Having doubts about Christianity even after having just made a profession of faith in Jesus is inevitable for new believers, say pastors, including Harvest Ministries founder Greg Laurie.
"One of the first challenges new Christians face is having doubts about their conversion and about the Word of God in general," Laurie told The Christian Post recently via email. "One must recognize that faith should be built on God's Word, not on our fleeting emotions."
One of Laurie's assistant pastors, Jeff Lasseigne, also knows full well that people can fall away from their decision to accept Christ into their lives. Often, it may be because the condition of their emotional hearts is not fully supporting their thoughts, he said.
"I have met people who have said, 'I tried Christianity, and it didn't work for me.' But Christianity is the Person of Jesus, and not some 'product' or 'system' we try," Lasseigne told CP. "Not every person who comes forward, goes forward.
"Christ died for our sins on the cross, so that we can receive His forgiveness, and it comes down to our decision to accept Him and follow Him, or not," he continued. "The problem is not with the salvation God provides, it's with the heart of the person rejecting it. In the parable of the sower, Jesus warned that some people would respond, but then quickly fall away, because of either difficulties and persecutions, or because of the cares and concerns of this world (Matt. 13)."
Laurie warns about the challenges ahead for those having just made a decision to accept Jesus into their lives.
"Just as the devil came to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and challenged Gods' Word by saying 'Did God really say you cannot eat of every tree?' he will come to the new believer," Laurie said. "The new believer needs to immediately begin with Bible study and memorization."
He explained, "The Bible says that 'faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God' (Romans 10:17). The Bible promises believers – young and old alike – that they can be sure of their salvation: 'These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.'" (1 John 5:13).
When Lasseigne was asked about what he would say to new believers in order to prepare them for the doubts ahead, he answered:
"You'll have doubts! (Mark 9:24; Luke 7:18-19). We strongly exhort new believers, and all believers, to read, study, and obey God's Word. It takes time to study, learn, and grow in our understanding of Scripture. (I'm still learning – I still have questions!)
"God's Word is absolutely true – so our doubts arise from our inability to understand," he continued. "Doubts are actually natural, and I like to remind believers that doubt is not the opposite of faith, unbelief is! Doubt is part of growing in our faith. But at the same time, while honest doubts do come, chronic and unfounded doubts are very dangerous.
"Often times, we simply need to believe our beliefs, and doubt our doubts."
However, Lasseigne warns that there is no hope apart from Christ when someone has renounced their decision altogether.
"Religion will not save you, neither will education, science, or morality – salvation is only thru faith in Christ (John 3:16, John 14:6; Acts 4:12)," the Riverside, Calif., pastor said. "Jesus himself said that if we confess Him, he'll confess us in heaven; but if we deny Him, he'll deny us in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33). If you renounce Christ, you renounce any hope of salvation. There is no other sacrifice for our sins, and only judgment remains (Heb. 10:26-27)."
Laurie was asked about what he might say to the new believer about the journey ahead.
"On more than one occasion, the Christian life is compared to running a race. If it is a race, then it is not a sprint, but a long-distance run. This is why Jesus said if we want to be His disciples we must take up the cross daily and follow Him (see Luke 9:23)," Laurie said.
"Many years ago, a young man named Billy Sunday received Jesus Christ into his life. An older believer gave him some advice that he never forgot. He said, 'William, there are three simple rules I wish you'd practice. If you do, no one will ever write 'backslider' after your name: Take 15 minutes each day to let God talk to you; allow 15 minutes to talk to Him; and then spend 15 minutes telling others about the Savior.'
"Billy Sunday faithfully followed that advice and ultimately became a powerful evangelist whom God used to bring thousands of people into His kingdom," Laurie explained.
Laurie, who plans to add Harvest America to his annual evangelical outdoor events this year, talks more about the subject of new believers who may have fallen away from Jesus in a video available at GNLi.com.