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Summary: This message deals with the position and responsibility of leaders in the church. We must be carful not to elevate them to the level that they can do no wrong.

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UNION WORKERS IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD

1 CORINTHIANS 3:5-17

INTRODUCTION: Bob Deffinbaugh writes, “Christianity has had its share of “Pied Pipers,” those charismatic (in personality) individuals who seem to be able to lead a group of followers anywhere they wish. We are all too familiar with the names of men like Jim Jones and David Koresh, and we wince at the memory of what they did to their followers, not to mention the name of our Lord. Then there are some whose sins have devastated others, and at times have wrought financial havoc for many Christian ministries.

It is not just the “way out” fringes of Christianity which are plagued with leaders who have nearly total control over the lives of their followers, but whose personal lives are out of control. I know of several men whose failures have caused great damage to the church and to the cause of the gospel. There seems to be one common element in these disasters—the men who fell were so powerful, and their control so great, that they seemed almost “unstoppable.” The reason for this: these leaders were so elevated and revered in the minds of their followers that they were considered beyond the temptations and sins of mankind. When men are elevated too highly in the minds of their followers, the people begin to think their leaders are infallible, that they are above the sins we see in ordinary people. And so they refuse to believe the evidences of sin, even when they are compelling. Even if they are guilty of known sin, no one seems to feel sufficiently qualified to attempt to rebuke or correct them.

The problem of esteeming leaders too highly starts very subtly and innocently. It begins with a deep respect and appreciation, often because this individual has led them to Christ, or that he (or she) has significantly contributed to their spiritual growth. This one person is given excessive credit for the work of God and elevated to a position of authority above what should be given to men. Allegiance to this leader becomes a status symbol in which followers take great pride. Out of this misguided allegiance, they feel obligated to ignore or even oppose other Christian leaders.

This is precisely the problem at Corinth.”

Paul addresses this issue in these verses, looking at the equality of leaders when compared to Christ. Each Christian leader, and each Christian is equal in God’s sight, differing only in the part God has given them in His plan.

I OUR IMPORTANCE IN GOD’S WORK – 3:5-9

A We Are Instruments

1 We have all been trusted with the same revelation

2 We all are to be working together to promote God’s purposes

B We are all servants

1 Paul refers to both Apollos and himself as servants

2 The word servant is the same word we get Deacon.

a Meaning: helper, waiter on tables

C The station of a servant

a Stresses the weakness of the position – “What, after all” – is there any power associated with

b Stresses the lowly status of the position – “servants” – mere servants

c In reality everyone is a servant of God

1) We have the ability to assist God as He has gifted us

D Servanthood compared to God

1 Servants are assigned to their position by the Lord

a God gives us our task

b God gives us our increase

1) How many servants created the gospel?

2) How many servants saved anyone

THERE ARE NO SUPERSTARS IN GOD’S SERVICE

2 Servants all participate in the same task

a Some planter

b Some water

c Only God grows!

1) In the Greek language the verse reads, “who makes things grow, only God”

3 Servants have a unified purpose – serve the master

a God views us all the same

1) All have same Lord

2) All have same work

3) All have same accountability

b God rewards us based on our labor for him

1) A reward apart from salvation

2) A reward based on his assessment

Paul writes:

ü We are God’s fellow workers

o We labor with God

o We labor under God

o We belong to God

ü You are God’s field

o Fields exist to grow

o Fields exist to harvest

ü (You are) God’s building

o Everyone is a part of God’s church

o Everyone has a part in God’s church

o Everyone needs to co-operate in God’s church just like all the pieces of a building co-operate and form a functioning building.

II OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO GOD’S WORK – 3:10-15

A All Building Starts With A Foundation

Luke 6:46-49 "Why do you call me, ’Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

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