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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


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