Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory? (Romans 9:21-23).
Before we begin, we must realize that it is only once we have laid ourselves out before the Creator in proper humility that we can begin to grasp the weight and purpose of this text. Yet, some who would understand this text come to it arrogantly and, instead of making themselves students, place themselves in the seat of the Judge and walk away declaring, “It cannot be; I will not accept it.” Others (with whom I must admit my former association), come to this text and leave it arrogantly, having comprehended the truths therein that others have refused and use it as a propagation for their own “superior” understanding. Then there are the holy ones, who by the power of the Holy Spirit understand the truths of this text and cry out, “Lord, thou art the Potter; I am but an earthen vessel manipulated by thine hand.” It is only by these that the truths of this text have been properly understood.
Now, the Scripture declares to us that all humans are but a lump of clay to the Creator. Out of this clay, by his good pleasure, he creates some vessels that are honorable, and he creates some that are dishonorable. The vessels that are created for honor are not honorable because of their superior clay-ness or their beautiful craftsmanship (though this cannot be denied) but because of what they contain, viz. the unmerited mercy of God. Likewise, the vessels that are created for dishonor are not dishonorable because of their inferior composition or their shoddy craftsmanship but because of what they contain, viz. the wrath of God poured out against sin.
Both vessels, the honorable and the dishonorable, share one commonality—they both declare the glory of God by manifesting his attributes. In the dishonorable vessels, God makes known his wrath and his power by utterly destroying them for their transgressions. In the honorable vessels, God, through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, makes known the glorious depths of his mercy by withholding his hand of just wrath from them and then by placing those vessels in the place of honor for which they were prepared. To some he gives their just desserts; to the others he gives everything that they do not deserve.
What if God did all this—what if he has endured with great patience the wickedness of all those who are in the world who will not worship him in Spirit and in Truth to demonstrate to those whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world and whom he has prepared for glory the riches of his glory and the depths of his mercy? If we knew this and accepted it, I believe that we who are vessels of mercy would be extremely humble, gracious to others, and grateful to God for not destroying us and for granting us his glorious mercy.
Next: God the Potter, IV. Mercy to the Jews and Gentiles
Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study