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 Shepherding the Heart of a New Believer

By;  Rev. Tat Stewart

                                    The Challenge of making disciples

            Our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the church to make disciples of all nations. (Mat. 28) To do that we must not only understand what a disciple is but how one is made.  A disciple is one:

            Who has been born again into a newness of life through faith in Jesus Christ and who is learning what it means to embrace the truth of the Gospel under the Lordship of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit in order to be transformed into the likeness of Christ and to live a life of surrendered obedience.

            The question then is, “How does this transformation take place and what are the most effective methods to use in discipling those from a Muslim background?” 

            To better understand how the Gospel penetrates and transforms a person in the context in a particular cultural and religious system of though it is vital to understand the path that the Gospel must travel.  There are cultural layers that one must identify and work through.  What are these and what are the implications for the disciple maker?

1.   Embracing Christian practice:  The question here is what is Christian practice?  At this level a person adopts Christian activities related to worship and patterns of behavior and has a basic understanding of Christianity as a set of guidelines to be followed.  At this level, discipleship can become little more than religious behavioral modification rather than deep character change that should result from regeneration. 

            Discipleship insights (what a person  might believe):

            1.  God is pleased when there is right practice;

            2.  God can be manipulated through ritual;

            3.  God is angry at me when I fail to perform the correct rituals; and

            4.  God is only interested in my outward performance.

2.  Embracing Christian beliefs:  The key question here is “what is true?”  At this level a person is encouraged to accept Christian beliefs as truth.  This approach assumes that if people believe the right things they will grow and change. There is no doubt that correct doctrine and clear understanding of Biblical truth are vital to the discipleship process, however, when confession of belief becomes the lone model for discipleship and even the goal of the discipleship process the result can be converts to a belief  system of religious doctrines and not to a true relationship with  Christ.  Having Christian beliefs is not enough to produce character transformation and Christ likeness. 

            Discipleship insights (what a person  might believe):

1.      That Jesus is not the Son of God and does not have a divine nature;

2.      That Jesus did not die on the cross for the redemption of mankind;

3.      That the New Testament has been tampered with;

4.      That a good Muslim is first a good Jew, then a good Christian and then finally a good Muslim;

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5.      That the decadent culture of the west is the fruit of Christianity;

6.      That the existence of many denominations and translations of the Bible is evidences of the confused beliefs of Christians;

7.      That the political actions of the United States are motivated by a desire to destroy Islam; and finally,

8.      That Christian workers are agents for their governments

3.  Embracing Christian values:  The issue here is, “What is bad, good and best?”  Values are deeply embedded in the inner life of a person and just because a person practices Christianity and even confesses to believe in the tenets of the Christian faith does not mean that he has adopted Christian values. Values are formed within the context of one’s family and culture and in most cases have greater influence on a persons thinking and action than the tenet of ones’ professed religious faith.  Discipleship that brings true transformation will have to address these deep issues of values. In reality the values of a person are the issues of the heart and Jesus taught us that a man’s heart is where his treasure is.  Therefore discipleship methods which do not address the heart will fail to bring character transformation.

            The heart issues that must be addressed in a biblical model of discipleship are the sinful diseases that attack the human heart.


            Types of Biblical Heart Disease

            a. A calloused heart (Matthew 13:14-15)

            b. A choked heart (Hebrews 12:14-15)

            c. A cheating heart (Matthew 6:19-21)

            d. A churning heart (James 1:6-8)

4.  Embracing a Christian worldview:  The driving issue of a person’s worldview is, “What is real?”  This is ultimately answered by, “What or whom does a person worship?”  Who or what is their God? The object of one’s worship shapes ones worldview; thus the perception of reality a Christian has is derived from the nature of the Triune God who has revealed Himself through the person and work of Christ. The MBB has a worldview derived from the character of Allah so the nature of God must be addressed to ensure the development of a healthy Christian worldview.

            Ten lies that a person  might believe about God

1.      God is sovereign so I am not responsible

2.      God is not immanent so I can not know Him

3.      God is both the source of good and evil therefore I am on my own to live a holy life

4.      God does not love me as I am so I must earn His love through good works

5.      God is against those who disobey him, so I am encouraged to take revenge on those who are again me.

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6.      God never humbled himself to reach out to mankind but sent others (prophets) so it is a weakness to show humility and be vulnerable.

7.      God never provided a clear way to be reconciled to him so I have no real hope of eternal life.

8.      God never provided a way to be reconciled to him so I have no way to be reconciled to others.

9.      God is Almighty and does whatever he pleases to serve his own purposes so I am free to use whatever means I can to advance my own good.

10. God did not provide a means for human nature to be changed  but rather provided a way for sinful human behavior to be sanctified so I have no real hope of ever really changing.

                                    Shepherding the heart of a new believer

1.  The peace of the assurance of salvation:

            Key spiritual concept:  A believer must have an assurance of his salvation

                                    In order to grow in grace.

            A.  The causes of lack of assurance

                        1.  A good works view of knowing God   (Ephesians 2:8-9)

                        2.  A self effort understanding of following God (Galatians 5:25)

                        3.  A track record of living under the control of sin (I John 2:1-2)

                        4.  A distorted view of grace

            B.   The cures that lead to an assurance of salvation

                        1.  Salvation is the work of God (Ephesians 1:3-14)

                        2.  Justification is by faith alone (Romans 5:1)

                        3.  Understanding that the Holy Spirit is God’s seal of ownership

                                    (Ephesians 1:13, Romans 8:1-4)

            C.   The course that true salvation takes (II Corinthians 5:14-21)

                        1.  A new motivation (v.14)

                        2.  A new master (v. 15)

                        3.  A new measurement (v. 16)

                        4.  A new meaning (v. 17-19)

                        5.  A new ministry (20-21)

2.  The joy of living in the presence of God: the power that transforms.

            Key spiritual concept:  A believer must understand how to maintain intimacy with God in order to produce the fruit of righteousness.

A.       How fellowship with God is broken

1.      Quenching the Holy Spirit  (I Thessalonians 13:14-15)

a.      An unbelieving heart  (Matthew 13:14-150

b.      An unsurrendered heart (Matthew 6:19-21)

c.      An unresponsive heart (Jonah 1:3)

                        2.   Grieving the Holy Spirit   (Ephesians 4:30)

                                       a. A prideful heart (James 4:6-7)

                                       b. A bitter heart (Hebrews 12:14-15)

                                       c. An unrepentant heart (Psalms 32:1-5)

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                        3.   Depleting the Holy Spirit 

                                    a. Ministering to others (Luke 6:19)

                                    b. The hostility of the world (James 4:4)

                                    c. Conflicts with others (Psalm 133:3)

            B.  How fellowship with God is re-established

                        1.  Understanding the dynamics of biblical repentance

                                    a. Admission of sin (Psalm 51:3)

                                    b. Sorrow for sin (II Corinthians 7:10)

                                    c. Turning from sin (Ephesians 4:23)

                                    d. Abiding in Christ (John 15:1-4)

                        2.  Understanding how to be filled with the Holy Spirit

                                    a. The indwelling presence of Christ (Colossians 1:27)

                                    b. The gift of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12L13)

                                    c. The command to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18)

3.  The joy of being healed by the love of Christ: the love that reveals God:

            The key spiritual concept:  The believer needs to experience the love of Christ in order to overcome his fears.

A.     The wounds of a loveless life

1.      Rejection

2.      Betrayal

3.      Humiliation

B.     The ways of the wounded heart

1.      Self protection by covering the truth

2.      Uncontrolled anger and violence

3.      Revenge and unforgiveness

C.    The wonder of healing love (I John 4:11-12)

1.      Christ loved us while we were his enemies (Romans 5:8)

2.      Chris’s love did not withdraw from us in our sin but come to be with us.  (John 1:14)

3.      Christ’s love motivated Him to suffer for the sake of reconciliation.

            (II Corinthians 5:18-19)

4.      Christ’s love would let nothing separate us from Him,

            (Romans 8:38-39)

5.      Christ’s love is committed to transformation of character.

             (II Corinthians 3:18)

D.  The worshiping heart: The attitudes of the heart

1. Praising God with all one’s heart. (Psalm 138:1)

2. Gratitude to God with a thankful heart (I Thessalonians 5:18)

3. Loving the Lord with all ones heart (Matthew 22:37)

a.      Loving God for His gifts

b.      Loving God for Who He is

c.      Loving God as embracing His will

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4.  The hope of living in the victory of the resurrection: Hope that proves God.

            The key spiritual concept:  The believer must understand the New Testament concept of HOPE in order to persevere through the trials of life.

A.     When believers lack hope they will:

1.      Desert Christ in hard times

2.      Disappoint others in keeping their commitments

3.      Despair over their failures and sins

4.      Be defeated by the fear of death

B.     What the believer’s hope is based on

1.      The character of God  (Hebrews 10:23)

2.      The promises of God (Romans 4:21)

3.      The purposes of God (Psalm 130:7)

C.    What the believer hopes for

1.      His resurrection (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

2.      His sanctification (Galatians 5:5)

                        3.  His suffering for the sake of the Gospel (Philippians 3:10)           

                                    a. God uses suffering to purify his church (I Peter 4:12)

                                    b. God reveals His glory through suffering (I Peter 4:13)

                                    c. God uses suffering to awaken His church for bolder

                                                Witness (Philippians 1:14)

                                    d. God uses the believers suffering to assist him in

                                                Identifying with others in pain (I Thessalonians 1:5-6)

                                    e. God uses suffering to show the supremacy of God

                                                (Romans 5:1-5)

5.  The fellowship of the Body of Christ:

            The key spiritual concept:  A believer must understand the body life nature of the church and be shepherded in his development of relationships within the body.

            Theme verse: Ephesians 4: 16  “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

A. God’s Kingdom has come:  A kingdom of relationships

1.      A new relationship with God  (Romans 5:1-2)

2.      A new relationship to ourselves ( Colossians 1:22/Romans 8:1)

3.      A new relationship with others

a. Jesus came to destroy the walls that divide (Eph. 2:14)

b. Jesus calls us to live in peace with others (Ro. 12:17-21)

c. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers

      -Matthew 5:9   -- II Corinthians 5:19

            B.  God’s Kingdom is made up of:

                        1.  Those who have been born again (John 3: 3-8)

                        2.   Those who surrender to His Lordship

                                    a. Hears God’s voice (John 8:47 10:27)

                                    b. Obeys God’s voice (John 14:15)

                                    c. Accepts God’s rebuke (Hebrews 12:5-6)

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                        3.  Those whom He is setting free (John8:36 Luke 4:18-19)

                        4.   Those who understand that they are part of the body of Christ.

                                    (Ephesians 4:11-13

II.   Why are relationships in the body of Christ so difficult?

A.     Three reasons found in Ephesians 4:14

1.   Immature believers: “Then we will no longer be infants”

2.   Unready to live by truth: “Tossed back and forth by the waves”

3.   The evil of our own hearts “in their deceitful scheming”

                  B.  What is needed to bring peace and joy to our relationships?

                        1.  We need to hear the truth “Speak the truth in love”

                        2.  We must center on growing up in Christ

                        3.  We need each other to grow up v. 16

III. What did God intend the church to look like?

A.     Our duties to one another—are:

1.  Members of one another   (Romans 12:5)

2.  To be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)

3.  To accept one another (Romans 15:7)

4.  To honor one another (Romans 12:10)

5.  To serve one another (Galatians 5:13)

6.  To bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)

7.  to patiently bear with each other (Eph. 4:2)

8.  To encourage one another (I Thess. 5:11)

IV. What are the enemies of peaceful relationships?

A.     Marks of an unforgiving and unloving heart

1.  Envy   (Proverbs 23:17)

2.  Criticism   (Numbers 11:1 and Colossians 3:8)

3.  Revenge (Romans 12:19)

4.  Hatred (I John 4:19-21)

5.  Plotting against others   (Numbers 16:1-11 plotting against leaders)

6.  Jealousy (I Corinthians 13:4)

7.  Attacking others verbally (Numbers 12:1-12)

8.  Gossip (I Timothy 5:13)

9.  Sarcasm and mockery (Ephesians 4:29)

            B.  How to become a forgiver.

                        1.  Why do we not forgive?

                                    a. We are selfish and want to hurt those who have hurt us.

                                    b. We feel forgiveness will not change the other person or

                                                Teach them a lesson

c.      We are powerless to forgive because we do not have the

Holy Spirit (Col. 3:12-14 forgive as the Lord has forgiven us)

2.      What are the results of not forgiving? (Hebrews 12:14-15)

a.      We are kept in bondage to our hurts

b.      We are kept in bondage to the past

c.      We are robbed of joy and peace.

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d.      We continue to poison relationship

e.      We will be more susceptible to illness

3.      What are the steps to true forgiveness?

a.      Acknowledge the wounds you have suffered at the hands of others.  Tell the Lord

b.      Choose to forgive the person who has hurt you.  (Eph. 4:32)

c.      Thank God for forgiving you because your sins against God are much more than others sins again you. (Romans 4:7-8)

d.      Recognize that this person may have great needs in his life.  Wounded people often hurt others.

e.      Pray for the person; bless, not curse them (Luke 6:28/35)

f.        Remember that your forgiveness is a condition for your own forgiveness. (Matthew 6:14-15)

g.      Forgive God for letting all this  happen

h.     Determine that you will no longer dwell on the hurts of the past.  Reject the thoughts and stop talking about it.

v. Communication a key

            A.  Why do we have problems in communicating?

                        1.  We are poor listeners; interrupt others

                        2.  We jump to conclusions

                        3.  We are not honest because we fear rejection

                        4.  We are sometimes unable to put our feelings into words.

                        5.  Our bitterness and hurts color what we hear

                        6. We are closing down conversations with judgementalism

                        7.  We make fun of others so they do not want to share with us

                        8.  We gossip and do not keep confidences.

            B.  What is the result of bad communications?

                        1.  Misunderstandings never get cleared up (Proverbs 18:17)

                        2.  Conflicts never get resolved (Matthew 5:23-26)

                        3.  We remain confused about things and often react poorly (I Cor.                                      14:33/40)

                        4.  We make poor decisions (Proverbs 18:13)

                        5.  Intimacy is hindered (Amos 3:3)

                        6.  Loneliness and distance from others thereby not learning from

                                    each other; not seeing our own mistakes.

B.     Keys to good communication:

1.  Be a good listener and do not come to conclusions or answer before a person has finished explaining his ideas.

      (James 1:19)

2.  Be slow to speak:

      Think first,   then do not be hasty and speak clearly

      (Proverbs 15:23 28)

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                 3. Don’t go to bed angry:  try to clear the air each day with others

                                    (Ephesians 4; 15 25)

                 4.   Do not use silence to hurt the other person, explain why you have

                        nothing to say. (Colossians 4:6)

                  5.  Do not become involved in quarrels; if you can disagree in a nice

                        way.  (Romans 13:13 Eph. 4:31)

                  6.  Do not respond if your anger in out of control;  use a soft and kind

                        tone of voice. ( Pro. 14:29 15; 1 Eph. 4; 26 31)

7.      When you are in the wrong humbly admit it and ask for help in how

you can change and do things differently.  (Matthew 5:23-25   James 5:16)

                 8.   When someone confesses a sin to you tell them you forgive them.

                        Then do not bring it up with others or to that person again.

                        (Eph.4; 32 Col. 3; 13   I Peter 4; 8)

9. Do not nag. ( Pro.  10; 19 16; 21 23)

10. Do not blame or criticize the other person;   instead, try to restore, encourage and edify. (Romans 14; 13 Gal, 6; 1)

11.  If someone verbally attacks, criticizes or blames you do not respond in the same manner.   (Romans 12; 17 21)

                 12.  Try to understand the other person’s opinion

                  13.  Show concern about the other person’s interest  

Tat Stewart

Talim Ministries




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