Summary: Thesis: Believers are best motivated from within.

Thesis: Believers are best motivated from within.



a. "We tried a visitation program here but it didn't work."

b. "I started a daily BS & prayer time but things kept coming up."

c. "We tried knocking on doors but we never could get enough people."

d. "I tried having a weekly Bible Study in my home but it fizzled out."

2. From mouth of a 1st cent. rabbi comes a challenging response to these 20th cent. problems!

a. Who is that rabbi? (Jesus? Paul?)

b. None other than Gamaliel--an unbelieving Jew!


A. Best known as Paul's teacher (Acts 22:3).

1. Prominent Pharisee rabbi--greatly revered in his day ... and after!

2. Mentioned in a number of sources outside the New Testament.

3. Main guy in Pharasaic Judaism prior to A.D. 70.

B. Insight into Gamaliel's wisdom--Jewish council (Acts 5).

1. Prior to this Peter & John had been arrested (Acts 3-4).

2. Warned not to preach in name of Jesus (Acts 4:18-21).

3. Arrested again and brought before Sanhedrin (Acts 5:27-32).

4. Gamaliel's advice (Acts 5:33-40).


A. Is this a true statement?

1. Yes! (Tower of Babel; Saul in 1 Samuel; Israel in captivity).

2. Truly, "if God is for us who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31).

3. If an activity is of God it will succeed; if not, it will fail.

B. Our ability to recognize hand of God will largely depend on how we define success.

1. Man: John the Baptist, Paul, even Jesus were "failures."

2. God: Looks at two important measures:

a. TRUTH: is it right?

b. FAITHFULNESS: are we faithful?


A. Our motivation will reveal whether or not our efforts are "of God."

1. What we do is important; why we do what we do is even more important! (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

a. This is why a strictly "rules approach" to the Christian life will not work.

b. Rules are limited in what they can accomplish (Col. 2:20-23).

2. Nothing wrong with rules, as long as we are already motivated to obey them.

B. All of this is to call into question a common approach taken by many churches.

1. Establish a program of work; expect everybody to get on board.

2. It won't work because the motivation is external to the individual.

a. Programs are good--but they are lousy motivators.

b. Illust. Look at what the disciples were doing in Acts 5:42. Was it because they had a visitation and personal work program? Are you kidding? Just been flogged! (v. 40). Their motivation was to be faithful to Jesus! Instituting a program is often an admission that the work is not being done--otherwise you wouldn't need a program.

c. Programs are best seen as ways to coordinate & better accomplish work our love for God has already motivated us to do!

d. When programs themselves become the motivation--it is no longer of God and it won't last long!


1. When hearts are filled with a desire to obey God a church doesn't need to be pleaded with, prodded, cajoled, enticed, or hear nasty sermons to be active.

2. And all kinds of good things will happen. Remember what Gamaliel says: "If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop it!"

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO

Talk about it...

Mrs Jacqueline R Stewart

commented on Oct 26, 2013

If their purpose or activity is of human origin -It will fail; but if from God, you will not be able to stop it. Does this mean that the 9/11 attack was from God? Did God want to send Americans a message about our lifestyle?

Join the discussion