In the book of Acts, the 3000, the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul, Cornelius, and others didn't have elaborate doctrinal studies to complete as a prerequisite to baptism. We should provide a similar quick path to salvation to anyone who wants to repent and longs to be forgiven. -- Steven Dill

I agree, we should not make it difficult for people to come to Christ (Matthew 23:4, 13). The early church wrestled with this very issue, especially once thousands and even millions wanted to become Christians. Everyone needed instruction, or catechesis, but how much? What is the happy mean between too much and too little? In asking the question, you are joining the ranks of numerous church leaders through the centuries who have striven to speak biblically, realistically, and lovingly to this issue.

The New Testament only indicates that people were taught before they became Christians (Ephesians 4:21 etc). How much instruction is really a practical matter. When I was baptized, in the 1970s, no one I knew had a standardized study series. Many of my friends who become Christians in the 1960s had no more than one or two studies at all! It all depends on one's faith, religious preparation, background etc. Some come to Christ more quickly than others. To refer to the examples you mentioned:

* The three thousand: many already knew the facts about Jesus (Acts 2:22). These "firstfruits" were the result of a few years of ministry by Jesus, the twelve, the seventy-two, and others. In addition, their conversions were 'accelerated' as they saw miracles and the fulfillment of the O.T. prophecies on the day of Pentecost.
* The eunuch not only had no "study series," but after he was baptized he seems to have had no "discipling partner," either! This incident alone should warn us not to be too dogmatic.
* Saul already knew a lot about the Lord, since his avocation was to refute Christianity, ferret out Christians, and prove that they had the wrong Messiah. He had had a few years to think about Christianity. And then the miraculous confrontation with the risen Christ!
* Cornelius had a background in Judaism. As a "god-fearer," or uncircumcised Gentile adherent to the synagogue, he would have known many scriptures, and was apparently already living them out.

As Paul said to Agrippa in Acts 26:29, "Short time or long, I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become Christians." With this in mind, we need (1) to be urgent for the lost; (2) to be circumspect as we share the gospel, lest we teach error or leave those we are teaching in confusion; and (3) to refrain from raising human expedients to the level of divine commands.

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