A Word of Challenge to You Who Guide New Believers
Yours is a GREAT work of URGENCY! You are joining an illustrious band of workers that includes even the Apostle Paul, Acts 14:22; 15:36. He plainly says, “Follow me; you do the same!” Philippians 4:9.
Satan will hinder this work. First, he will try to sidetrack you, as he did even Paul, I Thessalonians 2:17,18. Second, the devil will work against those who are opening their lives to the Gospel. Study the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one and catches away that which was sown in his heart.” You may be certain Satan will visit the new convert ahead of you! Get to them IMMEDIATELY. Note very carefully the type things which the Lord says will turn aside a new seeker.
Obviously then, we are no real match for all this – in ourselves. But we can do what Paul did–pray, Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21. Also study John 17 to see how our Chief Shepherd prayed and cared for His struggling lambs. Then, go to them in the grace of God and give confident help, Rom. 8:37; Phil. 4:13.
Keep in mind your ultimate aim. Eph. 4:13; Col. 1 :28, 29 Your very approach to them should make the impression that spiritual concerns are more important than material matters. Always be simple and practical.
- HANDLING THE SCRIPTURE
At first they will need help to get started. Make sure they know how to find chapters and verses and have an understanding of the layout of the Bible.
- AREAS TO CHECK ON AND OFFER HELP
Remember exciting changes in their lives and glowing enthusiasm is NOT reliable proof that all is well. What you are looking for is the very mind, outlook and character of Jesus Christ being formed in them – the fruit of the Spirit. As you meet with them, keep asking yourself, in your own heart, what is their need? Re-claim the sacrifice of Christ? Submit to His rule as Lord? Claim assurance verses? Make restitution for sins? Learn more basic Gospel truth? Practical snags: Need to stop doing certain things or start doing other things? (Be quiet, watchful, confident in your heart. God will bring it to light.) Remember you are working in three basic areas:
You will obviously be very interested in the clarity of their recent confession of Christ. Avoid asking, “D0 you feel really saved?” ‘Rather inquire, “D0 you now truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ ?” And, “ls this a belief you have always had or is it new with you?” (Remember, such questioning is not as vital as what follows, but it might help a bit. At any rate, don’t you pronounce them saved, or give them the assurance. That is the Holy Spirit’s place and He will if you are faithful in teaching the truth, God’s Word.)
Rehearse the Gospel basics: Who is Jesus? Where was He before the manger-birth? How does His death help you? Where is Jesus right now? Remember His coming? (Don’t get bogged down any place on great, involved details!) Keep in mind John 8:32-36. The truth will release them.)
Is there over-confidence: Or, a feeling that mere determination will get them through? (Judas and Peter, Mk. 14:21-31.)
Are they dark-spirited, troubled with lack of trust? Give them promises to claim (1 John 5:11,12 and the like), but do not attempt to take the Spirit’s place. He will help them if there is the seed of faith and you keep to the Word of God.
D0 I sense in them a developing love toward other believers or carnal independence? Notice in the epistles–for example, I Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9,10–the growing love for one another in God’s family. Look for this in each convert. Be uneasy over those who resist the fellowship of the church. A wrong spirit is evident. Give them teaching regarding regular church attendance.
For your own preparation here, read the first part of Matthew 18 and Galatians 5:22,23. This will help you to know what disposition you are looking for.
3. THEIR DAILY LIVING
(I)BIBLE READING AND PRAYER – Help set time & place; how to proceed
Bible–Here is food for our soul, I Peter 2:2,3. This is how God talks to us through the Word. Suggest they begin with book of John usually, though sometimes simpler book of Mark is better. (Be sure they have a Bible.) The Bible is written by books. Do not just open it any place and read. Proceed daily through the book. Explain how to first read it through to see what the words are saying, then go through asking God to speak more personally. Meditate (think over and pray over) any new truth about Jesus the Lord, or any sin pointed out to avoid, or promise to claim.
Prayer—This is how we talk to God, John 16:24. Do not need to talk out loud. Though need a set time daily; seek to remember the Lord’s presence throughout the day. Prayer includes: a)Praise and Thanks for both spiritual and material blessings. Draw examples. Remember Christ’s death and resurrection for us. b)Confession of sin, I John 1:9. c)Requests. Give examples, showing how our entire life’s burdens can be brought to our Father in heaven. School, work, home, health, etc.
(2)WITNESS — Points to make: Who have you told of Christ or of your faith in Him? This is God’s plan for reaching the world, Acts 1 :8. We must do it, Matthew 10:32,33. It gives others a chance to hear and makes us stronger. God can use you where perhaps no one else can reach.
(3)TEMPTATION AND SIN – It is not a sin to be tempted. Even Jesus was. It is a sin to toy with temptation and evil thoughts. Memorize I Corinthians 10:13 and study each phrase. Confess any failure in sin at once. Memorize I John 1:9. This will keep the fellowship right and prevent faith and assurance from being darkened.
(4) HOME RELATIONSHIPS — If a parent, how is the love and discipline coming? Family worship? Is there more openness and sharing, husband and wife? Or, if one is unsaved is there growth in love and respect? If a son or daughter, how is the obedience and respect? The silent witness by attitude?
(5) CHURCH FELLOWSHIP — Commanded by God to gather, Hebrews 10:25 and we need it. Be sure the convert understands your Sunday and prayer meeting schedule. Arrange to meet him at services, as needed.
Instruct regarding baptism, Acts 2:37,38 and 41, showing that those who believed and received were then baptized as a testimony before the world of their new faith. It was a baptism of BELIEVERS. Tell them what your baptism meant to you as you realized you were following the Lord’s own example and specific command, Matthew 28:19. Note that the new believers were then said to be “added unto them,” Acts 2:41. Every convert should desire to be counted among God’s own. Be an active member of the church body, bearing its burdens and sharing its blessings. Help them understand the meaning of the Lord’s Supper.
(6)FINANCES — Lay aside God’s amount first – on a regular, weekly basis, and proportionate to income, I Corinthians 16:2. Study Matthew 6:33 together and have them write out the meaning in their own words. Giving primary concern to finances and things material is called in Scripture covetousness, idolatry and service to Mammon. Explain your church’s plan of offerings and help them get started.
(7)DAILY LIVING PROBLEMS — On the job, are things going better? More faithful? Better disposition?
Housework getting done in better order? Daily schedule? Telephone & TV? School homework better? Chores?
(8)QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES — Teach them to make a 3-fold check on such matters, with reference to: a) JESUS — What would He do? I Peter 2:21 b) YOURSELF — Is it against your higher standards, or doubtful? Romans 14:22,23. Is it enslaving? ICorinthians 6:12 (Note: Corinthian believers were saying “All things are lawful for me.” Paul quotes them twice in this verse and each time adds his reply. The word “power” is “enslavement” in RSV.) c) OTHERS — Is it harmful to others? Romans 14: 21, ICorinthians 8:9, 11, 12
Urgent Final Words
You can’t cover all this at once, obviously. But keep at it, for there will always be those who will seek their destruction, I Peter 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2:18-22; 3:17,18. Sometimes even a phone call, or brief letter might make a big difference.
Be sure to seek out any additional prospects for Christ in the family and immediate circle of friendship.
Look up all the Scripture references in this paper. Be a good, prepared workman for our Lord Jesus Christ.