10 Things Every New Christian Needs To Know
1. You'll never be the same.
The work of salvation doesn’t just change your life; it renews it, it rescues it, and it makes you an entirely new thing.
See, up until this point, you have been guilty of sin. Sin is a choice that ultimately separates you from God and ruins the relationship you have with God. In Romans, we learn that “the wages of sin is death.” This means that the penalty for that sin is for us to die.
This is where Jesus comes in. He died for you so that you wouldn’t have to. He paid the penalty for your sins for you! Jesus literally took on your shame and your guilt for your sins on the cross. You don’t have to carry those any more.
Not only that, but your relationship with God has been repaired. He’s right there with you. You now have the strength to battle sin and temptation. He will use you in ways that you’d never imagine. God has big plans for you!
2. Ask questions.
This is a huge change in your life and an undertaking of an entirely new way of thinking, living, and believing!
It’s natural and good to have tons of questions. In fact, we would be more worried about you if you didn’t have any questions at all. Along with questions, you may also have a few doubts. These are also perfectly natural. We’ve all had doubts and we would love to help you walk through yours. And even better, God isn’t offended by or scared of your doubts and questions.
The Bible actually tells us to continue to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12) and to be prepared to give an answer for our faith (1 Peter 3:15). So even God wants you to have questions.
The trick is to find the right source for those answers. Learn to use your Bible, find friends who are further down the spiritual road than you are, or even lean on your pastor. Ultimately, finding answers to these questions and resolving these doubts will only serve to make your new faith stronger.
3. You weren't meant to do this alone.
Christianity is not a solo exercise. It was never intended to be. In fact, throughout scripture, we don’t see a single person live out their faith alone. Jesus had the disciples, David had his mighty men and generals, Paul has Timothy, Titus, and others. If they couldn’t do this alone, then neither can you.
So a big priority for a new believer should be to find some Christian people to build community with. This doesn’t mean you abandon your old friends, but you would be wise to prioritize making some new friends who share your new values and priorities and will encourage you as you begin to live out your new faith.
This is precisely why we encourage small groups and church membership. So some great next steps for you would be to sign up for a Newcomer’s Lunch (where you can find out more about becoming a member of Graystone) or go ahead and become involved in a small group. As a member of the church we hope that you can get plugged in and the church can begin to feel more like home. And in a small group we hope you will find new friends and community on which to lean throughout your new journey, as well as a leader who will help to guide you through these initial steps of faith.
4. How to pray
Christians pray. It's an absolutely indispensable part of our lives. It may be intimidating to you, but God didn’t mean for it to be. He simply wants his children to talk to him. He likes to hear your voice and for you to express your heart to him.
If you feel like you don’t know how to pray, don’t worry. Even the disciples didn’t fully understand how to pray, so they asked Jesus. Jesus answered them by giving them the Lord’s Prayer, which is a pattern in which you can learn to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). The pattern goes as follows:
Adore Him - Tell God why he is good and how he is great. This isn’t only for God’s benefit, being reminded of God’s goodness puts us in the proper mindset for prayer.
Confess - Confess the things you’ve done wrong. This should be a regular part of every Christian’s life. This reminds us that we need God’s help and should make us even more grateful for his grace.
Thank Him - God has blessed all of us and we should be diligent in acknowledging and being thankful for those blessings. Furthermore, as we get more consistent in prayer, we will see God answering those prayers and we ought to praise and thank him for that.
Ask For Things - Finally, tell God what you need, or what others need. This is where we pray for safety, growth or clarity for ourselves and others.
There is nothing magical in this pattern, but it is very purposeful. If you simply follow this pattern whenever you pray, prayer will quickly become more natural and conversational. Before you know it, you will be the one praying in front of others!
5. How to study the Bible
Besides prayer, this is the single most important new habit that you need to develop. Your Heavenly Father wants you to know him deeply (Ephesians 3:19) so he has revealed himself to you in Scripture. The Bible is the primary way we learn about our God and how we should live in light of his grace. If we are going to know him, we must be students of his word. David tells us to plant ourselves in his word and to delight ourselves in it (Psalm 1 & 37).
But the Bible can be intimidating. Where should you begin? How do you make sense of it?
A great place to go is youversion.com. Here you will find hundreds of guided reading plans of various lengths for all different seasons of life.
You could also use the reading plans that we have available at Guest Services every Sunday.
As far as comprehending and understanding, you will need help and that is alright. In the book of Acts, a new believer is reading the Bible and someone asks him if he understands what he is reading and he responds, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” If that new believer needed help, then you probably do too! Don’t be afraid to ask your small group leader or others in your small group to help you understand.
6. God has asked you to be baptized.
Any time we see someone become a Christian in the New Testament, we also hear of them getting baptized, often immediately.
We do not believe baptism is what saves you. You are saved because of your acceptance of Jesus’ death on the cross as a payment for your sins. However, we do believe that baptism is a step of obedience after becoming a Christian.
Baptism is simply a public profession of a private decision. It is a way to go public with your new faith and ask your new church community to hold you accountable for your decision. We also believe baptism symbolizes the cleansing of your sins and your new life as a Christian.
If you would like to find out more about getting baptized and what it means, then we would highly encourage you to talk to one of our pastors.
7. Christianity is hard work.
Jesus calls following him a narrow path that not many people travel. This is because the path you’ve chosen requires a great amount of effort. Make no mistake, God is with you every step of the way and empowers you to live as you should, however we still have to work hard to follow God, learn his word, and love others.
Paul calls living the Christian life “fighting the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7). In other places he encourages us not to grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). Another author compares this life to running a race (Hebrews 12:1).
Christianity requires effort. It asks for hard work and God is constantly refining us. But there is nothing in the world more worthy of your commitment and nothing more rewarding than knowing God.
8. God promises you His peace and His presence, not the absence of problems.
This may be a bit of a surprise, but when we accept Christ as our Savior our problems do not just vanish. Christians struggle too. Sometimes churches can imply that this isn’t true - that Jesus solves all your problems - but that simply isn’t in the Bible.
After becoming a Christian, Paul was beaten and starved and shipwrecked. The disciples gave up their homes. Elijah had to go live in a cave. David spent years hiding in the wilderness and even lost a son. The truth is that Christians are just as acquainted with tragedy as everyone else.
The difference is that, as a Christian, you get the peace and presence of God (Philippians 4:6-7). Instead of walking through these things alone, the creator of the universe carries you through them. David calls him our rock, our fortress, our deliverer, strength and shield. Isaiah tells us there is healing in his presence.
Your life won’t be void of problems, but it will be full of God’s presence and his peace.
9. You will stumble, but God has grace for that too.
Remember before you became a Christian how you would sometimes mess up? How you would say the wrong thing or hurt someone or act selfishly or give in and do something you knew wasn’t good for you?
Well, you will still do those things. You will still mess up. But guess what? God has already forgiven you for those mess ups too. When Jesus died for you, he died for all your sins - past, present, and future. So when you stumble and fall, which you will do, get back up knowing that you are still a beloved child of God.
The good news about our habits and mess ups is that now we have a choice. Before you were a Christian, you were a slave to sin. You couldn’t help but mess up. But as a Christian, because Christ lives in you, you are dead to sin and alive to righteousness. This doesn’t mean that we will never act how we used to. But it does mean that as God changes our character we will act in those ways less and less.
Don’t expect perfection, just expect progress.
10. Being a Christian comes with responsibility.
This sounds like a tough weight to carry at first, but really it’s gloriously simple. Instead of all the things there are to worry about in life, God allows us to simply focus on him and doing his will and assures us that everything else will fall into place because he is the one taking care of us.
This means that he will use us to tell our friends about Jesus. This is actually his plan. Did you know that? That those who come to know him would tell the people they know about their God. That’s you! You know God and God wants for you to tell the people you know about your God.
God has also given you a particular set of gifts and abilities. Up until now you have used those abilities for your own personal gain, which is fine because that’s what we all do before we meet God. But now God desires for you to use your gifts, abilities, and resources to serve him.
As a Christian, you will learn more and more that your life is no longer your own. It belongs to God. And the more of yourself you surrender to God, the more peace, happiness, and contentment you will experience.
Make no mistake, the Bible promises over and over again that this can be a difficult life… but it is the best life possible!