Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 2:19-23; Matthew 13:24-30
Not everybody who attends church belongs to Jesus or is a part of God’s Kingdom. This might be a shock to some people. John Newton who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace” once commented that there will be three surprises in heaven – “Some people I didn’t expect to see there will be there; some people I expected to see there will not be there; and I’ll be there!”
Paul refers to this as he speaks about vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour [verse 20] in a large house. The house is generally understood to mean the church. Those vessels that are in the house but are of dishonour refer to those who are not sanctified, not useful to the Master, and not prepared for every good work. This would suggest that they do not belong to Jesus, but in the final analysis, God, not us is the judge.
Perhaps a key verse in this whole passage is verse 19, “The Lord knows those who are His, and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” The word “knows” means to be intimately acquainted with. These people are vessels of honour, intimately related to the Lord, and He uses them for His noble purposes. They are vessels of gold and silver.
The Lord wants holy people doing His work – those who are cleansed of wrong conduct as well as wrong teaching. It is clear that within the church there were dishonourable vessels, which could become vessels of honour, if only they would purge themselves of wrong influences and worldly priorities. Literally, anyone who claims to be the Lord’s must demonstrate this as they depart from iniquity.
Jesus deals with this same issue of both righteous and unrighteous in the parable of the wheat and tares [Matthew 13:24-30]. The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sows good seed. The result is wheat. At the same time the enemy sows tares among the good seed. They grow up together and are in the same field. The farmer wanted to pull up the tares but Jesus said, “No, you will hurt the wheat if you do” [verse 29 NLT]. They were to wait until the final harvest when the tares would be gathered and burned but the wheat would be gathered into the Kingdom.
Many years ago I preached about God’s sovereignty, holiness and power in a church in the North of England. We had left the building but were called back,
and found the pastor lying on the floor behind the piano and crying out for mercy. We discovered that as the pastor he had been living a lie, and that night God dealt with the sin in his life. It was a new man who rose from a religious life that covered his sinful living. That night he became a vessel of honour and no longer a vessel of dishonour!
Why do you think God allows godly and ungodly people to remain in His church? What will happen at the Day of Judgment?
A vessel of honour is sanctified, useful for the Master, and prepared for every good work. Are you a vessel of honour?