What is motivationalism? This term will be used as kin to moralism, but from a different aspect. Moralism is the idea of teaching the morals of the Bible without basing them on the gospel. This is a fancy way of sending people to hell. Under moralism, church-goers know how they are supposed to live, but not why they are supposed to live out the scriptures. Motivationalism will be used accordingly: the essence of using God’s word, allegories, or other inspirational stories to motivate Christian living without basing life upon the Gospel.

Is the Gospel really that important? Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.” The Gospel is God’s power for salvation, not being motivated to live according to Biblical standards for a period of time.

God’s word is often used to promote Christian living somehow apart from the Gospel. Few expositors of the Word manage to effectively select few promises for God’s elect to entice others while neglecting the metanarrative of the Bible (the gospel).

There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away ;all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one. Romans 3:11-12

This scripture is often used as the backup for the noetic effect  of sin. Amidst radical corruption, sin clouds even the judgment of mankind that there is “no man who seeks God”. How then can so many unsaved sit in churches that effectively preach the gospel? Men desire the things God offers. More than just prosperity gospel, mankind desires a satisfying love and maybe even a faith “to die for”. How does one die for the gospel in which he does not believe? Motivationalism. Motivating congregations to die for the gospel should only rest on the foundation of the gospel.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

The real danger of motivationalism: depart from Me. Christ Himself declares this phrase to those whom were motivated to act for Christ based upon the wrong foundation. Motivationalism sends people to Hell for the very thing that could have saved them.


Jake Fowler