|Q298 : Advice for a New Believer|
Good evening, I am from Ghana, and am a new believer in Christ but I don't know the Bible much, so please I want you to direct me which Book should I start from. I also want to share the Gospel with others but because I don't know the Bible much, I want you to help me.
|A298 : by Tony Garland |
I rejoice that you have found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and are desiring to grow in your knowledge of Him and what it means to live as a Christian!
Here are some things I would recommend for the consideration of any new Christian:
May the Lord guide you and bless you as you seek, first to know Him and then to make Him known to others.
- Where to Begin - Different people have different ideas about where the best place is to start in the Bible as a new believer. It is a difficult question to answer since there are so many different answers once could give. My recommendation would be to not approach the Bible like a traditional book (e.g., start at Genesis 1:1 and read page-by-page through until Revelation 22:21). I would focus, initially, on reading one of the New Testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John). My recommendation would be to read either Matthew or John first—my own preference is John. (John is an amazing gospel because it can be easily read by a new believer and yet never fully plumbed even by a very experienced believer.) Next, I would focus on a New Testament book which does an excellent job of cementing the essentials of Christianity: what it means to be a believer and how and why we have forgiveness from sin before God—the Book of Romans. After that, it might be good to read Ephesians which explains more about the riches we now have in Christ. Thereafter, you could gain benefit from any book—and it might then be time go go "back to Genesis" to get a better grasp of the foundational history upon which the ministry of Christ is built.
- Bible Reading - Since the Scriptures are the primary means by which God reveals Himself to us and conforms us into His image (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18), it is most important that you establish a life-long habit of daily reading from the Bible. It can be very helpful to have a schedule which guides your reading time such that you have a systematic approach which includes all the Bible. I follow the reading schedule available on our websitea. This reading schedule is also the basis for the One Year Bibleb found on our website. If you diligently follow the schedule, you will wind up reading the entire Bible through each year.
- Study, not Just Devotional Reading - When reading the Bible daily, we tend to do so "devotionally." That is, we have limited time and we are wanting to have our minds refreshed and "calibrated" to God's way of thinking as we live each day. As valuable as that may be, it cannot substitute for more lengthy in-depth study of the Scriptures as time allows. There are too many Christians who begin a devotional approach to the Bible, but never get further. Years later, they've reread the same passages many times, but still don't really understand what they are reading. This is because they haven't studied the Scriptures in a more in-depth and systematic way so that they understand the overall context and important concepts. Ignorance has never glorified God. There are many books and study materials available to help lead you in a deeper knowledge of the Scriptures, as well as free online studies such as we offer at our websitec. (Caution is advised, though, because there is also a lot of unhelpful and errant teaching on the Internet. Which is why I also make the next recommendation.)
- Real-Life Fellowship - It is imperative that you get in contact with other believers in your town or area and begin to meet with them on a regular basis for study, prayer, worship, teaching, and service. God has designed Christianity so that we will seek fellowship with other believers—both to benefit from their ministry to us and to bless them by ministering to them with the gifts that God has equipped us with. To often today, new Christians fall into the error of thinking this need can be met by "remote fellowship" — Christian television shows, Internet ministries (like ours), or even so-called "Internet Churches." This will simply not do. When you read the New Testament, you will see that the predominant model for the environment within which the believer grows is a real fellowship with living, breathing, and sometimes difficult-to-get-along-with fellow believers.
- Pastors/Elders - As you find a local fellowship to attend, but sure it has a structure which the New Testament endorses for a local church. Whether it meets in a separate building or at a member home, it still should have an authority structure where one or several elder/pastors provide spiritual guidance so that the fellowship can benefit from their experience and guidance. This will also provide protection from doctrinal errors and other forms of spiritual abuse that can sometimes occur when a single, influential individual exercises unquestioned control over others. Also: the Bible is clear that pastors/elders must be men and not women (1Ti. 2:12-14). (How can one expect to grow in a church led by women—when the elders (the women) are already demonstrating disobedience to the Scriptures by holding such office?)
- Wait on God - As a new believer, we typically have a lot of zeal. So we want to go straight away and start evangelizing and sharing our faith. This can be a good thing, however it must be tempered by the realization that zeal without knowledge does not honor God (Romans 10:2). So our zeal must be equipped with knowledge. And true biblical knowledge takes time! So rather than rush out and try to make God known, it is best to become better equipped to know Him first! Otherwise, you risk several things: 1) misrepresenting God in some way that actually distorts true Christianity; 2) being so busy evangelizing and serving God that you yourself never become truly rooted in the Scriptures and wind up being led astray yourself by incorrect doctrine or worse, a cult. You will notice that the motto of our website is "Knowing Him" and "Making Him Known." The order of these two phrases is very important: we must know Him first before we can properly make Him known. (Of course we will never fully know Him, even after decades as a Christian. But it is still most wise to become better equipped before assuming we can be used by Him in a way which honors Him.)