By Dawn Wilson, Crosswalk.com
New Christians need a solid foundation in scripture for their faith. They need to be taught the Word of God so they will understand God’s character and the basic doctrines that support their faith. Scripture can arm new believers for inevitable spiritual battles: opposition from the world, temptations from their own sinful flesh, and confusion brought into their lives from Satan’s schemes to defeat them.
Here are 10 essential passages that will strengthen, support, and prepare new believers for growth to maturity in Christ:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Steve Debenport
1. Remember Jesus Is the Only Way – John 14:6
New Christians will face cultural shock when they share their testimony of God’s grace. In a culture that hates exclusivity, John 14:6says Jesus is the only way to the Father (see also Acts 4:12; John 3:36; John 17:3; 1 Timothy 2:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
God sent His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13). Jesus was the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-18). New believers need to ask God for freedom to share their testimony about Jesus’ work in their lives. He is the only way and the only hope for those still struggling in their sins.
The scriptures in this article are part of a building process—worth memorizing and acting upon. But they are only a start. Christians should be encouraged to find a simple theology book or Bible study of biblical doctrines to add to their faith daily and live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3-10), beginning with the nature of sin and God’s gift of the perfect Savior, Jesus. He is still the “only way” to be accepted by our holy God.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Kristi Linton
2. Thank God for Forgiveness – 1 John 1:5-9
When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and purify us. Confession of sin is how we can continually “walk in the light,” in fellowship with God (Ephesians 5:8). When we are forgiven and walking in the light—following Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12)—we will not walk in darkness.
It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin (1 John 1:7). Penance for sin or “forgiving ourselves” is not the biblical understanding for forgiveness. We are not saved by “sight,” or how we perceive or feel about ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:7), and we shouldn’t live by feelings as Christians either.
Jesus paid it all—He died once-and-for all for every sin (1 Peter 3:18). This does not mean we are perfect; it means we are forgiven and no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). God may bring discipline or correction (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6), but not condemnation. Thank God for forgiveness (1 John 1:5-9)!
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Gus Moretta
3. Live Out the Great Exchange – 2 Corinthians 5:17
We are not only saved by the Gospel message—Jesus died for our sins, was buried and was raised (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)—we need to live out the Gospel as we remember “The Great Exchange” of scripture. This is the doctrine of substitution.
In the Old Testament, God gave His people the law to illustrate His holiness and demonstrate their inadequacy to achieve that holiness. Then He instituted the requirement for a substitute to pay the price for their sin—the sacrifice of an innocent animal (Exodus 29:41-42). This is how the Old Testament believers could have sins forgiven and enter freely and righteously into God’s presence. On the Day of Atonement, a scapegoat (Leviticus 16) symbolically transferred the sins of the people onto the goat.
In the New Testament, substitution is rooted in what Jesus came to do—to die as our substitute, take our sins and give us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). He is the only acceptable sacrifice for our sin, the perfect substitute. When we live in light of this great transaction as new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17), we can manifest His righteousness in our lives through faith (Romans 3:21-26).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/CarlosDavid.org
4. Put Good Works in Perspective – Ephesians 2:8-10
This is sometimes confusing in light of other scriptures that seem to indicate righteous acts are necessary for salvation. This is expressed in James 2:24. But in context, James also emphasized that genuine faith in Jesus will produce a changed life with good works (James 2:20-26).
If a person claims to be a Christian but does not evidence good works, genuine faith may not be present. This is why Paul says “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Paul says while we are saved by Lord’s good grace and not by our works, God, before the foundation of the world, prepared good works for His children to do (Ephesians 2:10).
The biblical perspective is, we are saved not by works, but for works (Hebrews 10:24).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Rawpixel
5. Keep in Step with the Spirit – Galatians 5:16-25
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would indwell believers permanently (John 14:16; Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit is given to assure believers of their future glorification in Christ (Ephesians 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22).
After this indwelling at salvation, believers are to yield to the Holy Spirit’s control by walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) for growth and freedom—not walking in our fleshly desires, which are in conflict with the Spirit. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). When walk in the Spirit, we will evidence the fruit of His presence and control (Galatians 5:22-23).
As we keep in step with the Spirit, we’ll also grow in our relationship with the Father (2 Peter 1:3-8; Ephesians 4:1-3, 13), follow our Shepherd (Psalm 23), and find encouragement to grow in our journey (Hebrews 10:25).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages-Rawpixel
6. Learn God’s Word to Stay Pure – Psalm 119:9-11
New Christians need to go beyond simply reading scripture—although that’s a good start. It’s important to learn biblical disciplines early so they won’t be shaken by the world, Satan, or their own sinful flesh. Psalm 119:9-11tells us God’s Word, when we live by it, can keep us on a path of purity. The scriptures help us war against our sins.
Christians are wise to store up scripture in their hearts—to memorize scripture and treasure God’s Word. It is a light for our path (Psalm 119:105), giving us direction and a process for growth. The Bible is our trainer for godly living (2 Timothy 3:16).
Delighting in the Word and meditating on it will help a new believer become spiritually grounded and stay steady when trials and temptations come (Psalm 1). Our aim should be to live a holy life, pleasing God (Colossians 1:10; Hebrews 12:14), purifying ourselves and “perfecting holiness” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Suze777
7. Put on the Armor of God – Ephesians 6:10-20
Peter urged believers to “abstain” from sinful desires that wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). The Armor of God, Paul said, will help us “be strong in the Lord” in His mighty power and enable us to take a stand against Satan’s schemes to defeat us (Ephesians 6:10-11).
New Christians need to understand there are spiritual forces at work to bring them down spiritually (Ephesians 6:12), but the full armor of God can help the believer stand firmly in faith. A biblical balance of spiritual warfare is important. We need to wage war against sin in ourselves (Romans 6), but also must oppose the destructive schemes of Satan (Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7)
The belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, footwear of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17) are all tools the Holy Spirit uses to help the Christian be fearless in the battle against temptation and distraction from living out the Gospel daily. Put on the full armor of God to stand strong (Ephesians 6:13).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/svm243
8. Seek God for Peace – Philippians 4:6-7
In this world, it’s hard to find peace. Shocking reports in the news, dysfunctional relationships, unexpected tough circumstances—everything around us conspires to rob us of peace. It’s easy to give in to fear and anxiety; but Paul tells us how we can guard our hearts and minds and find His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).
When new believers learn to seek God first (Matthew 6:33), they will find in Him all they need, including His peace. Jesus said He would give us His peace, which is not like the world’s fleeting and imperfect sense of peace (John 14:27). When we focus on God—when our minds are steadfastly fixed on Him—we will find His “perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3).
We are not to be anxious in our journey, but to pray with thanksgiving and guard our thoughts and choices. We must transfer all our fears over to our ever-present God and dwell in His peace, not our fears (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/LittleBee80
9. Practice Godly Love – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This passage, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a—often described as “The Love Chapter”—defines the outworking of the love of God in us to others. Love is patient, kind, not envious, not boasting or proud. It does not dishonor others and is not self-seeking. It’s not easily angered and doesn’t keep an account of others’ wrongs. It doesn’t delight in evil.
What love does do is rejoice in truth, protect and trust others, hope, and persevere. Paul says this kind of love “never fails.” Faith and hope are wonderful, but Paul says love is even greater! (1 Corinthians 13:13).
We are commanded to love as Christ’s disciples (John 13:34-35), to love with righteous actions and in truth (1 John 3:18). Godly love purposes to live with a clear conscience (Acts 24:16). Christians must strive not to injure others, but instead, practice forgiveness and keep relationships strong (Colossians 3:13-14; 1 Peter 4:8; Romans 12:16-18).
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Ben White
10. Obey Christ’s Commission – Matthew 28:18-20
All Christians are called to obey Christ’s “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20) to share the Gospel and learn how to disciple new believers, counting on His presence to help them. New believers can begin to fulfill Christ’s command by sharing their personal testimony of how God saved them and changed their life.
It is also helpful to learn key scriptures, like the “Romans Road”—Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9; 10:13 – a simple method of showing someone how to be a Christian. The first disciples immediately became Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:8). Jesus told His disciples they would need to deny themselves and take up their own cross daily to follow Him (Luke 9:23; 14:33).
Obeying the commission may not be easy; there may be something we need to renounce, or there may be persecution and even suffering. But if we are to follow in His steps as His disciples, we will obey, regardless the cost (1 Peter 2:21).
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Upgrade with Dawn, and writes for Crosswalk.com and Christianity.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.
Photo Credit: ©Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia Ltd