The Divine Potter & His Clay




This morning I would like to elaborate on some of the truths I emphasized last Sunday in my Christmas Eve message. They are found in what is perhaps the most ignored chapter in the entire Bible. The facts contained in that chapter are despised by every non-Christian who is aware of them. Christians who have difficulty accepting all of the Bible as being the divinely inspired Word of God are repulsed by what Paul has written and so they will not accept certain passages as truths.

Even many Bible believing Christians would rather these truths weren’t in the Bible. Many preachers who accept the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible avoid this particular chapter like they would the plague. For instance, other than coming from this pulpit, how often throughout the years have you folks heard sermons preached on the ninth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans?

Romans 9:1-29 (ESV) 1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.”

10 And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?

22 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, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ “26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”

It was some of the verses which we have just read that I alluded to when I said last week that, “it isn’t a matter of God looking down at the old dead race of people and then capriciously saving some folks by plucking them out of that dung-heap of humanity, while leaving others to wallow in it.”[1]

Now how could I make such a statement? Here we have two tiny babies who are still in their mother’s womb. Neither of them had done anything good or bad, for the simple reason that unborn babies are not capable of doing anything good or bad. It’s impossible. Nevertheless, the Scriptures tell us that God chose to love one of these unborn babies and hate the other.

And, as I pointed out last week it was all because He had selected one of them, not only while the child was still in his mother’s womb, but from eternity past, before He even spoke His world into existence, (Eph. 1: 3-5). I referred to God’s choosing as being part of His perfect, unchangeable eternal plan for each and every Christian.

How do you handle these verses? What do you tell a non-Christian friend that might ask you what you think about them? Are you uncomfortable or perhaps even embarrassed by them? Can you imagine yourself discussing this kind of stuff with one of those radio or TV talk show hosts?

What kind of a reaction do you think you are apt to get from one of those motorized mouths? Would you consider putting a bumper-sticker on your car explaining that God is pro-choice, i.e. that He chooses to love some people and hate others?

Doesn’t it seem as though God is capricious as to which folks out of fallen humanity He is going to save. Furthermore, how can God justify His choosing some and not others? Paul answers by asking a rhetorical question.

Romans 9:21 (ESV) 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?

But if we view God as arbitrarily choosing to save some poor last sinners and not others; how can anyone possibly believe that He is benevolent, and that He is kind and compassionate? When you consider vs. thirteen you could come to the conclusion that our Sovereign Lord is the exact opposite.

Romans 9:11-13 (ESV) 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Continue thinking about these two passages and what do you come up with? Well, last week in my story I had the old man conclude this is simply,

“God’s supernatural ongoing planned production of a new race of spiritual people, a people in whom the very Spirit of the Living God Himself would dwell, and which could only be produced by means of a spiritual birth.”[2] As I said a moment ago, God’s choosing was part of His perfect eternal plan for each and every Christian.

Ephesians 1:3-5 (ESV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

Lloyd-Jones in his excellent commentary on Romans Nine cited the case of the Prophet Jeremiah to drive home this fact of these verses.

Jeremiah 1:1-5 (ESV) 1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. 4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Concerning the prophet, Lloyd-Jones writes: “God produced him for that purpose. But it only actually happened in time, ‘in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.’[3] Lloyd-Jones cautions: “Do not get mixed up with this time element. You see, the Son of God really began His public ministry at the age of thirty, but He had been sent in the world to do it. There were thirty years when people just looked at Him and thought that he was a man like everyone else; suddenly He bursts forth in His ministry.”

“The same was true of Jeremiah. For all those years, nobody knew that he was to be this remarkable prophet of God, but God had known it: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” You notice it is God who forms him. Of course! This is what He does with all His people. So, let me emphasize it again, God actually brought us into the world through the natural process in order that we might become a part of this ‘new humanity’ in Christ.”

“We appear to be like everyone else, and yet according to this teaching we were always different. We did not know we were different, nor did Isaac and Jacob, these things were not known. Nevertheless it is still the fact. Christian people were never exactly equal and identical with others.”

“There was always this vital and essential difference-not yet manifested, but it was there. Before the foundation of the world, before our mother’s womb even, there was always this difference. According to the flesh, according to nature, we are all the children of Adam, and yet we are not only that. We are children whom God has produced, and brought into being in order that this purpose and plan of His might be carried out in us.”

“It is not an arbitrary selection; it is God producing something quite new.” “God uses the natural, but He intervenes in this miraculous manner to produce His people, and so He is producing a new humanity.”[4]

This is a truth the old man in my Christmas story was able to grasp. In my story I wrote: “In other words, back in eternity past, our Sovereign God planned on creating a very special race of people. And just as He had planned on taking some, not all, but some of the dust from the ground to form the first man, He also planned on using some, not all, but some of the folks from the dead race of people to produce new creatures in Christ. Those formerly dead people had been brought into being for this very purpose every bit as much as that particular dust had been brought into existence to form the first human.”[5]

There was a lot of spiritual meat in that story, so much so that I wanted to elaborate on it again today. Last week I wanted to whet your spiritual appetite. Lord willing, next week we will take a closer look at some of the other spiritual nourishment that was tucked into that story.

Today is New Years Eve. More importantly it’s the Lords Day. Don’t get caught up in the things of the world. Take time to think about the things we have looked at this morning. Speak about these eternal truths with each other. Prepare your mind with a spirit of awe, and with a heart full of gratitude. And then, if the Lord so wills, as we start a New Year tomorrow, let us do so by pleading with Him to constantly remind us that we are His people which He has created for Himself, and help us to never forget to remember that He is the Divine Potter and we are His clay.

Those of you who were here last week may recall how I had so much wanted to make my Christmas story a blessing especially to Carroll and Guy. I shared how I had been thinking and praying about it for quite some time. On Christmas morning the Lord blessed me big time with this email from our friend Guy.

Merry Christmas Dear Brother,

Thank you for dedicating your Christmas Eve Sermon to Carroll. Last night we read it together as part of our evening devotions.  We were both blessed.  I will say this, that I will need to re-read it a couple of times, it seems to be saturated with meaning that at first glance does not completely come through, but is revealed as the story unfolds.  It is apparent how much time, thought, and energy you put into this message.  Thank You!!


[2] Ibid.


[4] Ibid p. 136

[5] Joy to the World!

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December 31, 2006 Posted by Categories: Uncategorized No comments yet

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