God not only has glory, honor, and majesty; He also has sovereignty. Sovereignty is also one of God’s attributes. He is sovereign. Sovereignty indicates God’s unlimited authority and power. God’s position is also unlimited. We are not able to say how high is God’s position. Likewise, we cannot measure God’s glory and majesty. As the sovereign One, there is no limit to His authority, power, and position.
Although the words “sovereign” or “sovereignty” are not used in Romans 9:20 and 21, these verses certainly refer to God’s sovereignty: “But, O man, who are you that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me thus? Or has not the potter authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor?” We all need to realize who we are. We are God’s creatures, and He is our Creator. As His creatures, we should not resist His purpose (v. 19) or answer back to Him, the Creator. This is the reason Paul asks, “Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me thus?” Paul then goes on to indicate that as the Potter God has authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor. God is the Potter, and we are the clay. As the Potter, God is sovereign. He has authority over the clay. If He wills, He can make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor. This does not depend on our choice—it depends on God’s sovereignty.
These verses from Romans 9 indicate that God has sovereignly created us to be His vessels, His containers, according to His predestination. Second Timothy 2:20 and 21 convey the same thought, saying that we are vessels unto honor. However, being vessels unto honor is not the result of our choice; it originates with God’s sovereignty. It is of God’s sovereignty that He makes His glory known by creating vessels of mercy to contain Himself. This is a deep word. God’s sovereignty is the basis of His selection. His selection depends on His sovereignty.
In Romans 9:22 Paul continues, “What if God, willing to show forth His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted for destruction?” What should we say about this? We have nothing to say. God is the Potter, and He has the authority. Human beings are simply clay.
In Romans 9:23 and 24 Paul goes on to say, “And what if He should make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory, even us, whom He has also called, not only from among the Jews, but also from among the nations?” This depends on God’s sovereignty. God has the authority to make the ones He has selected and called, not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles, vessels of mercy to contain Him in order that His glory might be manifested. According to His sovereign authority, He has prepared us unto this glory. We were predestinated by His sovereignty to be His containers. This is the climax of our usefulness to God. This is the goal of God’s selection according to His sovereignty.
Jude 25 indicates that God has authority as one of His attributes. Authority is power in ruling. Regarding the divine attribute of authority, the Lord Jesus says in Luke 12:5, “I will show you whom you should fear: fear Him who, after killing, has authority to cast into Gehenna. Yes, I tell you, fear this One.” God alone has the authority to cast one into Gehenna.
A policeman in uniform illustrates the difference between power and authority. Although the policeman may not have much strength, he has the authority to direct traffic. A boxer, on the contrary, may have much more strength than a policeman, but he does not have any authority. Authority is greater than power. God, of course, has both authority and power.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 001-020), Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)