Motivation for Evangelism

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While at Shepherd’s Conference this past week, Art Azurdia spoke on Matthew 28:18-20 (“The Great Commission” passage) concerning evangelism. Of all the sessions I went to, this one caught my attention most. Not really sure why, but since that sermon I have pondered: “what is the motivation for evangelism?” Well, after much thought and Bible reading, I think I have narrowed down the motivation God has given. In this case, I have found 5-motivations. So, I want to give you these. It will be in a raw form and more can be said bout each. For now, I desire for the Bible speak on its own. Then, at the end of this post, I will list some helpful resources for your own study.

MOTIVATION #1: WE ARE COMMANDED TO 

Matt 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Mark 16:15, “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”

Luke 24:46-48, “He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses … ”

John 20:21, “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent me, I also send you.’”

 Acts 1:8, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

2 Cor 5:14-20, the Apostle Paul describes a Christian as someone who is “compelled” by the love of Christ to urge others to come to faith in Jesus.

1 Peter 3:15, the purpose of being saved is that the believer is ready at any moment to evangelize.

R.C. Sproul Jr sums up: “Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to wash behind their ears or to remember to send thank-you cards after Christmas. No, Jesus tells His disciples to bring in the lost, to go to the four corners of the world that all the elect might be redeemed, forgiven, adopted.”[1]

MOTIVATION #2: GOD DESIRES ALL TO BE SAVED 

Regardless of what you believe about election and predestination, you cannot avoid the following text concerning God’s desire for ALL people to be saved from the wrath to come:

1 Tim 2:4, “[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

 Ezek 18:23, “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

 Matt 23:37, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

John Piper is helpful here: “As a hearty believer in unconditional, individual election, I also rejoice to affirm that there is a real sense in which God does not take pleasure in the perishing of the impenitent, that he desire to gather all the rebellious … and that he has compassion on all people.” He concludes by stating, “this is not double talk.”[2]

In case you think Piper is the only Calvinist who holds to this position, read John Calvin himself: “The preaching of the gospel gives life; and hence [Paul] justly concludes that God invites all equally to partake salvation.”[3]

MOTIVATION #3: GOD IS ABLE TO SAVE ALL WHO COME

John 6:35 & 40, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst … For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life.'”

Saul of Tarsus was probably the hardest person toward the gospel that has ever lived (1 Tim 1:13-15). Yet, Jesus saved him on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. If Jesus can save someone who is actively against Jesus, actively hating Jesus’ church, actively killing God’s people, then God is able to save anyone. Mic drop for Jesus.

MOTIVATION #4: THE GOSPEL IS THE ONLY WAY ANY CAN BE SAVED

Mark 8:34-35, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

John 14:6, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'”

2 Tim 1:7-10,  For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

1 Peter 1:18-19, “you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

 MOTIVATION #5: IT IS OUR GREAT PRIVILEGE TO EVANGELIZE

In Romans 10, after speaking about salvation and that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” the apostle Paul says that they only way people will hear and be saved is if God’s people go and tell them. God doesn’t need us to save people, but He gives all His people the unspeakable privilege of carrying the message of redemption in Christ to a lost world. What a privilege! And this is why Paul says “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things.”

HELPFUL RESOURCES ON EVANGELISM

  • Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J.I. Packer
  • The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, by Mark Dever
  • Honest Evangelism, by Rico Tice
  • Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully, by John MacArthur
  • Christ’s Kingdom Commission, by David J. Andersen
  • Intentional: Evangelism that takes People to Jesus, by Paul Williams

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[1] R.C. Sproul, Jr., “Heralding the Good News,” TableTalk, June 2012, 26.

[2] John Piper, Does God Desire All to Be Saved? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 15.

[3] Calvin Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

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About Greg Peterson

Greg received his B.A. from Moody Bible Institute in Bible & Theology and his M. Div and Th. M. from The Master's Seminary. Greg has served in various areas of the church, including youth, senior adults, events, and choir. Greg currently serves as the Youth Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Springdale, AR. Greg is married to Michelle and looks forward to one day being blessed with children.