WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT...
INSTRUCTIONS FOR NEW BELIEVERS?
1. Seek out a good Bible-believing church and share your decision to follow Christ with the body of believers there. It is very important to have fellowship other Christians because we all need each other to grow and be encouraged. Especially as a newborn Christian, you will need the support of other Christians around you to help you grow in Him. From the oldest to the youngest of us, we need each other.
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves togehter, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)
We encourage you to look for a fellowship that loves to worship the Lord and loves each other and the world around them. The greatest commandments are that we love the Lord with all of our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves. It doesn't matter if you find the biggest church in town or a small home fellowship. The important thing is that you are with others who truly love the Lord and who view the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and who teach its precepts and plan of salvation-and who are pressing on to know more of Him. If you find yourself in a church where no one seems very interested in pursuing God, in knowing Him and His holiness and fullness, as revealed in Scripture, we would suggest that you pray about finding a fellowship where this is the case. No church is perfect, and you will find flaws everywhere you go. However, you can tell by the spirit within you if a church is pressing on into the fullness of God. If they are not, you owe it to yourself (and to God) to pray about where HE wants you to be.
The church is not a building or a denomination; rather it is a living Body-the Body of Christ on the earth made up of all the saints/believers throughout history and from every denomination and movement within Christianity. There is only on Head of this Body, and that is Jesus Christ. When you became a Christian, you did not join a church building or a certain minister or movement-you joined Christ Himself.
The Church of Jesus Christ is very large across the earth. However, God has a specific place for you within it. You can be assured that God has not called you into His church without having a place that He has already prepared for you. Ask God what you can do to serve Him. This is an integral part of "growing up in God." God has a special place for you in His body and he longs to use you to lead others to Him and serve His people. He has a plan and purpose for your life. As you ask Him to lead you, He will be faithful to do so.
2. Be baptized in water. This commandment has caused some confusion and controvery in some circles within the Church. However, if we look objectively at the Scripture, we see some very clear precepts:
A. Baptism is to be done immediately or as soon as possible upon the confession of faith.
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost...Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." (Acts 2:37-38, 41).
"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart; thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." (Acts 8:36-38).
"And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8).
There are many other verses regarding baptism, but for the sake of brevity we have just used a few of them. However, we can see that the early church model for baptism was that it was to be done immediately after confession of faith in Christ.
We can also see from these Scriptures that all those who were baptized volunteered to do so. None were coerced and none were too young to understand what was happening; therefore, baptizing babies is not scriptural. Babies and small children may be dedicated to the Lord in special services; however, this is not a baptism in water. In these examples, baptism is a freewill decision made by those who are old enough to understand what it means. A baptism that is not done out of one's own desire and decision to follow Christ means very little to the recipient.
B. A second point about baptism is that it is an immersion in water. The word for "baptize" in Greek, is "baptizo." The word means to immerse and to dip into water. And that is what happens to us when we are baptized into Christ. Symbolically we go into the water soiled and stained by sin. We come up out of the water clean and radiant. Baptism demonstrates that we have "died" to our old life and have been raised to a new one in Christ. Our sins, though they were scarlet, have been washed whiter than snow. (Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.")
The water is not anything-it is only a symbol-but the Lord often gives us symbols to illustrate a spiritual truth. The best way to partake of the spiritual promises of these symbols is to follow the outward method in the manner by which they are set out in Scripture. This honors the Lord and helps us to understand what we are really doing. Like every other ordinance in scripture, baptism is a parable. As we act it out in a physical manner, it becomes reality to our inner man.
3. Pray everyday. Prayer is the ability to communicate on a personal level with the Creator of the Universe. What an amazing privilege and opportunity! God will hear the prayers of anyone who calls on Him in sincerity and truth. However, once we believe in Jesus, we are given special access to God the Father, Himself, through the blood and Name of Jesus. This is a restoration of all that man lost as a result of sin. Our sins have separated us from Him-but in Christ not only is there forgiveness, but there is also restoration. In Him we are a new creation.
When Jesus cried out from the cross, "It is finished!" the veil in the Temple that separated the Holy Pace from the Most Holy Place (where the Presence of God dwelled) was supernaturally ripped from the top to the bottom by God Himself! Now, through Christ, we have the awesome privilege of coming before God Himself. We no longer have to go to Him through a priest-now we can go to Him ourselves through the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ! We no longer need to shrink back from God in our sins-we can be cleansed through Christ and come before Him with a clean conscience and confidence. Now, we no longer need to cry that God does not speak to us-instead, we can speak with Him and tune our ears expectantly to hear from Him.
How should we pray? Just speak to God from your heart. He already knows your needs and worries and thoughts, but when we speak them to Him, we are inviting Him to come into the midst of them and bring us the answers that we need. We should daily ask God for His guidance and wisdom and the power to lead the overcoming Christian life. Confess your sins to Him quickly, and never fail to give Him thanks for all of His blessings to you.
Reading the Psalms and other recorded prayers in the Bible is a good way to learn how to pray. David and the other psalmists were very honest before the Lord in their prayers, but through their prayers they always found fresh hope and encouragement in the Lord. These prayers were recorded in the Bible to speak to us today.
Prayer is a conversation. On earth, we never speak continually to someone who never talks back. So it is with God. When we pray, we can expect to hear back from Him. The main way that we can learn to hear the voice of God, is by knowing Him! And the best way to know Him is by studying His Word-the Bible.
4. Read your Bible every day. As we stated above, the best way to begin to know God is to read about Him. Find out what He likes and what He doesn't like. Find out how He speaks and discover the desires in His heart. All of this is recorded in the Bible.
If you are new to the Bible, we recommend that you begin in the New Testament. You should read at least one of the four Gospels first, either Matthew, Mark, Luke, and/or John. Then begin to read other in the New Testament. You can read them in order if you would like, but it is not necessary. As you read, ask God to make His word alive and real to you. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word. Tell Him you want to know Jesus, and ask for the spirit of revelation to rest upon you as you read. You can also ask God for a hunger to read His Word, if you are having problems getting in to it. Then, as the Holy Spirit directs you, begin to read the Old Testament.
Some of the books that are good to begin with in the Old Testament, are Genesis and Exodus (two great history books), Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. Of course, the Lord will show you where is best for you to begin. These are just some suggestions of some of the books that were easiest for us to read and absorb at first. A Study Bible with notes is a very valuable tool when you are first beginning to read the Bible.
Don't worry if you do not understand everything you read at first. Ask the Lord to teach you by His Spirit, for that is the only way that we can understand the Bible. Spirit speaks to spirit. The Holy Spirit will illuminate those things that you need most to hear from Him at this time. If you get confused, don't give up. Find a good Bible study with other Christians and continue to seek the Lord for understanding. He will be faithful to feed you those words of life that will wash you and strengthen you and encourage you.
5. Ask for the Holy Spirit Baptism. Another important "key" in our walk with God, is receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This experience is one that should immediately follow conversion experience and baptism in water.
"John anwered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with first" (Luke 3:16)
"And , being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalme, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:4-5, 8).
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:44-7).
Have you received this gift with evidence of speaking in other tongues? If you haven't, ask God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues and other spiritual gifts to follow (1 Corinthians 14:4-11). These spiritual gifts are supernatural and are given to empower us as believers, and to minister to the world. When you speak in tongues, you are praying over the most important things that need prayer in our life. It is a powerful and important link in your relationship with God. It will empower you to lead an overcoming Christian life. You can receive this gift straight from the Lord, or you can receive it through the laying on of hands from another Christian who speaks in tongues.
6. Further Encouragement
God loves you dearly and has plans to use you for His glory. He wants to use you to be a light to this dark world. Most of all though, He wants you as His dear friend. He died for you, to restore you back to relationship with the Father. Restored relationship with God is WHY Jesus died on the cross. An intimate and faithful relationship with our Lord is the goal of the Christian life-and all ministry should flow from this place. As we keep our love for the Lord first in our heart, He will also fill us with love for others.
Please know that you will face discouragement in your Christian walk from time to time. Sometimes God will seem distant and confusing. Other Christians may let you down, and you may be persecuted. You may be tempted to return to the life that you left behind. These are normal tribulations that all Christians experience. Don't be discouraged or give up--just keep moving forward, closer to God. Trust Him to carry you when you are weak, and be honest with Him in your prayers. He knows your heart anyway. You can't keep secrets from Him so it is better to be very open with Him. This will be a strength to your relationship with Him.
When we battle discouragement, it is also important to remember that we need to resist Satan, who comes to accuse us! As we begin to draw closer to God, we enter into a realm of spiritual warfare against the evil one of this world. He will try to whisper lies of condemnation in your ear. He will do everything he can to keep you from reading and believing the Bible. How can we tell the difference between the voice of God and the voice of the Accuser? God's voice will come to correct us, but there will be love and hope in His voice. When the Devil comes to accuse us, his words only bring despair and loss of hope. Our God is a loving Father, who corrects us because of His great love. The enemy only wants to make us give up and feel that we are past the point of God's grace. He comes to alienate us from God. But the good news is, he is powerless against the power of God. If you discern that the voice that you have been hearing is not from the Lord, tell that voice to leave in the name of Jesus! Ask God to help you hear His voice and to respond to Him and obey Him.
"Submit yourselves therefore, to God. RESIST the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
No matter what may come your way, we can promise you that if you continue to walk with the Lord all the days of your life, you will never regret it! He is the most priceless treasure in the entire universe-the glory of a million suns cannot hold a candle to His brilliance. He is everything you have ever wanted, and more. He is the Lover of your soul-the only One who loves and understands you perfectly. He cares about your destiny more than anyone else in the world. And He is completely trustworthy!
It is with great joy and delight that we welcome you to the Family of God! By the power of the Holy Spirit, we bless you in your new life and we declare victory over you. May the will of God prosper in your life and may you find your deepest delights in Him all the days of your life.
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him the filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:15-23).