Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate 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 out of us. (2 Cor. 4:6-7)
In Paul’s writings man is consistently referred to as a vessel to contain God. Second Corinthians 4:6-7 likens the believers to earthen vessels containing Jesus Christ as the priceless treasure within. Furthermore, Romans 9 speaks of man as a vessel (vv. 21-22), and says concerning the believers in verses 23 and 24, “In order that He [God] might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory, even us, whom He has also called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles.”
Paul did not come up with the thought of man being a vessel by himself; the Lord may have spoken this to him through Ananias at the time of his conversion. In Acts 9:15 the Lord sent Ananias to Saul, saying “Go, for this man [Saul] is a chosen vessel to Me, to bear My name before both the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.” Ananias must have been impressed with this declaration and may have spoken to Saul about it when he met him. Paul’s speaking in Romans 9 mirrors the Lord’s speaking regarding Saul in Acts 9—man is a vessel to contain and express God.
This revelation concerning man as a vessel created for God’s purpose is not isolated to Paul’s writings. Beginning with Genesis, the entire Bible is permeated with the thought that man is a vessel to contain God. Genesis 2:7-9 describes God’s placing of Adam in a garden with “every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food” and the tree of life, a clear type of Christ, in the middle (John 15:1; 11:25). This arrangement was purposeful, for God’s desire is that man as a vessel would open to receive Him moment by moment and contain Him. Since this vision is central to both God and Paul, it certainly must become central in our lives. Our consideration must not be for things such as ethics, religion, or even spirituality; our consideration in everything must be, “Am I gaining more God? Is God being dispensed into my being?” If this is our consideration and our vision in the midst of our daily living, we are sure to fulfill God’s heart’s desire.
Witness Lee, The Completing Ministry of Paul, Chapter 10 (Print).
Witness Lee, The Central Thought of God, Chapter 3 (Print).
(Most references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.)