Preached at Riverview the evening of January 1 2017
1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (KJV) Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Many years ago some men on a leaky old ship were in the middle of a rough and stormy sea. One of them asked the Captain “Are we safe”? The Captain replied, “The boilers are weak and may explode at any minute. The ship is constantly taking on water. To be honest with you, we may go up, or we may go down, but at any rate we’re going on!”
Those are not encouraging words, but they tell us a truth. If your faith is in man or the things that man does then your faith is in a leaky ship. I grew up listening not to Country Music but to Rock Music. The Beatles – a wildly popular group – made a remark in March of 1966 that:
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now”
Just four years later the group broke up, never to be again. On December 8, 1980 the Beatle John Lennon – the one who made the remark – was shot to death by Mark David Chapman. But Christ and Christianity marches on. Our Lord’s Kingdom has not diminished in power or in eternality.
What will make our Church stand strong until the Coming of the Lord Jesus? We must be ever vigilant to follow the leading of God’s Spirit and God’s Word. In Chapter 2 of this Book of Books we saw the necessity of following the Holy Spirit of God. When we stay in God’s Word and let His Spirit lead us, the Apostle said,
1 Corinthians 2:16 (KJV) …. we have the mind of Christ.
Now in Chapter Three the Apostle chastises the Church at Corinth. Paul doesn’t say that the Corinthians are not saved, but that they have stayed at a state of babyhood. When a baby is born that baby needs to be fed, needs to be changed, needs to be lovingly disciplined. Babies do not understand congregational meetings, and so often impose themselves on everyone around. The parent must deal with this, as babies are in the flesh, willful, all about themselves. It is the same way when a person is first born again into the Kingdom of God. That young Christian needs to be taught that the world is no longer about YOU. That young baby needs to understand that the Christian way of life is to Imitate Christ. To not elevate yourself, but to love others as you would be loved. The Bible says:
Philippians 2:3-5 (KJV) Let NOTHING be done through strife or vainglory; but in LOWLINESS OF MIND LET EACH ESTEEM OTHER BETTER THAN THEMSELVES.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
The Mind of Christ is the humble mind, the sacrificial mind,
the mind that lowers self and elevates others.
The Apostle told the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (KJV) And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
The Corinthians were not SPIRITUAL or SPIRIT DRIVEN people. The Holy Spirit was given, but they still relied on the flesh. Founded by the Apostle Paul this Church should have been THRIVING where it was. The people of the Kingdom should have been understanding the DEEPER THINGS of Christ, making an impact on their community. Instead the Church was a picture of what a Church should not be. The Apostle said:
1 Corinthians 3:3 (KJV) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
They are not SPIRITUAL but CARNAL. What are the marks of the carnal? The Apostle lists four marks of the carnal believer:
- Envying (Greek ζῆλος zēlos) which refers to passion for the things of others. This is a violation of the Tenth Commandment which states:Exodus 20:17 (NKJV) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
No child is the same, and no parent gives every child the same thing. God loves you, and has given you what is best for you. The world clamors for STUFF, but the Child of God knows that – like it was with the Levite of old – the Lord is our portion.
Lamentations 3:24 (NKJV) The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him!
Psalm 16:5 (NKJV) O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.
Psalm 73:26 (NKJV) My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
- Strife (Greek ἔρις eris) which means “to fight or quarrel”. Strife always follows envy. Two babies playing in the sandbox see a toy they both want, and both grab for it at the same time. In a few moments the physically stronger toddler gets control of the toy and hits their playmate over the head. Momma comes, and all lose the sandbox. No one wins. This is strife.Where strife is, the flesh is at work. One of the seven deadly sins is strife.
Proverbs 6:16, 19 ESV (the Lord hates) …. the one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 16:28 ESV A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, STRIFE, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Following envy and strife comes DIVISIONS (Greek διχοστασία dichostasia) which means “a breaking apart”. The Church is to be One Body in Christ, with every member in that Body working toward a common goal of glorifying God. The Body is called to be One in Christ.Ephesians 4:1-6 (KJV) I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
- “And walk as men”. Saved by Grace by Christ we are not to walk as the lost walk, but to walk as Children of God. The lost behave the way they do because they are lost. There is no reason for a Christ follower to follow the darkness. We are toEphesians 5:8 (NKJV) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
The Church at Corinth was not walking as the Body of Christ but was broken up into pieces. The Apostle said:
1 Corinthians 3:4 (KJV) For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
It would have been easy for Paul to be drawn into this controversy, for who doesn’t like a little praise, a little bragging on oneself? We all love a little applause, and in his flesh Paul is no different. But Paul learned a lesson that every one of us need to know.
The Flesh Does Not Give Increase. God Gives The Increase.
1 Corinthians 3:5 (KJV) Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
Both Paul and Apollos were gifted men, but their gifts did not come from themselves but from the Lord. “Even as the Lord gave to every man”. Whatever gifts we have, whatever abilities we possess, we do not have them because we are special. We have our gifts because God bestowed them. Paul planted the Church at Corinth by preaching God’s Gospel. God gave Paul the Gospel, the hands and feet, the lungs, everything that he needed to plant the Church. Nothing that was done at Corinth was because Paul was better than anyone else. Paul was a conduit by which God blessed others. Apollos was a great preacher, a gifted speaker. When Apollos started preaching the Bible says:
Acts 18:24-26 (NKJV) Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Apollos knew about the COMING Messiah – mwhich the Baptism of John emphasized – but did not know that Christ had come. Priscilla and Aquila – two great Christ Followers – took Apollos to the side and explained that Jesus HAD COME. Hearing the truth the Bible says that Apollos ..
Acts 18:28 (NKJV) … (Apollos) vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.
If Priscilla and Aquila hadn’t taken Apollos to the side he would have kept preaching John’s Baptism and the Coming Christ. But Priscilla and Aquila did what God bid them do. Do they receive glory for this? No, but God does. And Apollos, gifted by God to preach, do we commend him? No, we commend God. The Lord gives to every person.
Who is Paul? Who is Apollos, but ministered by whom ye believed. Neither Paul nor Apollos are honored guests seated at the table. They don’t own the house of God. They are table waiters, servants, just as you and I are. They are conduits by which the blessings of God are delivered. The copper piping in the house cannot take credit for the water delivered to its occupants. If the pipes are not attached to the water source the copper tubes are useless.
1 Corinthians 3:6 (KJV) I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
Paul planted, but he did not create the seed nor till the soil. He planted the Gospel given to him by God. He went where God told him to go. He spread the Gospel seed on good ground and bad, on thorny ground and rocky soil. He broadcast the seed of the Cross of Christ where ever he could. But all Paul did was PLANT. Apollos came along, and he had the ministry of WATERING. Paul planted, but Apollos watered. Apollos watered where ever he could, and when ever he could. He trusted God just as Paul trusted God, and did as God told hi to do.
But God gave the increase.
If Paul had no planted, and Apollos had not watered, there would have been no increase. If Paul and Apollos had acted like the Corinthians there would have been no Church in this pagan city. The Apostle Paul told Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:2-5 (KJV) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Focus on the gift that God has given you. Do what God has called you to do. In time, God will give the increase. We are told:
Galatians 6:7-10 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Four thousand Churches close their doors every year in America. Why? I suspect it is because the members of the Church turn away from the Way of the Cross. The Gospel is not preached, and the people do not “take up their Cross and follow Christ”. The Gospel and God’s Word must be the good seed that we sow.
When the Gospel is sown in word and deed, God gives the increase.
When we sow pseudo seed and neglect the Word of God there is no increase.
God will not bless a false seed planted.
The Apostle Paul sowed the seed of the Gospel, and Apollos watered the seed that was sown by Paul. If Paul had sown the wrong seed no amount of watering would have brought increase. If Apollos watered the weeds and not the seeds no amount of planting would have brought an increase. Both Paul and Apollos, two different people with different callings, had to work together for the glory of God.
Pride Brings Disease Into The Garden Of God
1 Corinthians 3:7 (KJV) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
One of the greatest blessings to the Church of God is a five letter word called G-R-A-C-E. One of the greatest dangers to the Church of God isa five letter word called P-R-I-D-E. Under GRACE a person recognizes themselves as a great sinner in need of a Great Savior. Under PRIDE a person sees themselves not in need of God, but in need of a mirror so they can worship their God.
The Apostle Paul said “neither is he that planteth anything”. Do you know the best thing you can do every day? When you wake up in the morning and are brushing your teeth, spit, rinse, look up at your reflection and say:
I am nothing, but God is everything.
Only God can give the increase.
This is how Paul became successful in his life. He didn’t buy into what the devil whispered into his ear. God loves you, but the Bible tells us that success in the Church and in life begins with HUMILITY before God. The Apostle Peter said:
1 Peter 5:5-11 (NKJV) Likewise you younger people, SUBMIT yourselves to your elders. Yes, ALL OF YOU BE SUBMISSIVE TO ONE ANOTHER, AND BE CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The Church of God magnifies God, not itself. We humble ourselves realizing that God gives the increase. The Word of God is:
Psalm 127:1 (NKJV) Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV) … ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.
It is God Who gives the increase. So we follow our Savior, and look to His Cross. We trust His Blood to save us. We preach His Gospel, and live submitted to His Kingdom. We reject pride and selfishness, knowing these are works of the flesh that destroy us.
And we remember that everyone will give an account unto the Lord. The Apostle said – and I’ll close with this:
1 Corinthians 3:8-9 (KJV) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.  For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
There should be no conflict between the members of the Church. Some plant. Some water. Some teach. Some sing. Some lead children, others young people. Together we are to glorify God and be as one. We are laborers together with God. God sees what you do, how you do it, and the intent of your heart. And every person shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. There is a Judgement Seat of Christ and a Judgment Seat of the Damned. Every person will stand before God, and be rewarded according to their works.
Which seat shall you stand before?
I hope you will stand with the righteous and the Blood bought at Christ’s Seat. I pray that you have received Him as Lord and Savior! May God touch your hearts with His Word.