Vessels of Honor & Dishonor
Text: 2 Timothy 2:19-21
Key verse: 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
Introduction: Remembering a Friend
The upper crust, upper class family was having problems with the maid they had just hired. Finally, they fired her. She didn’t say anything collected her last paycheck and started to leave the house. On the way out she stopped petted the dog, reached in her purse took out a five dollar bill and tucked it under the dogs collar. The family watched this strange behavior and asked the maid what she was doing giving the dog five dollars.
Well I figure you can buy her a treat from me later. You see I never forget a friend and that five dollars was nothing compared to all the work that little dog saved me.
“What work did she ever do you for you?” the family asked.
“Why every evening she helped me clean the dishes.”
In the beginning of Chapter 2 Paul talks to Timothy of the difficulties he has faced serving the Lord. In particular he speaks in verse 17 “And their word will eat as doth
a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;” Paul says there have been problems
in serving God and there have been problem makers. Then in verse 19 he says. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
I. Foundation Stands Sure 2 Timothy 2:19
A. Having this seal
1. After warning Timothy of all that will be wrong in the future church, Paul adds this reassurance. The foundation stands sure! It stands because God has place his seal on those that are his.
2. “Having this seal” meant a mark of ownership and authentication.
a) Years ago, a potter would often put his seal, or stamp, upon a completed vessel
with the words “sine cere”. This meant that to his knowledge there was no flaw in
that work. If a potter did crack a vessel, he would carefully patch that flawed vase
or bowl by filling in the crack with wax. Then he would glaze it over. But it did not
merit the stamp sine cere, "without wax," because it was not a flawless piece of
b) Paul tells Timothy God has placed a seal whereby you may know the “sincere”
ones, the true ones.
3. This is the seal “The Lord knoweth them that are. His let everyone who nameth the
name of Christ depart from iniquity”
4. Paul is saying “Don’t worry God knows the truth he is not fooled. He knows who is his and who is just faking it. He knows those that love him and those that just are playing the game.”
5. Then he adds, “You will know them, if they are a true follower of Christ, a true disciple, if they truly “name the name” they will depart from iniquity. They are the “sine cere” Christians, the genuine thing, not something covered over to hide the flaws of iniquity. On them God has built a sure foundation and that foundation stands sure.
B. The Churchs’ Foundation
1. This is our assurance that no matter how evil the world may become, no matter how much of that sin finds its way into the church, the foundation still stands strong. 2. It is show by this seal, God’s knowledge of who is His and the people themselves, who name the name of Christ who will separate themselves from sin.
3. Do you know why people quit the church? Do you know why pastors quit the ministry? It’s not because of God it’s because they lose faith, they lose hope, and they lose vision. Many times that’s caused by sin in the church. Many times by those who
are not sincere in their desire to worship God but are there with the flaws of an ulterior motive. (I’ve even know people who stay in church just so they can run a preacher out.)
4. What will keep you church despite hypocrisy, insincerity and even sin? It must be the same thing that kept Paul serving God. The knowledge that the foundation stands sure, sealed by the seal of God! He knows his own and his own will show themselves as true.
C. Illustration: Elijah was told by God of 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal 1. Elijah was ready to quit. Why? Had God failed him? No! He had just been threatened with his life by Jezebel the queen of Israel and not a single person up there on Mt Carmel had offered to help him.
2. God tells Elijah you’re not the only one. I will show you kings and prophets and
people who are mine. There are 7000 who have shown themselves true to me by not bowing the knee to Baal.
3. Whenever I grow discouraged in the work and feel like it’s not worth it, that I’m all alone and no understands. God shows me his seal upon the church. He tells me I know who are mine. They will show themselves true by their actions. 4. I say thank you to those who truly “name the name.” You have kept me in the ministry, you have kept others in church because you are God’s seal of ownership, His proof that the foundation stands sure.
D. Transition: Paul says more in verse 20 about the church and those in it.
II. In a Great House 2 Timothy 2:20
A. Vessels of Honor and Dishonor in the same house
1. The Great House is the church of God
a) Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou
oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living
God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
a) Gold & Silver
b) Wood and Earth
c) Place of service small or great in the house.
d) Also vessels of Honor and dishonor
e) Not what they were made of but what they are used for. Good service and bad
service, honorable and dishonorable.
f) Water pots and Thunder pots. (Any one here know what a thunderpot is? Tell
those who don’t.)
g) Vessels of dishonor are only fit to carry garbage.
B. Servants and Sinners in the Same Great House
1. Do you realize that this church is in God’s eyes a great House? It is His Great
a) Do we realize what an honor it is to be a member of such a house? Do we realize
the double honor of being a servant in this house?
b) Scripture: Psalms 84:9-10 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of
thine anointed. 10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be
a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. 2. The church is a great house, yet Paul says even in a great house there are vessels of honor and dishonor.
3. Vessels are those within a church that are being used to do the work of the Lord, those things which serve God.
4. Once again it is not what the vessel looks like but what that vessel is being used for that determines if it is of honor or dishonor.
a) Is it being used to pour out the love of Christ to others or being used to pour out
anger and bitterness?
b) Is it being used to cause the name of Christ to be praised or being used to cause
the name of Christ to be blasphemed?
c) Is it being used to pour out healing to the wounds of those injured by the
harshness of others or is it pouring out hurt and pain with acidic words of anger? d) Is the vessel being used to carry the work of the church or is it being used to
destroy that work?
e) Quote: Unless the vessel is clean, what you pour into it turns sour. -Latin
5. All at the same great house, but both kinds of vessels.
6. It should not surprise us then if it was true in Paul’s time then it will also be true in ours. Every church will have vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor. C. Illustration: The danger of gossip.
1. One of those vessels of dishonor is gossip and slander and it seems as if every church has one. In fact they are lucky if they only have one. In one particular church there was such a gossip a woman named Mrs Spraggins who continuously had to be telling something on somebody. She lived by herself and her only entertainment seemed to be gossip.
2. On day she saw the pickup truck of the head deacon of the church parked in front of the local bar. Naturally, she assumed the worst and never asked why he was there. She went home and lit up the phone lines calling other members and telling them the deacon had a drinking problem. It wasn’t too long before the word got round to the deacon that he was hopeless drunk, who beat his wife and stole from his kids piggy
bank to pay for his drinking. He tracked down the rumor and traced it to Mrs. Spraggins. When he confronted her and explained he was there because a friend from work had called him too drunk to drive home. He had called the deacon because he had been witnessing to him and knew he could trust him.
a) Mrs Spraggin simply said, “Well, you can’t expect people to think anything
different when they see your truck outside the bar.” She wouldn’t apologize for tell
others she was wrong, nor would she agree to stop gossiping. The deacon nodded
b) Later that evening just before dark the deacon pulled up and parked his truck
right in front of Mrs. Spraggins house, right out front in the street where everybody
would have to see it. He then got out waved at her peeping through the blinds and
then walked off down the street not returning till the morning to get his truck. D. Transition: Paul says you must choose to be a vessel of honor and he tells how in verse 21.
III. Purge Himself 2 Timothy 2:21
A. A vessel of honor is
1. Purged: which means it has been purposely and completely cleansed. a) The vessel must repent and turn to the Lord for cleansing.
b) Then it will be
2. Sanctified: set aside for a holy purpose.
a) We must choose to be purged but it is God who choose the holy purpose. It is
God who sanctifies us.
b) Then we will be
3. Meet (fit) for the Master’s use (the word master is the word we get despot from, it means the absolute owner.)
4. Only then will you be prepared for every good work.
B. Will you be a vessel of honor?
1. Will you be set aside for a holy purpose? Will you be fit for the Masters use? Will you be prepared for every good work?
2. Being a vessel of honor requires the willingness to be what God chooses you to be, not what you want God to choose you to be. Many people believe they can take God along for the ride instead of letting Him determine the destination. 3. Have you ever asked God to use you as a vessel of honor in His House? a) Have you purged yourself that God my sanctify you to a holy purpose? b) Have you said, “Lord whatever you want me to be, whatever you want to do
with my life, whatever you determine is best for me, then Lord God I submit
myself to you.”
4. Quote: Dwight L. Moody implored, "Use me, then, my Saviour, for whatever purpose and in whatever way Thou mayest require. Here is my poor heart, an empty vessel; fill it with Thy Grace."
5. Quote: When Stanley found Livingstone, the great missionary who spent thirty years in darkest Africa, he wanted him to come back to England with him, but Livingstone refused to go. Two days later he wrote in his diary: “March 19, my
birthday. My Jesus, my King, my Life, my all, I again dedicate my whole self to Thee.
Accept me, and grant, O gracious Father, that ere the year is gone I may finish my
work. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.” A year later his servants found him on his knees
IV. Conclusion: Chosen Vessel
The Master was searching for a vessel to use; On the shelf there were many - which one would He choose? “Take me”, cried the gold one, “I’m shiny and bright,
I'm of great value and I do things just right. My beauty and lustre will outshine the rest And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the best!”
The Master passed on with no word at all;
He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall; “I’ll serve You, dear Master, I'll pour out Your wine
And I'll be at Your table whenever You dine, My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true, And my silver will always compliment You.”
Unheeding the Master passed on to the brass, It was widemouthed and shallow, and polished like glass. “Here! Here!” cried the vessel, “I know I will do,
Place me on Your table for all men to view.”
“Look at me”, called the goblet of crystal so clear,
“My transparency shows my contents so dear,
Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride, And I'm sure I'll be happy in Your house to abide.”
The Master came next to a vessel of wood,
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.
“You may use me, dear Master”, the wooden bowl said,
“But I'd rather You used me for fruit, not for bread!”
Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay. Empty and broken it helplessly lay.
No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose, To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.
“Ah! This is the vessel I've been hoping to find,
I will mend and use it and make it all Mine.”
“I need not the vessel with pride of its self;
Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf; Nor the one who is big mouthed and shallow and loud;
Nor one who displays his contents so proud;
Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right;
But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might.”
Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay.
Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day.
Spoke to it kindly. “There’s work you must do,
Just pour out to others as I pour into you.”
A minister was asked to dinner by one of his parishioners, who he knew was an
unkempt housekeeper. When he sat down at the table, he noticed that the dishes were
the dirtiest that he had ever seen in his life.
"Were these dishes ever washed?" he asked his hostess, running his fingers over the
grit and grime.
She replied, "They're as clean as soap and water could get them."
He felt a bit apprehensive, but blessed the food anyway and started eating. It was
really delicious and he said so, despite the dirty dishes.
When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and yelled, "Here Soap! Here Water!"