Three Priorities Of New Believers

     Every true believer is a Holy Spirit born child of God (John 1:12,13; 3:3-7). In the days and months following salvation the believer is spoken of as being a spiritual baby (1st Corinthians 3:1,2; Hebrews 6:12,13; 1st Peter 2:2). Spiritual babes in Christ are encouraged to grow spiritually and are scolded when they haven’t grown as they should.

     There will be many priorities in the growth of babes in Christ to full maturity. In this message we speak of the first three.

I.  The Newborn Babe In Christ Should Confess Christ

     Jesus taught that those who confess Him before men are the ones He will confess before His Father. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32.
     The apostle Paul indicated that confessing Christ with the mouth is a consequence that follows believing on Him in our heart. "…That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Romans 10:9, 10.
     Many Christians struggle with confessing Christ because of fear. John gave us a record of some who were having that struggle during the life of Jesus. "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:" John 12:42. Two of those experiencing this struggle were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. Of Joseph it is written, "…Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews," John 19:38. Thankfully, Joseph and Nicodemus came out openly for Christ following His sacrificial death on Calvary.
     Dr. Harry Ironsides became a highly effective and greatly loved preacher of the gospel. He often told of when he was a teenager and came home discouraged because his friends had laughed and made fun of his Christianity. His mother would lovingly say, "Just remember, Harry, they can laugh you into hell but they can’t laugh you out."
     After all that Jesus has done for us, we ought to count it all joy to confess Him before men.

II.  The New Christian Should Receive "Believer’s Baptism"

 different purposes of baptism in Jesus’ day:

ICeremonial Cleansing.
     The Jewish people, especially priests, would immerse themselves as a ritual cleansing from the defilement of sin.

The Baptism of John, The Baptist  
      John’s baptism was a "baptism of repentance." (Mark 1:4; Acts 19:4) It symbolized turning from a life of sin to a life of righteousness. Although Jesus had no sin to repent of, He received baptism from John "to fulfill all righteousness." Most likely, He was giving a picture of how He would provide for the salvation of lost mankind…through death, burial and resurrection.

Believer’s Baptism  
     Jesus commanded His followers to baptize those who receive the gospel message and become His disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20). They were faithful in obeying this command. They baptized all who professed their faith in Christ. "Then those who gladly received His word were baptized:" Acts 2:41. "But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ,  both men and women were baptized." Acts 8:12.  "…And the eunuch said, See, here is water; what  hinders me from being baptized? Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. …and he baptized him." Acts 8:36-38. (See also Acts 10:47; 16:30-34; 18:8; 19:4,5)

The Scriptural Mode of Baptism is Immersion    

     Any reputable Greek lexicon (dictionary) will define the Greek word for baptism as "to dip or to immerse." Not only Baptists, but the founders and scholars of many Christian denominations testify to this truth: "The very word baptizo, however signifies to immerse; and it is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church."
     John Calvin; "Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter XV" "I could wish that the baptized should be totally immersed, according to the meaning of the word and the signification of the mystery."
     Martin Luther. "History of the Christian Church" Vol. VI, pages 218, 219. "We are buried with him –Alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion"
     John Wesley; "Explanatory Notes Upon The New Testament" page 376. From the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia with the Imprimatur of Cardinal Farley, Volume II, page 259, "The word baptism is derived from the Greek word bapto or baptize, to wash or to immerse" and continuing on page 261, "The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion." "In the Latin church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century."
     Believers baptism might be described as "a physical illustration of a spiritual reality." We are informed that every believer has been baptized into the body of Christ. "… so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body…" 1st  Corinthians 12:12b, 13a. In Romans 6:1-10 we have an explanation of this blessed truth. God sees the believer as having been placed in Christ’s body. In Christ, the believer received the punishment for his sin on the cross. In Christ the believer was buried as a sinner. In Christ the believer rose again as a new creature in Christ Jesus. Physical baptism pictures the result of spiritual baptism into Christ…death, burial and resurrection. Only baptism of a believer by immersion fully pictures this beautiful spiritual truth. Every newborn babe should receive "believer’s baptism".

III.  New Christians  Should Unite With  A New Testament Church

what constitutes a New Testament church.
     There is much confusion as to  The following insights have greatly clarified my understanding of the church.

The Church is an Assembly.
     The Greek word for church is ekklesia. It has the meaning of "a called out assembly." This thought must always be present in our thinking when we consider "the church".

The Church as God Sees It and the Church as Man Sees It. God sees "the church" as composed of every believer from those first believers at Pentecost to the last believer of the church age. That "the church" began at Pentecost is suggested by the following truths:

  1. The church was a "mystery which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of man, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" Ephesians 3:9.
  2. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "Upon this rock I will build My church." The church was still future when He spoke.
  3. As we have seen from 1 Corinthians 12:13, the body of Christ is formed by believers being baptized by the Holy Spirit into that body. In Acts 1:5, Jesus identified Pentecost as the first time believers would receive that baptism. "...You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost (Spirit) not many days from now."
  4. In Ephesians 4:8-11, we are informed that it was the risen, ascended Christ who gave the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the church.

     God sees the church in its entirety of every believer called out of the world. Man can only see the church in its physical manifestation as a local church of believers called out from the local community.

Bible Symbols Of The Church

      The church is spoken of as "the body of Christ", "the bride of Christ", a "flock", "a new man", "God’s husbandry", "a building" the "temple of God", "an habitation of God", the "house of God" and "the pillar and ground of the truth." Every one of these symbols can be thought of as the church as God sees it in its entirety and the church as man sees it in its local manifestation. We will consider one - the body of Christ.

  1. Christ is the head of the church. Believers make up the body. Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18, 2:10, 19.
  2. The Holy Spirit in sovereignty bestows spiritual gifts on the members so they can minister to the body. 1 Corinth. 12:4-11.
  3. Even as the physical body provides the outward activities of our mental, emotional and spiritual nature, even so the local visible church is the physical body that provides the activities of Christ, its head.
  4. Christ and His Church are Inseparable. Compare Acts 9:4 with Galatians 1:13. "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"

Christ Is The Founder and Builder of The Church
     "…I will build my church." Matthew 16:18.

The Church is God’s Possession
     The church is often spoken of as "the church of God".
     Churches are spoken of as "the churches of Christ".

The Church Is The Pillar and Ground of the Truth.
     1 Timothy 3:15. A pillar holds up a building’s structure. The ground supports the foundation. Truth finds it foundation and support in the church.
     Churches are the Focus of Christ’s Concern.
     In Revelation 1 - 3 the place where Christ is pictured walking is among His churches.

The Scriptures Major On the Local Church.
     "Church" appears 75 times and "churches" appears 37 times. Approximately 100 of 112 times the emphasis is on the local church.

The Local Church Ministers to Believers Needs.
     It is to members of local churches that we have the exhortations to "love one another", be "kind one to another", be "tenderhearted toward one another", "encourage one another", " bear ye one another’s burden’s" etc. (28 in all.) 
       In the local church the new believer will receive teaching, example, love, support, ministry and opportunity to serve and be part of what Christ is doing through His body.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted