works of repentance". And "works of Abraham" are not "works of the Devil".

A most important kind of work mentioned in the New Testament, with its own specific definition, is "works of the law". And only when we understand the meaning of the phrase "works of the law" can we perceive the hidden harmony between the statements of Paul and James.

Paul's "Works"

The first thing that we should know about "works of the law" is that they were of God. "Works of the law" were the ceremonies that God gave to Israel through His prophets. The Old Testament was a covenant of symbols. With symbolic rituals, it prophesied of the ministry of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Old Testament tabernacle symbolized heaven itself (Heb. 9:24). The incense offered by Israel's high priest symbolized the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8). The seven candlesticks in the tabernacle represented the seven spirits that are before God's heavenly throne (Rev. 4:5). These symbols, and the many others like them, were holy and precious in their time, and they are among Paul's "works of the law", which are useless now for attaining to salvation (Gal. 2:16). No longer can the law's ceremonies accomplish any spiritual good.

Works of the law were of God; they were holy (Rom. 7:12). Jesus loved the law of God, as did every righteous person in Israel. His devotion to the law at times caused conflict with his fellow Jews because of their devotion to the "traditions of the elders". Jesus was not contemptuous of Jewish traditions; he observed them, so long as doing so did not contradict the law of God (Jn. 10:22-23). When forced by Jewish customs to choose between God's law or the traditions of the elders, he always chose to obey the law (Mk. 7:1-13). For living this way, Jesus was mistrusted and persecuted.

Earliest believers, being Jews, were devoted to the law, and rightly so; the law had led them to Christ. Jesus himself said if we did not believe Moses' writings, we could not believe his words (Jn. 5:46-47). The law was designed by God to point men to Jesus; accordingly, Paul wrote that the law was "our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ" (Gal. 3:24). Israel's devotion to the traditions of their elders equaled their devotion to God's law, and that confused them because it clouded the wonderful picture of the Messiah that God had drawn for them by the works of His law.

Continuing in Ceremonial Works

There was a controversy among the earliest believers, all of them Jews, concerning whether or not Gentile believers were obligated to perform the works of the law as Jewish believers were. Many Jewish teachers who believed in Christ told Gentile believers that they would be damned unless they submitted to works of the law (Acts 15). Paul contended that there was no reason for Gentiles to perform works that foretold of a Messiah who had come. Besides, Paul argued, God ordained the law's ceremonies only for the circumcised nation, not for uncircumcised Gentiles (Rom. 3:19).

This is the substance of what Paul taught. When Christ fulfilled the prophetic works of the law, their purpose was fulfilled. Therefore, it is pointless to continue performing those ceremonies. This is what Paul meant by saying that salvation is no longer "of works". It was a new and surprising doctrine, but James, John, Peter, and other wise elders assented to Paul's gospel and agreed that Paul should continue teaching it ­ but only to the Gentiles, never to the Jews (Gal. 2:7-9)!

Jesus Is Sufficient

So, Paul taught that Jesus fulfilled the works of the law, and because the purpose for the works of the law had been fulfilled, Paul referred to them as "dead works" (Heb. 6:1; 9:14). He saw that when Christ fulfilled God's purpose for the law's prophetic works, they "died".

Because of the teaching of certain Jewish believers, many Gentile believers felt they needed to be circumcised and become Jews, but Paul told them they were already circumcised in God's sight since he had already circumcised their hearts by the Spirit (Rom. 2:28-29). And Paul insisted that they needed no ceremonial work performed on their bodies, telling them that those who are circumcised by the Spirit are now the real "Israel of God " (Gal. 6:16). The way of God is now "a new and living way", not the old way of ceremony.

This, then, is Paul's message concerning works: Jesus Christ, alone, is sufficient for salvation. The blood of Christ, alone, secures atonement for sin (Heb. 9:12); the baptism of Christ, alone, cleanses from sin (Eph. 4:5); the intercession of Christ, alone, prevails upon the Father for the forgiveness of sin (1Tim. 2:5). Because Jesus came, the works of the law are no longer in effect. "You see, the law, being a shadow of good things to come, not the actual form of those things, can never make perfect those who approach the altar with the same sacrifices they offer continually, year after year. But this man, after he had offered, once for all, one sacrifice for sins, sat down at the right hand of God. For by one offering, he has forever perfected those who are sanctified" (Heb. 10:1; 12; 14).

Paul's message that salvation is "not of works" means simply that there are no ceremonies in this New Testament. Only what Jesus does for us by the Spirit will save us. We can no longer benefit from performing the ceremonies of the law ­ or any other ceremonies, for the ceremonies of Moses' law are the only ceremonies God has ever commanded men to perform.

James' "Works"

In saying, "by works a man is justified," James did not contradict Paul's doctrine because James was not referring to works of the law. The works to which James was referring are good works, wrought in faith. James knew as well as Paul did that performing the law's religious ceremonies justified no one. (After all, the Jews who hated Jesus performed works of the law.) In saying that "by works a man is justified," James was teaching that one's eternal judgment would be determined by his deeds in this life. Only by living a clean, holy life will anyone be saved in the end (Heb. 12:14). Yes, even believers who return to former sins will be damned (2Pet. 2:20-22). Jesus said it this way: "The master of that slave will come in a day in which he does not expect him, and in an hour which he does not know, and he will cut him in two and give him his portion with the hypocrites. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt. 24:50-51).

Every man or woman God has used from the beginning of the world has warned people that how they live will determine where they spend eternity. Jesus said, "All who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good unto the resurrection of life, but those who have practiced evil unto the resurrection of damnation" (Jn. 5:28-29). Every account of the Final Judgment found in the Bible states that man will be judged on the basis of his deeds. God's wise men (Ps. 62:12; Eccl. 12:14), prophets (Jer. 7:1-16), apostles (1Pet. 1:15-17), as well as the Lord Jesus, plainly and repeatedly preached that man's deeds will determine his eternal judgment.

Caught up in spirit while exiled on the island of Patmos, the apostle John saw this terrifying vision of the Final Judgment: "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. And books were opened (and another book was opened which is the book of life), and the dead were judged by the things written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hades gave up the dead that were in them, and they were judged, each one according to their deeds " (Rev. 20:11-13).

Paul's words in Romans 2:6-10 show how completely Paul agreed with James on the matter of good works. There, he wrote that God "will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for honor and immortality, [God will give] eternal life. But to those who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [God will give] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil . . . but glory, honor, and peace to every man who works good."

So, while Paul taught that salvation is not of works of the law, he insisted that good works are essential for salvation, for eternal life will be given only to those who "work good". Paul and James agreed perfectly in their doctrines. Paul was correct in saying that works (of the law) have nothing to do with our salvation, and James was correct in saying that (good) works have everything to do with our salvation. Each of these apostles would have given the other's teaching a hearty, "Amen!" So may we.