A Transcript Of The Video Study
The Framework Of Sovereign Grace is a diagram I drew up many years ago in an attempt to illustrate God’s masterplan for the ages. It has actually become the backdrop for my entire teaching ministry, as it broadly outlines the basic parameters of Bible doctrine. In fact, it is within the context of this framework that all fields of knowledge, or departments of academic disciplines, may be understood from a biblical perspective, and therefore this framework serves as the basic construct around which one may develop his/her worldview.
For this study, I would like to explain how the Framework of Sovereign Grace was formed. The diagram is based upon a single analogy, used by the Apostle Paul, in Romans 9 and 2 Timothy 2. It is the analogy of a potter and the clay. Allow me to read for you the texts, and then I will show you how the teachings translate into this diagram.
Romans 9:21-23: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 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…”
2 Timothy 2:20: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.”
This analogy of the potter’s house would have been familiar to Paul and those living in his day. It is, however, not so familiar to ourselves. When you walk into the potter’s house, several things stand out to us. First, the potter himself, sitting or standing next to the table; Second, a rotating disk, fastened to the table; Third, a lump of clay, out from which the potter removes a handful and places it on the disk; Fourth, a basin of water out from which the potter moistens the clay before spinning the disk. As the potter controls the speed of the rotating disk, he presses the spinning clay, forming it into a vessel pleasing to himself. These are the elements the Apostle Paul had in mind when using the potter’s house as an analogy to explain God’s masterplan for the ages.
Looking at the two texts, please notice, there is one potter and one lump of clay, but there are two types of vessels made from the clay. One set of vessels are identified as those of honor, mercy and gold/silver; the other set of vessels are identified as those of dishonor, wrath and wood/earth.
The “potter” represents the TriUne Jehovah
The “clay” represents the human race
The “vessels unto honor” represent the elect
The “vessels unto dishonor” represent the non-elect
The “vessels of wrath” represent the non-elect
The “vessels of mercy” represent the elect
The “great house” represents the world
The “vessels of gold and of silver” represent the elect
The “vessels of wood and of earth” represent the non-elect
“Some to honour” represent the elect
“Some to dishonor” represent the non-elect
Now, based on this analogy of the potter and the clay, we are able to connect the pieces together in the form of a diagram. It all begins with the TriUne Jehovah, identified as the “Potter”, who is a self-existent and eternal spirit Being. His existence is in Himself, and He is therefore autonomous and absolutely free. He also exists in three distinct persons—Father, Son and Spirit—three persons existing in the one indivisible Godhead.
Now, from eternity, the TriUne Jehovah drew up a blueprint of His plan for the ages. This blueprint is often called His eternal decree. Everything that would be brought into existence as well as all things that come to pass in time are included in the blueprint of God’s plan for the ages.
This blueprint begins with the human race, identified by the Apostle Paul as the “clay”. At this point in God’s decree, He considers the whole mass of the human race in a state of neutrality—they are not viewed as having done good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand. Neither has God, at this point, determined how the human race will come into existence. All that is under consideration at this initial stage of the blueprint are the men and women He will bring into existence.
It is from the whole mass of the human race, identified by the Apostle Paul as “the same lump”, that God the Father sets apart some people as special objects of His love, making them vessels unto honor, whereas the others are set aside as objects of less love, being made vessels unto dishonor. Henceforth, the Apostle Paul asserts—Romans 9:21-23: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” Those who are set apart as objects of special love, the vessels made unto honor, are the elect, whereas those who are set aside as objects of less love, the vessels made unto dishonor, are the non-elect. Now, it must be understood, at this point in God’s decree, there is no hostility involved with God’s hatred of the non-elect. Remember, God makes this choice without viewing the human race in sin, and therefore no hostility is involved. At this point, Jehovah Father simply loves the vessels unto honor more than the vessels unto dishonor.
Now, please notice, there is a cataclysmic change which occurs between the twenty-first and twenty-second verses, but Paul does not explain those details in this text. Look, verse 21: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” There is no hostility or wrath at this point in God’s decree. But then suddenly, in verse 22:”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 so, something has occurred between the two verses, but Paul does not take the time to explain it—the vessels unto honor are now called vessels of mercy, and the vessels unto dishonor are now called vessels of wrath. However, we are not without knowledge, for the scriptures explain this catastrophic change in other passages. It goes something like this:
After God the Father chose to make some vessels unto honor and others unto dishonor, He then determined how He would bring the human race into existence. The elect and the non-elect would be brought into the world, and all things would be subject to a time continuum. It pleased the Father to enter a relationship with the human race upon the authority of the Covenant of Works, and it would be with the first man, Adam, that God would establish that covenant. The Father also chose to appoint Adam the federal head of that covenant, insomuch that he became the representative of the entire human race—the elect and the non-elect. The Covenant of Works required Adam to perfectly obey the law inscribed upon his heart, but, if he transgressed that law, he would bring upon himself and the entire human race sin, misery and condemnation. It pleased the Father that such would be the case—Adam would indeed sin, and the whole human race would also be plunged into sin. It was at this point, now viewing the human race in sin, that the hostility and wrath of God was stirred against the ungodly.
This is the bridge between the twenty-first and twenty-second verses—verse 21: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”; verse 22: “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?”
Now, watch—the objects of less love (the vessels unto dishonor—the non-elect) are now identified as vessels of wrath, for they are now viewed in sin. They are fitted to destruction, for God has chosen to leave them in their sins and to magnify His justice and righteous judgment upon them in the day of His wrath. However, He chooses also to magnify His patience and longsuffering, and so gives to the non-elect a stay of execution, allowing them to live many years upon the earth before they are swept away into everlasting judgment.
On the other hand, God the Father, having set His eternal love upon the elect, and therefore obligating Himself to them, devised a plan of salvation. First, He chose to redeem His elect people by giving them to His Son and appointing Him to serve as their Mediator and Redeemer. Henceforth, the Apostle Paul wrote in verse 23: ”And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory…”. The objects of special love (the vessels unto honor—the elect) are now identified as vessels of mercy, for by giving them to the care and charge of the Son, the Father freely justifies them by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It is in this way they are prepared unto glory.
But there is one more part to God’s plan of salvation. The Father and the Son chose to sanctify their elect and redeemed people by giving them to the Spirit and appointing Him to serve as their Sanctifier. It is this that Paul speak about in 2 Timothy 2:20: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.”
Every person who comes into this world through the natural seed of an earthly father is conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity, and therefore in an unregenerate condition. That is how we all come into this “great house”, or, into this world. However, those who are chosen by the Father and redeemed by the Son will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, which begins with His work of regeneration, or the new birth, after which the vessels unto honor and mercy will be identified as vessels of gold and silver. However, those who have not been chosen by the Father and therefore are not redeemed by the Son will not be born again and are therefore identified as vessels of wood and earth.
Now, this plan of salvation devised by God the Father, and agreed to by the Son and the Spirit, is called the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant of Grace is the agreement between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, whereby their elect people are secured the blessings of salvation. Of course, this is also called the gospel, or good news of glad tidings. The gospel has three branches—the electing love of God the Father, the redeeming grace of God the Son and the sanctifying power of God the Spirit. And you see, it is after God’s elect people are born again, that they are experientially delivered from the obligations and curse of the Covenant of Works, and brought under the privileges and blessings of the Covenant of Grace.
So, the question for this study has been—What Is The Framework Of Sovereign Grace? The Framework of Sovereign Grace is a diagram illustrating God’s masterplan for the ages. What is God’s masterplan for the ages? In a nutshell, God is administering grace to all that He has made. Grace is nothing other than favor and good will, and it is certainly true that God has a favor and good will towards all His creatures. There is a common grace unto creation, which extends to all creatures on the basis that God is their Maker and all good things they enjoy are given them by God. There is also a special grace unto salvation, which extends only to the elect, on the basis of the Covenant of Grace agreed to by the TriUne Jehovah. Henceforth, God is working out the blueprint of His plan, day by day, among the elect and the non-elect. My dear friends, count it all joy if you have been born again, and have been made conscious of your redemption through Christ. You are an elect vessel unto honor, a redeemed vessel of mercy and a sanctified vessel of gold and silver, which is in the sight of God of great price!
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.