For while one saith, I am of
Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 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. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth;
but God that giveth the increase. 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. According to the grace of God which is given
unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the
foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”
1 Corinthians 3:4–10.
Corinthian church, they were having a bit of a controversy. Paul had raised up
the church at Corinth; he had evangelized and started a church. Apollos was chosen
by the church to do follow-up work by continuing to sow seeds and to water, or
nurture, the church. Some church members
were claiming to be of Paul and others were claiming to be of Apollos. Paul said,
“You are yet carnal.”
Paul was trying to make it very clear to the Corinthian church that no
matter who did the sowing of the seed, all people are under the control of
God. He said they were still carnal, because they were still looking to man.
Paul had sown
seeds; Apollos had sown seeds, but the One that gave
the increase, the One that transformed the characters of the Corinthian
believers was God. It was His grace,
shed in their hearts, that made that
transformation. Not one soul will be
converted unless the Holy Spirit is working on their heart, and that is what
Paul is trying to get across to the brethren in Corinth.
Under God’s Control
over the principle, time and again, that we do not own ourselves. We are only under the control of God. “For we are labourers
together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building.” We need to understand that when God sheds
light upon our paths we are then made stewards of the truth that God has given
us. Paul states,
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the
mysteries of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1. If God has worked within us, we are then made
stewards of what He has done for us. We
are made stewards to share it with other people “. . . according to the
grace of God which is given unto me . . . .” When God gives us something, He then makes us
stewards over that, and we will be held accountable in the Day of Judgment for
what He has given us. What a precious
opportunity God has given us to become laborers with Him, but what a weighty
responsibility! The grace and the truth
that He has given us make us want to become laborers together with Him, to sow
the seeds of truth.
We are told,
in 1 Corinthians 3:9, that
we are God’s husbandry, or farmer. A
farmer tills the ground, preparing it for planting; then he plants and
waters. Those tasks are also our responsibility. We are to go out and sow the seeds of truth
that God has given us.
In the verses
given above, Paul was talking about our work, about the foundation that we lay,
and upon what it is laid—whether earthly possessions such as gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble.
These texts are useful when studying health principles with people:
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth
in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.” Verses 16, 17. The
context in which Paul was speaking is our work.
How can we defile our soul temples, our bodies, where God’s Spirit is to
dwell? We defile it by not sowing seeds
of truth, by locking up all of the grace and all of the truth inside, and not
giving it to other people.
Think of the
responsibility that we have, with all of the truth that we have been
given. We can be like the Laodiceans, rich and increased with goods and feeling we
are in need of nothing, not even knowing that we are poor, blind, and
naked. We do not even understand our
true condition. Keep these texts in
mind—your body is God’s building.
shows that God possesses us. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of
the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your
own?” We do not own ourselves; God owns
us by creation and by redemption. “For
ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your
spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.
Jesus for a moment. How did He glorify
His Father? “And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast
sent. I have glorified thee on the
earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me
to do.” John 17:3, 4. Paul was telling the Corin-thians
that they had accepted another Jesus.
People can know some type of Jesus, but it does not mean that they know
the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. In Acts 4:13, it says that
“they took knowledge of them [the disciples], that they had been with
Jesus.” By their very acts, their words,
and by the expressions on their faces, the people knew that they had been with
Jesus. They were showing the true Jesus
to the world through their characters because of what God had done for them in
their lives. So Jesus says, “This is
life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ,
whom thou hast sent. I have glorified
thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest
me to do.”
The time of
this statement was right before Jesus went to the cross. What work is it that He had finished? John 17:8 tells us, “For I
have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;
and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came out from thee,
and they have believed that thou didst send me.”
At the end of
your life, can you say with Jesus, “I have finished the work that You have
given me to do; I have done everything in my power to spread the gospel, to
reflect Your character; I have done everything, by God’s grace, by the grace
that has been given me; to reflect Your character and glorify Your name, and I
have also spread the gospel truth”?
Live the Truth
If this is
Jesus’ work, what is our work? “Sanctify
them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into
the world. And
for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through
the truth. Neither pray
I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their
word.” John 17:17–20. This is our
responsibility as a church. Jesus has
given us a commission that we give to others the words that have been given to
us. What a responsibility we have of
sharing this truth! Jesus said that we
have to be sanctified through the truth in order for that truth to have any effect
when we give it to other people. It has
to be a living reality in our lives; we have to be living it out every day,
because the truth that we give to others will have no power if we are not
living it ourselves.
all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may
be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Verse 21.
Do you know
what the world is looking for today? An
unbeliever told me that they are looking for some people who live out the
truth. There is nothing this world needs
more today than a manifestation of the love of God in those who are claiming to
be His people. We need to pray, asking
the Lord to fill us with that kind of love.
We must be living out that truth in our lives, sanctified by the truth
that we know, or it will not do a bit of good, because we will be holding the
truth in unrighteousness.
People in the
world are looking at us, watching us.
Paul says we are epistles known and read of all men. (11 Corinthians 3:2.) Are they
taking knowledge that we have been with Jesus?
Have we spent time with Him on our knees? The truth that we read
every day—are we living it out in our lives? That is what the world wants to see.
From Darkness into Light
converted soul will be intensely desirous to bring others from the darkness of
error into the marvelous light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.” Review
and Herald, July 21, 1896.
That is a
wonderful quote, but
it is a hard one, because it shows whether or not we are truly converted. We have to ask ourselves, “Am I truly
converted to the Lord, or am I connected to the vine but have no vital fluid
running through it to bear fruit?” How
do we know? If we are truly converted,
we will be intensely desirous to bring others out of the darkness of error into
the righteousness of Christ. This will
take a searching of heart.
When I first
came to the Lord,
I could not help but share with others.
I could not help it! I did not
care who they were, what was their status, or what they looked like—I wanted to
share with them! Why? Because I knew what God had done for me in my
life. I have to
ask myself if I am as intensely desirous now as I was then. Has that intensity lessened, or has it grown
greater? It should grow day by day so
that every truly converted soul will be intensely desirous of bringing others
out from the darkness of error into the marvelous light of the righteousness of
continues: “The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole
earth with His glory . . .” Do you remember what His glory is? It is His character. It is going to be fully exhibited in His
people, and it will fill the whole earth.
That is what people are waiting for today—a people who will shine forth
with the light of truth that will lighten the entire earth. “. . . His glory will not come
until we have an enlightened people, that know by
experience what it means to be laborers together with God.” Ibid.
Waiting for the Latter Rain
Do we have an
experience of bringing souls out of darkness?
We can all say that we are waiting for the Latter Rain, and we can say
that we want it, but it will not come unless we have an enlightened people that
know by experience what it means to be laborers with God. First of all, we need to be converted, and
if we are converted, we will be intensely desirous of bringing others out of
the darkness. We will do that by leading
them step by step out of darkness into His marvelous light through God’s
Word. It will not come, however, unless
our people are enlightened and are sharing in the experience
of bringing others out of darkness.
“When we have
entire, whole-hearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize
the fact by an outpouring of his Spirit without measure; but this will not be
while the largest portion of the church are not
laborers together with God.” Ibid.
If we have
that burden for souls, we will start bringing people out
of the darkness of error into the marvelous light of Christ. What
a responsibility we have! “God cannot
pour out His Spirit when selfishness and self-indulgence are so manifest; when
a spirit prevails that, if put into words, would express that answer of
I my brother’s keeper?’ (Genesis 4:9).” Ye Shall Receive Power, 310. We can labor
all we want, we can pass out literature and do all of the things that God wants
us to do, but we must ask ourselves, “Am I truly converted? Am I intensely desirous for souls? Does selfishness and self-indulgence defile
the soul temple?” It most certainly
will, because “if the truth for this time, if the signs that are thickening on
every hand, that testify that the end of all things is at hand, are not
sufficient to arouse the sleeping energy of those who profess to know the
truth, then darkness proportionate to the light which has been shining will
overtake these souls.” Ibid.
Where are we?
Are we at the
end of time? The signs are definitely
thickening around us, and they should arouse the sleeping energies. We can become so accustomed to disasters and
everything else that they just become a part of life, but we need
to look at these occurrences in a different light. We need to be thinking about the fact that
Jesus is coming soon. Do we have
selfishness and self-indulgence manifested in our lives? Have we backslidden a little bit? Are we still as intensely desirous of sharing
God’s truth as when we first came to the Lord?
If we do not
share the light that has shown upon our pathways, it is going to go out in
darkness. Jesus said, in Luke 8:16–18, that if we have hidden our light under a bushel, it
will go out, and it will be taken from us.
“There is not the semblance of an excuse for their indifference that
they will be able to present to God in the great day of final reckoning. There will be no reason to offer as to why
they did not live and walk and work in the light of the sacred truth of the
Word of God, and thus reveal to a sin-darkened world, through their conduct,
their sympathy, and their zeal, that the power and reality of the gospel could
not be controverted.”
I pray that
we can have a true experience and true conversion in the Lord every day, and
that the love that has been implanted in our hearts by God will be a well of
water, springing up into everlasting life for those weary people in this world
who are suffering under the bondage of sin.
We can have this experience, and I pray that as we look back to our
beginnings with the Lord, we will ask ourselves, “Am I as intensely desirous
now as I was then?”
I pray that
we each may have this experience, so we can have the out-pouring of the Latter
Rain power to finish the work and go home.
Are you not sick of this world?
The signs are thickening around us, so let us work, for the night is
coming when no one is going to be able to work.
Let us not hear the words from our neighbors, “You knew these things and
you did not tell us.” (See
John 9:4; Review and Herald, August 15, 1907.) What
excuse are we going to give in the day of final reckoning? Are we going to say, “Oh, yes, I could have
given them a book, but I was too afraid of what they would think about me; I
was afraid I would offend them; I was afraid I would not have good relations
with them”? Friends, it is better that
we tell them now than at that time when it will be too late.
appointed His children to give light to others, and if they fail to do it, and
souls are left in the darkness of error because of their failure to do that
which they might have done, had they been vitalized by the Holy Spirit, they
will be accountable to God. We have been
called out of darkness into His marvelous light, in order that we may show
forth the praises of Christ.” Review and Herald, December 12, 1893.
Mike Bauler pastors the
Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.