Vessels of Mercy (Romans 9:23, Ephesians 1:18, Psalm 119:89, Revelation 13:8, Romans 6:22)
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
What will God do?
And what has God done?
God will “make known the riches of His glory” on those people whom He calls the vessels of mercy. God will make known to them that they are God’s People and God will tell them “that they may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
God promised to bring this Good News to those whom He has chosen in the distant past. Secondly, when God uses the words, “which he had afore prepared unto glory”, God refers to His decisions before the foundation of the world. How well does this agree with other parts of Scripture, such as in Psalm 119:89, which says:
(¶ LAMED.) For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
This tells us not only that God is from everlasting to everlasting, but also that His Word stands firm and immutable in heaven as long as heaven was in existence. It means that Gods decisions concerning this world and concerning this universe were already in existence long before this world and this universe were created. This tells us that God sovereignly chose before the foundation of the world who were going to be His vessels of mercy, and God already “prepared unto glory” those people, who have been favored by God, to be His vessels of mercy.
But what does this mean that God has already “prepared unto glory” the vessels who did not exist yet?
It cannot mean that we were different from everyone else when we came into this world, because God says that we “were by nature children of wrath, even as others”. It must mean that God has prepared the requirements for His People to be received up into glory, which means that before the foundation of the world the Lord Jesus Christ was appointed to suffer and die specifically for these people who were appointed to become vessels of mercy. And the Scriptures confirm this, for example in Revelation 13:8,
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Christ is called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. It does not mean that Christ was crucified twice in history, but it means that Christ’s atonement for the guilt of the sins of His People was effectual “from the foundation of the world”.
For example, Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve was one of those for whom Christ suffered and died. Christ died many thousands of years after Abel died, but Christ’s atonement was effectual also for Abel. Moreover, God prepared the glory that we will receive. Perhaps you remember that the glory God is speaking about is not referring to sparkle and shine, but glory is a synonym for “victory over sin”. God prepared that we will have victory over sin, because the Lord Jesus Christ removed the guilt of all our sins. Then God Himself came to live in our brand new soul, and by His grace we “became servants to God, and have our fruit unto holiness” (Romans 6:22).
Moreover, there is a good reason for God to call His elect people, “vessels of mercy”. Not only have we obtained mercy, through the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we also have become vessels out of whom God distributes mercy to whom He pleases to give it. As ambassadors for Christ we are making the Gospel available to all whom God sends to us. Out of all those who are willing to hear us, God has chosen those who during the hearing of His Word will have a change of heart, and will become saved. And so God using His vessels of mercy spreads His mercy to all the “remnant chosen by grace” through the entire world. Now let us continue in Romans 9:24,
Even US Whom He Hath Called (Romans 9:24, Matthew 7:13-14, Ephesians 2:1-3)
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
It is amazing that God called US. If you consider that the majority of mankind remains unsaved, remains dead in their sins, and remains under the wrath of God for their sins, then you recognize that the probability of becoming saved is much smaller than the probability of remaining unsaved. That is a serious matter. As we sit here in church, listening to the sermon, there are even among us those who are still unsaved. It means that they intellectually agree that they believe the Bible, but the actions in their life show that they in fact do not believe the whole Bible.
Who are they?
Only God knows for sure who they are. The Lord Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:13-14,
Enter ye in at the strait (narrow) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait (narrow) is the gate, and narrow (troubled) is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
In short, many go to Hell, and few go to heaven. Why did God arrange it this way? We do not know. We must trust that God, in His wisdom, knows what the best plan is for this world. Each one of us must examine ourselves and see if we truly are saved and are living for Jesus.
When we read in Romans 9:24, “Even US”, we must truly be amazed at God’s grace that He chose US, the chief of sinners, to belong to one of God’s People. We know that we did not deserve this at all. We know that there are much more intelligent and much more capable people to function as God’s ambassadors. But God chose us! God says, for example in Ephesians 2:1,
And you (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
When we compare ourselves with intelligent and capable unsaved people, we must remember that we are comparing ourselves with dead people. They are spiritually dead in the sight of God, and God says that the natural mind is enmity against God, and they cannot please God. Here in Ephesians 2:1 God is addressing the saints in the church at Ephesus. These people are saved, and yet God is saying to them, “You were dead in trespasses and sins”. All of you, before you became saved at some point in time, you were dead spiritually. The Bible says that this is how all of US came into this world: dead in trespasses and sins. Even when we were in our mother’s womb we were already infected with sin because we jointly carried the guilt of Adam’s sin. In the past we lived our life without God, and we lived “according to the course of this world”. But this world is ruled over by “the prince of the power of the air”, which is the Devil. Adam squandered the rulership of this world to Satan, and Satan rules over all the unsaved of this world. That is why He is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”. But notice, Ephesians 2:3 says that we all at one time were under the influence of “the prince of the power of the air”.
“We all had our conduct in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind”.
Therefore, we all “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”, even as others who never become saved. We were inherently just as wicked as anyone else. Therefore if God saved us, it was entirely by God’s grace, and it did not depend on anything that we did or were going to do, like choosing for Jesus. We were absolutely on the way to Hell, and we did not know it.
Has anyone of you ever considered what Hell is like?
It cannot be described in earthly terms. All we know is that it is super terrible. It is as terrible as a lake of fire.
If your neighbor is sleepwalking, and he is walking toward a house that is on fire, would you not try to wake him up, and let him know that he is about to get burned?
And yet, if he enters the burning house, his suffering will be only for a few minutes, and then he will be dead. But if anyone ends up in Hell, he will suffer for an eternity in the fires of Hell.
Would you not want to warn everybody what danger they are in?
This is really why God has left us in this world, to warn all the unsaved that judgment day is coming. This is the most important thing we can do.
God said in Romans 9:24, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.
You see then that God’s promise is not a Jewish promise!
It cannot be just a Jewish promise. For, if God has the freedom of divine election, and if election is based alone on God’s own good pleasure, then wherever God’s will turns itself, there His election exists. It means that even among Abraham’s children there were some elect and others were reprobate. What a blessing then that we, who were “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world”, have been called by God to receive His grace unto salvation. God called us when we heard the Gospel, and God worked in our hearts so that it became an effective call. It was:
God’s Effective Call (Ephesians 3:8, Romans 10:14-17, Acts 16:31, Proverbs 20:12)
God uses His servants to bring the gospel to His elect people. We read in Eph 3:8
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
This should be the banner of every preacher of the Gospel. This verse is for me. “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”. It is a great honor for me to be used by God in this way. It is wonderful how God has saved me, and prepared me, so that I can walk in the shadow of great preachers of the past centuries. I thank God for giving me this grace, and I always pray that He will keep me faithful.
And how does God reach out to call His people?
How does God save?
What are the operations He uses in saving God’s People?
We see here God’s methodology after the cross, in saving His People by giving them a new heart, so that they will call on Him. God speaks here in Romans 10:13-17 about the impossibility of anyone by his own strength to reach out to God. God says in Romans 10:13,
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How can anyone “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” if they are spiritually dead?
They cannot do that.
How can anyone “call on the name of the Lord” if they are spiritually dead?
They cannot do that. They are dead.
Does God then require from us to do something that we are incapable of doing?
Absolutely yes! God does that all the time. In the Old Testament God required that we must “circumcise our heart”. We cannot do that. God must do that for us. In the New Testament God required that we must “be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect”. We cannot do that. God must do that for us. Therefore, now God tells us the arrangements He has made so that we will become perfect in God’s sight through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14,
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Here is God’s methodology in a nutshell: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. It is God who sovereignly chooses whom He wants to make alive, but God says here that He uses humans as His instruments to bring the Gospel to those whom He chose to save. Then God saves and they come to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ while under the hearing of the Word of God. For example, in the Old Testament there were entire nations who were raised up and died without ever hearing the Word of God. The Bible says in Romans 1 that all those people died unsaved. But the Ninevites came under the hearing of God’s Word through the preaching of Jonah, and it was at that time that God saved them. It was at that time that God gave them a hearing ear and a seeing eye. God says in Proverbs 20:12,
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
God is in charge to give people physical ears to hear, and physical eyes to see. In the same manner God is in charge of giving people spiritual ears to hear, and spiritual eyes to see the Kingdom of God. Without God’s gift of grace we cannot see the Kingdom of God, because we cannot see to begin with. Just like the Lord Jesus told Nicodemus: “Ye must be Born Again”. But having said that, we must realize why God has left us in this world. God has left us here to be a witness to everyone we possibly can come in contact with. That is why we broadcast our messages on local radio, and on shortwave radio, and on the Internet, and in the tape ministry. That is why we have weekly Bible Studies in someone’s home, so that we are available to anyone who is willing to hear. But that does not leave you people out in the cold. Every one of us, old and young, must find our opportunities to witness one on one of the beautiful Good News that God has given in our hands. This is our obligation to the Lord Jesus Christ, since this is nothing more than a way of saying “Thank You for what You have done for us”. We just have to be more alert at recognizing the open doors which God the Holy Spirit gives us.
I Will Call Them My People (Romans 9:25, Hosea 2:23, Hosea 1:6-10, Luke 13:30)
As he saith also in Osee (= Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
Can you see to whom God is referring when He said “My People”?
What was the last word in verse 24?
God says here that these words are now fulfilled, and they are fulfilled in that not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles are people chosen to be vessels of mercy. This verse is a quotation from Hosea 2:23, therefore we should look this up in the Old Testament.
Hosea prophesied in the Northern kingdom Of Israel about at the same time that Isaiah prophesied in the Southern kingdom of Judah. Hosea was married to a woman named “Gomer”. Hosea and Gomer had three children. Only the last two children are referred to in Hosea 2:23. And there we read:
And I will sow her (= Gomer) unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.
Perhaps you noticed that the order of the children is reversed in Romans 9:25. In Romans 9 God first mentioned “My People”, and secondly God mentioned “Beloved”. In Hosea 2:23 God first mentioned “Have Mercy”, which is synonymous with “Beloved”, and secondly God mentioned “My People”.
Why did God do that?
God arranged the life of Hosea to be an acted out reflection of God’s plan for the salvation of His people. We read in Hosea 1:6,
And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
The second child of Gomer and Hosea was a daughter, named “Lo-ruhamah”, meaning “No Mercy”.
Who does Lo-ruhamah represent?
God says here in verse 6 that Lo-ruhamah represents “the house of Israel”, and from the context we understand that God refers to the physical descendants of Jacob, who is called Israel. God says in verse 6 that He will utterly take them away, God took away the Northern kingdom of Israel in 709 BC. God took away the Southern kingdom of Judah in 587 BC. Then God gave the Jews one more chance, but lastly God took away the entire nation.
The third child of Gomer and Hosea was a son, named “Lo-ammi”, meaning “Not My People”.
Who does Lo-ammi represent?
God did not specify in verse 9 who Lo-ammi represents, but since Lo-ammi was a contemporary of Lo-ruhamah we suspect that Lo-ammi represents the Gentiles.
Then comes the reversal in verse 10. This is the most important verse. God speaks in verse 10 about Lo-ammi: “In the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people (Lo-ammi), there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God”.
To most of the Gentiles God said in the Old Testament time: “You are not My People”. O yes, there were some proselytes, but they were few and far between. Most of the grace of God went to those who were the blood descendants of Israel. But after the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross the Israel of God was greatly expanded to include also those Gentiles whom God had chosen to become saved. Or in the words of Hosea 2:23 we read:
And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy (Ruhamah) upon her that had not obtained mercy (Lo-ruhamah); and I will say to them which were not my people (Lo-ammi), Thou (art) my people; (Ammi) and they shall say, (Thou art) my God.
It does not mean that all the Gentiles (Ammi) will become saved; neither does it mean that all the Jews (Ruhamah) shall become saved. It simply means that Ammi, representing the chosen ones out of the Gentiles was mentioned in Hosea 2:23 last, because he was the youngest son of Hosea and Gomer, whereas Ruhamah was the second child. On the other hand, God applies here the principle of Luke 13:30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. Therefore elect Gentiles are mentioned in Romans 9:25 first, and elect Jews are mentioned last.
But now we want to explore the other words in Hosea 1:10. There we read:
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered;
This cannot refer to the nation of Jews in our days. Their number is very well known among the Jews. But this is language that refers to all the saints, both of the OT and the New Testament. This is the “great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, which stood before the throne of God” in Revelation 7:9. This Israel mentioned in Hosea 1:10 is the Israel of God.
And then we read in Hosea 1:10,
And It Shall Come to Pass in the Place (Hosea 1:10, Romans 9:26, Revelation 22:18, I John 3:1-3)
And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people (Lo-ammi), there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
Why did God put so much emphasis on the place?
If we turn again to Romans 9:26 you will see that God did not leave out those details. There we read,
And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children (sons) of the living God.
Your KJV says “children of the living God”, but the Greek text says, “Sons of the living God”. All the saints are called sons of God, because in the life hereafter there is no more distinction between male and female.
But where is the place that God refers to in Hosea 1:10, and God repeats it in Romans 9:26?
Where is that place?
Hosea wrote this prophecy in the capital city of Samaria.
Where was Paul when God dictated to him the Epistle to the Romans?
There is no doubt about the place where this Epistle was written. In his third missionary journey the Apostle Paul waited at Corinth for the delegates from the Gentile churches, who bore the offerings for the relief of the impoverished Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. We read of this collection in I Corinthians 16:1-4, II Corinthians 8, and in Acts 24:17. Some of the names in the last chapter of Romans have a very definite association with Corinth. Paul remained at Corinth for 3 months according to Acts 20:3. In Romans, chapter 15, the Apostle reveals that he is about to sail to Jerusalem, bringing with him the contribution for the poor, and then he hopes to be free to visit Rome. It was on the eve of his departure to Jerusalem that Paul finished this letter and addressed it to all the saints in Rome.
Then why did God repeat word for word in Hosea 1:10 and in Romans 9:26, “It shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people”?
Samaria is definitely not the same place as Corinth, in Greece. But God does not lie. Therefore, we may have misunderstood God when He referred to the same place as if He was referring to a geographical location on this earth. Perhaps God did not refer to a geographical location.
What other place could God have referred to?
Could it be that God meant the place to be a Book?
Could it be the same Book?
Well that flies in the face of almost every theologian this world has known, because they call the “Book of Romans” a different Book than the “Book of Hosea”. Could all these theologians be wrong, and could God have meant the “Book of Hosea” to be the same Book as the “Book of Romans”?
Without any question, this is exactly what God meant when He referred to the same place.
We should not call those documents “the Book of Hosea” and “the Book of Romans”, because the Bible is One Book. The Old Testament Scriptures may be called Scrolls, or Prophecies, or Writings. The New Testament Scriptures should be identified the way they are identified in the Bible. They are not called Books, because that word Book has been reserved only for the Bible. You may think that I am splitting hairs, but this is very important. For example, God says in Revelation 22:18,
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
People in the Charismatic Movement claim that this warning only applies to the Book of Revelation. The Mormons also claim that it must be interpreted this way. They claim that they do not violate the integrity of the Book of Revelation. But that is altogether false. The Revelation of St. John is still the same Book as the Epistle to the Romans and as the Prophecy of Hosea. It is all One Book. Revelation 22:18 says it so very plain and simple: God will no longer add to the words of the Prophecy of this Book, the Bible. God has completed His work of bringing divine revelations. If anyone claims to have a message from God in a dream, or a vision, or in a tongue then they have added to the Bible, and they are by that definition still under the wrath of God.
Why is this so difficult to accept?
It is only difficult to accept by people who have already been trapped in the Charismatic Movement, and who do not want to give up their wonderful experiences in the Charismatic gospel. But it is altogether a different gospel than the Gospel of the Bible. The Charismatics have a different god than the God of the Bible. Their authority is the Bible plus other messages. By definition, their god is circumscribed by the Bible plus whatever other messages they have from their god. But the God of the Bible is circumscribed by the Bible alone. That is the plain teaching of Revelation 22:18-19. The Bible is 1 cohesive whole.
Let me try to summarize all of this: We have seen that God, as the heavenly Potter, made vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory. These vessels of mercy are God’s People chosen from all the nations of the world, both from Jews and from Gentiles, since there is no more distinction between Jews and Gentiles. God called us with an effective call, because God arranged it so that we would hear His call, and God’s grace is irresistible. Look then at God’s unbelievable love, which God without any reservation or condition poured out upon us, who are really dirty rotten sinners at heart.
1 John 3:1
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
1 John 3:2
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:3
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Where is the place where we are “called the sons of God”?
It is here in I John 3:1.
This Is the Place (I Corinthians 2:2, Titus 3:4-7)
The place is called the Bible. It is there where we learn to stand at the foot of the cross. Yes! God did not call us sons of God by some magical hand waving. God called us sons of God because Christ purchased us at the cross. He purchased us at a very great price.
The Apostle Paul was so overwhelmed with standing at the foot of the cross, that he told the church at Corinth in I Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”. This singular fact in history is the pivot on which everything revolves, both secular and spiritual. Christ was crucified for our sins. That is an amazing statement, realizing that God did not need us in the first place. He was perfect before He created anything. And yet He loved His creatures, US. We read here in Titus 3:4-7,
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The kindness and love of God our Saviour, is the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for US. In verse 4 Christ is called God. If He were not God, He could not be our Saviour. Only because He was God could He endure the penalty that had to be paid. God is righteous, and therefore God could not skip or diminish the laws that He had laid down. Christ became accursed by God in our place.
How great is our gratitude for such a phenomenal payment on our behalf?
Do we meditate on this every hour of the day?
Do we worship this great Savior every day?
Do we recognize that this is the place, there at the cross, where our destiny was signed and sealed with blood?
Then we would sing with the choruses of the past:
When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them through His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did ever such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
By Alfred J. Chompff