Sunday, February 12, 2017
1 Corinthians 3: 1 – 9
Series on 1 Corinthians # 3
Preached by Rev. Dr. Harold E. Kidd
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” – Corinthians 3: 6-7
One of the qualities in his style of his authorship that we admire about the Apostle Paul is his use of analogy to help us understand deep spiritual realities. We are God’s living Epistles, the Holy Spirit having written the Good news of this Gospel upon our hearts and very lives for everyone to read. As soldiers in the Lord’s army We have been adorned with the armor of Christ, the Helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the girdle of truth, having our feet adorned with the Gospel, and in our hands we hold the sword of God’s word. Because we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.
Lest we think these bodies belong to us, he reminds us that we are God’s living temples, the Holy Spirit now having taken up residence in our souls. We are simply earthen tabernacles, so that if this tabernacle becomes too aged, or infirmed and weary to carry on we have a house not built with human hands eternal in the heavens. One of the reasons why we love Paul’s writings is not only because he is rich in theological truths, to make one wise and prosperous in the things of Jesus, but as well because he gives us living illustrations to describe the Church. Amen.
In this letter to the Corinthians he reminds them as well as us that we are the Body of Christ, each one rightly gifted for a particular function and service in the body analogous to how our human bodies are put together and are designed by God to function. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!” But rather God has so designed the organs and parts of our bodies and the church so that we need each other if the body and the church are to be healthy. Amen.
In chapter three Paul is still addressing the issue of sectarianism, and partisanship that was creating divisions within the life of the Corinthian church over its leadership. And so he raises this question to them in verse 5, “What after all is Apollos? And what is Paul” We are merely servants through whom you came to believe-as the Lord assigned to each his task.” In Paul’s view he and Apollos were merely field hands whom God used to cultivate a crop. And he uses an analogy from agriculture to suggest that the Church is like a watered garden. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
In Paul’s mind the one who plants and the one who waters are one. Meaning their efforts were complimentary parts of one single agricultural project. God’s project. Therefore for the Corinthians to play one off against another was ridiculous. Both were necessary. Without the planter, there would be no crop to water. Without the waterer, the crop would die.
Each one of us does the little bit God calls us to do but God gives the increase. Praise ought not be given to human individuals but to God, because God is the one who makes things grow. God gives the increase. The one who plants and the one who waters really do not matter in comparison to God. It’s only God who matters. Why compare, preachers and statistics, styles of worship and choirs, denominations and traditions? Why compare budgets and programs, and who’s in your church and who’s in someone else’s church? Only God is the source of our growth. Amen.
In so many words the church is a watered garden. The church is the soil out of which God brings into harvest the fruits of ministry. Amen. Some preach, some teach, some administrate, some play musical instruments, some sing, some pray, some are financial planners, some are gifted in the use of technology, some are ushers, some like to visit, some like to send cards, some are good with children, some give help to the poor and the needy, some do maintenance and help keep the church clean and looking good, some cook, some are involved in community outreach doing the work of justice and loving mercy, but God alone is the one who brings the blessing. God is the One who gives the increase.
“Stop comparing yourselves”, Paul is saying, “and give God the praise, give God the glory, because God alone is the one to makes the garden of the church grow.” What we learn from our own bodies is that we cannot make ourselves grow. Amen. There are certain responsibilities we have as stewards of our bodies to help ensure they remain healthy. But growth is something beyond the mind and powers of man to accomplish. Growth comes from God.
Some of you grew up on the farm and some of you are old enough to remember a time during World War 1, the Great Depression, and between 1940 – 1945 when many families had what was called ‘Victory Gardens.” Amen. During the Second World War our Government under the leadership President Franklin D. Roosevelt urged families to prepare for the worst and possible food shortages by growing adequate food from their own gardens. They were planted on private residences as well as on public land. These gardens produced 41 percent of our nation’s food supply. My Lord! Families grew vegetables, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, so much more, and for many it was a lesson in the rhythm of life.
And if you are one who grew up on the farm first there had to be the plowing or tilling of the soil, then fertilizing the soil. The seeds had to be sown or planted, and watered, and finally, you had to wait for the increase. Farmers had no control over the showers of the spring or the rate at which their crops grew. Even here in California in the central valley, while we have a sophisticated irrigation system, much of what grows is dependent on nature, the sun, as well as rain fall to water their crops.
And there is nothing to make things grow as bountiful and healthy as natural rain water. But because nature has its own mind, in farming some years there are bumper corps, and in other years, during seasons of low rain fall and drought, the heat of the hot sun can scorch crops and stunt a crops growth.
We can do all we can do but in the end, we have to wait on nature to fulfill her plan. God is the one who sustains all of creation. The sun is His, the moon is His, the stars belong to Him, the seas are His, the land is His, the cattle of a thousand hills belong to Him, the fish of the sea are His. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of. God is the one from whom all blessings flow. Amen. God is the one who can hold up the heavens, or pour us out a torrential rain fall. And when Israel got too high minded thinking it was because of them that they were blessed, and felt they could do just as good without God, and became casual with God, God would hold up the heavens, and send a drought, to teach them, that without God we can do nothing.
Even while they lived hundreds of years apart, Isaiah himself described God’s people like a watered garden. Listen to what he says in vs. 11 of Chapter 58: “And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy your soul in drought and make fat your bones, and you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.” Isaiah used the analogy of a watered garden to help us understand what it’s like to be in the family of God. Amen.
Our church is a garden seeking to nurture the lives of men and women, boys and girls in order that they might blossom in beauty and fruitfulness before the Lord. This is what the Prophet Isaiah envisioned, that in God’s house people ought to blossom. Blossom in faith, blossom in hope, blossom in love, blossom in good works. In God’s house our lives should be growing, budding and blossoming in patience, gentleness, and meekness. We cannot grow ourselves, but when the Holy Spirit is truly operating in our lives, God will give the increase. Hallelujah!
And let me suggest to you that just like those victory gardens of yesteryears, the Church is God’s Victory Garden. It may be tough out there in the world. Love and understanding may be scarce out there in this sin-sick world, but here in the Church, in this watered garden, God has provided for what our souls need in order that we might bloom and blossom, be fruitful and multiply spiritually. Bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit. Amen. And we discover the devil really cannot do us any harm, because we have been planted in God’s victory garden. Amen.
When someone asks you, what makes you so strong in the midst of you trials and tribulations, you can tell them, I have been planted in God’s victory garden.
When they ponder why you still have some joy, some peace in your mind and soul, and have a positive outlook on life in the midst of this decaying world, you can tell them because in this victory garden the joy of the Lord is my strength. O Hallelujah! Don’t get so caught in the media or what is happening in Washington, that you lose sight of the fact that you belong to God’s victory garden. Amen! A watered garden.
And whether it be fruit or vegetables they were not meant to be kept to spoil on the vine, or tree or in the earth, but they were meant to be harvested and eaten. Amen. And so in these days when there is a scarcity of faith, love and hope in our world, and all kinds of wars going on within some personally who are at war with themselves, within our nation and world, God has planted the Church as His victory garden to nourish our lives.
In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the Parable of the sower, the seed and the soil. Jesus is the Sower, the Soil is our lives and what is the Seed through which we grow and blossom? That God has come in Jesus to save us from ourselves. What is the seed? That if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you shall be saved. What is the seed? That the Church is the Body of Christ. What is the seed? That we love one another even as He has loved us.
What is the seed? That the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous avails much. What is the seed? By His stripes we are healed. What is the seed? That it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. What is the seed? That we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. What is the seed? That he has gone to prepare a place for us there where He is we shall someday be also! Let me suggest to you that through His life and teachings, Jesus planted, The Holy Spirit waters, but God gives the increase!
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