The Saga of Pastor Hubert Binghamton
I knocked at his door.
I opened the door, then addressed the man at the large desk from the anonymity of the doorway.
"Excuse me. Pastor Binghamton?"
"Hubert Binghamton. What can I do for you? Why are
you standing at the doorway? Come in, lad!"
"Thank you, Pastor Binghamton, er, Pastor Hubert Binghamton.
"Calm down, son. Now take a chair. What did you say your
name was again?"
"I didn't, sir. But it's Zender. Martin Zender."
"Zender...Zender. Hmm. Can't say I've heard of
"I'm from Big Lake, sir."
"Yes, that would explain it, then. Extraordinary. Not too
many of your kind in the phone book, I suppose."
"Splendid. Now, I am a busy man. You've
something on your mind. It would behoove us to seize the moment; carpe diem,
and all that."
"I'm interviewing pastors on the subject of salvation,
Pastor Binghamton, and I....."
"An excellent theme! Salvation! How well I
remember my studies at the University. Professor Filbert Dansworth, now there
was a man of God! Drowned trying to convert a fishing buddy. What a
"A fishing buddy, sir?"
"Got him out alone, finally, a quarter mile from shore.
He couldn't get away, which was the plan, of course. Professor Dansworth
confronted him with the gospel and a large oar. I wish I could have been there.
What a preacher! They say six people on the Ludington pier were saved, a mile
away. But that confounded fishing buddy...I hope for his sake there are bass in
"Excuse me, Pastor Binghamton, but did you say something
about the gospel...and an oar?"
"My dear Mr. Zender. When souls are at stake there is no
persuasion too forward. All is fair in love, war and evangelism, as they say.
Not that you'd know."
"I'm sorry to hear about Professor
"His follow-through took him over, I'm afraid. Never
did come up. His reward awaits him."
"My question, Pastor Binghamton?"
"I do wish you'd get on with it. I'm a very
"My question is-in your opinion-is salvation
free, or isn't it?"
"Amazing grace! You have tapped me at my strongest point!
Blessed lad. Your very first excursion into the mine has found you the mother
"I guess it's my lucky day."
"The University I referred to earlier was Grace University.
I'm sure you've heard of it. I graduated magna cum laude there, class
of '55. When were you born, if I'm not too nosy."
"Nineteen fifty-nine, sir."
"I suspected it. I have already forgotten more about
grace than you will ever know. You have come to the right place."
"Salvation, Pastor Binghamton. Is it free or isn't
"By the thunders of Sinai, lad, of course it's
free! We are saved by grace!"
"Yes, sir. Ephesians chapter two, verse eight."
"I very well know the reference, man. I majored in
grace before you were a twinkle in the eye of Beelzebub. Marvelous property,
grace. In fact, it's all I teach here. Grace, lad. As in, 'No strings
attached.' Have you understood any of this? I say-do you
always look so vexed?"
"I think I've got it, Pastor Binghamton. Can I
run another question past you, then?"
"If you must."
"I will try to be brief. My next question is, how do I
"Asking for a friend, are you?"
"It wouldn't surprise me if you were the
Philistine in question, but we'll overlook that for the moment. The answer to
your question is simplicity itself. First, your-ahem, friend-must
acknowledge that he is a sinner."
"Is it all right if I write this down while you're
"You would be a fool not to. Do you need a pen?"
"I have one, thanks. All right. First he must acknowledge
that he's a sinner. Got it. Then what?"
"He must call on His name, of course."
"Call on His name. Got it. What after that?"
"He must believe that Jesus died for his sins."
"Got it. Then what?"
"He must have faith, as much as he can."
"Okay. What next?"
"Why, repentance. You are sluggish!"
"After that, then?"
"He should come here Wednesday evening in the right frame
of mind and we will baptize him."
"He plays softball on Wednesdays."
"Of course he does. I should have known it. Can he make
it Sunday morning, or will he be too tired?"
"Sunday morning should be okay."
"Then will he be saved?"
"It's not likely, from the sounds of it. He must stay
true to God."
"What about then?"
"I trust he would avoid the unpardonable sin."
"He would. Will he be saved then?"
"Is he as old as you?"
"A stripling! He should spare no pains in keeping the
Sabbath day holy."
"Is that all?"
"Good. I think I've got it. If he acknowledges that he
is a sinner, calls on Jesus's name, believes that He died for his sins,
repents, has faith-that is, as much faith as he can-comes here Sunday
morning in the right frame of mind, gets baptized, stays true to God, avoids the
unpardonable sin and keeps the Sabbath day holy, then he will be
"Undoubtedly. I'm quite certain that, if he does all of
that, he will be saved."
"Well, of course, dimwit! It's all I teach here!"