Does GOD actually choose some people as HIS vessels? And are "chosen vessels" chosen before they are ever born, even before they are conceived? Scripture declares that HE does, that they are.
EPHESIANS 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
This is beyond what most of us can fathom. The reality that sometime before the foundation of this world, GOD had faithful saints in HIS foreknowledge is hard to comprehend. Why would the Creator of time and space bother with some "earthen vessels" let alone select them as HIS "chosen vessels"? Foreknowledge is GOD's ability to know the end of a matter even before its commencement. HE is not restrained by time or space. These are no more than elements HE has established to provide some order to the world HE has created. Therefore, being greater than HIS creation, GOD is able to know every detail of our lives even before we are ever born. Jeremiah revealed as much when writing of his own calling.
JEREMIAH 1:5 Before I [GOD] formed thee in the belly I knew thee [by foreknowledge]; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
GOD knew everything about Jeremiah's life before HE ever formed him in his mother's womb. HE knew if Jeremiah would turn at HIS reproof. HE knew if Jeremiah would answer HIS call; if he would believe HIS sent word. With that knowledge GOD could decide whether or not to sanctify him, to ordain him as a prophet, to choose Jeremiah as a vessel fit for HIS use. After this manner the Apostle Paul also wrote of the two tribes of Jacob and Esau.
ROMANS 9:11-13 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
GOD hated the response HE knew by foreknowledge that Esau's ancestors would evidently have to HIS word, but HE loved the response HE knew Jacob's ancestors would have to HIS word. Esau's didn't believe but Jacob's did. "By faith Jacob..." (HEBREWS 11:21). Scripture never speaks of Esau having faith and we, being assured that "without faith it is impossible to please" GOD (HEBREWS 11:6), can understand why HE hated the one but loved the other. Besides, the psalmist tells us that the "LORD loveth the righteous" (PSALM 146:8).
Thus, even before a chosen vessel is born, GOD already knows what its end will be. This is why GOD chooses some as vessels for specific tasks but not others, because by HIS foreknowledge HE knows what their response to HIS word will be. Not just because of their works, but more to do with their heart; their willingness to turn at HIS reproof. Isaiah also wrote concerning GOD's chosen vessels.
ISAIAH 44:2 Thus saith the LORD that made [`asah, as on a potter's wheel] thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
Thus, those HE has chosen HE will help. GOD helps us to accomplish the tasks HE has chosen us for. From the time one is chosen, GOD "is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 CORINTHIANS 9:8). But others, whom GOD knows will reject HIS calling, they will lack the gift of GOD's grace.
We reap what we sow, "For the wages of sin is death" (ROMANS 6:23). Howbeit, this verse also speaks of what lies beyond the wages, the gift, for "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". But not all receive the gift. Some must be content with their wages. Because of HIS foreknowledge, GOD can determine who will be sent the gift of HIS word and who will abide in death. Again, the psalmist wrote, "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies" (PSALM 58:3).
Knowing beforehand an individual's response to HIS calling is one of the things which influence the measure and direction of GOD's grace. But HIS grace is given only to accomplish HIS varied purposes, not as a reward for our works. It can't be emphasized enough that if we receive grace, it is not the result of our accomplishments, otherwise, the more we accomplished, the more grace we could expect to receive. It doesn't work this way. But rather, it is because of HIS purposes that HE gives grace.
2 TIMOTHY 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
It is all according to GOD's purposes. Many will be called by GOD, but some will reject that calling. The ones that answer the call, they are most likely then chosen to receive additional grace that they might produce fruit, do good works and accomplish GOD's purposes. GOD knows beforehand how one is going to respond to HIS call. Thus, the amount of grace which HE determines to dispense is all according to HIS purposes. If therefore one is chosen to receive grace so that he can hear so as to believe, all hell can't prevent him from that hearing.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are not heavenly angels but earthen vessels. Angels are endowed with a certain glory and holiness, while GOD's chosen vessels are made and fashioned over time by doctrine, reproof and correction. Through faith we are formed into the men and women GOD has called us to be, so as to accomplish HIS purposes.
2 TIMOTHY 2:20-21 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. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet [useful] for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
Chosen vessels are those which are useful for the master's needs. These are the vessels which have been prepared so as to accomplish HIS good works. They are not normally fashioned into vessels of dishonor, but they are fashioned into vessels of honor.
The apostle Paul was such a chosen vessel for GOD's purposes.
ACTS 9:15 But the Lord said unto him [Ananias], Go thy way: for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.
Clearly, GOD has certain vessels HE has chosen to carry HIS word so as to accomplish HIS purposes. Simon Peter was likewise such a chosen vessel.
ACTS 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
GOD "made choice" among the disciples and selected Peter as the vessel who would be the first one to carry the treasure of HIS word unto the Gentiles, resulting in their conversion. We can only successfully communicate HIS word to others as GOD predisposes us. The Apostle Paul could not go beyond his fashioning. Nor could Peter go beyond his fashioning. Not even our Lord could go beyond His fashioning.
DEUTERONOMY 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee [Moses], and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
It is always as GOD directs. It is HE who puts the words in our mouths so that we have something to say. It is GOD who fills HIS vessels with the treasure of HIS word. Only HE knows who has ears to hear.
As our Lord said unto the Samaritan woman at the well, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water" (JOHN 4:10). GOD had filled HIS chosen vessel with "living water". That living word of truth, which only GOD can send into the hearts of those HE has chosen, is "the gift of GOD". If believed, those words of truth "shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life".
EPHESIANS 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation [calling] wherewith ye are called.
Being the "prisoner of the Lord" meant that Paul was committed to the Lord's will. He knew he was a chosen vessel and as such, his life was not his own, but instead it belonged to HIM who called him from the "traditions of his fathers" unto life. Vessels are made by the master for HIS use, and are only useful as they continue to perform their function. If they cease being useful, they eventually will be set aside so that other vessels can be formed and made ready. Scripture is full of examples where men and women forsook their calling. Some later returned unto it while others never did.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
If we have had "grace bestowed upon us", then there is a purpose in our calling. If we have chose to answer that call, then we can be assured that the Creator has chosen us as a vessel for HIS word. As we continue to "labor", as we continue to "walk worthy", as we continue to be "purged", as we continue to "wait upon the LORD" we shall be strengthened, we shall be cleansed and we shall be "given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (EPHESIANS 4:7).
2 PETER 1:4-11 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election [choosing] sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is the entrance we are called unto. To first escape the corruption that is in the world and then to be partakers of the divine nature. Our calling, our course, is to then add to our faith virtue; and to our virtue we can add knowledge; with that knowledge GOD can teach us temperance and to temperance shall be added patience; next we will find godliness and then brotherly kindness, finally arriving at charity, agape, the love of GOD. Herein we shall find that entrance into HIS everlasting kingdom. As HIS chosen vessels we shall have found that treasure which corrupts not, or rather, it shall have found us.