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Romans 9:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And that he might make known - God endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath:

  1. To show his wrath, and to make his power known. And also,
  • That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy.
  • Which he had afore prepared unto glory -

    The Jews were fitted for destruction long before; but the fittest time to destroy them was after he had prepared the believing Gentiles unto glory. For the rod of the Messiah's strength was to be sent out of Zion, Psalm 110:2. The Jewish nation was to supply the first preachers of the Gospel, and from Jerusalem their sound was to go forth into all the earth. Therefore the Jewish state, notwithstanding its corruptions, was to be preserved till the Messiah came, and even till the Gospel preached by the apostles had taken deep root in the Gentile world. Another thing which rendered the time when the Jewish polity was overthrown the most proper, was this, because then the immediate occasion of it was the extensiveness of the Divine grace. They would not have the Gentiles admitted into the Church of God; but contradicted, and blasphemed, and rejected the Lord that bought them: thus, then, the extensiveness of the Divine grace occasioned their infidelity, Romans 9:33; Romans 10:3; Romans 11:11, Romans 11:12, Romans 11:15, Romans 11:28, Romans 11:30. Thus the Jews were diminished by that abundance of grace which has enriched the Gentiles. And so the grace of God was illustrated; or, so God made known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy - the apostles and primitive believers among the Jews, and the Gentile world, which received the Gospel by the preaching of the apostles and their successors.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Whatever God does, must be just. Wherein the holy, happy people of God differ from others, God's grace alone makes them differ. In this preventing, effectual, distinguishing grace, he acts as a benefactor, whose grace is his own. None have deserved it; so that those who are saved, must thank God only; and those who perish, must blame themselves only, Hos 13:9. God is bound no further than he has been pleased to bind himself by his own covenant and promise, which is his revealed will. And this is, that he will receive, and not cast out, those that come to Christ; but the drawing of souls in order to that coming, is an anticipating, distinguishing favour to whom he will. Why does he yet find fault? This is not an objection to be made by the creature against his Creator, by man against God. The truth, as it is in Jesus, abases man as nothing, as less than nothing, and advances God as sovereign Lord of all. Who art thou that art so foolish, so feeble, so unable to judge the Divine counsels? It becomes us to submit to him, not to reply against him. Would not men allow the infinite God the same sovereign right to manage the affairs of the creation, as the potter exercises in disposing of his clay, when of the same lump he makes one vessel to a more honourable, and one to a meaner use? God could do no wrong, however it might appear to men. God will make it appear that he hates sin. Also, he formed vessels filled with mercy. Sanctification is the preparation of the soul for glory. This is God's work. Sinners fit themselves for hell, but it is God who prepares saints for heaven; and all whom God designs for heaven hereafter, he fits for heaven now. Would we know who these vessels of mercy are? Those whom God has called; and these not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles. Surely there can be no unrighteousness in any of these Divine dispensations. Nor in God's exercising long-suffering, patience, and forbearance towards sinners under increasing guilt, before he brings utter destruction upon them. The fault is in the hardened sinner himself. As to all who love and fear God, however such truths appear beyond their reason to fathom, yet they should keep silence before him. It is the Lord alone who made us to differ; we should adore his pardoning mercy and new-creating grace, and give diligence to make our calling and election sure.
    Ellen G. White
    Lift Him Up, 360

    In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer ... all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith ... worth more than gold, ... may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6, 7, NIV. LHU 360.1

    When we are tempted to place our affections on any earthly object that has a tendency to absorb our love, we must seek grace to turn from it, and not allow it to come between us and our God. We want to keep before the mind's eye the mansions which Jesus has gone to prepare for us. We must not allow our houses and lands, our business transactions and worldly enterprises, to come between us and our God. We should keep before us the rich promises that He has left on record. We should study the great waymarks that point out the times in which we are living. We know that we are very near the close of this earth's history, and everything of a worldly nature should be secondary to the service of God. We should now pray most earnestly that we may be prepared for the struggles of the great day of God's preparation. We should rejoice in the prospect of soon being with Jesus in the mansions He has gone to prepare for us. Jesus can supply your every need, if you will look to Him and trust in Him. As you behold Him, you will be charmed with the riches of the glory of His divine love. The idolatrous love of things that are seen will be superseded by a higher and better love for things that are imperishable and precious. You may contemplate eternal riches until your affections are bound to things above, and you may be an instrument in directing others to set their affections on heavenly treasures. You can help them to see that money spent needlessly is wasted, and worse than wasted; for it might have been used in presenting the truth to souls who are ready to perish. If the spendthrift is redeemed, it will be by having an object placed before him that will show him the sin of wasting his Lord's goods. The Lord requires His servants to trade upon the goods that He has put in their charge. The talents which He has given to them are to be improved by exercise. The money placed in their hands is to be put out to the exchangers.... Those who rightly value money are those who see its availability in bringing the truth before those who have never heard it, and by this means rescuing them from the power of the enemy. The soul who accepts the truth will find his love for earthly things dislodged. He sees the surpassing glory of heavenly things, and appreciates the excellency of that which relates to everlasting life. He is charmed with the unseen and eternal. His grasp loosens from earthly things; he fastens his eye with admiration upon the invisible glories of the heavenly world. He realizes that his trials are working out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and in comparison to the riches that are his to enjoy, he counts them light afflictions which are but for a moment (The Review and Herald, June 23, 1896). LHU 360.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 315

    But minds that are occupied with frivolous reading, with exciting stories, or with seeking after amusement do not dwell upon Christ and cannot rejoice in the fullness of His love. The mind that finds pleasure in foolish thoughts and trifling conversation is as destitute of the joy of Christ as were the hills of Gilboa of dew or rain.—The Review and Herald, March 15, 1892. 1MCP 315.1

    The Whirl of Excitement—The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. Holidays are numerous; the whirl of excitement and pleasure attracts thousands from the sober duties of life. The exciting sports—theatergoing, horse racing, gambling, liquor drinking, and reveling—stimulate every passion to activity. 1MCP 315.2

    The youth are swept away by the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety and thoughtless mirth. They are led on from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased.—Testimonies for the Church 9:89, 90 (1909). 1MCP 315.3

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    Ellen G. White
    That I May Know Him, 7

    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. Ephesians 3:8. TMK 7.1

    In the Word of God there are rich mines of truth that we may spend our whole lifetime in exploring, and yet we shall find that we have only begun to view their precious stores.... There are unsearchable riches for us. It will take us all eternity to comprehend the riches of the glory of God and of Jesus Christ.... TMK 7.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Gospel Workers 1915, 124

    To those who handle sacred things comes the solemn injunction, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” [Isaiah 52:11.] Of all men, those who have been trusted and honored by the Lord, those who have been given special service to perform, should be circumspect in word and deed. They should be men of devotion, who, by works of righteousness and pure, true words, can lift their fellow-men to a higher level; men who are not unsettled by every passing temptation; men of firm, earnest purpose, whose highest aim is to gather souls to Christ. GW 124.1

    Satan's special temptations are directed against the ministry. He knows that ministers are but human, possessing no grace or holiness of their own; that the treasures of the gospel have been placed in earthen vessels, which divine power alone can make vessels unto honor. He knows that God has ordained ministers to be a powerful means for the salvation of souls, and that they can be successful in their work only as they allow the eternal Father to rule their lives. Therefore he tries with all his ingenuity to lead them into sin, knowing that their office makes sin in them more exceeding sinful; for in committing sin, they make themselves ministers of evil. GW 124.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 376

    It was God's purpose that His grace should be revealed among the Gentiles as well as among the Israelites. This had been plainly outlined in Old Testament prophecies. The apostle uses some of these prophecies in his argument. “Hath not the potter power over the clay,” he inquires, “of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He saith also in Osee, I will call them My people, which were not My people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 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 of the living God.” See Hosea 1:10. AA 376.1

    Notwithstanding Israel's failure as a nation, there remained among them a goodly remnant of such as should be saved. At the time of the Saviour's advent there were faithful men and women who had received with gladness the message of John the Baptist, and had thus been led to study anew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. When the early Christian church was founded, it was composed of these faithful Jews who recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the one for whose advent they had been longing. It is to this remnant that Paul refers when he writes, “If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” AA 376.2

    Paul likens the remnant in Israel to a noble olive tree, some of whose branches have been broken off. He compares the Gentiles to branches from a wild olive tree, grafted into the parent stock. “If some of the branches be broken off,” he writes to the Gentile believers, “and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” AA 377.1

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