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Chapter 1: Babies Are Vulnerable

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First Steps: A Guide to the Growth and Development of Baby Christians

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© 1988 G. Edwin Lint

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This Book Is Dedicated To . . .

A pastor, church administrator, publisher, author, and the man who directed my physical and spiritual first steps-- my Dad,

Rev. J. Franklin Lint
1909 -- 1993


PREFACE

This is a major revision and rewrite of a booklet I first wrote in 1971 titled First Steps: A Guide to the Growth and Development of Baby Christians. It is specifically designed for persons who have recently come to know Jesus Christ as a personal Savior through the born-again experience. Evangelical doctrine, worship, lifestyles, and value systems will seem strange and different if you are such a newborn baby. I trust that First Steps will prove to be just the right kind of baby food for you.

Contents of this chapter

1. BABIES ARE VULNERABLE

JUST WHAT IS A BABY CHRISTIAN?
You are a baby Christian if you have recently accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. God is your Father, Jesus Christ is your elder brother, and the Christian church is your mother. You are a part of this family of God because you have accepted Jesus Christ as the Supreme Sacrifice for your sins. This act brings you back into the fellowship with God, your Father, for which the human race was created in the first place.

You are being called a "baby Christian" because the Bible uses the term "born again" when talking about the act of accepting Jesus Christ as a personal Savior. In the Gospel of John, the fourth book in the New Testament, there is a story about a Jewish leader who visited Jesus to find out how he might have eternal life. This story is recorded in the third chapter of John and Jesus told this man, whose name was Nicodemus, that he had to be "born again" in a spiritual way.

Therefore, it is perfectly natural to refer to you as a "baby Christian" if you have just been born again. This book has been written as a guide to your early growth and development as you move from being an infant in Christ to being a strong, mature Christian.

FIRST STEPS will include these basic areas of information:

  1. What happened to you when you became born again.

  2. Some tips and pointers for your healthy growth and development.

  3. Practical information about worshipping in an evangelical church.

  4. General information about the evangelical lifestyle.

By the way, if you accepted Jesus Christ some time ago and are no longer a baby Christian in the strictest sense of the word, go ahead and read the book anyway. You will have learned many of the basic concepts but some of the background information may be interesting if not useful. Just excuse the baby talk.

BABIES ARE VULNERABLE
You already know quite a bit about human babies and you can apply much of that knowledge to your existence as a spiritual baby. For example, you know that a human baby is helpless, fragile, and in need of protection from the environment. Doctors tell us that the first 24 hours of a human baby's life are especially risky. Then, with each passing day, the baby grows stronger. In the beginning, your parents did everything for you and protected you from injury and infection. Now, you are relatively independent from a physical standpoint. If you enjoy a normal spiritual infancy and childhood, you can look forward to that same goal of spiritual maturation.

In the famous Lord's Prayer, Jesus addresses God as "Our Father". The pronoun "our" joins you and Jesus together as having the same spiritual Father. This means that Jesus is your Big Brother. Since you're still a baby Christian, it's comforting to know that God is your Father and Jesus is your Big Brother. That's exactly the way Jesus described the relationship among God, Himself, and human beings. You're going to need your Big Brother as you face the three major sources of danger to all baby Christians. These dangers will be especially severe during your first days and weeks so you should study them carefully.

THE POWER OF SATAN
Don't underestimate the power of Satan and his demons. Satan is a supernatural being who can honestly claim some supernatural powers. He is able to cause trouble for Christians in many places at the same time through the help of his demons. Right now, he knows that you are a newborn Christian and that you are vulnerable.

Respect Satan's power and the fact that his primary objective is to damn the souls of all human beings to eternal punishment in hell forever. Since the beginning of the human race with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been totally committed to separating us from fellowship with God by tempting us to disobey His laws. Since you are a newborn Christian, he is especially angry at you and wants you to doubt your faith and go back to the old way of living. He may have assigned one or more demons to make sure you are exposed to maximum opportunities to sin again. He knows that sin, a willful disobedience of God's laws, will separate you from God again. That's exactly what he wants.

That's the danger. Here's the solution. The Bible clearly teaches that the power of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is always greater than the power of Satan. Therefore, you must ask your Big Brother, Jesus Christ, to stay by your side and give you the will power to resist the temptations Satan is using against you.

THE FORCE OF HABITS
This is one of Satan's most powerful tools. He will use your memory to try to prove that your old life was much more enjoyable than what you have right now. This will be especially severe if you used addictive substances such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco, or illegal drugs. Evangelical Christians believe the use of these substances is sinful because they cancel out the will power. The addiction makes it impossible for the user to make appropriate decisions which have an effect on self and others.

Most addictions make two claims on you; one chemical and one psychological. With chemical addiction, your body comes to need the dangerous substance which you have been using over the years. When the supply of alcohol, nicotine, or drugs is shut off, your body may have symptoms of the physical illness known as withdrawal.

Fortunately, the new birth process provides healing for the chemical addiction and the baby Christian usually does not have to go through cold-turkey withdrawal. David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade, starring Pat Boone and Eric Estrada, has ministered to the victims of big-city drug cultures for many years. Teen Challenge, the organization he founded, claims a success rate of over 80% for addicts who have been born again. The average rate for any other drug rehabilitation program in the world is less than 10%.

However, there is still the psychological addiction and this may be where Satan will hit you the hardest. He will try to bring back visions of how great it was to get high. The mechanical, manipulative aspects of smoking may be so ingrained you will feel lost without that activity. The after-work or after-dinner drink may be so much a part of your lifestyle that you reach for the bottle without thinking. The answer is always the same. Ask your Big Brother to give you the power to resist the temptation to give in to the demands of your psychological addiction. Remember that Jesus had the power to heal you from the chemical addiction and He can help you lick the psychological addiction as well.

One word of caution. Your own will must be involved in any struggle against Satan. Jesus can only help you to the extent that you are willing to help yourself. You became addicted in the first place by surrendering your decision-making ability to the chemistry of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. Jesus healed you from that chemical addiction and gave you a clean, fresh will. But you have to use it and build it up. He will help you as you work to help yourself.

Some sinful practices are not chemically addicting but all are psychologically addicting. What you read, what you watch on television, where you go for fun: you may find that some of these activities aren't in line with the Christian value system and life style. Again, you must ask Big Brother for help. He will give you power to resist current temptations while you build new habit patterns and a whole new lifestyle. More about that later on.

THE INFLUENCE OF ASSOCIATES
Satan will use the force of your old habits and the influence of your associates simultaneously. It's a one-two punch which has caused the premature death of many baby Christians. Human beings are naturally gregarious and have a need for companionship. However, your safest source of companionship as a baby Christian will be among other evangelical Christians at church-related functions.

This will be a major problem if your spouse or close friends are not interested in church people or church activities. It will be easy to say, "I'll go along just for the fun of it but I won't do anything wrong." Remember that you are still a baby Christian and your resistance to the infection of Satan's temptations is still very low. Later, when you are stronger in Christ, you may be able to fellowship with the old gang without so much risk to yourself. In fact, you may be able to share with them the wonderful experience you have had in accepting Jesus as your personal Savior.

Right now, though, be careful.

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