Old Joe Black

The preacher was calling on old Joe Black, a retired farmer who had just
received word from his doctor that he hadn't long to live, and he turned the
discussion to matters eternal.

"Joe, did you ever give any thought to the Lord?"

"Well preacher, you might not think so, but I've thought about Him every
day of my life. I came from Christian folk, my mother was one of the first
members of that church you preach for and my daddy was a deacon there for
sixteen years and died an elder with twenty years service. Mabel, God rest
her soul, never missed a service and took both of our girls with her till
they married and moved off. I used to go myself, but it's been a few years
back - before you came, as I recall."

"I didn't know about your mom and dad, but I did know Mabel went."

"It's funny, it would have meant so much to Mabel to have me go with her.
I always intended to, you know. It's just that, well, with the farm and
all, I never seemed to have time. I told Mabel that just as soon as I
retired I'd go with her.

"I remember - she told me."

"Didn't figure on her going all of a sudden like she did."

"One never knows when death will visit."

"You preachers like that poetic stuff, don't you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Death visiting - it don't visit, you just die."

"I see what you mean. You know, it's still not too late for you to start
going to church."

"No, I reckon it's not at that."

"Why haven't you?"

"Well, I guess some habits are just hard to break."

"Are you a member of the church?"

"No, I never obeyed. It ain't cause nobody ever tried to get me, and it
ain't 'cause of anything or anybody who is. To tell the truth about it, I
just ain't done it."

"Do you know what to do?"

"I think I do, but I reckon you'll be wanting to tell me anyway - so, go

"Well, first of all, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"

"That I do, preacher, that I do."

"Do you know what repentance is?"

"I reckon it means being sorry, right?"

"Partly. It means that a person is truly sorry for his sins and that he
has put them away from him."

"You mean I'll need to get rid of that bottle I keep at the back of the
sock drawer?"

"Well, yes, as well as the one sticking out from under the couch pillow

"Oh yeah, I plum forgot about that one."

"You'll need to start coming to services, too."

"I figured on that anyway."

"In fact, whatever it is that you're doing that is contrary to the will of
God you'll need to stop, and whatever you're not doing that He requires you'
ll need to start."

"O.K. I can do that."

"It may be hard, but it won't be so hard that you can't do it."

"I never was one to shrink from hard things."

"You can do it."

"Is that all there is?"

"No. You must confess your faith in Jesus."

"I'll do that, too. Is that all?"

"No, you must be baptized."

"The preacher on the T.V. says that you don't need nothing but belief and

"A lot of people say that, but the Bible doesn't."

"Well, what does it say?"

"It says that baptism saves."

"I ain't sure I ever read that part, are you sure?"

"Yes, I am sure. Jesus said that the man who believes and is baptized
shall be saved."

"I read that. But don't it say that the one what don't believe will be

"It does."

"It don't say that the one what won't be baptized will be damned."

"No, but have you ever heard of one who didn't believe being baptized?"

"I reckon not."

"Then it would be needless to say it, right?"

"I reckon I'll give you that one."

"Let me illustrate. If you get up and come here I'll give you a dollar.
If you don't get up, though, I won't give you the dollar. Now, what must
you do to get the dollar?"

"Well, I reckon I see your point."

"If you don't get up, you can't come here. If you don't believe, you can't
be baptized - not properly, anyway. You see, two things stand between you
and the dollar, just as two steps stood between the lost and salvation."

"I see your point."

"You know, on the birthday of the church people were told that they had to
repent and be baptized in order to be saved."

"Where's that?"

"Acts 2:38."

"Didn't they ask the apostles about that?"

"Yes, in verse 36 Peter told them that they were guilty of killing Jesus
and in verse 37 they asked, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' That's
when Peter told them to be baptized 'for the remission of sins'."

"Yeah, I heard a T.V. preacher talking about that. He said that word "for"
means 'because of'. Is that so?"

"That word is used in Matthew 26:28 by Jesus. He said, 'This is my blood
of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins.'
Now, why did Jesus shed His blood? Was it because the sins of the world had
already been remitted? Or, was it in order that the sins of the world might
be remitted?"

"I reckon it was in order that they might be remitted."

"There would be no need for Him to shed His blood to pay for sins already
paid for."

"And, I suppose, the same would be true with baptism."


"I heard one preacher saying that to be saved a person only had to accept
Jesus. What about that?"

"What about it?"

"Is that so?"

"Did he offer any Bible to prove it?"

"He said that the thief on the Cross was saved that way."

"Well, first of all, we don't know what the thief had done before the
Cross. He might well have been baptized. Second, he died before the New
Testament came into effect. We live under the New Testament - he lived and
died before it started."

"Yeah, I reckon you're right on that. But that same preacher read the
verse about calling on the name of the Lord. He said that all a man had to
do was call on His name and he would be saved."

"I thought you only had to receive Him???"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, if all you have to do is receive Him, then why do you also have to
'call on His name'?"

"That's right."

"Anyway, did he tell you how to call on the name of the Lord?"

"He read a singers prayer."

"You mean 'sinner's' prayer?"

"Yeah, that's it."

"Did he offer any Bible for that?"

"No, I don't reckon he did."

"In Acts 22:16 Ananias told Saul to arise and be baptized and wash away his
sins, calling on the name of the Lord. You see, by arising and being
baptized and washing away his sins he was 'calling on the name of the Lord'

"I see your point. But, you remember that verse about Jesus shedding His
blood for the world's sins?"


"Well, if He shed His blood for the remission of sins, isn't that enough?
Why do I have to do anything more?"

"Without shedding of blood, there is no remission. That's what Hebrews
9:22 says. But you have to contact that blood to get any good from it."

"How do you mean?"

"Let's see. Say you needed fifteen thousand dollars to buy a new car. The
bank has the money. What must you do to get the money?"

"Well, I'd have to ask the bank for it."

"Actually, you'd have to qualify for it, fill out the paper work, and then
you would receive the money."

"I see."

"If you want the money you must locate it and then meet the qualifications
to receive it. You haven't earned it by qualifying for it, it is still the
bank's money and you'll have to pay it back. Now, to get the benefits of
the blood you must locate it and contact it, just like the money in the
bank. Where was the blood shed?"

"On the cross."

"And, what did He do on the cross?"

"He died there."

"Paul told us that we are baptized into His death in Romans 6:3-4."

"I guess you're right again."

"I'm just reading what the Bible says. Where are all spiritual blessings


"In Christ. Paul said so in Ephesians 1:3. Do you know how to get into


"Exactly - Paul said so in Galatians 3:27."

"Let's see, yeah, that's what it says, all right."

"Ephesians 5:23 says that Christ is the Savior of the body."


"Do you know what the 'body' is?"

"No, I reckon not."

"According to Ephesians 1:22-23 it is the church."

"Let me look that up."

"Please do."

"Yep, that's what it says."

"If I can show you how to get into the body, would I not, then, show you
how to get into the church of which Jesus is both head and savior?"

"I follow you."

"Will you read I Corinthians 12:13 for me?"

"O.K. Let's see. here it is. 'For by one Spirit are we all baptized into
one body'."

"How do we get into the body?"

"Well, we are baptized into it."

"And 'in the body' is the same as 'in the church'?"


"And Jesus is the savior of the church?"

"Yes, He is."

"So, to take your place with the saved, what must you do?"

"Well, preacher, according to your arguments, I need to be baptized."

"So - why tarriest thou?"

"Just one thing."

"What is it?"

"You said that the Bible says that baptism saves. I don't mean to slight
your arguments none, but does the Bible ever say that in so many words?"

"If it does, will you be baptized?"

"I will."

"Please read I Peter 3:21."

"O.K.. let's see. here it is. "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth
all now save us." It says it. Sure enough."


"Let's go."


H. L. Gradowith


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