Lesson 15:
Vessels of Mercy to Honor and unto Glory
Bible reading
Please pray over these verses. 

Romans 9:20-24
20 But rather, O man, who are you who answer back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him who molded it, Why did you make me thus?
21 Or does not the potter have authority over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?
22 And what if God, wishing to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known, endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted for destruction,
23 In order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom He has also called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles?

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.


According to God’s mercy and sovereignty, man was created as a vessel to contain the God of honor as his inner treasure. The genuine Christian life is focused on the containing of this rich inward content rather than on our outward activities, with the goal that the God of glory would be expressed through man.

Bible study reading
Please prayerfully read through the following portions of ministry related to this lesson.

Romans 9:20-24 says that man was made a vessel and that this vessel is a vessel unto honor because God is contained in this vessel (2 Cor. 4:7). The contents of the vessel is a person of high honor, so this container is called a vessel unto honor. Eventually, this vessel will be brought into glory. In other words, the contents of the vessel will saturate this vessel with Himself who is the glory. When the glory saturates the entire vessel, the vessel will be in glory, so it is unto glory. Being vessels unto honor is not the result of our choice; it originates with God’s sovereignty. It is of God’s sovereignty that He makes His glory known by creating vessels of mercy to contain Himself. According to His sovereign authority, God before prepared us unto glory. We were predestinated by His sovereignty to be His containers, vessels unto honor to express what He is in glory. That is not only a matter of His mercy but also of His sovereignty. (Elders’ Training, Book 6: The Crucial Points of the Truth in Paul’s Epistles, ch. 2, section 5)

God’s selection has a goal—to have many vessels to contain God and to express Him eternally. So many of us have missed the mark of God’s goal, thinking that it was simply to show His love in saving us. Yes, He loves us. However, His love is not only shown to save us, but to make us His vessels. God created us in such a way that we are able to take Him into us and contain Him as our life and life supply, to the end that we be one with Him to express what He is and that He be glorified in us and with us. This is the eternal goal of God’s selection. It is also our eternal destiny.

This portion of the Word also unfolds the climax of our usefulness to God, which is not to be used by Him as servants, priests, and kings, but as vessels to contain Him and express Him. (Life-study of Romans, msg. 22, section 3)

Lesson help

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Going deeper
Please read or listen to these materials for an in-depth study of this lesson.

Further reading:
Life-study of Romans, msg. 22, section 3
Basic Lessons on Life, ch. 2
Perfecting Training, msg. 22, section 1

Radio broadcast link:
Broadcast 24, God’s Selection, Our Destiny (2) 

Footnotes from Recovery Version of the New Testament:
Romans 9:21, footnote 1
Romans 9:23, footnote 1
2 Corinthians 4:7, footnotes 1-2
Colossians 1:27, footnote 3

Questions for personal or corporate study:

References in brackets indicate readings or broadcasts that may be helpful in answering the questions.
  • What is the goal of God’s selection and God’s purpose in creating man according to Romans 9:20-24? (Life-study of Romans, msg. 22, section 3; Basic Lessons on Life, ch. 2)
  • Which other verses also reveal this central point concerning man being created as a vessel to receive and contain God? (2 Cor. 4:7, footnotes 1-2; 2 Tim. 2:20-21, Recovery Version)
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Works Cited

Lee, Witness. Elders’ Training, Book 6: The Crucial Points of the Truth in Paul’s Epistles. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1985.

---. Life-study of Romans. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1989.

All verses and excerpts © 2021 Living Stream Ministry.
Used by permission. Reproduction is prohibited. 
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