I’ve been missing out! I knew two verses of our song “Constantly Abiding” — verses about the peace Jesus brings. Verse three was new to me. It might be new to you, too. It’s a great verse! In few words verse three connects the peace of Jesus with the way humans are designed and built. Give the song a sing-along listen, then come back for a chat about helping the “real you” to STAND UP. Don’t miss it.
Treasure in an earthen vessel
Verse three of our song begins with these lyrics:
“This treasure I have in a vessel of clay,
While here on His footstool I roam.”
Let’s open the Bible to pick up the story on “a vessel of clay”.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (II Corinthians 4:7).
The NRSV reads :“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”
What are these earthen vessels — these “clay jars”?
And what is the treasure being carried in them?
One verse from Thessalonians sheds lots of light.
In I Thessalonians 5:23 Paul says, “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This verse suggests a complete person has three parts:
Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Genesis 1:27a: “…God created man in his own image”
John 4:24a: “…God is a Spirit…”
Putting this all together we can see:
- Adam’s body was formed of the dust of the ground. This is the “earthen vessel”.
- Adam’s soul was breathed into him by God. This is the life, personality, intellect — even the sense of humor — of man and part of the “treasure”.
- Adam’s spirit was created in God’s image. God is SPIRIT. God’s image is spirit. This “image of God” spirit life enabled Adam to connect with God directly as a spiritual being. This spirit life in Adam was part of the “treasure” in Adam’s earthen vessel.
(NOTE: The SPIRIT is the part that was created the same for both male and female. People who have lived for awhile usually conclude the SOUL life made for men and women tend to be different from each other. Do we even need to mention the obvious differences in the way God formed their BODIES?)
First three parts, then two parts, then a choice
Adam was made of three parts — spirit … soul … body.
Adam disobeyed God and that very day lost the SPIRIT God created in him.
Adam continued on for the rest of his years with only TWO parts left — soul and body.
Adam’s offspring are born having only two parts — soul and body — but have no spirit of God in them.
First Corinthians calls someone in this natural-born state “The person without the Spirit”. Here is the verse:
I Corinthians 2:14 (CSB translation): “But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.”
In sharp, glorious contrast, look at what Jesus said:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
His words from John 10:10 explode like the grand finish of Fourth of July fireworks.
Who is this thief Jesus refers to? Read Genesis chapter three and see the thief, there called by another descriptive name — the serpent — as he practices his treachery against the first people. The thief schemes and labors to harm every person he possibly can. But — praise the Lord! — Jesus came that people might have LIFE — like the spirit life Adam lost only BETTER — and “have it to the full”.
In the beginning humans had three parts.
Then because of Adam’s sin, all of Adam’s offspring were born with only two parts.
When God raised Jesus Christ from the dead IT MADE A DIFFERENCE.
Now each person must CHOOSE from these two options:
1. To do NOTHING and simply remain a two-part human, unable to understand the things of God and just live a few years and then die …
2. To accept the life Jesus came to make available. How? Romans 10:9 – “… if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” “Saved” means “to be made whole”. This verse from Romans spells out HOW the two-part person of body and soul can immediately become a whole, three-part person of BODY, SOUL and SPIRIT. You become a vessel of clay filled with life “to the full”.
Living with Christ in us, our clay vessels are filled to overflowing.
Christ in you
Okay, earthen vessels, listen up. If you can tell a joke, even a bad one, then you are a living person and have a treasure called “soul life” which was passed along to you from your parents. Your soul life moves around in that marvelous looking vessel of clay you dress and groom and feed. You have a body and you have a soul.
Soul life is temporary life, but it DOES include the ability to make a decision. Did you know YOU — like every other person — was given an earthen vessel at birth that has ROOM FOR MORE TREASURE – vastly BETTER treasure? This makes perfect sense because that room is really an empty space — space that used to house God’s spirit in humans — which Adam lost — which Jesus Christ brought back. Christ in your earthen vessel is a PERFECT FIT by design! And it is an indescribably important upgrade we must not neglect to receive in this life. It is the ONE THING that enables a person to avoid being a failure. It is the most important decision every person must make.
Do you want to cancel for all time your “birthright membership” to the I Corinthians 2:14 club
(which is: “[being a] person without the Spirit [who] does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to [you]; [you are] not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually”)
and instead join the Colossians 1:27 club along with the joyful multitudes
“to [whom] God has chosen to make known … the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”?
CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY! Our earthen vessels DO have room enough for Christ to dwell. It is up to our SOUL — our minds — to make the decision to receive this GREATEST TREASURE OF ALL.
Then the next step is to use our soul-life-decision-making ABILITY to choose to LIVE for Christ. With “Christ IN us” — right there in our own earthen vessel — we have a tremendous resource the kings of the Old Testament lacked and the prophets of old could not even envision. What power we have! What grace and mercy we’ve been given!
And what peace we enjoy with CHRIST IN US — constantly abiding. Hallelujah!
Sing this song, and when you get to the third verse, take extra joy in that mention of our “vessels of clay”. We need these vessels of clay so we can store the treasures of LIFE and live for God.
Let each of us take good care of that vessel we have been given and keep this vehicle of God’s Word as alive as possible as we roam around God’s footstool.
God bless you lots!
LYRICS: Constantly Abiding
Song by Anne S. Murphy (1908)
1. There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
A peace it cannot take away;
Tho’ the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
I’ve a peace that has come there to stay!
Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine;
Constantly abiding, glory divine;
He never leaves me lonely, whispers, O so kind:
“I will never leave thee,” Jesus is mine.
2. All the world seemed to sing of a Savior and Lord,
When peace sweetly came to my heart;
Troubles all fled away and my night turned to day,
Blessed Jesus, how glorious Thou art!
3. This treasure I have in a vessel of clay,
While here on His footstool I roam:
But He’s coming to take me some glorious day,
Over there to my heavenly home!
Is God Awesome?
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This song and your sermon help me remember that peace is only one accurate thought away, even in very challenging situations. Thanks for your love and work in scripture and song.
Cathy, Thanks for your comment and kind words. It is a delight to collaborate with you on these posts! God bless you lots – D
Great song! Love the words, singing and the sound of that guitar. It really has a nice resonance that I. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness in sending these great songs. I really appreciate it!
Dan, thanks for your kind words. Your enthusiasm certainly encourages me to keep doing these. Thanks for YOUR ministry work that helps bring life to so many hundreds of people. It all adds up to making the soon-coming face-to-face meeting with Jesus something to eagerly look forward to. Keep on blessing! Love and joy to you — D