Four Types of Christians:
This week let’s focus on another idea from Richard Baxter’s 1656 book, The Reformed Pastor. It’s an idea to help you think about your men, especially went they are not acting Christianly!
In the area of discipleship, Baxter outlines four classic conditions of true believers.
- The first are the young and weak. Baxter writes, “There are many of our flock who are young and weak, who, though they are of long standing, are yet of small proficiency or strength. This indeed, is the most common condition of the Godly. Most of them content themselves with low degrees of grace, and it is no easy matter to get them to go higher. Yes, it is a very sad thing for Christians to be weak.” To be young and weak is to be weak in discipleship, or spiritual growth and service. They are weak and young even though they may have been Christians for ten or twenty years.|
- A second class of converts that need our special help are those who labor under some particular corruption. This makes them a trouble to others and a burden to themselves. “Alas, there are to many such persons addicted to pride, worldly minded sensual pleasures….” Maybe it’s pride, fits of anger, or a sexual addiction of some kind. We can estimate, for example, that between 60% and 70% of all men are involved in pornography…both Christians and non-Christians. We must have a heart to offer such men special help, which means making effective resources available to them (counseling, church discipline, accountability, small groups).
- A third class of converts are those whom Baxter called declining Christians. These may have once burned bright, but years of neglect and compromise has caused the fire to die down. This is a common sight in most churches today. Many of the men I meet who are declining Christians have come to that point because of a dream that didn’t come true. They believe in Jesus, but there was something else they thought they needed in order to be happy. And not getting it has somehow dulled their relationship with Christ. These men slowly withdraw. They just cooled down, never noticing the change in their temperature.
- The fourth class represents the strong. “The last class, whom I shall notice here as requiring our attention, are the strong, for they also have need of our assistance….” How much better to leverage the strong than merely attend to the sick.
How can this four-fold taxonomy help you in your discipleship ministry to men?
For the glory of Christ and no other reason…