While motivation is the desire or reason a person has for doing something for someone, preparation involves an action to get ready so that things can be accomplished. Motivation has to do with something that causes or propels us to act. Preparation makes it possible for the plans to happen. While Jesus and what He has done for us provide our motivation for mission (Rom 5:8), He also has entrusted us with His Spirit, thus enabling us to accomplish His will and mission mandate (Matt. 28:18–20; John 14:15–31; John 20:21, 22).
“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, NIV) denotes cause and effect, the reason that motivates us to respond and to act. As we respond to God’s love, we do so by proclaiming and living out in words and deeds the good news that Jesus is our Savior and Lord! Our sharing of the truth, as contained in His Word, will fall on receptive ears and will yield much fruit as the Spirit works. At the same time, we must be prepared for the rejection of the Word by many, causing yet others to lose hope.
The Missionary God
“The story of God’s mission to lost humanity is the greatest story ever told. The story begins in the Old Testament immediately after the Fall of Adam and Eve and continues through the patriarchal period and the history of Israel. The Gospels record the central event of God’s mission—Christ’s birth, ministry, atoning death, resurrection, and ascension. The biblical story continues in the book of Acts and the Epistles, with the launching of the Christian church, and ends with the apocalyptic climax of God’s mission in Revelation. God’s mission is the central narrative of the whole biblical canon, from Genesis to Revelation.”—Gorden R. Doss, Introduction to Adventist Mission (Berrien Springs, MI: Department of World Mission, 2018), p. 1.
The “Bible’s grand metanarrative . . . shows God working on a comprehensive project to restore His Earth and His whole cosmos to its original, perfect state. The narratives of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, describe aspects of God’s cosmic mission project. The overall theme is that the sovereign, gracious, loving Triune God initiated his mission and He will bring it to full completion.”—Page 22.
Thus, the story of redemption motivates us to both prepare and engage in God’s mission, in God’s story. As a missionary God, our Father cares and wants to bless others through us; therefore, He has commanded us to go to all people, languages, tribes, and nations.
So, why does Christ command us to go and preach the gospel? Why does God need you motivated for, and prepared to join Him in, mission? Some of these reasons can be found in the book Passport to Mission (Berrien Springs, MI: Institute of World Mission, 2009), pp. 28–36. Here is an adapted summary:
Jesus Is the Unique Source of Life and Salvation, and People Need to Know About Him.
• John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life” (NIV).
• Acts 4:12: “ ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ ” (NIV).
• 1 John 5:12: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (NKJV).
Jesus Is the Divine Son of God.
Jesus does not claim to be only a good teacher (like other religious leaders) or a great leader (like Moses or David) or some kind of half-god or lesser god (as we find in other religions). No other major religion claims divinity for its founder.
• Jesus claims full divinity—that is, equality with God (John 8:58, 59; John 10:30–33).
• Jesus’ disciples also proclaimed His divinity fearlessly (Matt. 16:14–16). The proof that they gave for their claims was the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:14–20). If God raised Jesus, what Jesus said, therefore, must be true.
Jesus Offers a Unique Salvation—Salvation by Grace Through Faith.
• “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9, NIV).
No other world religion has such a salvation. Other religions indeed may set high standards, promote ethical behavior, tout health laws, extol a lofty philosophy, or produce nice people. But these religions also believe that people can save themselves by what they do! The foundation of these non-Christian religions is that salvation comes by works.
Jesus Offers a Universal Salvation—All-Inclusive and Exclusive.
• “ ‘For God so loved the world . . . that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ ” (John 3:16, NIV).
The offer of salvation includes everyone in the world. The truth is that God wants all people to hear the message—the good news that God offers a free salvation based on this unique Jesus. In the Great Commission, Jesus makes it clear that we can have a part in sharing this good news with others.
If someone were to ask you why you are a Seventh-day Adventist and what motivates you for mission, what would you say? How does the uniqueness and singularity of the Seventh-day Adventist message motivate us for mission to the world?
Though most of the individual beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists are shared by some Christians, the full “package” of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs is unique among Christian groups. Here are three convictions that guide what we believe and how we are motivated, are prepared, and see our mission.
Conviction 1: Jesus is coming back a second time—this coming is visible, literal, and imminent (soon). Before Adventism got started, most Christians either did not believe in a literal coming or de-emphasized it. Many of these Christians were postmillennialists. Postmillennialists believed that there would be a millennium, or 1,000 years, of peace and prosperity, and then Jesus would come. What people looked for and labored for was this millennium, not the Second Coming. Seventh-day Adventists believe, based on the Bible, that the real hope of the world is not an earthly millennium but the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) of Jesus’ second coming.
Below is a summary of our beliefs about the Second Coming:
• Seventh-day Adventists accept and proclaim the promises of the Second Coming (John 14:1–3; Rev. 22:7, 12, 20).
• This coming is literal (Acts 1:11).
• The Second Coming is portrayed as visible (Matt. 24:30, Rev. 1:7).
• All signs point to a near, soon, imminent coming. Jesus, again and again, used the word “soon” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20; Matt. 24:4–28; Luke 21:7–28).
• God’s people will see Jesus (John 14:3) and will be with Him forever (1 Thess. 4:17).
• The dead will be raised (1 Thess. 4:13–16), and believers will receive immortality (1 Cor. 15:53).
• Tears, mourning, and death will be abolished (Rev. 21:3, 4).
This message is important for our mission today, as many need to hear the good news of the blessed hope. The biggest challenge we face, however, is the non-Christian world. Millions, if not billions, of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of traditional religions have never heard of this hope. We must tell them. Jesus wants them to hear about His coming.
Conviction 2: God calls believers to loving obedience and serious discipleship. In light of Jesus’ coming, we need to make serious preparation. Faithful, obedient discipleship is important. Adventists always have believed that Jesus is our Savior. We have always emphasized that true faith is manifested in making Jesus also Lord. People saved by Jesus should gladly make Him Lord and in gratitude follow Him. We believe that both the gospel and God’s law are vital and go together harmoniously like the two oars of a boat. The law leads us to Christ and serves as our standard. Jesus releases us from the law’s condemnation, and His Spirit writes the law on our hearts. For this reason, Adventists:
• Support the whole Ten Commandments, including the neglected Sabbath fourth commandment, believing that Jesus gave it at Creation (Gen. 2:2), reiterated it in the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:8–11), and reinforced it during His ministry (Mark 2:27).
• Believe the Sabbath is a powerful symbol of God’s creating power (Gen. 2:2, Exod. 20:8–11), saving grace (Exod. 20:2, Deut. 5:12–15), and the final rest of redemption in heaven (Heb. 4:1–11, especially verse 9).
• Accept the Lordship of Christ in all areas of life, including marriage and family, dress, recreation, diet, and so on (Eph. 5:21–6:4; Phil. 4:8, 9; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 1 Tim. 2:8–10).
In a world where disregard for any standards of morality and decency abound, Adventist Christianity should promote a holy life. In a world where hurry and haste lead to high levels of stress, Christians under the Lordship of Christ can find joy and rest in the Sabbath. They should demonstrate in their lives both the saving power and the Lordship of Jesus.
Conviction 3: God restores in believers the wholeness of life in Christ. Christians do not go to heaven as disembodied souls. The Second Coming restores all of life. Believers should prepare for the Second Coming as whole people. God wants to restore us as whole people. Salvation involves every part of life and being. Jesus wants us to live full and complete lives. In John 10:10, He says, “ ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ ” (NIV). Our motivation and preparation for mission is needed more than ever in a world that is sick, addicted, and living in ignorance, a world desperately in need of the message of Jesus who cares for, and ministers to, all parts of our life. A dying world needs the hope of new life lived to its fullness by God’s grace and power.
As the believer awaits Jesus’ second coming, he or she does so by studying God’s Word and singing His praises in fellowship with the body of Christ (the church) while preparing for dedicated service to fellow humanity. There should be no idleness, no time to spare, as every moment is used for preparation and engagement in God’s mission. We press forward believing His promises. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9, NKJV).
How would our lives look if we put into practice the thoughts of the paragraph above? Can we get motivated and prepared by hearing God’s Word? Explain. Does engaging in God’s service prepare us for mission? Discuss.
Do you really believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God who offers us the blessing of wonderful salvation, which is a gift? If yes, why? Has this message motivated you and made a difference in your life? If so, how? How did this message affect the mission of the original disciples? How has it affected, and how should it affect, your mission?
Have we as a church always presented our unique message as it relates to Jesus in a way that motivates us to mission? Explain. What more can we do to prepare and improve in this area?