Directives for New Believers in ChristBiblical Salvation
As a recent addition to the Kingdom of God, you have heard the glorious Gospel and have believed that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the one true and living God. You have believed in His shed blood on Calvary's cross as the atonement for the sins of all who will believe – including your own sins. On the ground of your having accepted His work of redemption, you have confessed and repented of your sins, and you have been forgiven. In other words, you have been justified by faith and acquitted of all past guilt. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1, 2). You are now a child of God and have received everlasting life. No doubt you are familiar with Jesus' words in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
You may have heard the Gospel many times but have only now believed put your trust in its promises. Perhaps you may be one who has heard it for the first time and have joyfully believed. In either case, your walk with God is just beginning. What do you do now? The Bible gives specific instruction as you begin your journey with Christ.
You will receive your first surge of spiritual strength by openly bearing witness to your new and wonderful experience. Of course, this may be done through an oral testimony. However, Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..." (Mark 16:16). Just as we believed the Gospel for the forgiveness of our sins, we must go on to believe what the Word of God says in all things. The same Jesus who saved us clearly associates baptism with believing. In baptism, the candidate is totally immersed in water. This does not save a person, but it is a witness to the world that a person is saved and has joined the ranks of the other believers. It testifies of the decision that has been made. Therefore, it must not be observed as a mere ritual but as a joyous witness to the power of our curcified and risen Saviour. It tells the world that your conscience is now free from sin.
"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" (1 Peter 3:21).
The apostle Paul was a believer in God and kept the law of God blamelessly, or perfectly, before he was converted. However, he refused to believe in Jesus, even thinking that he was doing God's will by persecuting the Church. God had observed his great zeal and purposed to change its direction. On the way to Damascus, the risen Jesus apprehended Paul. The account is recorded in Acts 9:1-20. It is noteworthy that, in verse eighteen, the writer found it necessary to indicate that he was immediately baptized after his conversion. Later, as an apostle, Paul wrote inspired words on the true significance of water baptism. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Romans 6:1-5). Water baptism is a figure of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It gives spiritual strength and boldness to bear witness to other believers and to the unbelieving world.
Following the pattern of the natural birth, the infant has everything to learn. All that he sees and hears is relatively meaningless, but the learning process begins from the very hour of his birth. While there are likenesses with the newborn spiritual babe, the spiritual babe has the advantage of a developed intellect and is capable of grasping spiritual truths as he responds to the Spirit's enlightenment. In fact, the first truth that he becomes aware of is the fact that his sins are forgiven and that he is born again into the kingdom of God. Jesus presented this truth to a man named Nicodemus in John 3:1-16. Nicodemus could not understand because he was not yet born again, but Jesus was giving him the Gospel. We are not told what he did about it at that moment; however, later references in John 7:50, 51; 19:39, 40 seem to indicate that he became a believer.
It seems that every living creature that God has made is born with a hunger instinct. Whether bird, beast, or human, there is an immediate desire for nourishment. Newly-hatched birds, even before their eyes are opened, instinctively open their mouths when the mother bird approaches with food. The newborn animal immediately searches out the source of mother's milk. If the hunger is not manifest, there is something abnormal about the birth.
Likewise, having been born again in response to hearing the gospel of Christ, the Christian babe immediately shows a desire to know more. If that desire is not manifest, there may be some question concerning the experience. The Apostle Peter quite vividly sets forth this truth as follows: "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:1-3). The first verse of this passage refers to the sinful life of the unbeliever. Verse two show that, in the new birth, the old life is laid aside and is replaced by a desire to know how to live the Christian life. The assertion in verse three is that this is what he will do if he has truly tasted, or experienced, the saving grace of God. He will read the Bible, the Word of God, regularly just as he partakes of and enjoys his daily meals for physical nourishment and growth. by so doing, he will become strong in his new faith and will "...grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ..." (2 Peter 3:18).
Personal Access to God
Jesus' disciples observed Him in prayer, and they asked Him to teach them to pray. The Word of God records in Luke 11:1-4 and Matthews 6:5-7 that Jesus fulfilled their request."The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16, 17). As joint-heirs with Christ, God the Father has opened the way for His children to come directly to Him at the throne of grace where we "...obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
The apostle Paul, writing to the Gentile Christians, said, "For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Ephesians 2:18). Through prayer, fasting, and reading the Scriptures, you will soon become a mature Christian, fully qualified to teach others.
Share the Gospel with Others
The clean and dedicated life we live is the best witness to others for Christ. This silent witness speaks louder than words in many cases. However, you should not be reluctant to give an oral witness wherever you have the opportunity. You may not be able to expound the deeper things of God, but you can tell what the Lord has done for them and what He will do for all who will obey Him.
Sanctification and the Holy Ghost
When the you begin studying the Word, you will be confronted with teachings that you do not understand. Two of the most important doctrines for the you following justification are sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It is important that every believer seek and receive these experiences.
Sanctification is the second definite work of grace wrought in the heart whereby the fleshly sin nature is crucified and the heart is made free from the nature of sin. This is a truly deep truth and experience, and the hungry believer should seek counsel and instruction as he seeks this work of grace.
The same admonition applies to seeking the baptism of the Holy Ghost which is evidenced by speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. The second chapter of Acts bears record of this experience that follows sanctification. The Holy Ghost comes in to dwell in the believer's heart, and He will not abide in an unsanctified temple. This indwelling is the enduement of power for service to God. This baptism is for all who will meet the conditions. Peter told the inquiring crowd at Pentecost, "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call" (Acts 2:39).
The Callings of God
As you mature in your Christian life, you may receive a special calling form God into some avenue of ministry or service. God calls in different ways, so each individual will need to cope with this matter between himself and God.
This resource contains information adapted from Directives for New Believers, which can be obtained via the online store. Directives for New Believers is an Outreach Literature tract produced by The Church of God and provides a brief explanation of the next steps for a new believer in Christ.