A few days ago I gave you the first 10 of a list of practical steps for new believers according to Richard Baxter. Now comes the conclusion to that list... numbers 11-20. Enjoy, take to heart, and again post any comments you have.
1. Do not let your first opinions about the confusing things in Christianity, where the Bible is not clear, be unfounded, overly certain, or unchangeable; instead hold your opinions modestly with suspicion of your own immature understandings and with room for further information, supposing it possible, or probable, that upon better instruction, evidence, and growth, you may change your mind.
2. If controversies cause any divisions in your community, make sure to look first at the interest of common truth and common good and the practice of love. And do not become a passionate fighter for any sect of the division. And do not become ashamed of peace, or your teachers, or overturn their teachings just so you can be seen as the truly-passionate or truly-believing person; instead suspect your own immature understandings, and do not voice your opinions until you are clear and certain; and join, instead, with the humble and peace-making… not with the feisty or divisive.
3. Know that true godliness is the best life upon earth, and it is the only way to perfect happiness. Still try to learn it, therefore, and use godliness as the best choice; and work hard to resist those temptations which make godliness seem confusing, painful, sad, or unpleasant.
4. Work, work, and work in killing the desires and pleasures of your sinful nature; and keep a continual watch over your senses, desires, and longings; and do not throw yourself toward temptations, occasions, or possibilities of sinning; instead remember that your sanctification & glorification depends on killing the sinful nature.
5. Be so careful always about which teachers you entrust the guidance of your souls to. And be so careful with what friends you hold dearest and converse—make sure they are not ones who would corrupt your thoughts with false truths, or your hearts with hatred, commonness, indifference, or with an accelerated, divisive passion; but instead, if possible, choose wise, holy, heaven-like, humble, unblameable, self-denying persons to be your daily companions and close friends; but especially for your confidants.
6. Make careful choices in the books you read. Let the Bible always have the first place, and then let it be the pure, engaging, heavenly works which best explain and apply Scripture; and then the well-researched history books of the church, followed by the works on sciences and arts; but be careful of the poisonous writings of false teachers which would corrupt your understandings, and be careful of pointless romances, meaningless plays, and false fiction which may deceive your imagination and corrupt your hearts.
7. Be careful that you do not believe the teaching of unpunishable sin as if it were the gospel; and do not think of Christ as unconcerned with sin; and do not pretend indulgent grace for your fleshly peace-of-mind or laziness since these present a different gospel, a different Christ—in other words the teaching and practices of the devil against Christ and the gospel which attempt to turn the grace of God into idolatrous passions.
8. Beware and watch for the noticeable effects of dying faith and its transition into fleshly affections or a counterfeit grace or faith of a different kind… and so beware of faith practices for religion’s sake.
9. Do not promise yourself a long life, or money and success in the world, or else it will entangle your heart with the temporary things and make you worldly ambitious with greedy plans, and it will steal your heart away from God and destroy all your true understanding of eternity.
10. Make sure that your faith is truly of God and given to you by God, as the beginning, the way, and the end; and that everywhere in your life is written “Holy to God”—first and especially upon your soul, then upon everything you have or do; and make sure you do not lead others astray with an inconsistent, hypocritical relationship toward people.