"Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God." Heb. 3:12 There are myriads of Christians alive today who have been beaten down to unfruitfulness by Satan's relentless tactics. Despite having been saved, winning the victory and securing the undeserved prize of eternal life in heaven, the excitement of trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior eventually is lost as they retreat back into the entanglements and mire of life. Yet we were warned this could happen:
"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons," 1Tim. 4:1 The Barna Group, a large Christian research company, found that less than 1 percent of the adult population in the United States has a solid biblical foundation. And less than 1/2 of one percent of Christian youth (ages of 18-23) has a biblical worldview. (1)
Christians can "fall away" due to deception, temptation or persecution. But the root cause for why Christians fall oﬀ the wagon is that the armor of the Word of God was never properly instilled early in their Christian walk. And without solid armor, without maturing to build your Biblical defenses, you can be easily torpedoed by Satan's lies-which are sure to come.
Christians have enough problems dealing with the unbiblical "pray-this-prayer-and-you're-in" style of witnessing.(2) And when they try to build on a sand foundation, the results are predictable. Although this is not a salvation issue, their growth and maturity into solid Believers is at risk.
Putting Babies into Battle And who is ﬁrst in line to teach a new Believer? The person who God uses to lead them to Him. The early oversight, Bible teaching and scriptural protection should ﬁrst come from those who led them to the Lord!
A new Believer is no diﬀerent than an unarmored baby being sent to battle. Yet most brand-new Christians are usually left to fend for themselves in a new, unfamiliar and wicked spiritual battle.
Paul and Peter both referred to Christians starting out as babies.
"like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation," 1Pet. 2:2 "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able," 1Cor. 3:1-2
Most of us had children to raise, or have been around small infants, so think about this implication: God compares a new born-again Believer to a newborn baby!
When God blessed Susie and me with babies, they were totally dependent on us feeding them, protecting them and watching over them. If we did nothing, they would have died from lack of nourishment. God placed them into our care and we hovered over them like a mother hen as they slowly grew.
And after a while they began to crawl, and we had to keep them from getting into the wrong things. They were too young to know what was dangerous to eat or how to stay away from harmful spots in the house like a hot stove or iron. They were totally dependent on our constant oversight to keep them out of trouble.
Then they were able to walk-this was problems times 10! The new mobility made it much harder watching over them. We then REALLY had to pay attention to keep them out of harm's way. If we took our eyes oﬀ them for one second, they could get badly hurt!
When we took them out of the safe conﬁnes of our home, we had to hold their hands to keep them from walking into danger. We could never leave them alone. If we couldn't be there, we got a babysitter or a family member to do our job while we were gone.
Then they could run. Oh dear! Problems times ten again! The older our kids became the more we learned to pray for their safety. We taught them Biblical truths with great enthusiasm and applied what they were learning to sports, learning life's lessons, learning to drive, how to dress, and learning responsibility and stewardship. We invested daily into what the Lord had given us, as did most of you reading this with your own kids.
And yet a newborn baby growing up is what God uses to illustrate what we're dealing with new born again Believers. But we rarely seem to think of new Believers as being dependent on those whom God uses to convey the salvation message.
Let's be realistic. We usually simply give a new Believer a Bible, answer the most basic of questions, maybe ﬁnd them a church or a Bible study to attend and hope for the best. We certainly don't think that their spiritual maturity has anything to do with the one God used to lead them to Him. But it is directly connected!
The Bob Dylan Travesty I think of the famous singer/songwriter in the 1970s, Bob Dylan, and his conversion some 40 years ago. He was genuinely saved as evidenced by his many public confessions of Jesus being his Lord and Savior, as well as his new Holy Spirit-inspired lyrics that he began to compose.
But as a new Believer, he was a babe in Christ without the Biblical armor needed to fend oﬀ the Evil One. Yet that didn't stop well-meaning Christians from parading him around like an elephant in a circus tent.
Dylan got pulled in every direction due to his lack of having been aﬀorded the time to adequately build a solid Biblical foundation on which to stand. He ultimately withdrew from even discussing his faith...saying it was private. Such a travesty.
If Dylan or any other new Believer, plants deep roots in the Word, they have a ﬁghting chance to stay above the fray. But if they're Bob Dylan 1970 not taught early, it can get ugly quickly as their adversary doesn't waste any time coming after them:
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart." Matt. 13:19
Paul's Delayed Teaching When Paul got saved on the road to Damascus, almost immediately God sent him into the wilderness for years to study the Old Testament before he began teaching in the Church Age (Gal. 1:16-18). This is further evidenced by the over 90 quotes from the Old Testament he referenced in his Epistles.(3)
The Bible even warns about taking new Believers and moving them too fast into leadership. Within the long list of leadership characteristics listed in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus, this one is included:
"and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil." 1Tim. 3:6 The Four Results Of Witnessing Jesus tells us one of four things happens when someone hears Biblical truth, and three of them are bad.
1) Satan Snatches Away Truth "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road." Matt. 13:19
2) Persecution Pushes Away Truth "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. Matt. 13:20-21 3) Worries and Wealth Choke The Truth "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Matt. 13:22 4) Hear And Understand Truth "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." Matt. 13:23 Granted, Jesus wrote that to the Jews under the law, not to those of us living post-cross in the Church Age. But the point is clear for all...our goal for new Believers is for them to UNDERSTAND scripture. We must watch over them until they have built a scriptural armor to stand against the wiles of Satan.
The Believer's Responsibility If God uses you to lead people to Him, we must act as if they are our newborn babies. We have a responsibility to protect them as we nourish them with the Word of God, which becomes their Biblical armor against lies from Satan and the world.
We must continuously be aware of their vulnerability to the enemy... that Satan is alive, active and doesn't like this new Believer. And he certainly doesn't want a mature Believer to bloom! So we must stay in contact, either teaching, or see that they are being taught, truth on a daily basis.
"...reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." 2Tim. 4:2 There are myriads of Christians alive today who have been beaten down to unfruitfulness by Satan's followers' because they didn't get the protection they should have received by those who led them to the Lord. They were sent into battle with little or no defense. And this unseen spiritual battle is really wicked! (Eph. 6)
A New Believers Class at church, run by mature Believers, is deﬁnitely good. But it's no substitute for the personal, individual accountability a new Believer needs to grow into the mature Believer who can be used mightily by God.
So when God causes your witnessing to result in his/her trusting the shed blood of Jesus to pay for their sin and His resurrection defeating death, God has placed a major responsibility in your life. So take the bull by the horns-pray for wisdom and the new baby's protection! What a privilege!
"Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Prov. 22:6 BP