Sunday, May 28, 2006

20. Pharaohs and False Teachers

.... The Bible speaks of certain persons, such as Pharaoh, who’s hearts were hardened to disbelieve (Rom 9:17-23); or of false teachers, who are marked out for condemnation (Jude 4). God has hardened their hearts that He may be glorified in them, as occasioned by their disobedience (He is glorified in fighting against them.) But is that the final word for them?
In relations to false teachers, Paul wrote:

.... "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work."

(2 Timothy 2:20-21)

.... Paul went on to say that perhaps God would grant them repentance so that they might know the truth and escape the snare of the devil (vs 25-26). So there is still hope for them.
.... Because Paul compares God’s working to that of a potter, both here and especially in Romans 9:21-23, perhaps we may hark back to the original analogy, found in Jeremiah 18:1-10, where Paul seems to be drawing his own argument from. When a vessel was marred in the potter’s hand, he took it up again and made it into another vessel as it pleased him. And God proclaimed:

.... "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!"

(Jer 18:6)

.... If God makes a vessel for dishonor, marred in His hand, let His purpose be fulfilled in it; but can He not remake it into another vessel afterward, once His original purpose is completed? If it pleases Him to do so, can He not do with men as did this potter?
This would allow for our earlier quotation that ‘God our Savior desires all been to be saved’ (1 Tim 2:3,4), and it would also fit our quotation from 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (above). Once God’s purpose is fulfilled in their disobedience, they may yet cleanse themselves, becoming vessels of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
But the Scriptures include a third instance of some who were appointed to disbelief:

.... "They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed."

(1 Peter 2:8)

.... This passage probably refers to the fall of the Jews, as described in Section 9 of this study, because Peter is quoting the same verse as Paul when Paul makes this point (compare 1 Peter 2:8 to Romans 9:31-33). As we saw before, their heart have been hardened temporarily so that salvation could come to the Gentiles – but they may still be saved in the end (Romans 11:25-27).


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