What’s Most Essential for a New Believer?

I’m always happy to see people respond positively to the Gospel message. Whether it’s in a group setting or through a personal conversation, I know the decision to trust in Jesus Christ is the best decision a person can ever make. But, in those moments, I’m usually bracing myself on the inside, hoping it’s the real deal, hoping that they actually walk this out and grow into strong, life-long disciples of Jesus. I know that not everyone who shows the initial sign of a positive response ends up living a Christ-transformed life. What is it that makes the difference between those who do and those who don’t? What’s most essential for a new believer to get off to the right start?

Most Essential for New Believer

When we help others follow Jesus, we are helping them build their lives. But how they build, especially during the critical early phase, matters greatly.

A Solid Foundation is Essential

Imagine a building with a foundation that is still being dug, the concrete not yet poured. It looks like nothing at that point—just a large, barren pit in the ground. This building project is still in the early stages, but what happens during this phase is absolutely critical to the quality and stability of the building. If the foundation is properly laid, the building will be strong. If the foundation is poorly laid, the cost of repairing it later will be significant, if it can even be fixed at all. A good foundation is essential.

The Storm-Proof Life

Both Jesus and Paul referenced construction to illustrate the importance of living wisely (Matthew 7:24-29; I Corinthians 3:10). Jesus said that if the foundation (starting point) isn’t right in a person’s life, when the “storms” inevitably come, those storms will cause that person’s life to be destroyed.

Simply put, a “good foundation” is a habit of hearing and obeying what Jesus says. Jesus explains saying,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

Notice that the storm came and beat against both buildings. But the results were different, depending on the foundation.

No life is storm-free, but, with the right kind of foundation, it can be storm-proof.

The foundation is a huge deal—it’s not flashy and may even be invisible once the rest of the building is constructed, but a solid foundation is essential.

Focus on the Foundation, Not the Facade

Steve Murrell comments in his book WikiChurch that “many spiritual lives are built with more concern about the facade than the foundation.” In our effort to follow Jesus and help others follow him, it’s easy for us to obsess about the wrong things.

It’s easy to focus more on looking right than being right.

It’s About Jesus

If we’re not careful, we can become caught up in things that are far from central to the Christian faith. The foundation and starting point is the proper response to Jesus. It’s about Jesus, not just knowing about Jesus, but listening to his teaching, believing and actually obeying Jesus.

Jesus is Lord.

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God on Trial

What C.S. Lewis Said about Our View of God and Sin

Who does God think he is? What right does he have to tell you and me what to do, or to send us to hell if we break his rules? — Such is the thinking, or at least the attitude, of many people in our time. We act as if God is on trial.

God_On_Trial

One of the things that I enjoy most about the holiday season is that I have more time for reading than I do the rest of the year. In addition, when my family exchanges gifts as part of our Christmas tradition, I am usually given some interesting books as Christmas presents. This year, one of the books I was happy to receive was God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics by C.S. Lewis.

God in the Dock

In the essay which bears the same title as the book, “God in the Dock,” Lewis speaks to the mindset and attitude that I referenced above.  He makes some keen observations about modern people’s view of God and sin and Christian preaching.

I believe what he says is as relevant today as it was when he first said it, which is why I want to share it with you. He write,

“The early Christian preachers could assume in their hearers, whether Jews, Metuentes or Pagans, a sense of guilt. . . . Thus the Christian message was in those days unmistakably the Evangelium, The Good News. It promised healing to those who knew they were sick. We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy.”

This statement resonates as true with me. It seems to me that there needs to be a different starting place for Christian witness now, in this generation, than there did with early Christian preachers.

Bringing an ‘Unwelcome Diagnosis’

What jumps out at me as most relevant is that last sentence: “We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy.”

Lewis continues to say,

“The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: If God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the Bench and God is in the Dock.”

For many living in our time, including many young adults and university students, this is still the case. Man has put himself in the position of judge and God is on trial.

This is backwards thinking. In reality, God is the judge and we are the ones who will be judged (Hebrews 9:27, Isaiah 33:22, James 4:12). Yet, understanding the thinking of those in the culture, no matter how faulty it is, will serve to orient us as we seek to engage in Gospel conversations.

Question: How do you go about bringing the ‘unwelcome diagnosis’ to this generation, in a way that leads to understanding and hunger for the solution? How can we help others care about cure for sin that we offer in Christ? You can leave a comment by clicking here.