Have you ever wondered, as I have, what happened in the life of the Ethiopian eunuch, who was baptized by Philip (Acts 8:26-39), when he arrived back home in Ethiopia? Was there a congregation there with which he became identified with? Did he, as some think, start a new congregation? Regardless of what the answer might be, one thing is certain as a new Christian he had to make some attitude adjustments.
Revisiting the Day of Pentecost when 3000 were baptized, we have the account of how, under the teaching and leadership of the Apostles, they began to adjust their attitudes and actions. We read: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers … So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:42, 46).
Then there is the Gentile convert, Cornelius, a military soldier who was baptized. (Acts 10). After hearing the Gospel he was baptized (Acts 10:47, 48). Have you ever wondered how he must have felt when the Jewish Christians rejected him? It took a major conference of the leaders to accept the Gentile Christians into complete fellowship (Acts 15).
People obey the Gospel from various habits, attitudes, and places in life. Some are converted on the “road between Jerusalem and Gaza” (Acts 8:26). Some are converted in a “crowd where a meeting is occurring” (Acts 2:1-47). Some are converted because of being taught in a home (Acts 16:31-34). Some are converted because of some event in their lives (Acts 9:1-6; 22:16).
Today in the 21st Century people also obey the Gospel from various habits, attitude, and places in life. Some from having grown up attending church services. There are those who heard the Gospel in a meeting or by watching a TV program or listening to a radio program. Some were motivated to be baptized by studying a Bible correspondence course or reading a tract. Some were converted in a home Bible study conducted by a neighbor or friend. I know of several cases where a person was picked up hitch-hiking and taught the Gospel and obeyed it. Some have gotten permission to leave their jail cells to be baptized. I could go on and on. The point is people obey the Gospel from “101” places in life. There is no right or specific place a person must be in before he or she can obey the Gospel.
The point of this article is to reflect on the various attitude adjustments a new convert has to make as he or she “grows into the fullness of the measure of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-17); adjustments they must make in order to develop spiritual habits and practices which contribute to the 5-E mission of the church. It is not uncommon for a person to be baptized and not show up for congregational meetings, causing us to wonder why. There may be numerous answers but one may be we haven’t helped them or taught them how to make the attitude and action adjustments the Lord wants them to have (Cf. Philippians 2:8-10).
With the exception of those who may have grown up attending congregational assemblies, most new converts have to go through a whole series of attitude adjustments (Even those who have been observers have to adjust their attitudes).
Let’s take a few minutes and note some of the attitude adjustments a new convert may have to make in order to please the Lord and grow spiritually:
- The first attitude adjustment usually relates to attending the assemblies. It requires an adjustment in schedules and personal grooming habits; making it a habit to be with the spiritual family every time they meet (Hebrew 10:24, 25).
- In concert with the adjustment in attending the assemblies is partaking of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday with the family (1 Corinthians 11 Acts 20:7
- There is an attitude adjustment in financial stewardship as the new convert becomes a giver of monies, etc. to support the work of the church (1 Corinthians 4:2; 16:1,2).
- There is an adjustment in the hearing, understanding, and applying a new vocabulary, e.g. words such as “justification, atonement, covenant, righteousness, holiness, a new creature,” etc.
- There is an attitude adjustment in accepting and becoming part of a diverse group of brothers and sisters in Christ. They come from all walks, cultures, and ethnic places in life into the family of God (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Galatians 3:27).
- There is an attitude adjustment toward involvement in congregational worship services, e.g. singing, Lord’s Supper, and listening to sermons, etc.
- There is an attitude adjustment required to become involved in personal and congregational Bible studies (2 Timothy 2:15).
- There is an attitude adjustment needed to go from not praying regularly, or not at all, to “Praying without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
- There is an attitude adjustment needed in order to move from not being involved in reaching out and helping people to visit those in need, etc. (James 1:27; Galatians 6:10).
- There is an attitude adjustment needed in order for the new convert to allow the “fruit of the Spirit to be produced in his or her life” (Galatians 5:22-26).
- There is an attitude adjustment by a new Christians from not being involved in some aspect of the 5-E mission of the church to being involved (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16).
- There is an attitude adjustment needed in order for the new convert to understand that his or her mission is to “bring glory to God in the church” (Ephesians 3:21).
Obviously, this list of attitude adjustment could go on and on. How about you, what was the biggest attitude adjustment you have had to make after being baptized into Christ? Why does the lack of fruit in these areas, by some new converts as well as old, say about obeying Jesus’ command “to teach them to observe all the things I have taught you”?
Through the years I have heard Christians reply, when asked why they weren’t doing a certain thing in the congregation, “I didn’t know I had to do that or be there.” Sadly, some leave the congregation when they discover teachings and emphasis they had not known. Why does this happen? It may be a failure to teach what Jesus taught about “denial of self, cross-bearing, and following Him” (Matthew 16:24). Perhaps repentance (“A change of mind or having another mind) didn’t occur prior to baptism (Luke 3:3, 5; Acts 2:38).
Sometimes there seems to be an anxiousness just to baptize a person, but a failure to teach the counting of the cost and requirement of changes in attitudes and actions. One person said, “It was like signing a loan application without reading the small print or having it explained to me. Later I discovered some new demands that I hadn’t been taught before being baptized at about midnight. I resent that.”
It was prophesied by Jeremiah (31:33-37) and later quoted and applied by the Hebrews writer. Under the New Covenant a person would no longer be a covenant member, like in the case of a male at the time of circumcision and then having to learn what it meant, his requirements, and obligations as a member of the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant. The Hebrews writer makes it clear that in order to become a member of the New Covenant he must first be taught:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their MIND and write them on their HEARTS, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for ALL SHALL know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Hebrews 8:10, 11).
Regardless of a persons’ place or station in life he or she is a sinner separated from God (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23; 6:23). Therefore, all need to hear the Gospel (Romans 10:17); believe the Gospel (Mark 16:15, 16); confess their unbelief in Christ (Matthew 10:32); repent (change their mind or have another mind) of sin and unbelief in Christ; die to sin and be buried with Christ in baptism and be raised to “walk n newness of life” (Romans 6:1-12); and to “grow into the fullness on Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-17). ALL OF THIS REQUIRES AN ADJUSTMENT OR CHANGE IN ATTITUDE.