The Missionary Motive
The Missionary Motive | Dr. Adrian Rogers
In the few moments that we have left, I want you to be finding a passage of Scripture. Turn, please, to Romans chapter 9. When you’ve found it, look up here. This morning, we talked about the world’s greatest missionary, and we talked about his call. Tonight, I want to talk about his motivation because, in a very real way, the way that God called Paul is the way that He might call you or me, whether it’s here or overseas. And the very things that motivated Paul ought to motive us. Motivation is very, very important. You will achieve according to your motivation.
There’s an old story of a man who was in the woods, and he turned around and saw a ferocious grizzly bear sniffing at his tracks. The man started to run, and the bear began to run behind him, and the man could feel the warm, moist breath of that bear on the nap of that man’s neck. He could almost hear the wind as it whistled as the bear was making great swipes with those massive paws and those great claws. The man said, “I’m going to die in the grasp of this awful bear.” But then he saw a limb that went across the pathway in front of him. He though, You know, if I could just possibly jump up and grab that limb, I might be able to swing free and escape this bear. But as he got closer, he realized the limb must have been at least fifteen feet off the ground. He thought, Even the greatest basketball player can’t jump that high. But he said, “I’ve got to. I’ve just got to. If I don’t, I’ll die.” He said, “It’s impossible, but I’m going to give it a try.” And he made a tremendous, tremendous effort and leaped for all he was worth, but he missed the limb, but he caught it on his way back down! The thing has to do with motivation.
If you want to see what made Paul the great soul winner that he was, you can find his motivation in these verses, Romans 9:1-3. Listen to it. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Now the apostle Paul had the greatest mission. He had the greatest message. And he had the greatest master. His mission was missions. His message was salvation. His master was the Lord Jesus Christ. And as a result, he gives us a glimpse into his heart in these three verses. Now I want to tell you very quickly. I realize the time is short, and I will not keep you long. But I pray God that the shortness of the message will really increase the impact. And I pray God that what I have to say about the thing that burdened and motivated Paul’s heart will burden and motivate my heart and your heart, whether or not God calls you to be a missionary in Albania or whether God calls you to be a missionary at high school or in the law office wherever you are, that God will motivate you.
Paul had a concern for the lost. Now what kind of a concern was it? First of all, it was a conscientious concern. He said, “I say the truth in Christ, my conscience also bearing witness….” He had a conscientious concern. Now, if I were to ask you tonight a rhetorical question, how many tonight have a burden for the world? How many tonight have a burden for the nations represented by these flags? How many have a burden for those represented by those black flags there that don’t have really much witness at all? How many have a burden for the man next door or my school mate or lost family members? If I were to ask that question rhetorically, or ask you to lift your hand, I dare say almost everybody, if not everybody, here would lift your hand because it’s the thing to do. I mean, that’s expected of us.
But I wonder this: I wonder if, while we lifted our hand, we might not have a twinge of conscience. Listen to what he said now. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” I wonder if you said tonight that you’re burdened for a lost world, would your conscience say you’re telling a lie. You know, it’s easy to talk missions.
I had an evangelist friend who was staying in the home of a lady who headed the Missionary Society in her church. They were having a revival crusade at the church. And this lady said to the evangelist, “I will not be at the evangelistic crusade, the meeting that you’re having.” She said, “We’re having a meeting of our Mission Society, so I can’t come to the crusade.” He said, “Well, I think that you ought to put aside all meetings because the church is in a church-wide evangelistic crusade, and everybody ought to be in the crusade.” She began to lecture him. She said, “Young man, missions is very important. You may not understand it, but we’re meeting with our ladies to study and to pray for the world.” And she lectured him about not having a missionary heart. You know what he said to her? He said, “That’s all right.” Now he was a guest in the home, and this sounds mighty rude. But he said, “That’s all right. You go to the mission meeting, and you talk about missions, and you pray about missions, and you study about missions, but you don’t care about missions.” She said, “Why do you say that?” He said, “I’ve been staying here in your home.” He said, “Yesterday, I asked your maid if she were a Christian. She said no. I asked her if she wanted to be. She said yes.” He said, “I’ve led your maid to Jesus Christ. Your maid’s been saved. I asked your maid if you’d ever once witnessed to her about Jesus. She said not one time.”
Now, here was a woman talking about missions, praying about missions, studying about missions, and failing to witness. Now, if you think that I’m talking Mission Societies down or ladies praying about missions, if you think that I’m talking that down, you’ve missed what I’m saying 100%. I’m just saying it’s one thing to say we have a burden for the lost. But when we say that we have a burden for the lost, I wonder if we have a life that backs it up? Paul said, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not; my conscience also bears witness.” The thing that made the apostle Paul the great soul winner that he was is that he had a conscientious concern for souls.
I’ll tell you something else he had for souls. He had a compassionate concern. Look again. He says in verse 2: “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” May I ask you a question? Do you weep over the lost? Do you weep over this city? Do you weep over the members of your family, your kinsfolk that are not saved? When was the last time you literally shed tears over souls that are mortgaged to the devil? Jesus was a man of tears. The apostle Paul was a man of tears. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, was a man of tears. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Would to God that the things that break the heart of Jesus would break the heart of Adrian and the hearts of others that are here tonight! The Bible says, “When we go forth and weep, bearing precious seed, we shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us.”
Now let me say this about a compassionate concern. Where are you going to get the compassion? What would cause a person to weep over lost souls? Because we want the church to grow? That’s not good enough. Because America’s in trouble and America needs to be redeemed? That’s not enough. Because of staging sagging statistics? That’s not enough. Because of our failing reputation? That’s not enough. What would cause us, what would cause us to have a compassionate concern? We have to have the spirit of Christ. The apostle Paul said, “I say the truth in Christ, in Christ…” It is to be in Christ and Christ in you, to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. Jesus, when He saw the multitudes, the Bible says, He was moved with compassion. If the spirit of Jesus is in you, the things that break Jesus’ heart will break yours. And I’m telling you, the heart of Jesus is broken over this city, and the heart of Jesus is broken over this world. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not. I have great heaviness. I have continual sorrow.” We need to learn how to weep over lost souls.
“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come against with rejoicing.” I wonder sometimes in our service why we’re not more concerned. Sometimes I will preach and tear my heart out and give an invitation and there are some in this congregation who are anxious to get away. They’re gathering materials. They’re looking. They’re thumbing. They’re heading for the door, trying to get out, rather than weeping and praying for lost souls. Somebody next to you in a, in a service like this may spend eternity in hell if they don’t receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. I believe that one of the greatest indictments against the modern church is somebody has described it as a dry-eyed church in a hell-bent world.
The apostle Paul had a conscientious concern. His conscience bore him witness. He had a compassionate concern. He said, “I have great sorrow and continual heaviness and great sorrow in my heart.”
I’ll tell you something else he had. He had a continual concern. Look, if you will, in verse 2: “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow….” Now what happens is this: We come to a service like this. We see what we saw this morning, or we see what we saw tonight. We hear somebody give a testimony. We hear a message from the Word of God, and we get moved emotionally. But no sooner do we get back to the ballgame, get back to the news, get back to the television, get back to the newspaper, back to the job, back to the club, back to the sports, or whatever it is, we lose that concern. Paul said, “I have continual sorrow.” It never left him. Part of our problem is, very frankly, folks, we get motivated for just a little while and we run hot and then we run cold. We need to have a continual soul conscientiousness. Every person we see every day we need to ask ourself this question: Is he saved or lost? Do I have an opportunity to move that man, that woman, that boy, that girl closer to the Lord Jesus Christ?
How many of you remember Brother Tom Clayton? Used to be on our staff here. Most of you remember Brother Tom Clayton. Brother Tom Clayton told me a story. He said, “One time, Pastor, I was going on a trip,” and he said “I had traveled by automobile and airplane. I just decided I would go on the train. I had not ridden a train for a long time.” And he said, “I decided I would go on the train.” And he said, “I found myself sitting next to a woman.” He said, “I don’t think I could really call her a lady. She was a nightclub hostess.” He said, “She was heavily made up.” The way Tom described it to me, he said, “She look like she’d put her makeup on with a trowel.” And she said she was heavily made up. And she, her face was very hard. She was looking straight ahead. Brother Tom said, “I decided I would witness to that woman. And I turned to her and asked her about the things of God and spiritual things that made her very uncomfortable. And in trying to escape,” she said, ‘You’ll have to pardon me. I’m going to go to the diner and get something to eat.” He said, “That’s all right, I’ll go with you,” and got up and went with her. You have to know Brother Tom Clayton to appreciate this. And sat down there in the diner and continued to press the claims of Christ on her with an open Bible. After a while, the finger of God touched her and the mascara started to flow, and she got under conviction and said she wanted to be saved. And so he prayed with her. And there in that diner she prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into her heart and to save her. Now, sitting next to her and to Brother Tom Clayton was a Jewish man and two Jewish women. They were doing what you would have been doing. They were eavesdropping. They were listening to this man talk to this woman with an open Bible and pray with her and watched her begin to weep. Then she wanted to know what was going to happen now and how a Christian should grow. I had just preached a sermon on the Middle East and prophecy and what was going to happen in the Middle East, and Brother Tom began to tell her about the fulfillment of prophecy. And he began to talk to her about Israel and the Jews. He didn’t know this was a Jewish man and two Jewish women. So they tuned in all the more. After a while, this man could stand it no longer. He interrupted the conversation. He said, “How do you know all of that?” He said, “I’ve been reading my Old Testament. Come here. Let me show you.” And began in the Old Testament and witnessed to that man and told that man about Jesus Christ. And he said, “Messiah is coming. Not the first time; He’s coming the second time. He’s already been here.
He is the Messiah of Israel and He wants to be your Savior. And the same Jesus that has just saved this woman will save you. Would you like to be saved?” Do you know what this man said? He said, “I would.” He said, “All right,” he said, “I want you to pray after me.” The two Jewish women said, “Can we pray, too?” He said, “That’ll be fine. If you want to pray,” he said, “just bow your heads.” And they’d seen this woman pray. And he started to lead them in the sinner’s prayer. And a man sitting at another table said, “Wait a minute. I have been listening to all that’s been going on.” He said, “This is my daughter. Could I pray and my daughter, could she pray with you when you pray?” And there going down the railroad tracks was a revival meeting: a nightclub hostess, a Jewish man, two Jewish women, a man and his daughter praying to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. Now, I wish something like that would happen to me every day. It doesn’t, and, but I want to tell you, folks, there are opportunities all around to share Jesus Christ. And if you say that people are not hungry to know Jesus Christ, you’re telling on yourself. You’re telling that you don’t know. You’re telling that you don’t witness. I am telling you, folks, that we need a continual burden night and day. We need to be instance in season, out of season.
Now, what motivated Paul? He had a conscientious concern. He could tell the truth when he said, “I’m concerned.” He had a compassionate concern. He had a broken heart. He had a continual concern. It wasn’t something that happened every so often. And I want to tell you this: He had a costly concern. Look, if you will, to what he said here in this verse. It’s amazing. Verse 3. For he says, “For I could wish myself were accursed from Christ my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Now what does he mean by that? How could he be accursed from Christ? What did he mean? Well, in plain English, let me tell you what it means. Paul said, “I would be willing to go to hell if my Jewish brothers and sisters could be saved.” That’s what it means. “I could wish myself accursed from Christ if they could be saved.” Now, such a thing is impossible. Number one: Paul was saved and there was no way he could go to hell. Number two: Had he gone to hell, it would have done them no good. But what is Paul saying? Paul was saying, “Any time, anywhere, any cost.” Paul was saying, ‘I would be willing to go to hell if they might go to heaven.” I don’t understand that. I don’t think I’ve ever come to that place where I’ve said that. I probably never will. But I want you to understand something about the heart of the apostle Paul. Why, how could Paul say this? I’ll tell you how Paul could say this. Paul was so full of the Lord Jesus Christ that was the spirit of Christ because, friend, that’s exactly what Jesus did. Jesus took our hell that we might take His heaven. That’s, that’s, that’s Calvary. That’s what Paul is talking about. Paul is saying, “I would be willing to bear their sin, to bear their grief, to bear their guilt, to bear their shame, to bear their sorrow, to bear their separation.”
Do you ever really believe that people are lost? We’re not just talking about making Baptists out of people, not just getting more people into our club. Folks, when you lead a soul to Christ, you take them from eternal torment. You give them a new heart, or God does. And you bring them to heaven. We’ve got to understand what it means to have the missionary’s heart.
Now as we close our World Missions Conference, and I am just going to collapse this message down to these few moments, but I want to ask you do the things that motivated the apostle Paul motivate you? Do you tonight, my beloved brother or sister in Christ; do you have a conscientious concern for souls? Do you? Do you? I’m not asking if you could answer rhetorical question and say yes. I’m saying, does your conscience say amen or does your conscience tell you that you’re lying when you say you’re concerned about souls? Do you have a compassionate concern? Is your heart broken over a lost world? Do you have a continual concern? And do you have a costly concern?
We have so much here at Bellevue, but we’re not doing much with it. The early church had so little and they did so much. What was it all about? Jesus went up, the Holy Spirit came down, the Christians went out, and the lost came in.