Summary: Some plant. Some water. But God ultimately makes the church grow. We are stewards of His field.
But God Makes It Grow
4/24/05 a.m. service
Lighthouse Assembly of God, Mt. Juliet, TN
Pastor Greg Tabor
Read Text: 1 Corinthians 1:11-13; 3:1-9 NLT
From the text we see a church divided over loyalty or sentiment for their favorite pastors and teachers. Who were the two main one’s whom factions were forming between? Paul and Apollos. But as we see from the text, they were only stewards of what was God’s. The concept of Steward was made alive to me in the third movie of the trilogy Lord of the Rings. Let me illustrate.
Illus. Gandalf’s reminder that Denethor was only a Steward.
It was time for the Corinthians to get their eyes off of men and back onto God. He alone is the author and finisher of our faith.
Obviously from the main body of text, God’s stewards were specifically Paul and Apollos. Verse 9 likens the church unto a field. And verse 6 likens Paul and Apollos unto farmers or gardeners in that field.
Paul spent 18 months in Corinth on his 2nd missionary journey (see Acts 18:11). During this time he established the church and discipled the converts. In his own words, Paul says “My job was to plant the seed in your hearts” (1 Cor. 3:6 NLT). We could refer to Paul as Church Planter.
But then Paul moved on to Ephesus.
After Paul’s departure from Corinth, Acts 18:27 and 19:1 tell us that Apollos went to Corinth. Evidently Apollos did a great work as Pastor there and was loved by many of the people. “Apollos watered it” (1 Cor. 3:6 NLT) was the phrase Paul used to describe Apollos ministry in Corinth.
Paul and Apollos had “the same purpose”(v.8 NLT) fulfilled in differing roles and at differing times. That purpose was the salvation and discipleship of men and women.
While these men were in Corinth at different times of the congregation’s development, they shared a partnership.
Paul writes that he and Apollos were not divided, but rather “a team”(v.8a) and “partners” (v.9). They were not in competition with each other.
And Paul understood competition. In Philippians 1 he addressed the fact that while he was in prison some preached the Gospel with wrong motives trying to stir up trouble for him. How’d he respond? “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18 NIV). Paul was not about blowing his own horn. He was about working together with others to get the Gospel message to the world.
In response to the divisions being produced within the Corinthian church, Paul writes: “When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I prefer Apollos,” aren’t you acting like those who are not Christians?” (1 Cor. 3:4 NLT). The ESV says, “Are you not being merely human?” Steven Curtis Chapman sang a song about not acting only naturally because we’ve got the Spirit of the living God inside of us. We shouldn’t act merely like unregenerate human beings would. Christians should live with a spirit of unity. Ephesians 4:3-4 NLT says, “Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace. We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.” Unity between Christians is essential for the work of the Lord to go forward. We are all on the same team. We cannot afford to be divided, jealous and territorial.
“Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. We work together as partners who belong to God” (1 Cor 3:5b & 9 NLT)
The ESV says “For we are God’s fellow workers.”
God worked through Paul and Apollos to reach folks for Christ. Paul and Apollos both did the work God assigned them. God still chooses to partner with us in this adventure called the Great Commission today.
Friends, when you work with God you need to realize that you are following His plan His way. He has the right to pick you up and set you down anywhere He wants to and have you do the work He wants you to do. And He empowers you to accomplish the task.
“You are God’s field, God’s building—not ours.” (1 Cor. 3:9 NLT)
It is always important to remember that we are Stewards and that the church is God’s. It isn’t our vision, it’s His. It isn’t our Body, it is Christ’s. We will be responsible for the work we do in God’s field, or as this verse begins to set up another illustration, God’s building. In the verses that follow our chosen text, Paul warns that whatever folks use to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ that has already been laid will be tested. So when you are working for God, build right.