For many are called, but few are chosen - Part 3

Posted in: 2016
By Tom L. Ballinger
Jun 13, 2016 - 5:49:43 PM

Plainer Words since 1968
June 9, 2016
ISSUE # 408
(Matthew 22:14)
Part III
Most of the Brethren, who endeavor to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), understand that Truth for Today had been a Mystery, which is to say, a Secret. The Present Dispensation was not the subject of Prophesy. The Mystery was not a prophetic truth. It “hath been hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9). None of the OT Prophets knew anything about “The Mystery.” Paul knew absolutely nothing about The Mystery until it was revealed to him when Jesus Christ, Personally and secretly, visited him in a Roman dungeon (Ephesians 4:9-10).  The time period was when the Apostle could declare that he was a “prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” (Ephesians 3:1).  In fact, Present Truth was not made known to anyone except the Apostle Paul and to him only─AFTER GOD SET ASIDE ISRAEL (Acts 28:28). Present Truth was made known by the Apostle to the Gentiles. In Paul’s Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, he revealed the Truth which had been hidden from all the ages and generations. The Mystery makes known that Christ is NOW among the Gentiles and is their hope of Glory. It had been unknown to all of the Holy Prophets. Its revelation is NOW made manifest,  to wit, with the writing of Ephesians and Colossians.
“ ( … Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in The Mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is NOW revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4-5).
“Even The Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but NOW is made manifest to his saints:” (Colossians 1:26).
The Truth of The Mystery was not made known during the Period of the Four Gospels, or at Pentecost, nor was it revealed in the Acts Period epistles—it remained a SECRET. It was a Secret [a Mystery] until Paul explained it in his two major Prison Epistles.
Paul was the one Revelator of The Mystery. It was hid in God until he wrote Ephesians and Colossians—then, Paul could truly say that “Unto me, …was this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (i.e., The Mystery): and to make all men see what is the fellowship of The Mystery, which from the beginning of the world HATH BEEN HID IN GOD …” (Ephesians 3:8-9). It had not been hid in the Old Testament, nor was it hid, in type or shadow, in the Scriptures in the New Testament. None of the Twelve Apostles knew anything about the Mystery. It was revealed only to the Apostle Paul after the close of the Acts Period. Notice when Paul said he made known The Mystery.
“How that by revelation He made known unto me The Mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in The Mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is NOW revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” (Ephesians 3:3-5).
Paul is saying that he explained The Mystery, briefly, and made known The Mystery to the reader, “before,” in Chapters 1 and 2 of Ephesians. In other ages, it was unknown to the sons of men as it is RIGHT NOW [in this epistle] being revealed.
Ever since the end of the Book of Acts, the Lord Jesus Christ has suspended using all signs, wonders, and miracles in confirming His Word. (Mark 16:20).
The gifted Bible Teacher, Mr. Otis Q. Sellers, wrote the following in his Bible Study Number 180, Published on August 10, 1984. His appropriate words are:
“Today under an administration of grace and by the performance of multitudinous acts of grace, [God] is establishing this record. However, all these things are done in secret and the record will not be known until that day when Jesus Christ shall be manifested in all of His glory, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Parenthetically, in Part II of this article, I mentioned a retired Colonel, whose name I could not remember, who preached to a packed house at Greystone Bible Church. The next day, after I emailed the article to all of you, I received a brief note from Murry Evans informing me that he saw me in the congregation during the Rally that night. He restored my memory by informing me that the Colonel was not a Colonel—the man’s name was Bundy, and he was Major Bundy. Thanks, Murry.
The narrative will be continued where Part II Ended. A few Tuesday Nights after attending the anti-Communist Patriotic Rally, I arrived home from work earlier than usual. All of our R. C. Cola Route Salesmen had checked in by about 7:30 P.M.. Gloria had taken our two little boys with her and went to Winn-Dixie to do a little grocery shopping before the store closed. I was alone when I arrived home. I pulled off my tie, shirt, pants, shoes and socks. In my underwear, I walked to the oven where Gloria always put my supper, since she and boys would eat supper about 6:00. While I was getting my supper dished up, the door bell rang. This late, I thought it might be the paper boy. So I went to the front door; we had no door Peep-Hole. So, I unlocked the door and barely opened it and saw two men, dressed in suits and ties, standing in front of the door. I saw Bibles in their hands as they came in. They said they were from the Gospel Tabernacle, soon to be Greystone Bible Church. I tried to make an apology for being in a T-Shirt and shorts; they waved it off, so, I invited them in. Boy, I must have been a sight! I explained where my wife and boys were.
One of the two men turned out to be Dr. Grube’s brother, Bob Grube (who was also a preacher). The other man was a Home Builder, named Ralph Herring. They told me Tuesday Night was the men’s Visitation Night. Later, I learned when I became one of the Tuesday Night men, our Visitations were not to try to get the visitors to join the Tabernacle or Greystone Bible Church—but rather, if they were Lost, TO LEAD THEM TO THE SAVING KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
The hour visit with these two men of God was very inspiring to me. They asked me if I was saved?  I said that I was. I wasn’t really sure, at the time, if I was saved or not. I remember vividly to this day when Bob Grube and Ralph Herring stood up to go. I stood up to go to the door to let them out. One stopped and reached out both of his hands. The three of us joined hands. Bob Grube began to pray. He thanked God for “Mr. Ballinger’s hospitality.” I couldn’t believe it; what did I do that was hospitable? I remember Bob requesting that the Lord would grant me absolute assurance of my salvation. I choked-up and tried not to cry. The rest of his prayer, I didn’t hear.  My mind was exploding with thoughts. Then, Ralph Herring prayed for me and “Mrs. Ballinger and the two children.” He prayed-on saying, “Lord bless this family.” I could not believe it. Here were two men I’d never known, nor seen before, standing in the middle of my Living Room praying for us. “Has anyone ever cared enough to pray for us before? Not to my knowledge,” I thought. The only thing I remember was me, tearfully and silently, asking, “Dear God, let me be a man like these two men.”
I even admit to getting choked-up as I write this. I forgot how precious the memory of this event is. (Bob Grube died at age 86, and Ralph Herring died at age 85).
I had been “asleep” as a John 3:16er from my late teens and through my twenties. The Spirit of the Lord used the John Birch Society to awaken me from being spiritually asleep. Paul calls the John 3:16ers to awaken in his Epistle to the Ephesians.
“Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16).
I was awakened before the Lord showed me these verses. I had never read them. The Holy Spirit had awakened me—as I look back, I view this as my CALL ─ “for many are Called.”
As I have looked back and attempted to ascertain what was happening to me during this short interval of time, more than 48 years ago—I have decided to refer to this critical time in my life as my “Damascus Road Experience.” By my reckoning, this was when I was “CALLED.” It goes without saying that I am no Galileo Galilei, the Astronomer and Scientist, who wrote rhetorically to present his theory of the moving earth. I hope to write rhetorically, as I present my theory of what I refer to as the various Stages of the Christian life that I have experienced, and one Stage that I hope to experience—Stage V when I am Qualified to become Perfected.
The following must be prefaced by saying I had not gone crazy. I was continuing to operate the Royal Crown Cola Bottling Company as I always had. One of my professional habits was; I was always the first person at the Bottling Plant in the morning at 6:00 a.m., and the last one to leave. Very seldom did I leave before 9:00 p.m. I held a Sales Meeting every morning for the Route Salesmen. I encouraged my Route Salesmen that if they didn’t make the sales quota they set for themselves, to double-back. That is to say, start calling on their customers for the second time that day. That really impressed their Dealers. The Dealers felt they just had to help the men make their quotas, and very often, they’d buy RC Cola or Nehi soft drinks a second time that day.
I wanted to greet them when they stepped down from their truck. I wanted them to know their day’s effort was really appreciated, so much so, I was there when they rolled into the bottling plant’s loading and unloading area. I would ask if they made their Sales Quota of xxx number of cases?  I knew what each man’s quota was. If so, I congratulated them; if they didn’t, I assured them they could make up for it tomorrow. I knew who each route’s “tough customers” were. I would ask the Route Salesman, “Bobby, how did you and Mr. Casey get along today?” I could tell that the men liked me to ask about their tough customers. If Bobby, for instance, had a problem with Mr. Casey, I’d make a note in front of Bobby and tell him, “I’ll drop by tomorrow and see Mr. Casey and let him know much how you and I appreciate his business.” The men couldn’t wait to hear how the visit went. Such things as this kept their spirits up-beat.
Sometimes, the Route Salesmen’s wives would be parked in front of our bottling plant, waiting to pick up their husband that night. A couple of them would have their little kids with them. I made it a point to know the wives and the names of their kids. A lot of times, I would go “out front” and say hello to the wives and kids, and offer them a RC or a Nehi flavored soft drink while they were waiting.
Back to my Damascus Road Experience, I was being goaded all during 1962. The goading continued throughout 1963. But, despite this, we won the 1963 Sales Increase Award. The Royal Crown Cola Company held their Annual Board of Directors Meeting in Mobile, Alabama to show their appreciation for our winning the Sales Increase Award. The Award was presented to the owner, Mr. James Carmichael, and me. Mr. Carmichael also owned the RC Cola Bottling Plant, where he lived, in Memphis, Tennessee. Of course, Mr. Carmichael was in Mobile for the Chamber of Commerce meeting in which we received the Sales Increase Award.
The Board of Directors’ for the Royal Crown Cola Company decision of holding their Board Meeting in Mobile was big news for business in the “Port City,” as Mobile was often called. I made arrangements for a Motor Cycle Police Escort of Royal Crown Cola Motorcade, including three limousines of Dignitaries from the Airport to the historic Downtown Battle House Hotel. I rode in the Limo with Art Linkletter. Art Linkletter was the famous and extremely popular TV personality in the 1950s and 60s. He was one of the Directors of the RC Cola Company.
Mr. Linkletter was the guest speaker at a very special Mobile Chamber of Commerce Luncheon where he presented the Sales Increase Award to our company. There were over 200 Chamber Members in attendance at Mobile’s Battle House Hotel. The Mayor of Mobile, Mr. Charles S. Trimmer was one of the speakers.  Mr. Art Linkletter was the Host of America’s Number One TV program at the time—“Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” I had the privilege of introducing Art Linkletter to the Members of the Chamber of Commerce.
That’s not all. Mr. Linkletter and the RC Cola Board of Directors held a Special Award meeting that night in a Banquet Room for our Bottling Plant’s organization. He presented special awards; one for our Production Manager who was honored by winning the Year’s Perfect Product Award, another to our outstanding Route Salesman. One special award to a man who spent his adult life working for this Bottling Company’s previous owners and four years for us as our Senior Supervisor. Art presented the Awards to our personnel. It was heart-warming to observe the thrill our men visibly showed.
The next morning, I rode with Mr. Linkletter to Bates Field, Mobile’s Airport. I walked with him across the Tarmac to his airplane. As I said “Goodbye” to him, he shook my hand and told me that he was in the process of buying the RC Cola Bottling Plant in Oakland, California. He said he will be looking for a General Manager to run the bottling operations. If I should decide to leave Mr. Carmichael’s organization, he said to please let him know. If I wanted to pursue his offer, I was to contact Les Helms. Les was the West Coast Division Manager for the RC Cola Company.  He was also Mr. Linkletter’s “Go-to-man” on the West Coast. Les had been my Division Manager when we both were with the Dr Pepper Company. Art would like to offer me the job as his General Manager. He told me that the Royal Crown Cola Company had spoken very highly of me. I considered his remarks were quite an honor.
1963 was a banner year for me. February 13 of 1963 marked the day I received the absolute assurance of my salvation. That year, I joined the Greystone Bible Church. I attended Sunday School and 11:00 a.m. Church Service, and Sunday night, there was a 6:00 o’clock pre-church service called Christian Life Fellowship (aka, CLF), followed by the Sunday Night Worship  Service. When the church doors opened, I was there.
(Philippians 4:3)
(“Yokefellow”= united, joined together like a pair of draft animals = oxen)
The Lord Jesus had been working behind the scenes preparing my heart, as well as, the heart of Murry Evans, the other man. So that when the two of us met, we would know the meeting was “of the Lord.” Looking back, it seemed that we received our CALL about the same time.  (I am assuming this may be the time that Murry Evans received his CALL. Our Call by the Lord Jesus linked (yoked) the two of us together. We were yoked together in a number of Christ Center activities. Yes, we were truly yokefellows.  We later became associates in the Burger King Restaurant business. When he and I became partners in the BK business, we saw to it that most all of our business endeavors became Christ Centered. In fact, we considered Jesus Christ was the Director of our Burger King Operations.
I am getting ahead of myself. I’ll finish this paragraph and restart where the sequence of the tale begins. Murry Evans was a member of Greystone Bible Church which I had just joined. I think the two of us needed the friendship of one another. Murry was a young man. He owned a Burger King Restaurant in Mobile, with the opportunity to build a chain of Burger Kings. We became fast friends. He had been driving to Pensacola, Florida every Saturday night to a two-hour Bible Class which was taught by Dr. Peter S. Ruckman.
Murry invited me to go with him on one Saturday night. Dr. Ruckman had an earned Ph. D from Bob Jones University. Ruckman was a dynamic teacher. There were probably any where between 40 and 60 people in his Bible Class. Driving 65 miles from Mobile to Pensacola became a Saturday ritual for Murry and I. The 130 mile round-trip gave Murry and I a splendid opportunity to get to know one another. As I recall, we went to Dr. Ruckman’s Bible Classes for two years. We had so much in common, especially amazing because—he is a Floridian, born in Bradenton, and I am a Texan, born in Dallas. Being in business at our young age was unique in those days. I think Murry was 26 years old, and I was 33. Our world view outside of Christ was very similar.  But, more important was that we were very serious about growing in Christ—winning the lost to Christ (also called “Soul Winning”) and learning “God’s Word Rightly Divided!” THIS BEGAN A 53 YEAR FRIENDSHIP - CLOSER THAN BLOOD KIN.
Greystone Bible Church was blessed with a number of visitors. It was from the Visitor  Cards that the Visitation List was compiled. I was so new, I didn’t know who was in charge of the Visitation Meeting. The short meeting ended with prayer. After the prayer, we all knelt down on the floor, put our heads in our chair and had a round of prayer.  When it came my turn, I prayed a simple heart-felt prayer. I admit, after listening to these men’s fervent prayers, I was all Spiritually “pumped-up.” The men were pleading with the Lord to prepare the hearts of those we were to visit “who know not our Lord Jesus Christ” and to receive us warmly into their homes. Wow!
We were teamed up in “twos,” just as Jesus Christ sent His disciples out in pairs. I don’t really recall the first couple of Tuesday nights. But, the third or forth nights of visitation, the Lord saw fit to team me up with a man who turned out to be the most fantastic soul winners I ever ran across or even heard of—Brother Leon Sawyer. Mr. Sawyer was probably around 60 years old. He was a highly respected builder of expensive homes.
Many times, Brother Sawyer would hold an Open House on Saturday and Sunday on one of his new homes. Often, he would be the person who showed the home. He was known to request that the prospects join him in prayer before he showed them the home. He would request the prospective buyers to kneel down with him as he led them in prayer. Brother Sawyer’s prayer often led to wining them to Christ. Upon completion, he would look at the prospective buyers in the eye and ask if they would like to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior? There were times he led the prospects to Christ, as well as, selling them his new home. He was too modest to lay claim of winning his prospects to Christ. But, many folks credited him with doing so.
He said, “winning souls to Christ” is a lot like selling a home—“You’ve  got to ask ‘em to buy and tell ‘em why.”
One time on visitation, we rang the door bell of the home of a fairly well-to-do middle age couple. The wife came to the door and opened it. Brother Sawyer introduced us as being from Greystone Bible Church. Just as we thought she was going to invite us inside, her husband appeared behind her with a whiskey cocktail in his hand. The husband was shaking his head “No” as he told us they didn’t have time. Brother Sawyer smiled and said, “Let’s have a word of prayer.” He began to pray and when he said, “Lord, touch their hearts …,” the front door closed. With the sound of the closing of the door, Brother Sawyer prayed louder for the couple’s salvation.
As we drove off, he said the lesson to be learned from this experience is; we must always get the victory over the devil—we got the victory because we thanked the Lord Jesus Christ for the opportunity to witness for Him, and we were not discouraged. I learned that was the positive attitude to have—thank the Lord for every opportunity He gives you to witness for Him.
Copyright© 2016 by Thomas L. Ballinger
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