FIRST STEPS FOR NEW CHRISTIANS: Part 1
Believing on Christ is the first step on an awesome journey with God. So what’s next? Let’s look at some first steps for new Christians. These first steps will help new Christians begin and continue moving forward.
At the same time, some of these are more than just first steps for new Christians. They stand to benefit any Christian who hasn’t been living a consecrated life (a life devoted to God). Believers grow by doing these things. Likewise, whenever a believer backslides (pulls or drifts away from God), it begins with spiritual laziness in one or more of these areas.
NEW WAYS FOR NEW CHRISTIANS
Everyone needs the Gospel! And everyone who believes the Gospel also needs discipleship! Without it, we would be a bunch of confused, worldly believers.
I know what it’s like to come to Christ and, without support, continue piercing myself with sorrows. (Read My Story.) This is my best counsel for new and old Christians alike: follow these steps, with a right heart toward God.
We have received new life in order that “we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4) Jesus Christ died so that you would live–for Him. “And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) This doesn’t happen without effort, though. It begins with God’s grace and continues as you draw closer to Him each day.
A NEW SPIRIT FOR NEW CHRISTIANS
At the moment of salvation, each believer receives the Holy Spirit. He indwells us, which means He lives in us. He helps us understand God’s word. He helps us identify right and wrong. He helps us perceive God’s specific will for each of us. His work in us is never done on this side of eternity.
However, as co-laborers with Christ, we work too. “For we are laborers together with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:9) We do not work to be saved; salvation is a gift. Rather, we give our best efforts to God out of love, because He gave us His best (His only Son) to save us. And He takes our spiritual offering and stretches it, like the fish and loaves, with amazing results.
On the other hand, it’s possible to grieve the Holy Spirit in us too. We all fall short in many ways. Yet a Christian can disobey so often that his heart grows callous. He ignores the Spirit’s gentle voice until he can’t even hear it anymore. (If any Christian’s life doesn’t evidence God’s continuing work, that person should question whether He ever gave himself to Christ in the first place.)
SEVEN FIRST STEPS
We want to move Christward. So let’s proceed with these first steps for new Christians. This is a list of seven things that you should do right away. The first step is a one-time event. The second step is a long-term commitment. The rest of the steps are given in Part 2 on the next page.
1. GET BAPTIZED ASAP
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27) Baptism is a symbol. Going under the water illustrates the death of our old selves. Coming back out of the water illustrates our spiritual rebirth, through faith in Jesus Christ, and our future resurrection.
Baptism is an early act of obedience for the new believer too. It doesn’t save, but Jesus Christ set the example for us to follow. (Matthew :3:13-17) Willingly refusing it, or delaying it unnecessarily, demonstrates lack of submission and repentance toward God. “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)
2. JOIN A LOCAL, BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCH ASAP
“Not giving up meeting together…” (Hebrews 10:25) Let’s clarify something right away. The “church” is the body of Christ–God’s people. Many churches meet in church buildings, which are only buildings for the churches. You can and should love your church (the people), but you can’t go to church.
Most churches say they believe the Bible, but as you learn God’s word for yourself, you should be comparing their beliefs with it. A good local church glorifies God together. He will work in your heart through other members, and He will work in the body through you too. “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)
(Continue to Part Two on next page…)