-Lessons in Discipleship (15) دروس في التلمذة-

LID#15-Follow-Up of a New Believer

          This is doctor Ed Hoskins welcoming you to Lessons in Discipleship, a series designed to help new believers become established in their Christian faith.  This is lesson 15, How to Follow Up a New Believer in Christ.

First, let me tell you a little about myself.  I’m a retired physician who spent 34 years in family medicine and student health.  I became a Christian 50 years ago and was helped early in my faith by the Navigators, an international, non-denominational Christian organization whose stated goal is “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known.”  I’ve been on associate staff with that organization since 1980.  Lessons in Discipleship is a compilation of what I learned then from the Bible and under the guidance of the Navigators.  What I learned at that time I now pass on to you.  Today’s session is “How to Follow Up a New Believer in Christ.”

A great example for following up new believers comes from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.  It begins with prayer.  “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our  Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 1:2-3)

It continues with the example of a mother caring for her precious children.  Follow-up is imparting to new believers our own lives.  We want to see our spiritual children successfully and fruitfully following the Lord Jesus.

In I Thessalonians 2:7-8 the Bible says, “But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”

Now the example moves from a mother to a father and involves planning and teaching and hard work.  “For you know that we dealt with each of  you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (I Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Prayer continues through the entire process of follow up.  Our goal is to see new believers solid spiritually and growing, passing on what they’ve learned to others.  “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.  For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 2:13-14)

In light of the above, let me suggest a practical plan for following up a new believer in Christ.  First, I think every new believer should have five basic assurances.   These are the same assurances we covered in lesson 2 of Lessons in Discipleship.  I encourage you to go back and review that short, but important, lesson.  Again, these five assurances come from God’s word: Assurance of Salvation, Assurance of Answered Prayer, Assurance of Victory over Sin, Assurance of Forgiveness, and Assurance of Guidance.

Second, every new believer needs to know how to have a personal daily devotional time, a  Quiet Time.  Details of that come from lesson 8 in Lessons in Discipleship.

Third, I think every new believer needs to go through baptism, maybe not immediately, but it certainly needs to be considered early on.  It is a commandment from our Lord Jesus and was covered in our last session, lesson 14 in Lessons in Discipleship.

Fourth,  every new believer needs to be involved in fellowship of some form, whether through a local, established church or with other local believers.  As Christians, we need each other.  Sometimes this has to be done very carefully, but it is essential to our spiritual lives. This was covered in lesson 12 of Lessons in Discipleship.

Fifth, I would also like every new believer to be able to begin sharing with others their personal faith story.  This is how they came to know Christ and is covered in lesson 7 of Lessons in Discipleship.  Now let’s cover each of the above five steps in more detail.

The first step: basic assurances.  If you have been through the first set of lessons, you will remember this is where I always want to start with a new believer.  The first assurance a new believer must have is Assurance of Salvation – I John 5:11-12.  I write it down for them on a card and show them how to memorize it right away. This also gets them started in scripture memory, which we covered in lesson 10 of Lessons in Discipleship.  I also have them read over the other four basic assurances, but I only have them memorize the first one at that time. The key here is that we are doing it together.

Second step – learning to have a daily Quiet Time.  Before ending our first visit, I schedule a specific time for a second meeting (possibly the next morning) to have a short Quiet Time which is just 10 or 15 minutes long.  It is most important that we show new believers how to do it and not just tell them.  Use lesson 8 in Lessons in Discipleship for details.

In all discipleship, I recommend following the KIS principle: Keep It Simple. Don’t make things complicated.  Have a short quiet time with them.  Start with prayer.  Consider praying Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”  Next, pick a short passage of scripture like Matthew 1 or Psalm 1.  Ask the three meditation questions we’ve covered previously in lessons 3 of Lessons in Discipleship.  First, what does it say? These are the facts.  Second, what does it mean?  That’s the interpretation of the facts.  Third, what does it mean to me personally?  That is the application question.  Write down a few brief sentences and end in prayer.  Thank God for what you’ve learned that day.  I end our time together by reviewing the memorized verse from the last visit: the basic assurances for a new believer.

Our third step is baptism. This was covered in our last session, lesson 14.  Look at those thoughts again. This is a very personal decision for every new believer.  In my own case it was a year after I first put my trust in Christ.  Again, I would recommend that a new believer should not wait too long to have that done.  The longer you wait, the more difficult it can become to do it. This step may involve persecution and suffering.  Jesus never said that following him would be easy.  Take this step, like all the other steps, after seeking God in prayer.

Our fourth step is fellowship with other believers.  More thoughts come from lesson 12 in Lessons in Discipleship. It’s important to get a new believer into fellowship with other believers in the church, but be cautious and prayerful.  There are some people out there who want to injure or even kill a new believer.  We may even need help to get a new believer into a safe environment.  God has promised to lead us in every situation.  Trust takes time.

Our fifth step for a follow up plan is how to share the gospel.  This is covered in lessons 5 through 7 of Lessons in Discipleship.  Under this topic, the very first thing I want a new believer to learn how to do is to share their personal testimony.  Keep the personal testimony simple and brief – no more than 3-5 minutes long.  Learning and using the bridge illustration is also helpful (see lesson 6 in Lessons in Discipleship).

Finally, when looking at helping new believers grow in Christ, it’s not too early to think in terms of what we ultimately want to see – growing and multiplying disciples.  In this regard I like to think in terms of another five step process: tell them why (show them from God’s word); second, show them how; third, get them started; fourth,  keep them going; and fifth,  get them to pass it on, to share it with another believer.  This last step is the crucial key to multiplying disciples – passing on to others what they have learned.

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned in this brief presentation.

First, every mother takes time and loving effort to help her infant grow and thrive. We must do the same with spiritual new births.

Second, in my experience, a new Christian requires at least five things to thrive: basic assurances, a daily Quiet Time, baptism, fellowship, and the ability to begin sharing the gospel.  Prayer is required for this entire process.

Third, remember the five aspects of multiplying disciples: tell them why, show them how, get them started, keep them going, and get them to pass it on.

Well, we will see you next time when we cover lesson 16 of Lessons in Discipleship when our topic will be An Overview of the Bible.  That wraps up today’s presentation.  Thanks for being a part.  Until next time, keep following Jesus.  He’s worth it.

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