Acts 9:15-16 “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Many years ago, a frustrated schoolteacher pinned a note on the coat of a little lad before sending him home from school. She was at the end of her proverbial rope. She had done all that she could do to try to help educate this lad. She saw no potential, no reason, no purpose for this boy to continue in school, so she put a little note on his coat, and sent him home. She wrote, “Keep this boy at home; he’s too stupid to learn.” That little boy was Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of history. He was not too stupid to learn, but a teacher failed to see the potential that was there.
We see something like that in the life of Paul when he was still known as Saul of Tarsus. God saw what Paul could become, not just what he had been. So He said to Ananias, “I see potential that you don’t see. You see a man who has been a murderer. I see a vessel, a chosen vessel for My service. You see someone who arrested men and women and put them in prison, someone who hated Jesus Christ, who stood and held the clothes of the deacon Stephen when he was put to death, but I see a chosen vessel.” Ananias accepted what God saw by faith, and it changed the way he looked at Saul of Tarsus—and helped pave the way to a life of ministry that changed history. In order to be used of the Lord as a chosen vessel, there are a few helpful things to consider.
Understand what it means to be a chosen vessel. The word “chosen” here is translated as a form of the word “elect” in six other places in the Word of God. There has been so much misunderstanding over what the Bible means when it talks about election. Stacks of books have been written, arguments have ensued, and ministries have changed their philosophy because of false teaching about election.
Some people hold that election means that God said, “I chose you to be saved and go to heaven, and I chose you to be unsaved and go to Hell.” That is a distortion of a wonderful Bible doctrine. Second Peter 3:9 says God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God’s election properly understood is not a call to salvation, but a call to sanctification.
God has every right to choose the place of service for those He has created. We saw in the last chapter that God designed you on purpose for His purpose. Beyond that, when He saved you He had a plan for your life. You are a vessel chosen by God. Vessels come in all different shapes and sizes and colors, and they have a variety of functions. You were made in such a way that you could be filled up by God and pour out His life in the world. He has a very special place for you to do His will and people for whom and to whom He wants you to bring His name and His grace and His love.
Our lives are not the product of chance. That’s true regarding our creation, and it is true regarding our occupation as well. God has a plan and a place and a purpose for every one of His children, and that adds a dimension to our lives that ought to transform our priorities. It should transform our attitude toward ourselves. I’ve heard some form of these words so many times, “Pastor, you don’t understand how I’ve messed my life up.” That is no surprise to God!
In reality, many Christians are hampered in their service for the King of kings because when they look in the mirror they do not see a chosen vessel of God. Perhaps they see their sins and failings of the past. Perhaps they see their physical or mental limitations. Perhaps they see their missed opportunities. That is not what God sees. There is a reason that the windshield on the car is so much bigger than the rearview mirror. God does not want us to be looking back; He wants us to be looking ahead. And He wants us to see ourselves as He does. Paul is not the only chosen vessel—you and I are chosen vessels as well.