Friday, August 7, 2015

Baxter: First Steps for New Believers, pt.1

I'm sure you've heard of Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions. Well, today I offer you an updated version of the Rev. Richard Baxter's Directions to Young Christians, or Beginners in Religion, for their Establishment and Safe Proceeding contained within his Practical Works (Volume II). It is certainly interesting to me that Baxter's idea of 'practical' is quite different from what many people today think is 'practical.' Nonetheless, here you go. In his volume, Baxter presents a list of 20 with significant explanation for each. But I have rewritten the subject heading for each section... and given you only 10 of them (the next 10 will be posted in a few days). And although these are directions for the young Christian, I think all believers would do well to follow Baxter's wisdom. Feel free to post your comments here!

1.       Be careful! Do not let the newness or examples of truth and Christianity convince you more than the truthfulness and need of the Christian faith; or else, when the newness and examples are gone, your religion will die.

2.       Be careful of being ‘Christian’ only in mind without passion and practice; or being only in passionate practice without thoughtfulness; but instead make sure that thought, passion, and practice are unified.

3.       Work hard at understanding the right way of Christianity, and see true teaching in their proper priority and purpose, that you do not mistake the primary issues for unimportant or the curious for the most important. For this reason make sure you are well grounded in theology; and do not refuse to learn some theology that is true and holistic, and remember it always.

4.       Do not hurry to controversies of theology, but when you do deal with them, let them have the appropriate amount of time and passion; but make your daily faith founded upon the undoubtable, vital truths which all Christians agree to be true.

5.       Be extremely grateful for the mercy with which Christ converted you, but do not see your first understandings and choices as the most important; instead remember that you are a child in faith and must expect to grow and mature after time and faithfulness.

6.       Do not be discouraged at the difficulties and persecutions which come against you after you have decided to walk with God.

7.       If it is in your power, live under a perceptive, faithful, concerned, searching, convicted pastor; and persistently attend his preaching and use his counseling conversations for more wise choices and for worshiping rightly; just as you would take the advice of medical doctors for health, lawyers for legal matters, and professors for schooling.

8.       Understand the excellence of unmerited love and unity among believers, and do not easily believe rumors against them; especially make sure that you do not join yourself to a clique because of someone’s pretended authority, number, truthfulness, or Christlikeness, and in so doing remove your proper love and community from other Christians by becoming most passionate about your clique and neglecting the common interest of the church. Instead love a Christian as a Christian. And promote the unity and well-being of all Christians.

9.       Be careful not to let any persecution or someone else’s bad choice make you feel illegitimate feelings or do illegitimate actions, and so steal away your love, humility, and purity as a Christian; or do not let them make you disregard your position by guarding against, despising, or rebelling against your authorities who are the officers of God.

10.   Do not get rid of or avoid an extreme without fearing and being careful of the opposite extreme.

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