The Berean Expositor
Volume 27 - Page 162 of 212
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"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be
of God, and not of us" (II Cor. 4: 7).
It is possible that the Apostle had in mind the story of Gideon with his empty
pitchers and lamps within the pitchers, which were broken at the moment of victory
(Judges 7: 19, 20). The context of II Cor. 4: 6 refers to the "light of the knowledge of
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ", and the suggestion of the broken pitcher
may be behind the words of verse 9: "Cast down, but not destroyed."
The Apostle was ever conscious of his utter unworthiness when he contemplated his
past life and, at the same time, the glory of the message with which he was entrusted:
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given" (Eph. 3: 8).
It should be a matter for thanksgiving that the Apostle can speak in this way. The
Scriptures do not present us with impossible saints and inhuman men and women. The
chosen vessels of Scripture are in themselves "earthen vessels", but their enabling is
all-sufficient grace (II Cor. 3: 5), and that grace is still available for every "earthen
vessel" in the service of the Lord.
The last passage to be considered in which the thought of the "vessel" is prominent is
found in II Tim. 2: 20, 21:
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood
and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge
himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's
use, and prepared unto every good work."
There must necessarily be different grades of service, and different ways of assessing
them. The aspect in view in II Tim. 2: is that of devotion, a devotion that expresses
itself in "separation from" and "separation to". There is a purging of the vessel from all
contact with evil, whether with evil persons or with evil doctrines, and there is also a
singleness of heart in the service of the Lord. The actual service may be performed
among and to men, but in spirit it will be offered to the Lord. Its language is that of
Phil. 2: 17:
"Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice
with you all."
Singleness of heart and consecration to the Master's use, and separation from other
vessels and other uses, so far from restricting and limiting, are essential elements in all
true usefulness.
"Meet for the Master's use, having been prepared unto every good work."
To be a chosen vessel to bear His Name, to be an earthen vessel to contain His
treasure, to be a vessel meet for the Master's use, surely these things touch the very