Once upon a time there was a rich eccentric old rancher who owned thousands of acres of beautiful rangeland.
One day he decided to give a party on his veranda.
Since his son had died, he wanted to choose the one who he would leave his beautiful ranch. So he invited people to come for a barbecue. Hundreds of people came to enjoy the party, knowing to may be last one, but not knowing he was to personally give his ranch to someone that very day.
He happily walked among the people saluting one and shaking hands with another, while his eyes roved the crowds, looking for the one on whom he would like to bestow his ranch.
Coming down the mountain simply passing by the veranda was a young prospector leading his mule. People pointed at him and asked him, “Did you find gold?”
He slowly shook his head, smiling and said, “Maybe next week.”
“What are you going to do when you strike it rich, young fellow?” someone asked.
“I’m going to buy me a ranch and settle down” he happily replied.
“Come here, young man,” said the owner of the ranch. The young fellow tied up the mule and walked over to shake hands with the eccentric old rancher. “What would you say if I gave you this one?” he said with twinkling eyes.
“Sure,” said the young prospector, “You’re just going to give away the finest rand in the
West, aren’t you?”
“Well, you go and wash in the river and clean up. Then come back and we’ll talk about it,” said the old rancher.
The young fellow said, “I guess I am a sight to see and smell after a week in those mountains prospecting.” He slowly got up and went to bathe in the river, and then he went to the bunkhouse to change into fresh clothes.
When he reurned to the house, the old rancher handed him a paper. “What’s this?” asked the young prospector. The old rancher’s eyes sparkled with humor.
“What does it look like, boy?” It’s a deed to this here ranch. I’ve made it out to you, and as of now, it is yours.”
The young fellow was speechless. “You made this ranch out to me?” You mean, it is really mine?”
“Signed, sealed and delivered,” the old man crackled. “It’s yours; lock, stock, and barrel.”
The people were astonished, bewildered, and confused.
“Why did you do that?” they asked.
“I am dying, and I wanted to meet the next owner before I died. I have now met him, and now I can die in peace,” replied the old man happily. And that he did inside the week.
The young man took possession on the day of the party and made many new friends.
About a week later an old Denominational preacher, named Preacher Calvin, came by to ask for a donation to build a new Denominational Church. He began warmly with the young man.
“Bill,” he said, “you’ve come into a rich inheritance since old Gabby died and left you his ranch. We were wondering if you would like to share your gift with us and give us a donation on our new Church building?”
Bill said, “Whoa, I did no inherit this ranch by Gabby’s death, I owned this ranch almost a week before he died.”
Preacher Calvin nervously replied, “Well, I supposed that is true, but he did give you the ranch.”
Bill said, “He never gave me this ranch. I earned it.”
Preacher Calvin said, “Well I reckon you did not earn it. I was here the day he gave it to you.”
The young man said, “I reckon you did not pay attention to what Gabby said, He told me to go wash in the river and we would talk about it, I did, and when he saw that I had, he made the deed out to me, I earned this ranch, lock, stock, and barrel!!!!”
“Are you trying to tell me you earned this ranch and that it is not a “free gift?” said Preacher Calvin hotly.
“I most certainly am” said young Bill.
Preacher Calvin sputtered, “Well, that is the most ludicrous thing I ever heard saying you earned this ranch because you washed up?” You didn’t do anything to deserve it. It was simply grace on Gabby’s part that you own this ranch!!!!! I vehemently deny that you did any works that makes it possible to boast that you earned it.”
Bill firmly held to his claim. “Would I have gotten it if I hadn’t gone and washed in the river?” You bet your sweet boots I wouldn’t have. When I did what Gabby said to do, I earned the ranch and I don’t need any Denominational Preacher saying I didn’t earn it. I obeyed his commandment and I earned it by my obedience to him.”
By this time Preacher Calvin had lost his cool. “Now listen here, young fellow, you go around telling people that you earned this ranch and that it was not free gift of grace just because you dipped in the river and these folks around here will think you are crazy.”
Bill smiled. “I reckon they won’t, they hear talk like that all the time from your pulpit.”
Brother Calvin stiffened, “What do you mean by that?” he asked suspiciously.
Bill said, “Many times I’ve heard that if you teach that you have to be baptized, that you are teaching people they can earn their salvation, You’ve said over and over again, `Baptism is a work` and whoever says you gave to be baptized is teaching `works` salvation. I reckon if being baptized is a work that earns salvation, I earned this ranch because I had to immerse myself to get this here ranch.”
Preacher Calvin knew he had been caught by his own stupid logic. It sounded good from the pulpit, but in practicality he knew it was asinine logic.
As he left, Bill said, I reckon I better get back to work. Earning this here ranch sure did wear me out.” And with that, he laughed.
It was a laugh which Preacher Calvin would always hear I his conscience every time he said, “Baptism is a work that has nothing to do with salvation.” Salvation is a free gift, not of works lest any man should boast.”
But knew that Bill know the ranch was free gift and that he didn’t believe he has earned it by immersing himself in the creek. He knew Bill was showing him the silliness of such doctrine and that’s what always galled him.