A Vessel ... Meet for the Master's Use (continued)
We have only one remaining reference: that in the Book of the Revelation. "And he that overcometh ... to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers." I do not pretend to understand what that means, but it does seem to say this: That there will be a people who will be like a rod of iron, by which the rebellious nations shall be broken to pieces like a potter's vessel. I say that we cannot understand that, but there it is in the Bible, and what it says is just this: That in the end the nations which have continued to reject God, who have resisted all the patience and love of God, who have known of Him and have refused to have Him as their God, will be broken to pieces like a potter's vessel, and the instrument that God will use will be those who are here called "the overcomers."
That is a very broad survey of something of what the Bible says about the potter, the clay and the vessels. It is only a beginning, the laying down of a foundation, but do not allow your anticipation of what is yet to come to rob you of the value of what has been said. You have a lot of empty pages in your notebooks yet, but do not be so anxious to get them filled up that you do not go over what you already have. We are not giving just Bible teaching, but are working our way into the mind of God. There is a lot of instruction in what has been said, a lot of comfort and encouragement, and a lot of strength to be taken from it, but there is also much warning. We are not only occupied with teaching in the Bible. We are in the presence of the revealed mind of God and to come into that is a great responsibility.
Called According to His Purpose
Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:5, 6
Our governing thought is that the vessel made by the potter is an expression of the mind of the potter. It is not just something in itself, but it expresses a thought. So we resume with God represented as a Potter.
God took this conception Himself: it is not an idea given to Him by man. It is God Who has the clay in His hands and Who is working it according to His own mind. He is therefore occupied with a definite purpose: He is working to have a vessel for Himself, and the vessel is something which He chose before ever He put His hand to the work. The principle which the Apostle Paul embodied is a principle which governs all the work of God. The Lord said to Ananias (of Paul): "He is a chosen vessel unto Me" (Acts 9:15), and Paul himself said later: "It was the good pleasure of God, Who separated me, even from my mother's womb" (Galatians 1:15). And that Apostle makes it clear to us that all who are called in Christ Jesus are foreknown and chosen by God. It is the Apostle Peter who says that he is writing to "the elect ... according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:1), and that elect was scattered abroad throughout "Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia."
Now this subject of "election" is a very difficult one, so let us say something that will have the object of getting rid of some of the difficulty.
Every truly saved soul ought to have at their salvation a sense of divine destiny. A consciousness of vocation comes with the consciousness of life, and everyone at new birth ought to feel: 'Now there is something to live for! Now I feel that there is a purpose in life' Everyone who professes to be a child of God but does not have that consciousness is not a truly born again child of God.
This is true of every part of the creation naturally when it is right. How busy are all the living creatures on this earth! They have a sense that there is something they have got to do with their life. Look at the little ants on the ground! They are very busy! It is as though their very life depended upon their getting something done. And when life is right it is always like that. If you like to go outside of this building today you will meet a number of wasps and you will prove that what I have said is true. They are going to get something done and are not going to be easily discouraged.
Purpose is a characteristic of life, and if that is true in the natural creation, it is much more true in the spiritual. It is possible to be dead while we live; and that simply means that we have lost the sense of a purpose in living. Have you noticed that when faith declines the consciousness of purpose also fades? Faith and purpose always go together. Little faith means little purpose and large faith means large purpose.
(continued with # 5)