Spirit of Grace Ministries
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God's Chosen Vessel

By Dennis Pollock


Nearly every Christian knows the story of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Jesus appeared to him, and the brightness of His glory blinded Paul, who was in those days called by his given name, Saul. He was led by the hand into Damascus, having lost his sight entirely, and he stayed with a man named Simon for several days, praying, fasting, and no doubt wondering about his future. Saul had based his entire world on attempting to stamp out Christianity, only to find out that it was all true when he met the Author of the faith, the Lord Jesus Himself.


But Jesus was not about to leave Paul sitting in the house, blind and miserable. He now made a second appearance, this time to a godly believer named Ananias, but without the blinding light, and told him to go to the house where Saul was staying and prayed for him to regain his sight. Ananias knew full well who Saul was, and how much harm he had done to the believers and questioned the wisdom of going to visit this man to pray for his sight to return. But Jesus assured him it would be just fine, telling him: "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel." (Acts 9:15).


In this study, I want to focus on the two words our Lord used to refer to Saul, which can also apply to every single Christian on the earth, and those words are: "chosen vessel." Saul, who would become the apostle Paul was a chosen vessel. Let's think about these two concepts, chosen and vessel.


Chosen by Christ


First, we will consider the idea of being chosen by Christ. As we look at the pre-Christ life of Paul, we find no evidence that he was seeking the Lord or praying that Jesus would reveal Himself to him. Paul was utterly convinced that Christianity was a false, wicked cult, which was attempting to subvert Judaism. He was traveling all over Israel, and beyond Israel, to arrest Christians, and even voted that some Christians should be put to death. He was the worst nightmare for the believers in Christ, so much so that all the followers of Christ in Damascus knew exactly why Paul was coming to their city, and they were scared.


When Jesus appeared to Paul on his way there, He was not revealing Himself to someone who had been eagerly seeking Him. He was revealing Himself to the primary persecutor and enemy of His people. He was choosing Paul, even if Paul wanted nothing to do with Him. Later in his life, Paul reflected on this, summing up his conversion with these words: "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me…" When did Paul meet Jesus? When did Paul become His follower? When did Paul change his mind about Christianity? "When it pleased God." He had not chosen Jesus – Jesus had chosen Him. Of course, Paul needed to submit to Jesus, be baptized, and begin associating with the believers, but all his life Paul had a very keen sense of being chosen by God, and in his mind, this did not begin when he headed out for a road trip to Damascus. It was there all along, from his birth.


Most people can accept this. I mean, how can you deny it when you read of Paul's conversion? But we need to see that we, too, are chosen. The Bible tells us: "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9). And in Ephesians we read: "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will." (Ephesians 1:11).


This is a great mystery, and theologians have been debating over the precise nature of God's choosing practically from the beginning of the church, but of one thing we can be sure: when we were moved on by the Holy Spirit and we gave our lives to Jesus, God was neither shocked nor surprised. He saw it coming a long, long time ago. Like the apostle Paul, we were chosen.


Christ's "Vessel"


Let's move on to the other word Jesus used about Paul. He wasn't just chosen; he was a chosen vessel. This is an interesting term, and it is not said the way most of us would expect. We might have thought Jesus would call Paul a chosen man, a chosen servant, or a chosen minister. But a chosen vessel? Why on earth would Jesus call him a vessel?


What is a vessel? A vessel is a container. It holds things, usually water or some other liquid. Today we might call it a bucket. In Bible days there was no running water built into people's houses. They went to a nearby well. And when they went to the well to get a day's worth of water, they would take some kind of a bucket. It would not work to try to carry the water home in their hands. But a bucket was well-suited to transport water from the well to their homes. Vessels were sometimes used to hold olive oil, perhaps a jar or a clay pot. No Jewish home was complete without several vessels for various liquids, and now Jesus was declaring that Paul was to be a "chosen vessel," a bucket for God.


And what would Paul hold, as a vessel of Jesus? In his epistle to the Corinthians, Paul told the believers: "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19). Here is the answer to the mystery of believers being chosen vessels, chosen buckets! We are containers of the Holy Spirit; we are temples of God. Paul was assigned to travel to many cities and nations, proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ. And everywhere he went, he carried God with him. He was a full bucket, an overflowing and chosen vessel, and the living waters that flowed in, through, and out of him splashed onto many. As a result, thousands received eternal life, and Christ's church was established among the Gentiles.




We too, are to be containers of God, spreading life, blessings, and hope wherever we go. And we never leave God behind. He is always with us and in us. In our world, there are two kinds of people: vessels of God and empty vessels, those who go through this life without God inside them. In the Book of Jeremiah, God declared that this was Israel's problem, saying:


For My people have committed two evils:

They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,

And hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)


A cistern is a larger brother to a bucket. It is an underground tank or dug-out area which can store water. God tells Israel that they are creating leaky, broken cisterns that cannot hold water – in other words, their lifestyles are so wicked and godless that they make it impossible for God to live in or work through them.


So it is in our day. Our world is filled with two different types of people. The majority are broken cisterns, or you might say, buckets with enormous holes in the sides and bottom. They have not put their faith in Jesus Christ, they are unforgiven, unjustified, and unacceptable in God's sight. They are empty vessels. But mixed among the empty vessels are full vessels, brimming over with refreshing, life-giving water. These men and women, from every nation, culture, and language have trusted in Jesus and have become, like the apostle Paul, chosen vessels, to carry the grace of Jesus wherever they go, and to bring life and blessings to their world.




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