The Gospel Driven Man

by Ralph “Yankee” Arnold

Chapter 1 (Preview)

A DECISION FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN

Every life has a purpose, and the purpose of every person is to find it. One may live for money, power, or fame. But whatever it is, that is what constitutes the purpose for life. The question to ask is “What does God say should be my purpose for living?” Mark 8:35 plainly states the purpose for a Christian’s life.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35)

John 3:16 is a promise to “whosoever” that is lost may be saved and that “whosoeverbelieveth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. This means that anyone who trusts Christ as Savior will have everlasting life. It is a lost person’s choice whether to trust Christ or not for salvation. The wise person will decide to trust Christ as Savior.

Mark 8:35 promises that “Whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, shall save it.” It is a promise that ‘whosoever’ is saved may serve Him and clearly states the purpose for a Christian’s life.  The ‘whosoever’ ’refers to believers–those who know Christ as Savior. This means that believers who will live for Christ and the gospel will save their lives.  This scripture does not refer to salvation but to discipleship.   It states the purpose for one’s life after accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.  So it is a believer’s choice whether to live for Christ and the gospel or whether to live for oneself.  It is a decision each believer must make. God’s purpose for us as believers is clearly stated…”live for My sake and the gospel’s, shall save it.” (Mark 8:35).

What was the purpose of Christ’s life? For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.(Luke 19:10). Christ lived and died for the lost. So to live for Christ’s sake is to live for the sake of the lost.

We should live for the sake of the gospel. The gospel is good news. But good news for whom? It is good news to lost people so that they may know they can have eternal life by trusting in Jesus Christ alone as Savior. The lost person is the one who needs to hear the gospel. So to live for the gospel’s sake is to live for the sake of the lost.

How Do our Lives Profit Those That Are Lost? Is our purpose in life to reach lost souls with the gospel? That is God’s purpose for the Christian’s life. This is the gospel driven life.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, (that you might win souls) by the mercies of God, (that you might win souls) that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, (that you might win souls), holy, (that you might win souls) acceptable unto God, (that you might win souls) which is your reasonable service”.  (Rom. 12:1).

And be not conformed to this world, (that you might win souls) , but be ye transformed, (that you might win souls), by the renewing of your mind, (that you might win souls), that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (that you might win souls). (Rom. 12:2)

Satan, the enemy of man’s soul, will seek to sidetrack every Christian from this one main purpose. If he can keep a person from centering his life on lost souls, he can hinder the spread of the gospel. Satan seeks to keep the lost captive within his kingdom. Therefore, he would rather see a Christian live for any other purpose than seeking the lost.

Riches, power, fame, (or even more, subtly) prayer, Bible study, or edification of believers are some of the purposes for living that Satan would like one to substitute for soul winning. A Christian’s life is made up of many areas: Bible study, prayer, finances, family, work, and church. However, none of these areas are to be the main purpose for living.

Instead, each area is to help accomplish one’s purpose. Each area is to revolve around Christ and the gospel. A flagpole needs guy wires to keep it from falling. That flagpole is Christ. The flag is the gospel. The guy wires represent the areas of a Christian’s life. Take away the flag and the flagpole and there is no purpose for the guy wires.  If we take away Christ and the gospel, there is no purpose for prayer and Bible study. Prayer and Bible study are to make Christians strong to win souls to Christ.  And if we take away Christ and the gospel, then there is no purpose for a good disciplined life. Good disciplined lives will make Christians effective at winning souls. Prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and edification are all important and necessary. But the purpose is to keep the flagpole from falling. These guy wires will keep Christ and the gospel the purpose for living. We must decide if that is our purposes. 

It is a wise decision to live for Christ and gospel because:  

  1. There are rewards in eternity

Christ Himself promises that in living for Him, we will save our life. When we lose interest in our own desires in life and gain the interest and desires for those of Jesus Christ, (the salvation of lost souls and the training of soul winners) it will last for eternity.  Anything else we live for such as riches, power, or fame will be lost at death. Then none of our labors expended will profit us anything.  

King Solomon, a man who turned away from God and decided to live for himself, realized this when he wrote, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecc. 2:11). 

This was the conclusion of one of the most famous, rich and powerful men in the world. All the wealth, power, and fame did not satisfy him, and they did not last. There is something we must give up if we decide to live for Christ and become soul winners. We give up wasted lives.

Paul, the apostle, lived his life for the sake of the lost man. Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (I Cor. 10:33).

What was his conclusion? For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21). Living for the Lord Jesus Christ brought Paul peace and satisfaction in this life and eternal rewards later in heaven. So what did riches of this world have to offer him? “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:” (Matt. 6:19, 20). 

The souls that Paul won to Christ would be his most precious treasure in heaven. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” (I Thess. 2:19, 20). Paul’s life was ‘gain’ because he ‘lost’ it for Christ.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Cor. 5:10).

‘We’ refers to Christians. Every Christian must appear before the judgment seat, not to determine salvation, but rewards.

Only one life t’will soon be past, only what’s done For Christ will last

  1. The lost have a need for the gospel

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.” (I Cor. 9:16). Preaching the gospel is a necessity because there is no other way for the lost to hear it! “…how shall they hear without a preacher?(Rom. 10:14). If they do not hear, how can they believe and be saved? If they do not hear, they will not have the opportunity to escape a literal fire burning hell.

All people are born into this world lost and don’t know the way to heaven. A person lost in a dark cave needs someone to shine a light and reveal the way out. The lost people in this world need Christians to shine the light and reveal the way to heaven. That light is the gospel. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ…should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4).

Satan, the god of this world seeks to hinder the shining of the light of the gospel. Thus he will seek to hinder those (Christians) who are supposed to shine with the light. “For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Cor. 4:6). It is every Christian’s responsibility to give this light to the lost. If the Christian does not shine the light, the lost will not know how to go to heaven. Heaven is real and so is hell. In Luke 16, Christ speaks of two men who died: a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus.

What happened to the rich man? “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…” (Luke 16:23). He was in conscious torment.

The place mentioned in Luke 16 is Sheol or Hades, the place of the departed dead. It was for believers and non-believers. Non-believers entered the place of torment. Believers (before Christ’s death on the cross) entered a place of comfort, a waiting place for them, until Christ would die for their sins so they could enter heaven. The rich man looked over and could see two believers, Lazarus and Abraham. He had two requests. His first request was for Lazarus to be sent to him. That request was denied.

“And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:24).

His second request was for Lazarus to be sent to his brothers. The request was also denied. “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27, 28). People in hell are more concerned about the salvation of their relatives than are most Christians. The rich man, fully aware of the reality of hell, wanted Abraham to send Lazarus as a witness to his brothers. However, this request was also impossible to grant. Lazarus could not be sent, but Christians alive on earth could be sent. We are sent by Christ into the world for the same purpose the Father sent Him into the world. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” John 17:18. Christ was sent to seek and to save the lost, and so are we.

“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (II Cor. 5:11). The fear of the Lord should motivate us to live for Him. The first moment in heaven will reveal to us what the lost will miss by not being there.

The most important thing revealed at the judgment seat of Christ is:  did we or did we not persuade men? The question is whether we will go.  Unless Christians give the light of the gospel, how will the lost know how to get to heaven? The answer to this question makes it plain that preaching the gospel is a necessity. Those who are wise will decide to live for Christ and the gospel.

  1. Christ loves us

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” (II Cor. 5:14, 15). We should live for the one who loves us and gave Himself as a voluntary sacrifice for our sins. Paul was a voluntary ‘love slave’ (bond servant) of Jesus Christ. He declares in Ephesians 4:1 that he is “prisoner of the Lord”. Paul speaks of being free but a prisoner of the Lord.

 His love for the Lord made Paul a prisoner to the desires of the Lord.

After Christ’s resurrection the disciples had become disheartened, so they went fishing. John 21 tells of how Christ appeared to them again. He asked this question of Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15)  Do you love me more than the things of the world? Christ then asked Peter, “Lovest thou me?” (John 21:16) After Peter said yes, Christ said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17) Christ never asked Peter if he loved the sheep. We can’t love the sheep without loving God, and if we love God, we will love the sheep. There are lost sheep to win (I Pet. 2:25) and saved sheep to train (I Pet. 5:2-4). Christ doesn’t want us to serve Him because of our love for the sheep, but because of our love for Him, the Shepherd. Whether or not we feed the sheep depends on whether or not we love the Lord.

If we love Him, then we’ll feed the sheep. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Love commands us. The love we have for our spouses will command us to do the things we need to do without being asked such as laundry, house-cleaning, yard work, etc.  Our love for each other will motivate us to do the things we should and much more. 

Our love for Christ will command us. The question is not whether we love the lost, but whether we love the Lord.  If our answer is the Lord, we will reach the lost because God loves them. We will not just tell them the gospel message. We will do much more. We will devote our lives and souls to reach the lost.  God’s love is shed abroad in our hearts. The lost don’t believe that God loves them. The message that God’s free gift of eternal life is offered to the world is the proof that God really does love them. Let God love the lost through us and our words.

No one can force us to serve the Lord. But we don’t belong to ourselves. We have been bought and paid for by the Lord. Our trouble comes when as a slave to the Lord we try to break away. Satan will then use us. Who will make a better taskmaster? The Lord who loves us? Or Satan who wishes to destroy us?

Everyone’s problem is a love problem. We will not serve the Lord if we do not love Him. But why should we love the Lord? “We love him, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). Jesus’s love compelled Him to sacrifice himself to suffer the anguish and reproach of the cross. Because of this Paul could declare that he was a love-slave of Jesus Christ, “…separated unto the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1).

We should separate ourselves unto the purpose God has for us which is spreading the gospel. It is a wise decision to live for the one who loves us.

(4) God commanded us from above

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). Christ told his disciples to go, and that was a command.  Preaching the gospel is a command of God, not a leading. Paul didn’t feel like witnessing.  It was not what he wanted to do. “For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is still committed unto me.” (I Cor. 9:17 ). Sometimes we may preach the gospel unwillingly. We know we have the ‘dispensation’ (stewardship or responsibility), so we do it because we should. If God says to do it, and we do it because he said to, that is a good enough motive.

A father’s conversation with his son may be something like this:

“Son, go mow the lawn.

“I really don’t want to mow the lawn. I’d rather go meet my friends…but praise your name, most holy righteous father, what is your perfect will for me?” 

“Mow the lawn!” 

“But I can’t mow the yard, my motives are wrong. I don’t want to, so I won’t enjoy it. But praise your name, father, what is your perfect will for me?”  

At that point, the father would most likely force his son to mow the lawn.  Whether he was willing or not, he needed to mow the lawn. 

Whether we are willing or not, we need to tell the gospel. Soldiers don’t stop fighting just because they don’t feel like fighting. Every Christian is a soldier in the Lord’s army, battling for the souls of people.

When we feel like it and when we don’t, we need to spread the good news of salvation. We don’t base our actions on our feelings, but on what God says in Scripture.  Our attitude should be that we will preach the gospel because God tells us to do so.  If we do it unwillingly, we still have results and feelings will often follow. Our joy should come from fulfilling our responsibility. Rewards are given based not only on what we do, but why we do them. A lost person can still be saved, regardless of our motive in sharing the gospel.

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). The disciples had walked with Christ three and one-half years before he sent them out. They had gone out locally, but not into the world.  Christ had given them three and one-half years of Bible training first. There should not be one place they would not go, or one person they would not reach. We may think that just a few people couldn’t win the world.  But God has given us a plan in Matthew 28:19,20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

If we only win people to the Lord, our complete responsibility has not been fulfilled. The Bible says, “Teaching them.” (Matt. 28:19) and is referring to those we have won to the Lord.   We teach them“… To observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”  (Matt. 28:20)  The command was “…Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) So we need to teach those we have won to the Lord to do the same.

The Great Commission was given to the apostles and they gave it to us.  Being a soul winner is a command and was for everyone.

We should pass the command along to every one of God’s children.  If soul winners do not pass it on, the whole process will stop when they die. This has happened on and off through centuries. No one has followed God’s plan in 2,000 years for the world has not been reached.

The Great Commission was given before the Church Age. The church is the body of Christ and is composed of all believers. The command given in Matthew 28:19-20 was given by Christ before the church age and was to begin.  “And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). ‘Tarry ye’ means that we are commanded to go, but we are also commanded to wait. There was a time for them to go, but the time was not yet. He told them when to go. “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me.” (Acts 1:4).

The power from on high’ they were to receive was the Holy Spirit. “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”.  (Luke 24:49) The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian and gives the power necessary to be a soul winner. Every Christian has the ability to win souls. In most cases it is not that a Christian can’t win souls, but that they won’t. God says He has given us the power we need to accomplish the job He has commanded us to do.

The decision to live for Christ and the gospel is one each individual believer must make. And we should live for the sake of the lost person instead of ourselves. Just as we had to decide to trust Christ as our Savior, now we must decide whether or not to live our lives for the salvation of lost souls. We should remember the rewards for eternity, the need of the lost, the love of Christ, and the command from above, as we consider this most important decision in our Christian lives.

The command was given for the Great Commission before the Church age began.  But the disciples were told not to begin until the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers (Acts 1:5). “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

Pentecost is the day the church was born and was the day the command was to begin. The command was given to the church and that is our job. How have we done?

It is my prayer that this will provide the knowledge that will help everyone become   effective servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord placed this treasure in earthen vessels.

  • The gospel is the lens through which we see God.
  • To mar the gospel is to deface the portrait of Christ.
  • To veil the gospel blinds the minds of those we seek.
  • Our love & loyalty to Jesus Christ is revealed by our love & loyalty to the gospel.

More coming soon…