20 Directions for New Believers

After years of desiring its possession I have finally secured a copy of A Christian Directory written by Richard Baxter. It has proven a great help thus far. In one section Baxter gives twenty directions for new believers. I have modernized these and make them available for your benefit:

  1. True grace over novelty. Make sure that it is true grace that is captivating you and not simply that the gospel has become “the next best thing” in your life. Time will tell this as those not truly captivated by grace will end up bored with the gospel and/or will run away once suffering and discomfort come.
  2. Knowledge AND practice. Give equal attention to knowledge and practice as the two are intimately joined together.
  3. Theological Triage. Truths have a dependence on one another. Some are more significant than others. Doing the lesser truth at the expense of the greater truth is a sin. A solid catechism helps with this.
  4. Slow to controversy. Do not be hasty to jump into controversy. If/when you do be sure to keep these lesser matters in their place.
  5. Thankful but not arrogant. Be grateful for the grace you’ve been given but do not get cocky. Remember that you are but an infant in grace.
  6. Do not be discouraged with your humble beginnings. Again remember you are an infant in the faith. Some things that seem almost impossible now will be second nature later.
  7. Sound preaching. If at all possible be certain to sit under the ministry of a sound gospel preacher. This would include pursuing counsel outside of his pulpit ministry as well.
  8. Beware of factions. Love Christians as Christians. Be very cautious of developing a “party” spirit. (Not the spirit of someone that likes to drink a bunch of Jack Daniels and dance on tables in a bar—though that too should be avoided. A “party” spirit means be careful of following too closely to one particular brand of the Christian faith—ex. the Young, Restless, and Reformed).
  9. Grounded in Trials. Don’t let persecution embitter you and make you less than your profession. Do not be shocked when the world hates you or embittered to them when they do.
  10. Balance. When running from one error be careful not to go off into the other extreme. New believers will have a tendency to take new information and make as much of an error out of it than the opposite error that they just escaped from.
  11. You Could Be Wrong. Do not be overly confident in the “disputable matters” or religion. Remember you are an infant in the faith. Be confident in the substantial matters of the faith but know that you will likely change your mind on many of these disputable issues.
  12. Stay on the sidelines in controversy. If there is controversy in your area look for common truths and do not pick a side yet. Pursue unity.
  13. Godliness=Happiness. Joy is found in holiness not in sin. Though Satan, the world and your own flesh might try to convince you otherwise know that true rest, peace, and happiness is found in a life of godliness.
  14. Mortify. Be diligent in mortifying the sin and lusts in your life. Get to know your diverse temptations and seek to avoid them and mortify their lusts. (Mortify is an older Puritan-type of word that means “to kill).
  15. Watch Your Companions. Be careful of your teachers and your company. This is not to say avoid unbelievers, but do not make your choicest companions those that do not treasure the Lord.
  16. Watch Your Library. Be careful what books you read. You do not have to avoid all unsound books but be cautious in everything that you read.
  17. Freedom isn’t License. Do not fall into libertinism. Free grace should not lead to carnal security and sloth. Jesus Christ is a promoter of holiness and not sin.
  18. Counterfeits are Tricky. Watch against obvious decays of grace but also counterfeit and carnal affections. The tempter will be happy to have you practicing Christianity outwardly and making a fine show of it all the while inwardly you are withering away.
  19. Life is a vapor. Do not promise yourself a long life. Life is but a mist, live your life as if this is true—because it is.
  20. Be God-centered. In everything that you do make sure that the Lord and His glory is your aim. Your pursuit and your prize is the Lord Himself.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you. Even mature, older Christians like me are happy to be reminded!Coosje Helder

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