Vol.XX No.VIII Pg.8
October 1983

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

"If one man had killed another in cold blood, but no one knew about it; then, later in his life, he learned the gospel truth and wanted you to baptize him — but told you about his crime, and asked if he must first confess to the civil authorities — what would you tell him?"

I do not know what I would tell him. I do not even know what I would do if I were the man. But whatever I would do, or tell another to do, that is not the standard of right. If I could explain my feelings about this in great detail, it would not change the man's actual condition or final judgment, one way or the other.

I believe the Bible teaches murder is sinful. I believe it teaches those who have so sinned to look to Christ for redemption, and this necessitates their repentance (genuine sorrow for sin, and a turning from sin) and submission to Christ in baptism (Acts 2:38). It seems reasonable to expect restitution to accompany repentance when this is possible — certainly one cannot have repented of something in which he continues to engage, or from which he continues to profit. The penitent man in Christ's parable on the subject "went" to do what he had previously refused to do (Matt. 21:28-f). I would tell this man, and all men, these basic gospel truths.

"But if this man confessed his crime and went to prison, his usefulness to the cause of Christ would be lost — his life wasted,"

I did not say he should take this course — I do not know what course I would recommend in such a hypothetical case, and it is foolish for any one to pass judgment on such evidence. But let me remind you that Paul did some great work for the Lord while in prison. Who knows the outcome of whatever choice the man might make??

"Would you baptize him?"

To be or not to be baptized is his decision, and is validated by his heart, opened before God. My acceptance or rejection of the man neither saves nor condemns him. If I consider him a true penitent believer I could baptize him in good conscience. But "The Lord knoweth them that are his." I will not presume to judge for God.