Disciple New Converts
Jesus described John the Baptist as being “like a lamp, burning and shining” (John 5:35). He pointed people to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He faithfully warned people of judgment to come and preached repentance (John 1:29). He told people about Jesus and prepared them for His coming. Everything He said about Jesus was true (John 10:41). What an example he is to us in evangelizing!
Have you ever thought about the wonder of one flame? One lamp is able to light hundreds of lamps! John’s lamp, burning and shining as it was, lit the life of a disciple, Andrew (John 1:35-40). Andrew’s lamp lit the life of his brother, Peter. At Pentecost Peter’s burning and shining lamp lit the lives of 3000 who believed and were added to the church. And on and on it has been over the centuries to this present day.
Become a soulwinner and disciple your converts. Let the lamp of your life light many others! Teach them to pass their lights on to others. This is the challenge of your final lesson in this course, Sharing the Good News.
A CONVERT BECOMES A DISCIPLE
Objective 1. Appreciate the growth that can occur in a new convert’s life if he is given proper guidance.
Something about Menase attracted one’s attention. Perhaps it was the way he seemed to forget himself entirely as he evangelized. No matter whom he met, before long out would come his little Indonesian New Testament and he would be sharing the Good News with them.
Lack of funds for proper clothing did not deter him. The pockets of his trousers were always bulging with gospel tracts that he gave to persons he witnessed to of Jesus and His love. And his manner was such that he caused no one offense.
Menase first heard the gospel during an evangelistic crusade held in his hometown. The joyful singing of the congregation attracted him and he stopped to listen. Then the fervent preaching gripped his attention. Moved by the gospel message, Menase lingered after the meeting. The pastor and the evangelist talked with him and saw that his heart was open to receive Christ. That night he was born from above; he became a believer! He adopted the name Menase, Indonesian for Manasseh, the first son of Joseph (Genesis 41:51).
Menase’s father, a moneychanger and a teacher, became angry when Menase told him about his conversion. His mother, a Muslim, was also greatly displeased. This made it hard for Menase who felt torn between respect for his parents and love for his Lord. Then he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and with it a new love for souls and power to take his stand for his Savior. This started him witnessing to others of the change in his life.
Older Christians encouraged and assisted Menase in getting further Bible training. Menase’s father refused to help his son which meant that he had to work hard earning whatever he could to stay in school.
Evangelizing became as normal as breathing to Menase. By nature a shy fellow, his rare gift in approaching people amazed those who knew him. He witnessed to members of the military personnel stationed nearby. Once a man with both hands blown off while fishing with explosives at sea was brought to the hospital. Hearing of his plight, Menase went to talk to him about his spiritual need and the man gratefully accepted Jesus as his Savior.
During a Christmas vacation he felt strongly that the Lord wanted him to go and evangelize on the island of Seram. He had no money but he started out. Just before he was to board the boat at the dock someone handed him enough money for the boat fare! After landing in Seram he met a soldier and chatted to him about the Lord. The soldier said, “Oh, I’ve heard about the Bible Institute at Kate-Kate. Here, take this,” and he placed some money in Menase’s hand. Menase walked on praising the Lord for supplying his financial needs.
On down the road he made friends with a family who invited him to stay with them. After Menase carefully explained the way of salvation to them, the whole family of at least eight members accepted the Lord! Menase now knew why the Lord had led him to Seram.
Menase is a good example of how encouragement and training can help a new convert become more effective in his service to the Lord. He continued his studies at the Bible Institute. At the graduation service he was the class speaker. He married a fine Christian girl, became a pastor, and then a district leader in his area of Indonesia. Evangelizing has become a way of life for him, and this is what our Lord wants it to be!
CARE FOR THE NEW CONVERT
Objective 2. Name practical helps and encouragements that you can give the new convert.
Already in your studies you have learned that conversion is like the birth of a child. A convert is a born-again person, one who is born from above of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-6).
The first week of a newborn baby’s life is a crucial time. He needs constant vigil to make sure that his little body functions normally, that he learns to take nourishment and begins to gain weight and grow. Some babies are born strong and healthy; they immediately start feeding and growing. Others may have problems that require special attention. When these problems are taken care of the baby will grow like the others.
What a tragic thing is an abandoned baby, perhaps left on someone’s doorstep! Yet equally disturbing is the neglect of a new convert. The spiritually newborn baby needs to be watched over lovingly to help him gain a good hold on spiritual life. Some may be filled with joy immediately. Others may need extra counseling to gain assurance of their salvation. (See Appendix – Type 2.) But they all need help to feed on God’s Word and grow.
Paul wrote to his converts at Corinth, “I have become your father by bringing the Good News to you” (1 Corinthians 4:15). Like the parent of a new baby, the soulwinner has both the joy and the responsibility of seeing that the new convert receives the help he should have. The next section gives ways in which you can do this.
Keep in Touch With the Convert
Find out where he lives and visit him. As you learn more about him—what he does, who members of his family are, and what kind of background he has—you will then understand better how to help him, or find help for him.
The apostle Paul never forgot that when he was a new convert in Christ, Ananias came to visit and to encourage him (see Acts 22:12-16). Paul, in turn, faithfully visited his new converts. During his first missionary journey he and Barnabas returned to cities where they had been and “strengthened the believers and encouraged them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:22). His second missionary journey was prompted by the desire to visit converts, as he said, “Let us go back and visit our brothers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along” (Acts 15:36).
In some cases, where strong opposition to the Christian faith exists, a visit to the convert’s home may not be possible or wise. In this case, you can invite the new convert to your own home or to a friend’s home to keep in touch.
When Paul was unable to visit his converts personally, such as during his imprisonment, he sent a reliable person in his place. To converts at Philippi Paul sent young Timothy in his stead as one who shared his feelings for them and who really cared about them. (See Philippians 2:19-20.)
You can also keep in touch through correspondence and through prayer. Paul encouraged his converts by writing to them and praying for them. To converts at Philippi, the first church he and Silas planted in Europe, he wrote:
I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Jesus Christ. You are always in my heart! (Philippians 1:3-7).
To new converts at Thessalonica, the capital city of Macedonia, Paul wrote:
Now we can give thanks to our God for you. We thank him for the joy we have in his presence because of you. Day and night we ask him with all our heart to let us see you personally and supply what is needed in your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10).
A great strength of the apostle Paul’s ministry was his unceasing prayer for the believers. You can follow his example further by attending gatherings with a new convert. At prayer meetings and Bible studies he can get acquainted with other Christians. It might also be possible for you to keep in touch with him by telephone.
Help Him Grow In Grace
You must help the new convert to begin right away doing things that are needed for him to grow in grace. We will talk about three essential habits for him to develop.
The first is the habit of daily prayer. Prayer is communion with the Lord—worshipping Him, loving Him, and talking with Him. Encourage the new convert to start a life of prayer by setting apart some time each day to pray. If possible, be an example yourself in times of prayer and worship with the new believer. Pray for him in your own regular times of prayer.
The second is the daily reading and study of God’s Word. Help your convert to set a time to read the Word every day. He might begin by reading the Gospel of Mark, and then the Gospel of John. You could also encourage him to start with one of the ICI courses in a home Bible study group. Your New Life is a most helpful course for a new convert.
Along with this, encourage the new convert to seek for and to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit. God’s promise concerning the gift of the Spirit is to every believer (Acts 2:39). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gateway to a life of spiritual fullness. It makes prayer and Bible study become more than a duty—it’s a fulfillment, a joy! The Holy Spirit coming upon a believer in power helps him grow in grace (John 14:17; Luke 24:49).
The third good habit for new converts and longtime Christians alike is to attend church services regularly. One’s own spiritual life is strengthened by gathering together with others in the name of the Lord Jesus for worship and hearing the Word preached. Also, fellowship with other believers helps the growing process.
Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer (Hebrews 10:24-25).
TRAIN THE NEW CONVERT
Objective 3. Recognize ways in which a new convert can be helped and trained.
Make Him a Disciple
We must take the gospel to all people of the world and lead them to a salvation experience through faith in Jesus Christ. We must also lead them into the fellowship of His church and train them to become responsible and fruitful disciples. Disciples are learners of biblical truth, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Merely sharing the Good News or even winning people to Christ is not enough. Evangelizing must lead on to nurturing or discipling of converts. They must be trained. Invite the new believer to a training class for young Christians. Perhaps your church has a special class for this during the Sunday school hour or at some other time. If not, ask your pastor if something can be arranged.
In this class major doctrines of the Christian faith can be introduced to new converts. The ICI Christian Life course, We Believe, will be good for this. Other ICI courses may also be studied, and discussions on how to live the Christian life are profitable for everyone. As you and new converts take these courses together, you will gain spiritual knowledge useful in the Lord’s work anywhere.
An added program is preparation of new converts for the step of baptism in water. They need to understand that baptism is a public act of confessing the Lord as Savior. This will make their experience meaningful. Special classes can be held for this purpose.
A class that will prepare converts to become members of a local church is also important. In such a class they will learn what the church is and how they can take part in its activities. The ICI Christian Life course entitled What Churches Do can be used effectively in such a class.
Show Him How to Evangelize
Challenge a new convert to share the Good News right away. He can start by telling others what Christ has done for him, and you can help him by what you have learned in this course. By developing the art of soulwinning early in his Christian life he will bring blessing to himself as well as to others. As he learns to give of what he himself has received of God’s great grace, more grace will come to him personally. Jesus said, “Give to others and God will give to you . . . . The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you” (Luke 6:38).
Encourage the convert first to begin just where he is in his home and in his surroundings. In Mark 5:1-20 we read about a man possessed by evil spirits. He was living a wretched life when Jesus came and marvelously delivered him. The man begged to go with Jesus in His travels and ministry. Instead, the Master told him to “go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you.”
The man obeyed. Mark records that he left and “went all through the Ten Towns, telling what Jesus had done for him. And all who heard it were amazed.” This man evangelized in his surroundings where people knew about his former life (Mark 5:1- 20). This is a good example for a new convert to follow. Teach him to evangelize where the Lord has placed him. His friends and his associates all need to hear the gospel through him!
Appeal to the convert to win members of his own family. The promise in Acts 16:31 can be claimed for this. Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives all went into the boat they had made to escape the flood of judgment. The large boat was God’s provision for Noah’s entire family, and God is still interested in families. It is often through connections with one’s relatives that the Good News can be spread.
Another effective way to evangelize is by teaming up with a new convert. A mature Christian and a new believer going out in visitation evangelism have a distinct advantage as they visit the unconverted with whom they have had some association. The mature believer is familiar with the Bible and the Christian life; the new convert, on the other hand, probably has more contacts and ties with the unconverted. They can combine their strengths to reach the lost.
Help Him Become a Lay Leader
A great need of the church everywhere is to have more trained lay leaders. In Lesson 3 you studied about two kinds of lay workers. One helps primarily with internal church activities and the other seeks to reach out and evangelize unbelievers. Both are needed in Christian work all over the world.
When you win a person to Christ, you should think of him first as a new convert who needs to be taught the Word of God. Then you should think of him as a worker in the church. He will enjoy working for the Lord just as you do. Therefore it is a good idea to encourage the new believer to enroll in classes. ICI courses are available for training in Bible and in Christian work. The courses may be taken in personal study, or in a class with others.
When involving the convert and yourself in training, do remember that your pastor is the head of your local church. One of the most important roles of a pastor and his assistants is to “prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service” (Ephesians 4:12). The pastor, however, cannot nor would he want to try to do everything. A growing church needs many trained lay workers applying their energies and abilities to ongoing evangelism and nurture of new converts. Voluntary, unpaid workers are invaluable and indispensable in every department of the church and as leaders of prayer and Bible study groups.
EACH ONE WIN TWO!
Objective 4. Identify reasons why each believer should win at least two persons to the Lord.
Ancient Chinese emperors claimed that they ruled by a mandate from heaven. The Bible tells us of two real mandates from heaven.
The populating mandate was given to human beings at the time of creation. It was God’s purpose that the earth should be populated according to its resources. People must exercise wisdom in their control over the earth because its resources are not limitless. God expects people and their governments to maintain proper stewardship in the earth.
Born-again believers have an additional mandate, received from Jesus Himself. This is the evangelizing mandate or the Great Commission. Review what you learned about the Great Commission in Lesson 1. It is a sad fact that many Christians have never fully obeyed this great mandate.
Jesus Christ holds the church responsible for obedience to this command. We as believers and church leaders are to be stewards of our time, abilities, funds, and other resources in relation to this evangelizing mandate. We are responsible for reaching our generation. The only way is for believers and leaders to be yielded to the Holy Spirit and involved in ongoing evangelism and church planting.
Is it really possible to fulfill the Great Commission? Yes, it is! If every believer would win two people to the Lord in his lifetime, and if each future convert in turn wins two more, fulfilling this evangelizing mandate is possible.
“Why do you suggest two converts for each believer?” you may ask.
Our answer is as follows: If each believer wins only one non- believer during his lifetime and if each convert, in turn, wins one other, the total number of converts gained would be simple addition. If you win A and A wins B, B wins C and C wins D, only four people besides you would be converts won to Christ in four stages.
If; however, you and each new convert win two others, converts would double in number during each stage of soulwinning. In four stages, not only four, but thirty, would be gained!
By the diagram you can see the great possibilities of multitudes being won to Christ.
Winning and training two is a figure within the reach of all. If each convert would win at least two converts, in unbroken succession, over 4 billion people could be won in your lifetime in less than 40 stages of soulwinning. Fulfilling the Great Commission is a possibility by obedience to its terms and by the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
The task is great. What variety is in our world of over 210 countries and over 4000 tribes. Yet the truth of the Word of God applies to all people. We share a universal gospel that can meet the needs of everyone anywhere.
The Holy Spirit understands the heart of each individual. He wants to use you and those you win in an ongoing sharing of the Good News. He will confirm the Word as you give it out.
The disciples went and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and proved that their preaching was true by the miracles that were performed (Mark 16:20).
How, then, shall we escape if we pay no attention to such a great salvation? The Lord himself first announced the salvation, and those who heard him proved to us that it is true. At the same time God added his witness to theirs by performing all kinds of miracles and wonders and by distributing the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his will (Hebrews 2:3-4).