ŇEarthen VesselsÓ


ŇFor God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.Ó

(2 Corinthians 4:6-7)


We must all face the fact that flesh is just flesh. It never rises to a higher level. Though all who believe are saved by the grace of God, washed in the blood of Christ, and robed in his righteousness, so long as we are in this world, we are just earthen vessels. When Paul talks about that salvation which brings into our hearts Ňthe light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,Ó he reminds us that Ňwe have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.Ó


Grace Alone


The more we think of the utter weakness of our flesh, the more thankful we are that our security and preservation in Christ is not dependent upon our own weak nature, but upon GodŐs constant power and sustaining grace. We are so feeble that if the matter were left in our hands, we would all fall and perish very soon. Many cannot endure the teachings of Holy Scripture regarding this matter of our security and preservation in Christ, because it makes the whole of salvation a work of divine grace from beginning to end. It allows no room for human merit and works. Yet, that is the very thing that makes the teaching of Scripture in this regard so very precious to us. How we thank God that salvation is by grace alone!


            We do not pretend to live above sin, or without sin,, or even to act without it (1 John 1:8, 10). Sadly, sin is a common fact of life. You will never find one of those men who lived and walked with God in the Bible bragging about his righteousness or his perfection. In fact, they all struggled with sin in their flesh. All of GodŐs people are like Paul. We have two natures within us, constantly at war with one another, each struggling for supremacy over the other; the one is good, the other evil; the one is righteousness, the other sin; the one is spirit, the other flesh.


If we could avoid it, we would never sin. We abhor our sin as an infinitely evil thing! We long for the day when we shall be totally free from sin. But, for now, we have the treasure of GodŐs saving grace in these earthen vessels, so that the excellency, the greatness, the power, and the glory of our salvation may be attributed to God and not to us.


Set Heavenward



Does this mean that GodŐs people are no different from the unbelieving of this world? Certainly not! The believer is like a man climbing up a hill. Occasionally, he slips down, but his face is always set toward the summit. Our faces are set heavenward. The unregenerate man is always going down, because his face is set in that direction. The believer is like a man on a ship. He may slip and fall many times on the deck, but he doesnŐt jump over board.


Our judgments are sometimes wrong, like the bewitched Galatians (3:1); our affections sometimes cool, like the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4). Grace may at times seem to be lost to a child of God, but it never is really lost. The people of God, like the church in the Song of Solomon, may become slothful and negligent; but their hearts awake (5:2). The sun is sometimes eclipsed; but it regains its splendor. The trees lose all their fruit and leaves in the winter; but they have fresh buds in the spring. Israel may flee before her enemies at times; but she enters the land of promise triumphantly when her journey is over.


So, too, the true believer falls many times; but the Lord raises him up, and he shall finally enter into heaven triumphantly through the blood, the righteousness, and the grace of Christ. It is utterly unthinkable that one of GodŐs elect should fail to enter into eternal glory. Like Jonah, we all may at times flee from the will of God; but grace will pursue us, preserve us, and cause our hearts to return to him who loved us and gave himself for us.


            I am like you, a man struggling with sin. At times, my sinful thoughts and my sinful deeds almost cause me to despair. But I am reminded, by the gospel and by the Spirit of God, that his grace is sufficient even for me. My salvation and my acceptance with God are not in myself, but in my Substitute. Like you, I am just an earthen vessel; but Christ is the Lord our Righteousness. He is all my Salvation, all my Desire, and all my Assurance. I hang all my hope upon him. Do you?


Don Fortner




Don Fortner



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