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“Disappointments New Christians Face”

15 Mar

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There is great joy in seeing new Christians grow in the faith:
(2 John 1:4) “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.”

(3 John 1:3-4) “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. {4} I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

Unfortunately not all new Christians grow as they should. Problems and disappointments often overwhelm them, and some even fall away.

This ought to concern older Christians, for we have a responsibility to those who are young in the faith:

(Rom 15:1-2) “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. {2} Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

(Gal 6:1-2) “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. {2} Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

1. SAME WEAKNESSES AS BEFORE (Disappointed with themselves)
Many become Christians with joyful anticipation…

1. Excited about forgiveness of sins…
2. ” the chance to start over…”
3. “the help God is going to give them to change…”

…but they soon discover….
1. That the temptations are just as strong as before (sometimes even stronger!)

2. They can easily be discouraged and overcome

HOW CAN WE HELP?

1. By teaching them that “transformation” is an on-going process:
(Rom 12:1-2) “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

2. By reminding them of God’s willingness to forgive and provide strength???????????????????????????
(Phil 2:12-13) “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, {13} for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

(1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

(1 John 2:1) “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

2. IMPERFECT CHRISTIANS (Disappointed by their brethren)
They witness inconsistency in the lives of others…
1. They see those who do not practice what they preach

2. It really hurts when seen in those they had looked up to
3. But this problem is not a new one

Ill treatment  by Christians…
1. May occur in Bible classes, business meetings, at work, at play

2. Harsh words can be devastating to those new in the faith

WHAT CAN WE DO?
1. First, set better examples!

(1 Tim 4:12) “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

2. Confess wrong when it occurs

3. Help the new Christian realize that older Christians are ALSO going through the process of “transformation”

(Phil 3:12-14) “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. {13} Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But
one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, {14} I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

3. TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS (Disappointed by the world)
Such as pleasures and responsibilities of the world…
1. Often drawing the new Christian away (e.g., job, family, hobbies)…choking them to the point of unfruitfulness. Discouragement by unconverted friends and family…

2. Want them to come back to the things of the world

3. As Paul warned in (1 Cor 15:33-34) “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” {34} Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame?”

 WHAT CAN WE DO?

1. Demonstrate what it means to “seek first the kingdom of God”
2. Make it clear by our own example who it is we love the most (i.e., not our jobs, hobbies, etc.)
3. Develop close friendships with new Christians IN THE LORD; friendships centered around Christ and His work

4. FALSE CONCEPTIONS ABOUT PROSPERITY (Disappointed by lack of success)
Thinking that now all our problems will go away…an idea propagated by the gospel of health and wealth” teachers.

 But such is not always the case, even as it was in the days of the first century (James 1:2-4) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, {3} because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. {4} Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

(1 Pet 1:6-9) “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. {7} These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. {8} Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, {9} for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your
souls.”

We need to prepare new Christians for possible adversity; this need is especially great because Satan often strikes hardest when one is new in the faith

5. TOO MUCH “NEGATIVE” TEACHING (Disappointed by their teachers)
1. Certainly there is a place for learning about those in error

2. But there can be dangers involved in doing so…
   a. If it is done in an arrogant, self-righteous spirit
   b. If it is done to make us feel good or superior
   c. If it is done to the exclusion of learning what WE need to do

3. If we are not careful, it can create carnal Christians, given to strife and envy

When “negative teaching” is called for…
1. It should be done: for the purpose of trying to understand and each those in
error…out of love for those in error. It should be done as Paul did it…

   a. With prayer for their souls

   b. With recognition for their accomplishments

3. It should be done with the qualities mentioned in (2 Tim 2:24-26) “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. {25} Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, {26} and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

CONCLUSION
It may help to quickly point that Christians generally go through four stages of spiritual growth…

a. The “ball of fire” stage, following their conversion to Christ
b. The “reality” stage, when the disappointments start to come in
c. The “up and down” stage…here, people either grow through it to the next stage…or they fall away, or become apathetic (i.e., “pew-warmers”)
d. Finally, those who persevere reach the stage of “steady as she goes”, where growth is progressive and steady:

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Church, Encouragement

 

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