Today, as we honor our retired ministers, is a day to look back. Everyone of us is here today because of some faithful servant of God who was willing to share with us the message of Christ. This church in which we are ministering is the result of faithful men and women who were willing to reach out in faith to purchase this property and build this lovely facility.
Each one of us have been influenced over the years by godly men and women who encouraged us, directed us, and showed us the Christian way. We who are gathered here today are the result of years of faithful service with countless hours of preparation by others who cared enough to minister to us.
In the passage of scripture we are looking at today, we will look at how God uses ministers to cause his church to grow.
What then is Apol'los? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.
Paul and Apollos were two ministers who helped to establish the church in Corinth. Our church has had many ministers throughout its years. Each contributed to its growth and many lives have been touched by the ministry of this church.
But who are these ministers? Did they have a special ability, super talent, or superior knowledge? Notice what Paul says about the Corinthian ministers. They were "servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each." It was not their special talents or abilities, but it was God who assigned each minister to perform his specific task. Our serving Christ was a result of our personal commitment to Him, but it was ministers who were there to help us along the way, to guide us and to encourage us.
I planted, Apol'los watered, but God gave the growth.
Were we see the work of ministers in the church. There is planting and there is watering. And then there is growth. I think of planting as encouraging that seed of faith to grow in the lives of the congregation. And with watering I think of nurturing. As believers are growing in their faith, they need to be cared for and nurtured. The result of all this careful planting and nurturing is spiritual growth in lives.
Some ministers may feel frustrated that they dont see any growth, but someone must do the planting and watering before there can be growth. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 11:6, "In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good."
Harpers Bible Commentary points out, "Although Paul recognizes some distinction between himself and Apollos, he insists that his and Apollos mission are directed toward the same goal. Paul who planted and Apollos who watered are equal because it is God who gives growth.... Paul and Apollos are Gods servants and co-workers who were mediators of the communitys faith."
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
How this is a remarkable statement that should cause all ministers to learn a little humility. Paul is saying that we ministers are really nothing. We are simply the conduits through which God works. It is God who gives the growth. Our task is to be obedient. He will give us ability, but it is he who will draw people into his kingdom. God allows us to be part of that great work. So what is there for any minister to brag about?
As Kling in Langes Commentary wrote, "The church belongs to God; He it is who tills the fieldexternally, by the preaching of the Wordinternally, by His Spirit. What teachers do is to plant and to water. But the word sown is His seed; all the ability employed in its first planting and after culture is His gift; on Him depends all success. Without His blessing, all planting and all watering, however skilful and careful, amount to nothing."
He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.
All of those who have ministered in the gospel of Christ are equal. Even though some ministers are famous and get a lot of attention by men, in Gods eyes they are all equal. Have you ever noticed how all the conference speakers are pastors of large churches? Ministers who are working in smaller or rural churches never get invited. Thats the way man looks at things. But Paul says that all Gods ministers are equal.
Whether a pastor was here for a long time or a short time, whether they had great numerical results or little results; as long as they were building up Gods kingdom, they will receive their heavenly reward. God is not partial as people are. He has no favorites. He calls many ministers to perform different tasks. How we are obedient to the job that he has set before us is what God looks at.
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
That a deep understanding of the nature of God Paul reveals here. He says "we are Gods fellow workers." This is really what any minister is. God is doing a work, and he calls us alongside to participate in the ministry. He guides us, directs us, and shows us what we must do. It is up to the minister to be obedient to Gods call on their life.
As the ministers of Christ learn to follow Gods plan, they will see results not because of their ability, dynamic personality, or high intelligence but because they are obediently working in Gods field, planting and watering while God gives the increase.
Pray for your ministers, past and present. Pray that God will help us to learn obedience and discern his plan for our lives and for the life of our church. God will do the work, if we are willing to cooperate with him. When we do, then we will see the growth.
A friend of mine gave me a plaque when I officially became licensed which beautifully describes what it means to be a minister.
BECAUSE YOU CARE
BECAUSE YOU CARE
BECAUSE YOU CARE
BECAUSE YOU CARE
BECAUSE HE CARED
This study of 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 © 1997 by David Humpal. All Rights
Harpers Bible Commentary pg. 1173 © 1988, Harper and Row Publishers
Kling: Langes Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Corinthians volume, pg. 78, Zondervan Publishing House