How To Establish New Believers
Establish new believers by keeping in contact, listening actively, addressing their needs with God's Word, help them develop an action plan based on their need by using God's Word.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? That little greeting establishes the fact that this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. Boy, am I glad for the chance just to be with you and to share from the Word of God: God’s inerrant, infallible, eternal Word, The Bible. I never get tired of it; do you? There’s always something new, something wonderful, as you open these sacred pages. What a privilege it is to have the opportunity of just sharing, day by day. You may be just waking up or just falling asleep, depending on when you hear the broadcast, or just packing a lunch for the kids or just driving to work, or whatever it may be. But wherever we are, we are together in the love of God and the purpose of God, and in the truth of God.
We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 3. He said, “I couldn’t stand it any longer; I had to know how you were doing, so I sent Timothy, our brother minister of God and fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ.” I talked with you about the fact that you need not fear being alone if you’re alone with God, and if you’re alone in the presence and purpose of God, and if you’re obeying God. As a matter of fact, solitude is good for everybody now and then. It helps you sort out your goals and purposes. A wise man once said, “If a man doesn’t know what port he’s heading for, every wind is the wrong wind.” So solitude is good. Get alone with God. Jesus said, “Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and shut the door, and pray to thy Father, which is in secret. And thy Father, which seest in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Shut the door in solitude. Be alone with God every day, some of the time.
We talked about the qualifications of Timothy; he was a brother (that means he was saved), and he was a minister (that’s the Greek word diakonos, or our word “deacon.”) He served as a fellow laborer. He was part of the team. There aren’t any grandstanders in God’s order. We are all helpers of each other. And so, what is he supposed to do now? He said, “I sent him to establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith, that no man should be moved, or shaken up, by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we were appointed thereunto, for verily when we were with you we told you beforehand that we should suffer tribulation, even as it came to pass, and you know for this cause even when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your fate lest by some means the tempter hath tempted you and our labor be in vain. But now, Timothy brought good tidings of your faith and love.”
Well, what was he supposed to do? He said, “I sent him to establish you.” That’s the Greek word steirizo, which means, “to set firmly; to make fast,” like when you nail a board in place. To set firmly. It also means “to make stable,” so that there isn’t any wobble, and it means, “to confirm or establish.” That’s what his job was.
Be aware of the fact that people with whom you have prayed for salvation and whom you have led into a knowledge of the Lord Jesus need to be established. You have not finished your work until you have established them. This truth is particularly emphasized by the Navigators, who have their headquarters out in Glen Eyrie, in Colorado Springs. They speak of their key verse as being 2 Timothy 2:2, “The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also”. So it was Paul, to Timothy, to faithful men, to many others. Your job isn’t done until you have established another person in the Word, in prayer, in victorious Christian living, and in soul-winning. How do you go about establishing somebody?
Well, you don’t do it by criticizing, or saying “Listen, you’ve got some bad habits there.” The idea of establishing a person in the faith is not compatible with the concept of giving a lecture every now and again. Rather, you find out where the person’s need is, and you help that person to find the answer to that need in the person and work of the Lord Jesus, and in the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and in the eternal truth that’s found in the Word of God.
So let’s say you have a person who is a new Christian, and you want to establish him or her; how do you go about it? Number one, you keep in contact. Many of us tend to forget after we’ve had the joy of seeing someone profess Christ as Savior; we go about our business and forget all about the individual. So the first thing to do is to keep in contact. Make a date with the person to call up or to go see the individual within a very few days, knowing that Satan is going to fight hard for that soul. Satan doesn’t want to give up a soul that he thought he had. And so, there will be tests, there will be temptations, there will be hurts that the new Christian is going to have to deal with. And you need to be in touch. Keep in touch, call up, go see, invite for a meal, take the person with you to church and Sunday school. That’s the first thing; keep in contact. Then what?
Learn to listen creatively to the person as they talk with you. What do I mean by that? I mean, don’t volunteer advice, but listen to see what the needs are and where the person may be in need, where the person may be hurting. Listen for either the spoken or the unspoken things that reveal where the need is. Learn to ask questions; “Tell me about this. How are you getting along in your prayer life? How are you getting along with temptations? How are you getting along with that unsaved family? Nobody else is a Christian, are they? Do they pick on you? What’s going on? How are you getting along on the job? How is it?” Learn to ask questions, but ask them in love, not prying, and not digging in, but just because you’re interested. Keep in contact, learn to listen creatively. Then what?
Approach each need in the light of the Word of God. It’s not your opinion; it’s God’s Word that counts. “Let’s find out what the Bible says about this.” And then you take your Bible and you look at the passages that apply to the particular problem that you’re dealing with. Approach each need in the light of the Word of God.
And then, finally (for this time at least) lead your friend to action about that particularly discussed need. Lead into action based on the Word of God. “What do you think we ought to do about this?” Well, it’ll be pretty plain by then that something needs to be done. If there is an ungodly alliance, it needs to be broken. If there is a bad habit, it needs to be overcome through the victory that is in Christ, and you teach the person how to trust Christ every minute by minute by minute to keep him or her. This matter of victory is a matter of continual trust in the overcoming power of Christ.
So you approach the need in terms of the Word of God, and then you lead the individual to take action based on God’s Word. Lots of love, lots of listening, lots of empathy. Little advice, little lecturing. You know, there was a famous Christian leader who said one time to a young person, “You don’t have to pray about God’s will; I’ll tell you what to do.” Well, that isn’t the way you go at it, beloved. Lots of love, lots of listening; little advice, little lecturing, little criticism. Plenty of encouragement, and keep in touch, so that the person knows that he or she is not being forgotten. Establish; make sure that the individual attends, and ultimately joins, a Bible-preaching, Christ-honoring church where they’ll be fed. It would be a pity to leave the individual to starve spiritually for lack of fellowship and Christian nurture. So make sure that the individual attends and ultimately joins a Bible-preaching, Christ-honoring church, so they’ll be fed. Good idea?
Now Timothy was to establish these people, and that was part of his job. Then, it said, “Come comfort you concerning your faith that no man should be shaken up because of their afflictions.” Paul said, “these afflictions.” He may have meant partly his own and partly theirs. In any case, one’s attitude toward trouble turns out to be a turning point in growth in grace and in strengthened effectiveness as a Christian. Paul said in Philippians 1, “Unto you it is given on the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him but also to suffer for His sake.” We have to realize that God sends us afflictions sometimes to correct us. “Happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty,” we read in Job. And Job himself said, “He knoweth the way that I take and when He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold.” The psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I have kept Thy Word.” And Paul says our trouble works for us. He says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Our affliction works for us.
Have you discovered that? Paul said no one should be shaken up by these afflictions, these troubles. The truth of the matter is that God makes trouble work for you. Would you trust Him with that truth and apply it to your own life even today, or tomorrow if you’re listening to this late at night? Would you apply that truth the next opportunity you have, when something goes wrong, just look up and say, “Lord, make it work for your glory.” “A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Well, Timothy was to comfort them concerning their afflictions, and the result of the comfort was that nobody was going to be shaken up by it. You don’t have to have your faith shaken just because circumstances are not working out your way. Now, most of us tend to do it that way, however. We say, “Oh, I wonder if God is mad at me, I wonder if He’s forgotten me; I wonder if something’s wrong? Look, I’ve got all these troubles!” No, your faith is not dependent on the circumstances. Your faith is dependent on Almighty God. And God knows what He’s doing and He’s allowing what is happening to you for His own purposes and His own glory. And so, Paul says, “Don’t let anybody be shaken up by these afflictions, because I told you beforehand that you’d suffer tribulation”, and it came to pass, as you know.
Mark it down in the notebook of your mind, beloved. You trust your God even when things are going wrong, and see how He brings you not only through, but victoriously through them for His own glory. We’ll get back to this the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, Oh may we trust Thee so completely that even our troubles are going to reflect Thy glory. In Jesus’ name I pray this, amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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