Five Principles That New Christians Need to Understand to Grow
Here are five basic, biblical principles a new Christian needs to learn and how you can help him.
1. Assurance of Salvation
The most important promise a new believer should cling to is that of eternal life as a gift to those who believe in Christ. One source from God’s word for this promise of salvation is 1 John 5:9-12. John the apostle speaks of “the testimony God has given about his Son,” a testimony which lives in the heart of “anyone who believes in the Son of God.” Verses eleven and twelve (which would serve well as the first verses a new Christian memorizes) clearly state the promise:
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. ”
There will be days when the new believer just won’t feel like he’s a Christian, and his confidence in the Lord will fade. This first testing is the best time for him to learn to base his faith on statements in the Scriptures rather than on his feelings.
In almost fifty years of helping Christians grow, The Navigators have learned to concentrate first with a new believer on five especially important scriptural promises. All five provide in concise form God’s answer to troubling questions that often arise in a new Christian’s mind as Satan increases his attacks questions such as:
* Am I totally forgiven just because I believe in Christ? Can getting to heaven be that simple?
* Does God really hear me when I pray? Will he answer me?
* How can I ever overcome this sin?
* I’ve sinned blown it again. Am I no longer a Christian?
* How can I do God’s will in my life? Will he show me what to do?
There is no subject more important to be well-grounded in. One who doubts merely because of his feelings the salvation won for him by the blood of Christ is ignoring God’s foremost proof of his love. Yet this is a doubt many young Christians experience, pointedly demonstrating their need for understanding and believing scriptural truth.
Approaching this issue with a new believer can be as simple as reading the verse together and asking him, “Where is Jesus Christ now in relation to your life?” If he understands that he indeed has Christ in his life because of his faith, then ask, “How do you know you have eternal life?” Help him see from 1 John 5:11-12 that having Christ and having eternal life are one and the same. Use other passages too as you talk about this promise from God such as John 1:12, John 5:24, John 10:27-30, and 1 John 5:13.
2. Assurance of Answered Prayer
It was the night before Jesus’ death. Yet as he spoke to his disciples he was preparing them not so much for this tragic separation just hours away, but for the later time when he would ascend triumphantly into heaven, and the disciples, empowered by the Spirit of truth, would remain on earth. He spoke to them in new ways about prayer prayer in which they would be intimately involved with him even though he would physically leave them and return to heaven. In John 16:23 he said, “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” They had not previously prayed this way, as he reminded them in the following verse, but now he invited them to gladly do so:
“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24).
It’s an invitation each new believer can accept. And you can help him by simply praying with him, opening your hearts together before God. But first discuss the meaning of praying in Jesus’ name recognizing that God hears our prayers when we ask them in Christ’s authority and on Christ’s merit. Other verses on prayer you may want to review together include Matthew 7:7-8, 1 John 15:7, and 1 John 5:14-15.
3. Assurance of Victory
New Christians express relief and excitement when they first experience release from the sins that had such a stronghold on their life before. But they may later be wearily disappointed that many sins don’t leave so easily. God wants us to carefully learn how to appropriate his power in overcoming sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul issued a warning by citing grim examples from Israel’s history about sin and its consequences. But then he reminded the Corinthians that the all too familiar pattern of temptation leading to sin can be broken because of God’s faithful provision:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
These are words every Christian should have ready in his heart and mind when those certain temptations come. God is faithful. He will provide a way out. You can stand up under any temptation.
Talk together with a new Christian about the temptations each of you frequently face, and think about the ways of escape God can provide in these situations. Pray for each other that you will recognize and follow the way out which God gives. Other good verses on this topic include Proverbs 22:3, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, and James 4:7.
4. Assurance of Forgiveness
God is perfectly sinless. As John put it in his first epistle, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). And though we are sinners, John wrote that through Jesus Christ we can live in God’s light and have fellowship with him, because “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin” (John 1:7).
How do we experience this purification? First of all, as we read further in this passage, the absolutely wrong thing to do is to try to hide sin. By doing so, John said, we deceive ourselves and, in effect, make God out to be a liar. No, the right thing to do because of God’s character is confession:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Help a new Christian realize the shamefulness of hiding sin, and the foolishness of it since God so completely forgives and cleanses us when we confess what we and God know already. It may hurt to be honest, but in the end it results in our good. Pray together and confess any sins that God brings to your minds. Other passages you may want to look over are Psalm 32:5, Ephesians 1:7, and James 5:16.
5. Assurance of Guidance
We have all known uncertainty and, to some extent, anxiety and fear about the future. But these are feelings God wants us to totally abandon:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The Scriptures abound with promises like this. God will guide the one whose heart is his. Other verses that show this are Psalm 23:3, Romans 12:2, and Jude 24.
Major decisions and difficult circumstances await all of us in life, and the new Christian you are helping is no exception. Perhaps a first step in overcoming any anxiety he may have is for you to have him list any current decisions to be made and problems to be solved in his life. Ask him to list anything at all that causes him major concern. Make the list as complete as possible.
God may want him to take some specific action on some of the things he lists. This will be more obvious now that they are written down. But on many things there may be no action he can take except to pray with you now, acknowledging reliance on God and trust in his goodness and power. These are things he can be sure of, no matter how uncertain the future looks.
This article “Five Principles That New Christians Need to Understand to Grow” by Neal White was excerpted from: www.discipleshipjournal.org website. October 2009. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes ‘Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.’