How would you describe a newborn? Dependent? Cute? Curious? Ignorant?
Apply what you generally know about newborns to spiritual infants.
Spiritual newborns are…
- Characterized by ignorance and dependence
- Often zealous about the decision they have made to trust in Christ but may lack both knowledge of Scripture and understanding of what it means to follow Christ on a daily basis
- Tend to have a worldly perspective and may even mix beliefs from other religions with their understanding of Christianity
A friend of mine who had not grown up in church was saved in college, and I remember one day she walked in the door and exclaimed to our group of friends, “Did y’all know Jesus was married? I just saw on the History Channel that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene!” In her enthusiasm to know more about her Savior, this sweet friend listened to anyone and everyone who talked about Him, and this led us to discuss how we must trust what the Bible says about Jesus and be wary about what we hear on TV, the Internet, etc. We must always go back to the Word and see if what we hear aligns with Scripture. These are the types of things that spiritual infants need to learn.
How can we help spiritual infants?
- Pray for God to give them understanding and continue to grow them.
- Teach them to study Scripture and to feed themselves on the Word. Show them how you pray and how you study the Word. While they do not have to do everything you do, it at least gives them an example of what spending time with God can look like.
- Live life with them and model Christlike behavior, explaining what the Word says and how it applies to life.
- Teach them new habits to develop (church attendance, prayer, pure living, giving to others, serving, sharing their faith, etc.). Allow time for the Holy Spirit to convict them of things in their life that need to change.
- Help them learn how to verbalize how God has saved them. All believers – including spiritual infants – are called to be disciple-makers, and we are not supposed to wait until we hit a certain level of spiritual maturity to begin sharing the gospel. Coach spiritual infants in how to share their testimony. Help them identify the spiritual dead in their own lives and to begin praying for them and sharing the gospel with them.
When my small group and I were discussing the stages of spiritual growth, someone asked how we do know if someone is truly become a spiritual infant or if they are still spiritually dead? I have a couple of people in my life right now whom I can honestly say that the Holy Spirit is working in their lives, drawing them closer to Himself and giving them understanding. But are they regenerate? I’m not sure. So what do we do if we’re not sure if someone is saved?
With such people in my own life, I am continuing to spend time with them and asking them questions. I continue to rehearse with them who God is, how sinful we are, what Christ has done, and how to trust in Him as Lord and Savior. And I am looking to see if there is any spiritual fruit or changes in how they live and act. I cannot know the heart of a person, and I want to be careful and not assume that someone is saved. So I continue to pray for them and for discernment as I love and encourage them.
In which areas of your life do you need to grow in order to better invest in the spiritual infants in your life? What next steps can you take to grow in your ability to invest in them?
The next post will address spiritual children.
Ashley Chesnut lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and works on the Local Disciple-Making Team at The The Church at Brook Hills. Having grown up in college ministry, Ashley has a passion for discipling college girls and for writing and teaching others about God’s Word. Check out more about discipleship and women’s ministry at the Brook Hills Women’s Blog.
Growing True Disciples – Barna
Growing Disciples Series: http://www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/Growing-Disciples-Series