A task which every evangelistic congregation faces is that of strengthening newborn babes in Christ. Often those we baptize are left at the baptistry steps and we leave unfulfilled the last part of the great commission to teach "them to observe things" that Jesus committed to them or commanded them (Matt. 28:20). As a result we have what might be termed a "high infant mortality rate," i.e., newborn babes in Christ that wander back into the world or into religious error. Too few obey the gospel to allow even one to lose his or her sould because of a lack on our part to lead them on in the paths of righteousness. Thus, we need to address this problem.
Young Christians Need Basic Teaching From The Word Of God: -- Peter said, "...like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word..." (1 Pet. 2:2). One doesn't bring a new baby home from the hospital and immediately begin to feed him steak or pot roast. The need is for something more digestible like milk, formula, baby cereal, etc. Likewise, the young Christian needs to be taught the basics of trust in and commitment to the Lord's ways. They need to study the basics of worship and daily living. An in depth study of Ezekiel or Revelation is too much and is not digestible by the newborn babe at this point in their spiritual life. An alert eldership can recognize this and help by providing classes to address this need. Another, and perhaps better approach is to have converts in their home. This method helps these new Christians to establish a pattern of regular Bible study which is so necessary to spiritual growth.
New Christians Usually Need New Friends: -- When one is converted from the world or religious error not only do they change religious environments, but their whole social life usually as well. And merely the fact that one cannot go to the same places and do the same things with the same people can make life very lonely for the new convert. Every Timothy needs a Paul and every John Mark needs a Barnabas. Paul admonished the Thessalonians to "...encourage the fainhearted, help the weak, be patient with all men" (1 Thes. 5:14). He encouraged the Romans to "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor...practice hospitality" (Rom. 12:10,13). In friendship with other Christians there is found love and strength. Every new Christian needs special attention.
New Christians Need Understanding And Patience: -- One doesnt expect a baby to mature into an adult overnight. But with the right diet and an ample amount of exercise, along with time, nature will take it's course and the human body will develop to maturity. Much of the same is true when one develops spiritually. With a steady diet of the Word of God and the constant exercise of obedience in one's life, spiritual maturity will come in the course of time. Mistakes will be made and lessons will be learned the hard way. Sometimes pain is associated with growing. But through all of this the young Christian needs our prayers, our understanding, and our patience. When sin is found in their lives it must be removed quickly with understanding and patience, not a rod of iron.
New Christians Need Our Time: -- Time is a very precious commodity these days. It seems that the older we get the less of it we have. But I rather suspect that it's not that we have less time, we just don't use what we do have wisely. Time has come to be more precious than money to most. We had rather pay for something to be done than to actually do it ourselves. And this is not wrong in many cases. But there are some things that we just can't pay others to do for us. We can't pay others to do our teaching for us, it is a personal responsibility (Heb. 5:11,12). Paul said, "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one..." (Gal. 6:1). And again, "Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). Young Christians find themselves being caught up in sin, not necessarily through a willful and hard-hearted departure from God, but merely because of weakness or ignorance. They need someone to care enough to spend time with them - teaching, praying, and strengthening. This is a burden we must help them to bear, not something we can pay someone else to do for us. It requires our time!
Determine to make a special effort to help those who are young in Christ. It's one way to breathe a fresh spirit of zeal into your own life. You will grow by helping others.
By Jim Deason via Gospel Power, Vol. 11, No. 38, Sept. 26, 2004.
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