Motivation is defined as “that which moves one toward an action; that which changes, provokes, or impels our very being.” The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ who willingly suffered, died, and was buried to pay for the sins of mankind of those who would believe. He then rose from the dead, defeating death as God’s stamp of approval of His sacrifice.
I have a gospel tract that has hung on my refrigerator at eye level for the past 15 years that I look at every day. It says:
“This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important, because I’m exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, not loss; good, not evil; success, not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price that Jesus paid for it.”
The Apostle Paul’s motivation was the same as Jesus’ other followers.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. [Galatians 2:20 NKJV]
Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin on the cross. He willingly paid the sin debt that we owed and shed His blood for the cleansing of sin. My life is not my own because He paid for it.
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. [1 Corinthians 6:20]
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. [1 Corinthians 7:23]
...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. [1 Peter 1:18,19]
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. [Acts 20:28]
For thus says the Lord: “You have sold yourselves for nothing, And you shall be redeemed without money.” [Isaiah 52:3]
Christians were bought and paid for by God through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ as a ransom to save us from the empty life we inherited from our ancestors. We were paid for by the sinless, spotless perfection of the Lamb of God. Jesus Himself said that He came to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
Since we were obtained at such a tremendous cost, we should use our bodies to honor God with good needs. We are His masterpiece to use us as He sees fit (Ephesians 2:10). The ownership of our bodies have been transferred to Christ. We no longer had the right or freedom to do anything we wish. Just as slaves were purchased in the ancient world, we were bought with the price of Christ’s blood on the cross. We belong to Him. We belong to God.
For he who is called in the Lord [while] a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called [while] free is Christ's slave. [1 Corinthians 7:22 NKJV]
God and Jesus are not wicked task-masters, but care for those who are under them. The duty of a slave master was to take care and protect the slaves. Jesus said:
"All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." [Matthew 11:27-30 NKJV]
As Christians, our motivation is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:29–31). One way to love God and our neighbor is to share the gospel with them. Whether they are family, friends, co-workers, or complete strangers. That love, the ultimate love of sacrifice is the gospel – the gift from God of His one and only Son, who suffered, died on a cross, and rose from the dead so that we can have eternal life with Him. What better way is there to give away the very gift that we were given so that others may have what we have. Paul wanted his fellow Israelites to know Jesus and be saved so badly that he even wished he could be cursed if others could know Him (Romans 9:3). That is a deep love for others.
Not only that, but the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:15) and making disciples (Matthew 28:18–20) were commands from Jesus Himself to His followers. Paul wrote to his protege, Timothy, to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5) and to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). This means the evangelist is the preacher of the gospel as well as teaching the average Christian how to evangelize.
Why Are We Not Motivated by the Gospel?
In a 2018 poll taken by Barna Research, only 17% of U.S. churchgoers knew what the Great Commission was and knew what it meant. 68% of U.S. teens said they have received no training in the area of evangelism and sharing the gospel. What is even scarier is that 47% of millennial U.S. “Christians” believe that sharing their faith is wrong. This begs the question, “Why are Christians not motivated by the gospel?”
As an Evangelist and Elder in my church, I can understand why this is. In most U.S. Christian churches, the leadership only sees evangelism as numbers of people in the pews. They don’t see the importance of going out into the world and preaching the gospel to others, but tell their congregation to go into the world and bring them to church. No need to budget funds dedicated for evangelism training, materials, or local mission work. So, if the leadership doesn’t see the importance of evangelism and sharing Christ with the lost outside of church on Sunday, why would the people sitting in the pews?
There are also many trends and what the younger, and even older generations believe is that disagreement equals judgment. That if you have differing opinions from others, that it is considered wrong. This directly comes from a post-modern worldview that everyone has their own truth and none of it is wrong. Evangelism is a direct contrast in that there is a right and a wrong, and the bible tells us what those are. What church leadership fails to teach is how to engage the world with the Bible; the church members refuse to be taught how to do that because it doesn’t feel loving and kind. Church members don’t want to lose friendships, be labeled a bigot, fear of rejection, or be looked at as weird. Apathy is a cancer in the church and society as a whole. Charles Spurgeon said it best, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!” These church members who refuse to share the gospel are deceived and quite possibly not Christians themselves.
How Can We Turn This Trend Around?
How can this turn around? First, in our witnessing to the unsaved, we need to share the gospel in a way that they can understand, but make it difficult to believe. Jesus never made following Him easy. Jesus told the disciples, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:18–22), which meant that they would leave everything behind. He told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him (Matthew 19:16–22). He said we are to take up our cross, die to self, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24–27); that there is a narrow way (Matthew 7:13–14), love your enemies (Matthew 5:43–48) and so much more. We know from the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1–23) that many will not believe because of their hard hearts, fear of persecution, or love of riches and comfort. Jesus simply and honestly told them the realities of what life would be like as a follower of Him and people who couldn’t handle it walked away.
In John 6, Jesus feeds several thousand people and they follow Jesus; not because they wanted Him or saw the signs of His coming as the Messiah, but they wanted to follow the One who can make food out of thin air. When He questioned Jesus, they asked how He can give them the power to make food appear too (John 6:26–29). Jesus uses the feeding of the five thousand as a springboard to show that Moses and the prophets revealed who Jesus was, and that He was the Bread of Life. The crowd was offended and left Him (John 6:61–66). Jesus turns to His twelve disciples:
Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." [John 6:67-69 NKJV]
The ones that stayed just wanted Jesus, and were happy with Him, not what they could get from Him. There are too many people in this country who follow Jesus because they think He will give them an easy life. The life of a Christian is hard. Jesus pulls no punches, and we shouldn’t either.
Second, help the person see the seriousness of their sin as an offense to a holy God. They must understand that they are a sinner before they ever realize they need a savior. This is done through comparing their sin in front of the mirror of the Ten Commandments. Also check out Hell’s Best Kept Secret, and True and False Conversion which can be read or listened to at Living Waters Ministries.
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