(Buddy Smith recalls the following story told by James Crumpton 51 years ago in a Bible conference.)
When I came out of Seminary with a degree in higher criticism and was newly ordained as the bishop of a wealthy parish in Boston, I often met for dinner with Bob _____, one of my former classmates. We both graduated from a very modern seminary, not evangelical at all. We scoffed at “Bible – thumpers” and their beliefs.
Our professors had laboured to explain away all the miracles in the Bible and we soon came to agree with them. Creation? We despised Moses and loved Darwin! The ten commandments? We laughed along when the old professors mocked the “outdated rules and regulations of narrow minded Jews”. The cross? We were more inclined to admire Judas than Jesus. The resurrection? Our professors all agreed that “Jesus had only swooned and then revived in the cool darkness of the tomb, pushed the stone aside, and wandered off as a disillusioned false prophet, probably to marry and was never heard of again”. Our congregations had no difficulty swallowing our infidelity as long as we turned a blind eye to their cocktail parties and worldly amusements.
One evening when we’d finished our dinner I told Bob the following story. “Listen to this, Bob, and tell me what you think when I’ve finished.” Bob nodded his head as he leaned back with his glass of wine and a fine cigar. “One night last week,” I told him, “I was just retiring to bed when I heard a knock at my front door. I thought I was hearing things since the tapping was very faint, but it came again, louder and longer. I went down, unlocked the door and opened it to find a little waif, a real ragamuffin, standing there with tears in her eyes. She looked up at me and asked, ‘Please, sir, are you the reverend?’ When I replied she quickly asked , ‘Will you come and get my mother in?’
I was a bit unsure how to answer. After a moment I said, “Is your mother not able to walk? Can she not get into the house in her own strength?” To which she replied, “Oh no, she is in bed, but she sent me to ask you if you will come to get her into Heaven? She is dying...” And here the girl fell to the floor, weeping and sobbing out the words, “Mother is afraid of dying and she has no one to get her into Heaven. Won’t you please come and get her in?” So I went. We wandered the streets until we came to the slums, and then down an alleyway cluttered with rubbish. She led me up the back stairs of a set of flats, hurrying me along, and saying to me, ‘Please sir, hurry, you’ve got to get my mother in before she dies!’ My guide pushed open a door and led me by the hand to her mother’s bedside. It was obvious that the mother had not long to live. The smell of death was about the place. “She raised her dim eyes to mine, and whispered, ‘I need you to get me in....”
Bob leaned forward to ask, “What did you do? What did you tell her?”
“I asked her if she was baptized as a baby and if she was confirmed, and did she take communion,” She had done all those things, but none of them brought her any assurance that her sins were forgiven. So I asked her what charitable deeds she had ever done, and she shook her head and repeated that nothing she had done for people had ever brought her any peace.”
“I confess, Bob, I was out of my depth. I tried telling her that she had to keep the ten commandments, but she told me she had broken them all and there was no comfort there. I quoted the beatitudes to her, and she told me she had tried and failed and then she asked me a question that really set me back on my heels. She said, ‘Has God not made a way for sinners to get into Heaven? I need you to get me in...’”
“It was at that moment I realized that all my skepticism, all my rationalism, all my reasoning's were totally useless. All that Darwin, Baur, Schleirmacher, and Strauss ever said or wrote never got anybody into Heaven.”
Bob’s face showed intense concentration as he asked, “Well, what did you say to her?”
“Bob, do you remember what our families believed about being saved? Do you remember how they taught us about the Fall of Man, and about God’s Law showing us our awful sinfulness? And that we deserve eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire forever? Do you remember how they told us of God’s love, and of Him sending His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place to pay for our sins? And how He rose again the third day. Do you remember the verse that says that ‘He bore our sins in his own body on the tree?’ Do you remember hearing these things? My folks called it the gospel. They told us that we must repent of our sins and believe the gospel. So that’s what I told her. I quoted John 3:16 to her and told her the gospel. ”
“So did you get her in?’
“Yes, I got her in. She listened to every word and then closed her eyes. I saw her lips moving in prayer, and when she finished praying she looked up at me with peace and said, ‘Thank you for getting me in. I can die in peace now.’
“And, Bob, while I was getting her in, I got myself in, too.”