I have helped many people get baptized into Christ. I've also prevented many people from getting baptized because they were not meeting my expectations (or the specific challenges I laid before them). I do see 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 as a good passage or indicator of one's readiness for baptism. Yet this passage was written to Christians, not non-Christians. In the N.T., there was no set series of studies non-believers had to go through. I believe repentance is needed, but how much repentance can be expected from someone who does not have the Holy Spirit? -- Lennox King (Ottawa)
Good question, and I do not think you are the only one asking it. 2 Corinthians is indeed written to Christians, but verses 8-11 are an excellent description of the nature of repentance. God commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), and the beauty of this passage is that it paints a picture. It describes the attitude of someone who has made the repentance decision. Remember, even John the Baptist had expectations of specific change in the lives of those he baptized (Luke 3:10-14), although not everybody saw his need to repent (Luke 7:29-30). We do people no favors by being vague about the Christian call to commitment. I would encourage you to be as specific as possible, but leave room for grace to do its work (Titus 2:11-14).
Does one necessarily have to prove the change of heart before baptism? The fruit must come (Luke 3:8, Matthew 3:8), but the Bible does not say when, or how much evidence must be present before one is immersed into Christ. Yet if we sense that someone has not had a change in his or her attitude, we would err in baptizing that person. This presumably explains why the Pharisees did not submit to baptism, in the end.
As for a study series, there was clearly some instruction preceding baptism. Even the Ethiopian of Acts 8 received teaching! See also Ephesians 4:20-24, Romans 6:17. Since most of us need more than a day to wrestle with our decision to follow Christ, a step-wise approach seems wise. As long as it is biblical, done in love, and helpful to the seeker, a variety of evangelistic approaches could work.
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