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VESSELS OF WRATH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday, January 15, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering 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" (Romans 9:22-23).


I am lifting out two phrases from these verses. From verse 22,

"the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction."

And verse 23,

"the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory."

The modern translation puts it,

"vessels of wrath prepared for destruction"

and

"vessels of mercy prepared beforehand for glory. "

Some people are prepared beforehand to be vessels of God's mercy. Other people are "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction." Now, which are you? Are you a vessel of mercy, "prepared beforehand for glory"? Or are you a vessel "of wrath prepared for destruction"?

I wonder how many of you here tonight are

"vessels of wrath prepared for destruction"?

I wonder how many of you are prepared for Hell. Were you prepared for Hell? Are you a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction? If you are a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction that would explain a great many things about you.

I. First, it would explain why the passion of Christ
has so little impact on you.

I never had the privilege of seeing a film like "The Passion of the Christ." All I saw was a painting of the suffering Christ, and a brief scene in "The Robe" from the side of the Cross. But the hymns I heard when I went to the Lord's Supper in a Baptist church made a terrible impression on me. I couldn't get them out of my mind.

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such as worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grief unknown,
And love beyond degree.

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature's sin.
    ("Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?" by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Let the water and the blood
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure;
Save me from its wrath and power.
    ("Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me" by Augustus Toplady, 1740-1778).

I thought about songs like that a great deal. I thought with wonder about the death of Christ on the Cross. Seldom a day went by without me thinking about His passion.

But I didn't have it explained clearly like you do. I didn't hear clear preaching like you do. I didn't see a graphic film on His passion, as many of you have. And yet you are much less moved by His suffering than I was. How can this be explained? It may well be explained by the fact that you are a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction. Maybe that's why you treat the Blood of Christ as "a [common] thing" (Hebrews 10:29, Scofield). If you are a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction, that would explain why the suffering of Christ is seldom in your thoughts. You only think about it when I preach on it. But inwardly, when you are alone, you don't think of it. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (I Corinthians 1:18). If you are a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction, that would explain why the passion of Christ has so little impact on you.

II. Second, it would explain why you are not terrified of dying.

I couldn't get the thought of death out of my mind. I thought about dying literally every day as a young person. I thought about it all the time. It never left me. "You are going to die." Those words were in my mind night and day. I can honestly say that the words of David described my feelings about death as a young person,

"The terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me" (Psalm 55:4-5).

How can it be that the "terrors of death" have never fallen on you? Even though you often hear me preach about death, it never terrifies you like it did me. You run off and play a video game. You run off and laugh and play. Even when you are alone, you don't think about your coming death. It never terrifies you. It never moves you inwardly. Why, it often startles me and amazes me that you have so little concern for your own death. How can it be?

It seems to me that you are no different in this than any person you meet out on the street. They don't fear death. It is astonishing to me that lost people think so little about their own death, that they have no interest in preparing for death, or in finding out how to escape from it. Disinterest in such an important subject, which every person faces, can only be explained by depravity. Only a depraved mind, devoid of God's grace, would live out their life with no serious thought about death.

Only when a person is awakened by grace will he say,

"The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow" (Psalm 116:3).

In my teenage years, I deeply experienced "the sorrows of death." So also have most people who become "vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:23).

The fact that you never feel the "terrors of death" or the "sorrows of death" may be an indication that you are a vessel "of wrath prepared for destruction." If you never worry about death it is very likely because you are a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction. I think that explains it.

III. Third, it would explain why you have no fear of God.

The heathen in general don't fear God. It is the common case of unconverted mankind. Just as you never meet a person on the street who fears death, so also you never meet anyone who is afraid of God. This is so universal that I have never met a single case of anyone outside of an awakened person in church that contradicted it. Do you know anyone at school who is afraid of God? Do you know anyone at work who is afraid of God? Of course not. That's the way the Bible describes lost mankind in general. It says,

"There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:18).

And yet such fear appears in every real conversion, more or less. Luther had it. Bunyan had it. Whitefield and Wesley had it. Spurgeon had it. Job had it. Job said, "I am afraid of him" (Job 23:15). But if you are a vessel "of wrath fitted for destruction" you will never fear God. Even when you are about to die, you will still not fear Him if you are a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction.

The converted thief was amazed that the other thief had no fear of God, even as he was dying. The converted thief said,

"Dost thou not fear God?" (Luke 23:40).

But he didn't. He died without fearing God - because he was a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction. This may be the reason that you have no fear of God. You see,

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7).

It may well be that you are the fool described in that verse. When the fear comes to you, you push it away or think of something else.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7).

I can only conclude that you are a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction. You have no fear of God if you are a vessel of wrath.  

Is that right? Is that what the Bible teaches? Yes it is. Look at Romans 9:17. Stand and read it aloud.

"For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth" (Romans 9:17).

You may be seated.

God said that he raised up Pharaoh to show His power in destroying Him. Could it be that God raised you up for the same reason? Jonathan Edwards thought so, and so do I. Edwards preached a famous sermon titled, "Wicked Men Useful in Their Destruction Only."

Pharaoh had no fear of God. He hardened his heart. God foreknew that he would harden his heart, so he was only useful in his destruction. "I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee" (Romans 9:17). And so it must be with you. Since you refuse to hear His Word and fear Him, you are only useful to show His power and wrath. If you refuse to glorify God in conversion, you are only fit to glorify Him in your damnation.

"Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth"
    (Matthew 22:13).

I can only conclude that you are a vessel "of wrath prepared for destruction."

IV. Fourth, it would explain why you don't come under conviction of sin.

As a young person I was sharply aware of my sin. I tried to get rid of it by going into the ministry. I was willing to do almost anything to get rid of my guilt. Luther said, "Saint Anne, I will become a monk." But this did not help him, and it did not help me. I was very aware that the "church kids" in my church in Huntington Park had no concern over their sin. I wondered why they were so careless. Now I know that it was because they were "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction." One by one, in their own time and in their own way, they drifted away into a godless life. And so will you, one by one, in your own time and in your own way, if you are a vessel "of wrath prepared for destruction."

Others will come into the church and soon be convicted

"Of sin, because they believe not on [Christ]" (John 16:9).

But you will go on and on, not troubled about your sin. Others will be sharply reproved of their sin, and feel painfully aware of their need for Christ, but you will go on and on trying to "learn" how to be saved, never convinced of sin, never at the end of self, until at last you fall away from the church, in your own time and in your own way. W. G. T. Shedd said, "A sense of guilt and danger is a 'preparative' to deliverance" (Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, P and R Publishing, 2003 reprint, p. 775). But you will never feel a sense of guilt and danger if you are a vessel "of wrath prepared for destruction." Let us stand.

If you are unconverted and wish to speak with the pastor about your salvation, please step through the door at the back of the room as we stand for prayer.

(END OF SERMON)

THE OUTLINE OF

VESSELS OF WRATH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering 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" (Romans 9:22-23).

I.   It would explain why the passion of Christ has so little impact
on you, Hebrews 10:29; I Corinthians 1:18.

II.  It would explain why you are not terrified of dying, Psalm 55:4-5;
Psalm 116:3.

III. It would explain why you have no fear of God, Romans 3:18;
Job 23:15; Luke 23:40; Proverbs 1:7; Romans 9:17;
Matthew 22:13.

IV. It would explain why you don't come under conviction of sin,
John 16:9.

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at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."