It looks like this thread and even this particular forum is visited rarely. In fact, this is the first time I have visited here, and thought I'd add some of my own perspective.
I think to the ABC's I would add another point. I firmly believe REPENTANCE is an important part of becoming a Christian. Perhaps this is included in natman's third point "COMMIT". But perhaps it is also helpful to spell out what repentance is, and how it fits into the initial experience of "salvation", or becoming a Christian.
In Acts 2:38, in the first instruction given to inquirers about what they needed to do in response to the message preached by Peter, it is helpful to note that they were particularly convicted in their hearts about the need to do so something. This probably is the work of the Holy Spirit which was obviously anointing Peter on this Day of Pentecost. In response to that heartfelt conviction, they were eager to get right with God. I think too often people in our day make merely intellectual decisions to respond to Christ, rather than heartfelt decisions. Only God truly knows the heart, and how He responds to decisions made merely in the mind or in the heart or both. We can't perceive what is happening in the realm of the spirit for each person we may be instructing. But I think there needs to be some heartfelt conviction of ones need to turn to Christ.
Repentance in the New Testament seems to have two prongs to it. To explain this, we need to realize that the basic meaning of the Greek word for repent is "change of mind". I believe it also includes a change of heart. The first point on which we change our minds is in regard to believing in Jesus as the one who died for our sins and was raised from the dead on behalf of the person whose mind/heart is changing, and that He is indeed the Son of God. The second aspect of changing ones mind/heart has to do with sin and righteousness. Ones attitude toward sin has to change. Prior to committing ones life to Christ ones attitude toward sin was probably benign or even joyous acceptance of sin as a way of life. However, for true repentance to take place, there needs to be a change in ones mind/heart that says he no longer wants to live in sin, but desires to live a righteous life. Both aspects of repentance are very important for a true conversion to take place. I realize that in many people this full extent of repentance is not realized; and in such cases this makes it even more difficult for the person to walk in victory over sin -- if he hasn't realized the destructiveness of sin and the life-giving power and joy of living in righteousness, the message of being holy as God is holy hardly makes any sense. There is still too much enjoyment of sin in his life.
A number of years ago I cane upon a teaching/book/video by an English pastor/teacher named David Pawson, called The Normal Christian Birth. In this book the author teaches 4 steps to a New Testament style conversion. They follow the letters R-B-B-R, which to make pronounceable he converted to RuBBeR.
The first R stands for Repentance which I've just covered.
The first B stands for Believe, which natman covered well.
The second B stands for be Baptized. Here we may enter into some difference of opinion. But in the New Testament Pawson sees that the normal conversion experience involved water baptism. It may have happened a bit after ones expression of faith and repentance, but it was still an expected part of true conversion. For him baptism in the New Testament was by full immersion into water. The actual Greek word for baptize, is "baptizo" which literallly means "immerse". The NT form of immersion signified dying to ones old way of life (sin), and rising in Christ's resurrection power in order to begin living a life of righteousness. The picture is explained in Romans 6.
In reference to this point of whether baptism is part of the salvation experience, there is a lot of discussion. I personally think that through 2000 years of church history, a lot of "accidents" happened along the way that changed both the meaning of baptism for the participants, and the form. When Luther and subsequent Reformers came on the scene, and present-day evangelicals, we resisted the notion of a person's doing any form of activity (other than prayer) in order to become a Christian, and so we separated baptism out of the conversion experience, and it tended to become merely symbolic. We were so concerned about the faith/works issue that we had to eliminate baptism from the salvation experience. But if we study the NT, it would be hard to find any case of conversion where baptism is not an expected part of the process. I believe God expects baptism as part of the salvation process. But I also believe He is a realist in terms of the baggage we inherited in our Christian heritage and He alone truly knows whether a person who has done the other aspects of conversion is genuinely His.
The final R stands for Receive the Holy Spirit. Pawson cites a number of Scriptures where receiving the Holy Spirit was an expected part of the full salvation experience. In Acts 2:38, Peter promised they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8, the Apostles were convinced that the Samaritans needed to receive the Holy Spirit and be aware of it. In Acts 10 Peter was convinced of Cornelius' and his household's salvation because God poured out His Spirit on them. In Acts 19 Paul realized these Ephesian disciples were missing something from Apollos' ministry of leading these few to Christ, and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit. From these accounts, Pawson fairly strongly makes a point that receiving the Holy Spirit is a necessary and expected aspect of the NT salvation experience. Indeed, anyone who talks in terms of "the new birth" would agree that the new convert is "born of the Spirit" and receives the Holy Spirit. Pawson takes this a step further, and would say that when a person received the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts there was some demonstrable evidence of that -- in essence God actually confirming demonstrably to the person that He has been truly born again. In general the evidence in the Book of Acts was speaking in a foreign language the person did not know, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. I personally would add that some at the house of Cornelius glorified God, thus probably worshiping in their own language in a spontaneous manner empowered by the Holy Spirit. In Ephesus, prophesying was included as an evidence given by the Holy Spirit.
If I want to be truly Biblical, I think I would accept most of Pawson's teaching here. However, as I said above, I think God is a realist and knows the "baggage" one carries as a result of their religious heritage and their present circumstances. If a demonstration of the Holy Spirit's power is not even expected, either by the new convert, or by the person leading him to Christ, then God may just quietly give the person the Holy Spirit without any outward manifestation. I personally believe this is a bit unfortunate, though I don't want to argue with God over the matter. But I believe this keeps the person from experiencing the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit at work in his or her life to the fullest measure God would like to work in ones life. It tends to limit the person's expectancy of what God can do in his/her life.
Later, since reading Pawson's book and watching his video teachings, I also began to dig a bit more into Matthew 28:19,20, in which Jesus said, "Going, therefore, make disciples of all nations, immersing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..."
In the Greek, the word commonly translated as a command "Go", is really a participle, "Going", which for ease of understanding is sometimes expressed "As you go". The "going" was expected by Christ, since He had already commanded and prepared them to Go. The only direct command here is "make disciples." And since "immersing" and "teaching" are also participles, they tend to describe what Jesus included in His understanding of the process of converting people into true disciples -- or "students" -- of Himself. (The Greek word for "disciple" is more literally "student". In fact, here in the Greek the expression "make disciples" is derived from a verb that more literally would be translated "disciple-ize"; we have adjusted that to more common English parlance with the expression "make disciples."
Jesus included two on-going activities here as part of the process of making disciples. I say on-going because in both cases "immersing" and "teaching" these are present participles which has the meaning of an on-going activity.
First, immersing. I covered this a bit in describing some of Pawson's teaching in regard to the literal translation of the Greek baptizo. I would also like to point out that the Hebrew expression "the name of" has a different meaning than what we normally understand in English. In Hebrew culture, "the name of" a person literally means the person himself. Thus, the expression "Praise the Name of the Lord" is literally understood in Hebrew to mean "Praise YHWH"; or "praise YHWH Himself". If we take that meaning for Matthew 28:19, we come up with the translation of "immersing them into the person of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." I think Christ literally expected His apostles to immerse people into God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I think Christ expected that when the apostles brought people into relationship with Christ, so to speak, that God was going to get in on the act and actually receive these people. I also believe that the process of disciple-making is an on-going experience of helping people live out their immersion into God, and to discover more and more of who God is in their lives. Thus, the new convert becomes a disciple (student) of the Triune God, getting to know Him intimately. This is part of what Christ intended in this Great Commission. We have turned the expression "in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" into a liturgical expression used whenever we "baptize" a person in water, whichever form is used. But I don't think that is what Christ and His disciples meant by saying and hearing this command.
Second, teaching them to observe, is also an on-going part of the process of making disciples. It is teaching people to "look at, meditate on, and then put into practice" all that Christ has commanded. I have a feeling that very little of our disciple-making practices in our churches today focus literally and long-term on getting a person to look at, meditate on and put into practice all the commands or teachings of Jesus. At least, I haven't seen any discipleship materials that focus on this. In most churches or denominations, the "discipleship class" focuses on what a person is to believe and practice as part of this particular church.
Whew! I've said more than enough. Although I believe what I've just written, I'm not ready to "argue" any of these points with anyone. That doesn't mean I believe my opinions are the absolute "right" ones in an arrogant way. I don't mind -- and even encourage -- the types of comments normally seen on this forum. But I think all of us would discourage any theological argumentation. So, if anyone is inclined to comment about anything I've said, or to explain their own position, feel free to "wax eloquent" if you like, as long as the moderators feel this is healthy and belongs in this particular forum.
Any comment from the moderator about this?
"One thing have I asked of YHWH, that will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of YHWH all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of YHWH and to inquire in His temple." Psalm 27:4