Friday, December 30, 2011

Earthen Vessels

 Quotes from John MacArthur's book Hard to Believe

Paul knew what he was talking about when he called Christians "earthen vessels." We're baked clay. We're privy pots. The advance of the gospel will never occur on account of us.
This helps explain why God chose none of the early preachers among the apostles because of his superior intellect, position, or prominence. As I wrote in my book Twelve Ordinary Men, these twelve were so ordinary it defies all human logic: not one teacher, not one priest, not one rabbi, not one scribe, not one Pharisee, not one Sadducee, not even a synagogue ruler-nobody from the elite. Half of them or so were fishermen, and the rest were common laborers. One, Simon the Zealot, was a terrorist, a member of a group who went around with daggers in their cloaks, trying to stab Romans. Then there was Judas, the loser of all losers.
What was the Lord doing? He picked people with absolutely no influence. None of the great intellects from Egypt, Greece, Rome, or Israel was among the apostles. During the New Testament time, the greatest scholars were very likely in Egypt. The most distinguished philosophers were in Athens. The powerful were in Rome. The biblical scholars were in Jerusalem. God disdained all of them and picked clay pots instead. Think of it like this: He passed by Herodotus, the historian; He passed by Socrates, the great thinker. He passed by the father of medicine, Hippocrates. He passed by Plato the philosopher, Aristotle the wise, Euclid the mathematician, Archimedes the father of mechanics, Hipparchus the astronomer, Cicero the orator, and Virgil the poet. He didn't pay attention to any of those people when selecting the preachers of the difficult-to-believe message of salvation.
He's still doing it. He is still in the business of passing up the gold and silver bowls and picking up clay pots.- Hard to Believe by John MacArthur pages 44-45

Theodore Roosevelt once said, "There has never yet been a man who led a life of ease, whose name is worth remembering." Certainly when the Lord calls us to be His disciples, He does not call us to a life of ease.
A missionary whose story has influenced my life greatly is a man mentioned earlier named Henry Martyn. After a long and difficult life of Christian service in India, he announced he was going to go to Persia (modern Iran), because God had laid it upon his heart to translate the New Testament and the Psalms into the Persian language.
By then he was an old man. People told him that if he stayed in India, he would die from the heat, and that Persia was hotter than India. But he went nonetheless. There he studied the Persian language and then translated the entire New Testament and Psalms in nine months. Then he learned that he couldn't print or circulate them until he received the Shah's permission. He traveled six hundred miles to Tehran; there he was denied permission to see the Shah. He turned around and made a four-hundred-mile trip to find the British ambassador, who gave him the proper letters of introduction and sent him the four hundred miles back to Tehran. This was in 1812, and Martyn made the whole trip on the back of a mule, traveling at night and resting by day, protected from the sweltering desert sun by nothing but a strip of canvas.
He finally arrived back in Tehran, was received by the Shah, and secured permission for the Scriptures to be printed and circulated in Persia. Ten days later he died. But shortly before his death, he had written this statement in his diary: "I sat in the orchard, and thought, with sweet comfort and peace, of my God; in solitude my Company, my Friend, and Comforter."
He certainly did not live a life of ease, but it was a life worth remembering. And he's one of many God used to turn redemptive history.- Hard to Believe by John MacArthur pages 122-123

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