Grace Bible Church
The Tree of Life
A Weekly Review
Week ending 02/27/11
Learning the mystery behind the Potter, the Clay, the Lump and the Vessel.

In the doctrine of unity, we are told in REV 2:7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”For the winner believer Free Will of man + Human volition = self-determination and positive volition toward the divine command from the Potter’s wheel of authority.

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will? On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? (ROM 9:16-20)

When God created man He placed in his soul volition, or free will resulting in self-determination, in order to resolve the angelic conflict. In GEN 1:26 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man [the human race] in Our image.’”

The Hebrew word for image is the noun tselem meaning a resemblance; a representation, a likeness, one’s real but invisible essence. It points to something that is real but invisible and this speaks of God. God, though real, is invisible to us. As members of the human race we all have a soul, but that soul is invisible. No one has ever seen a soul.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (GEN 1:26-27)

God has real essence but His essence is invisible just as your soul is invisible. People see your face, your body, or portions of your body but they cannot see your soul. Your soul shines through in your personality but the soul itself is invisible. Do you realize what is visible to people is the least important part of you? This does not mean to neglect fine grooming. But, it is a very important point.

What the human eye sees of self and others is the least important aspect of the person. As 1SA 16:7 says, God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

This essence is composed of five parts:
1. The self-consciousness, this means that man is aware of his own existence, LUK 1:46And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,”
2. The mentality, which is what you think. Self-consciousness is no good without mentality. The mentality is the thinking part of man and is composed of the mind and the heart.
3. The emotion, LUK 12:19, And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years {to come;} take your ease, eat, drink {and} be merry.” This is the appreciator of the soul. Emotion responds or reacts to whatever thoughts are in the soul.
4. The conscience. This is the evaluator of the soul. The conscience contains the norms and standards, (ACT 24:16).
5. The soul also contains volition (LUK 12:19), The volition is the ruler of the soul where man’s free will functions toward all decision making.

Man has the ability to be negative or positive to anything in life. This is why man was created to resolve the angelic conflict, to utilize the soul and control the entire nature of man. This all began in GEN 2:16-17, where we read And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”

The whole issue is the choice and the free will of man continuing through-out the Old and New Testament and through-out human history. For example, the Lord said to Moses in DEU 30:15-16, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.”

God is totally, eternally, and infinitely fair. Therefore, in perfect righteousness the justice of God provided man with a free will, so that man is a free agent in determining his own destiny. And he must take the responsibility for his own decisions. Therefore man cannot blame the mistakes and errors of his own decisions on perfect and incorruptible God. Mankind has been trying to do this ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden. The blame game is simply  a defense mechanism to keep us from having to deal honestly with our mistakes.

We have noted many times how Adam blamed the woman in the garden: The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (GEN 3:7-13)

The blame game started being played right after the fall of mankind. One thing I fail to mention from time to time is that, You don’t have to lie to play the blame game. Adam and Eve responded truthfully to God. Eve had given Adam the fruit and the serpent had deceived Eve. So, what they said was true and does have some validity to it.

Adam said, in effect, don’t blame me, I didn’t take the fruit from the tree; she gave me some fruit and I ate it. I wouldn’t have eaten it if it hadn’t been for that woman. The woman – Don’t blame me. I was tricked into eating it. I wouldn’t have eaten it if it hadn’t been for that serpent. So how can they be held responsible? Well, as we will see, when we get back to Rom 9, they knew the rules that God, as the Potter, had as the divine authority over the clay (them).

In GEN 2:16-17the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”

They knew that they were not to eat from the tree about which the Lord commanded them, in GEN 3:17. They had a choice. Since they knew the rule, and rule is in the singular because there was just one negative mandate, which was, “Don’t eat from it!” The Lord never said what Satan deceived the woman into believing which was that God had said “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden.” In fact, the Lord said quite to the contrary in GEN 2:16, where the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;”

In GEN 3:1, Satan simply added to the Scriptures which is forbidden in PRO 30:6, Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar. And then, apparently, like many ravishing and stunning woman, she was more than likely captivated with her own beauty, looking around at the Garden, enjoying the trees and the animals of the field, looking at the birds of the sky, all flying by. Perhaps she was even admiring that little snake, who in GEN 3:1, the CEV (Contemporary English Translation) says, The snake was sneakier than any of the other wild animals that the Lord God had made.

But most of all she was probably checking out her man, the finest, strongest, most handsome man in the world, looking forward to some wild night in the garden and fulfilling one of her favorite blessings, sex (GEN 2:24). But whatever it was, she was deceived and distracted by it for we read in GEN 3:2-3, her lack of concentration when she said, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it [and then this time she added to the word of God] or touch it, lest you die.’” God never said, Don’t touch it. – She did! She willfully added to the word of God because she did not concentrate on it when it was taught. And the consequence for breaking that divine command from the Potter’s wheel of authority was that they were given fair warning and therefore, left without excuse.

The serpent played a role in Eve eating the fruit and Eve played a role in Adam eating the fruit but ultimately, the choice was each of theirs. They didn’t have to give in. They were perfect. They had all the power necessary to resist temptation. They were given incentive to stay away. Spiritual death, or to be cut off or separated from God, should have been a good incentive to stay away from something. Besides, they had access to everything else. They just had to stay away from one tree. Adam and the woman had a choice-obey God or disobey God, and they chose to disobey Him. Don’t play the blame game with God. We can see from their blaming that in essence they were blaming God for what happened. Adam was basically saying, Don’t blame me; you’re the one who put this woman here. If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be in this mess right now.

You can just picture the woman saying, don’t blame me; if you hadn’t allowed this nasty serpent to be here, I wouldn’t be in this mess right now. And, although it doesn’t report them doing this, you see Adam and Eve blaming God for their sin because, after all, He was the one who put the tree there in the first place. If You hadn’t put that stupid tree right in the middle of the garden like that, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

They have valid arguments before God right? Remove the tree, no problems. Remove the serpent, no problems. Remove the woman, no problems. However; remove the choice and there’s no free will. Remove the free will, there’s no glorification of God in the Angelic Conflict. AND SATAN WINS!

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (JAM 1:13-16)

It’s not God’s fault, or other’s fault, or even Satan’s fault. It’s our own evil desire that allows us to be dragged away and enticed. It’s our fault, we are to blame. So when we fail to act according to God’s will and it doesn’t work out, it’s God’s fault. The reality, however, is we’re to blame if we don’t seek God’s direction or accept God’s timing. Often times we’re quick to blame God when things go wrong and slow to thank him when things go right. Man’s irresponsibility and depravity is never more dramatically portrayed than when he seeks to blame God for his own thoughts, his own decisions, and his own actions. No one can say to God, Why have you made me this way? Because mankind has his own free will. Man is a free agent, he has self-determination. Mankind under the influence of Satanic thinking is always trying to conform God to his human thinking rather than accepting God in terms of divine revelation. Man is always trying to bend God to his own thinking and then saying, “This is God’s will.”

The quotation from Isaiah 29:16, which Isaiah applied to the nation, Paul applies to the individual Jew and Gentile.

You turn {things} around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, That what is made should say to its maker, “He did not make me”; Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? (ISA 29:16)

To blaspheme and malign the perfect wisdom and justice of God is the irrational act of a desperate person. Irrational because of after having made hundreds of free will decisions, culminating in judgment, and fallen under the principle of the law of responsibility…they still blame God. God is blamed and maligned for thus shifting the responsibility from their erroneous decisions and blaming it on the sovereignty of God.

So, the entire verse in ROM 9:21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for dishonorable use.

Paul is saying that if God wants to make a vessel of honor and a vessel of dishonor from the same lump of clay, doesn’t He have the right to do so? Yes, but that is not the real issue in this passage. The real issue is the issue of the free will of man responding to what is right before God. The clay does not refer to man as a vessel but in reality, the clay refers to the soul of man, referring to his volition, freewill, and self-determination. The potter refers to God who has, not the right but the divine authority, which mankind’s volition, freewill, and self-determination, can respond to or reject.

Therefore, we have the following: On the contrary, who are you [the free will of man as the clay and therefore a part of man’s soul which functions under the OSN or NN] O man [the entire soul of man], who answers back to God? [the Potter as the divine authority] The thing [man’s free will] molded [the free will’s response to divine authority] will not say to the molder [the divine authority of God], “Why did you [the authority of God] make me [free will of man] like this,” will it? (ROM 9:20)

Or does not the potter [God as the sovereign One] have a right [divine authority] over the clay [the free will of man] to make from the same lump [the entire soul of man] one vessel [man’s entire being – body-soul- and for the believer – HS] for honorable use, and another [man’s entire being] for dishonorable use? (ROM 9:21)

God has the authority but that isn’t the REAL issue. The real issue is does mankind recognize God’s authority and make decisions compatible with that divine authority? That is the issue. The lump of clay is the human volition and human self-determination of the individual. The issue, then, becomes obvious.

The justice of God imputes eternal and divine righteousness to positive volition in the lump while imputing condemnation and punishment to the negative volition in the lump. Therefore in this context a vessel of honor is the Jew who has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, while the vessel of dishonor is the Jew who has rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and has done so from his own free will. Therefore the justice of God can only condemn the one who has rejected.

The issue is not what we do; the issue is what Christ has done on the Cross. Therefore believing in the Lord Jesus Christ becomes the issue. The lump, again, is the free will of mankind to believe in Christ or to reject Christ. Man is free to go either way. Therefore the honor is possessing the righteousness of God and eternal life, while dishonor is possessing or depending on one’s own self-righteousness and function in human life. God is free to bless the vessel of honor possessing God’s righteousness, and likewise God is free to judge the vessel of dishonor possessing human self-righteousness.

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