What I Learned From a New Believer

by   |     |   shorn@bju.edu   |  

The look on Scott’s face was priceless as he sat across the table at the Starbucks down the road from the church. He had just discovered that the New Testament books were named after either the men who wrote them or the city in which their recipients lived. I must admit it was refreshing to sit around someone so new in his faith that he was excited about the “table of contents” in his Bible. I realized there is a lot I could learn from a new believer.

Scott is a real person. At that time, he was a forty-something, fairly well-educated individual with a well-paying job living in a suburb of Milwaukee. And, believe it or not, somehow Scott managed to get all the way through his life without ever going to church or engaging with the Gospel in any way—in a city full of large churches! And then, one afternoon in July, he received an invitation from a friend to visit his church. Motivated by curiosity as much as by anything else, he agreed to come.

God Spoke Into a Life

The next Sunday, Scott put on his best game face and walked into the lobby of the first church he had ever attended. He reported later to me that, as he listened to the guest evangelist, it was as though God were speaking directly to him through the simple gospel message. He responded to the invitation, and by the end of the service, Scott had come to a personal saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Shortly afterward, he and I began meeting weekly for an hour at Starbucks for discipleship. Frankly, sometimes I wondered who was really discipling whom. There were times his freshness and enthusiasm for things I had taken for granted for years put me to shame. On more than one occasion, I found myself laughing with sheer joy at his delight and surprise upon learning some new truth about his relationship to God.

For instance, I will never forget the look on his face when he understood that the Holy Spirit lives inside him. Or the time he announced he was getting himself in awkward situations because he could not restrain himself from telling other people about their need to stop sinning and let Jesus change their lives. It happened at the bank, on the job, and with his friends. I laughed and said, “Scott, church-speak for that is ‘witnessing.’ And all of us should do more of what you are doing!”

The Power of the Gospel

Even as I write these words, I find new amazement at the power of the Gospel. It can save anyone who will simply believe. It has this power to save because in its message is found a kind of righteousness that comes only from God—His own righteousness. Any other kind of righteousness is insufficient to remove a person from being under God’s wrath.

And when we try to offer God our own version of righteousness, it is not acceptable to Him. Not only that—it angers Him. But when God works in someone, He opens their eyes to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. They come to see with new eyes of faith, and they choose to put their faith in Christ and get gloriously saved. Just like Scott did.

It still happens today and it should happen more often. Our passion is to train a generation of young people who are passionate about reaching the Scotts who live in cities all over the country. So, when God brings a Scott across your path, seize the moment. It will be life-changing. A new believer can teach us a lot. Wait and see!


Sam Horn (BA, ’86; MA, ’88; PhD, ’95 from BJU; DMin, ’07 from The Master’s Seminary) joined the executive team at Bob Jones University in January of 2015.

Sam has served in both academic and pastoral roles throughout his ministry. Sam desires to use his experience in pastoral ministry, teaching and academic administration to recruit and train students for all disciplines and to embrace the mission of advancing the Gospel and serving the Church effectively.