Matthew Cejmer is in Year 2 of the Send SFL Residency Program at Family Church.
Great! Someone to whom you witnessed has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. This means that you’ve successfully built a relationship with an unbeliever; you’ve started a conversation about life that turned into a conversation about the Gospel; and now the world has a brand-new believer in Christ to show for it.
Hallelujah, amen, congratulations–this is truly a beautiful thing of which you were a part! It’s the step in the process of making disciples that scares most people off; but you’ve overcome and conquered it. Often we, as Christians, focus on reaching unbelievers and effectively witnessing so they will repent of their sins and believe in Jesus. But what are the next steps for these new followers of Christ? Fortunately for us, the Bible has some very clear answers on what should happen next.
One of the most important next steps for a new believer is the public declaration of his/her faith through baptism. Unfortunately, many people who accept Christ in our society today do not obey Christ’s command to be baptized. Many times people do not understand why baptism is important because we–as church leaders and members–don’t effectively communicate what the Bible says about its importance. The Bible, and even Jesus himself, has quite a bit to say about the importance of a new believer getting baptized.
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus specifically states: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus is pretty straightforward: we are supposed to baptize new believers. We should encourage new believer baptism, first and foremost, because it is in obedience to a direct command of Christ.
It is also important to practice baptism by immersion after someone has put his/her faith in Christ. Baptism is a symbolic representation of what Jesus did for us to be saved: he died, was buried, and rose again. Romans 6:3 says that in salvation we have been “baptized into Christ Jesus” and “into His death.” This is symbolized by the complete immersion into water, and then being raised from it as a new creation covered in Christ’s blood.
It is also an important step because it is a witnessing opportunity. A baptism is an event. It is a public declaration that a person is choosing to turn from the old way of sin and follow Christ as a new creation in Him. When new believers get baptized, it’s a great opportunity to invite friends and family many of whom may be nonbelievers. This naturally opens the door to questions and conversations about why they are getting baptized, what it means, etc. It can naturally turn from a conversation about the event to a conversation about the Gospel.
This is why new believers should immediately be trained to explain the Gospel to others. At Family Church, we train them to use our 3 circles Gospeling tool. It makes perfect sense that someone who has found new life and saving grace in Christ would want to share it! There is no one better to share the Gospel with a nonbeliever than someone who has just recently been redeemed from a life of sin.
These are some of the ways that we can steer new believers in the right direction as they begin their incredible new life – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.