Baptism - Appendix 2

Extracts from Christ on the Jewish Road by Richard Wurmbrand

The extracts that follow show that the rite of baptism is of great importance when a convert to Christianity has been connected with Judaism. By remaining a secret disciple he may avoid ostracism by his family and friends, but he does not get present salvation, as is clear from the examples given. The same is no doubt true when a convert has been a Moslem or connected with some other heathen religion. Although not copied out below Richard Wurmbrand goes on in his book to give the story of the happier case of one who boldly took his stand for Christ and was baptised.

As to the cases given below it may be said that although we are not commanded by God to be baptised (there is no idea in Scripture of a person baptising himself ), it may be right for a Christian to urge new converts to get baptised. Peter said: "Repent, and be baptised" (Acts 2:38); again: "And he commanded them to be baptised in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:48). This last command was no doubt addressed particularly to those who would carry out the baptising, that is, those who came with Peter (verse 45). Then again we have it said to Paul: "Arise and get baptised" (Acts 22:16).

Leaving the matter of baptism until a person is on his deathbed, so to speak, neutralises the force of baptism, which is to put us in what signifies the place of death now so that we can walk in newness of life here (Romans 6:4). There is no point in baptising persons who are at the point of death. They, as the thief on the cross, are about to pass through death actually.

There is no point in going to the Jordan to get baptised. Any water will do. The Ethiopian eunuch was simply baptised in the water that he and Philip came across on their journey (Acts 8:36). Even John the Baptist, though he used the Jordan for it, did not make a point of saying that his converts must be baptised in the Jordan and nowhere else. John baptised where there was a plentiful supply of water (John 3:23). In the Old Testament Naaman the Syrian was told to wash himself seven times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10). This was perhaps to humble Naaman's national pride, for he would apparently have preferred the rivers of Damascus (verse 12). However they were no doubt much further away than the Jordan and the point was to be cleansed now. Further, the physical properties of the water (Naaman thought the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters in Israel) were of no importance.

Pages 141 to 144

One day my wife and I went for a walk. Hardly had we gone a few steps before my wife noticed an old Jew on the other side of the street. An Orthodox Jew by outward appearance, he shuffled along, walking with difficulty. My wife said to me: "That man has not long to live. Go and speak to him about the Saviour! I shall return home. We can go for a walk later."

I crossed over to the other pavement, and approached the old man with the request: "Would you please tell me what portion of the Law of Moses will be read in the synagogue next Saturday?" He told me, and then asked: "Do you believe in Jesus?" I answered, a little surprised: "Yes. Why do you ask?" - "Because I realise that you were looking for an opportunity of speaking to me. Young Jews don't stop people to put questions of that sort. How old are you?" - "About thirty," I told him. "You are young. I have believed in Jesus for forty years, and I have spent just as many years in Satan's prison."

His answer left me speechless. We exchanged addresses, and I promised to go to visit the old man. And what was the story I subsequently heard?

This man, a tinsmith, had heard the gospel preached forty years ago in the Anglican Mission, and he had believed in Jesus. Ever since that day he had pored over his Bible, which he knew better than I did, and had led a regular life of prayer. But he had not confessed his faith to anyone, nor had he been baptised, for fear that he might lose his customers, most of whom were Jews.

The years went by, and he stubbornly refused to heed the advice of those who urged him to side openly with Jesus, in whom he believed in secret.

The devil rewarded him, as only the devil can: to secure his livelihood he had refused to be baptised, and in his old age he was reduced to beggary. Once again he was unable to bear witness to his faith, lest he should be forbidden to ask for alms from his fellow Jews outside the synagogue.

That was the position when I ran into him. For many months I struggled with this man, who believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God, and I asked him to bear in mind the words of the Epistle to the Romans: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus... thou shalt be saved." (Rom.10.9). He knelt with me, we prayed together, but he always had the same reply on his lips: "Where shall I get my food if the Jews discover that I believe in Jesus?" All around us were Christian Jews who had publicly confessed their faith, and he realised that we all made a living, but the devil had persuaded him that baptism for him