The Old Preacher Man
It was watch night service, 1983 in Miamisburg, Ohio. A quaint little country church holding a New Year's Eve service to welcome in the year. The pastor had given just a short introduction message and a Gospel singing group performed several songs for the overflow crowd all anticipating the arrival of 1984.
After all the singing the pastor introduced a young preacher getting ready to preach his first message since announcing a calling to preach. The young preacher started his message," Let's open our Bibles to John chapter 3". He then read the text of how Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness and explained the message of salvation through this passage. His sermon title was simply," Simple Salvation". He repeated that theme, coming to Jesus as a simple man with sin that only the master can forgive.
Jesus took Nicodemus and broke him down from a Pharisee, to a ruler of men, to a simple man. Then asked how it could be he did not understand that of which He spoke. It was salvation simple and sure, the word of love that need little explanation. Jesus saw through the man and into the soul, something we as witnesses of His Word so often forget. Nicodemus looking for a grand illumination something of spectacular merit could not understand the simplicity of Jesus' words.
HOW CAN THESE THINGS BE
Jesus said, "Marvel not" He had broken Nicodemus down to just a man and began the message of just what it takes to know Christ as Saviour. The young preacher man told how this is one of his favorite passages because it was the simple grace of God that had brought him to salvation four years earlier. He went on to say how he had struggled with the notion of being "born again" how he knew Christ died on the cross for his sins and that was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. He said how it was an old preacher man that had gotten down to his level and preached a simple message of salvation on an Easter morning that led him to being saved.
THAT WHICH IS BORN OF THE FLESH IS FLESH THAT WHICH IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT IS SPIRIT
How those words rang out, flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit. The young man went on and came to the well known verse John 3:16. He did not conclude there though as read the next verse," For I sent not the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him may be saved." See the simpleness of the Gospel is Jesus loves us so much He left His place in Glory to come and die that we might be saved. It only takes accepting Him as Lord and King and asking Him to forgive your sins. The young preacher hesitated after 20 minutes or so of preaching, closed his Bible, took off his glasses and looked eye to eye into the congregation. Then in a low soft voice asked if there was anyone attending that may not know Christ as Saviour and the simple Gospel message. One man stood and drawing his cane headed to the front of the church, stopping in front of the preacher he said he never knew it was so simple, so easy to be saved. That night he came to know Jesus as His Saviour.
After the invitation was over, the crowd fellowshipping a bit the old preacher man approached the young preacher. Now the old man had preached for over 50 years and was about completely blind, he had to be led by the churches pastor to the young preacher. Reaching his stubby curled hand up he took the young man by the shirt sleeve and pulled him down to speak. This old preacher had a booming voice in his day, one heard from afar as he bellowed out his messages. Now he had a faint raspy whisper, so he pulled the preacher down and said,"You preach, you preach, God has given you a gift you preach". Not a month later the old preacher met Jesus face to face. He had run his earthly life course. The last words he ever spoke in a church were, "You preach!"
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
The old preacher man was Brother Eddie Bates of Franklin, Ohio, one of the Miami Valley's greatest preachers and evangelists. His wife and daughters sang that watch night service and blessed the gathering with their wonderful songs. One man was saved that night and others showed appreciation that a young preacher on the first night he preached had a man get saved. I too was great full for the salvation decision to see a man in church for years get saved, it brought tears to my eyes. For me though the biggest surprise and the most cherished one was having one of the greatest preachers this side of Peter and Paul take me by the arm and say," You preach, you preach."
first half message the Joshua Stone
Conclusion The Joshua Stone
Brother Eddie Bates, we have been preaching all over the Miami Valley. Thank you for the encouraging words.