God Gives The Increase - 3:5-8

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  58:43
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When I was young, growing up in Burney, my mom wanted a garden.
The problem was that the soil where we lived was extremely rocky.
But that didn’t stop my mom.
She marked off an area and we began picking the rocks out of it.
You see, before we could plant, we had to prepare the soil.
I still remember the day we got them all cleared out, and then dad ran a rototiller over the ground and poof! More rocks.
This became a pattern. Clear the rocks, till the soil, repeat.
To my probably 6 or 7 year old mind, this took forever.
In reality, it probably didn’t.
Eventually we had all the rocks we could find out of the soil.
The soil was read and the day had finally arrived for mom to plant her garden.
We made the rows, and planted corn, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, carrots, and beans.
I wish that I could tell you how that ended our responsibility.
But it didn’t planting the seeds was part of the work, but more had to be done.
We watered that garden, we pulled weeds, and we watched the plants slowly poke through the ground and begin to bear fruit.
The thing was, some of them didn’t grow.
What was very clear to us was that nothing we did could make the plants grow.
We planted, we watered, we tended the plants, but God is the one who made the plants grow.
In our passage today, Paul takes this truth about planting, watering, and growth, and he applies it to the spreading of the gospel.
Over the past few months we have learned much about the Corinthian church.
The Corinthian church was immature.
That immaturity has manifested itself in division and the idolization of various teachers.
As Paul has been dealing with the division in this body of believers, he has addressed several topics.
The goal is for this church body to see what is causing their division and to correct it.
Here in these four verses that is exactly what Paul will be doing.
The Corinthian believers are guilty of hero worship.
Hero worship is a product of a false perspective.
To change perspective we must gain understanding in four key areas.
With this understanding we will be more committed and effective for Christ.
Area #1…

1. Know Your Value v. 5

From time to time I will watch a clip of the reality show Pawn Stars.
If you’re not familiar with the show the point is that people bring in items to this pawn shop to see how much they can get for them.
Sometimes they have an idea of what the item is worth, sometimes they don’t.
The other day I saw a clip where a lady brings in a Japanese sword.
She was hoping to get $8,000 for it.
They called in a sword expert and after examining it he said it was worth $15,000.
She ended up leaving the shop with $12,000.
Had she known the value from the beginning, I’m sure she would have approached the whole situation differently.
To approach life and ministry correctly, we must know our own value.
This verse reveals two truths that help us understand our value.
Truth #1…

a. You are a minister v. 5a

1 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?
Some translations have “what” instead of “who.” This is a minor textual variant.
The point is that Paul and Apollos are ministers.
“Ministers” is the same word we get deacon from and it simply means servant.
Paul and Apollos are servants.
They are servants through whom people believe.
The word “through” is what is known as a preposition of agency.
That is what we are. We are agents who bring others to Christ.
That is the function Paul and Apollos served.
We work on behalf of Christ!
The beginning of ch. 4 will stress that even more.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul refers to the believer as an ambassador.
2 Corinthians 5:20
2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
We are facilitators of the gospel message.
This is important, we are not useless or valueless.
We have value! We are important!
God has chosen to communicate the gospel through us!
In Romans 10 Paul details how people cannot call on Christ until they believe in Him and they cannot believe in Him until they hear of Him.
We are servants of Jesus Christ, called by God to spread the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
As we do that, people believe.
We don’t cause them to believe.
We are simply the ones through whom God works.
You are a minister.
You are a servant.
Are you serving?
The title of our message today is “God gives the increase.”
We must recognize that God only increases something that is present.
As ministers, who are we bringing to Jesus?
People believe, they place their faith in Jesus Christ, as we proclaim Him.
Truth #1. You have value because you are a minister. A servant of Jesus Christ.
Truth #2…

b. You have been called v. 5a

1 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?
Every minister of Christ has been specifically and deliberately placed by Him for His purpose and use.
In chapter 1 we saw Paul expressing the idea over and over again that we are called and chosen by God.
Turn with me to chapter 1 and let’s look at a few verses.
1 Corinthians 1:1-2, 9, 24, 26-29
Failure doesn’t negate our calling.
The fact that others will connect better with some people than we will doesn’t mean we are any less called or chosen by God.
Paul ends this verse by declaring that we minister at the Lord’s direction.
We serve as He commands.
As He chooses and as He directs people believe.
This is our value.
We are placed by God and called to serve where He places us.
We reach who we can, where we can, and leave the results to the Lord.
Paul and Apollos were both ministers. Both called by God to serve the Corinthian church at different times and in different ways.
One was not better than the other, the Lord worked uniquely through them both.
God called you with your gifts and your talents.
He knows your limitations and He knows the ways in which you excel.
What He desires is faithful service.
As those called and equipped by God, how will we serve?
All of us have been called to fulfill a ministry.
We have been called to serve.
How are we doing?
To cure hero worship we need understanding in 4 key areas.
Area #1. Know your value.
You are a minister called by God to proclaim Christ where He has placed you.
Area #2…

2. Know Your Responsibility v. 6

Growing up we had lots of different pets.
Cats, rabbits, fish, a turtle, frogs, dogs, a rooster, there were always animals around.
Anyone who has any kind of pet knows that you have to feed them and give them water.
The thing is, you can’t make them eat or drink.
You can fill that bowl up all day long and if they choose not to eat it, your hands are pretty much tied.
Your responsibility ends with making the food available to them.
Sharing the gospel and discipling believers both have similar elements to them.
We plant the seed of the gospel, we water it through discipleship, but that is where our responsibility ends.
God is the one who will bring the increase!
This verse reveals two responsibilities.
Responsibility #1…

a. Share the gospel v. 6a

1 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
Paul wants the Corinthian believers to have a proper view of the role he and Apollos played.
They planted and watered.
These are both vital ministries.
Allow me to share a very important principle with you.
I have learned this in my extensive gardening career.
Unless something is planted, nothing will grow.
This rule applies to spiritual seed as well.
No one comes to Christ if the gospel is never shared!
However, if you have ever planted a garden you know that you don’t just put seed in the ground and walk away.
You water it.
Here is another important principle.
Seed cannot take root and grow without water.
We share the gospel and we keep on sharing until there is growth!
This is our responsibility.
Paul planted, Apollos watered.
This is not a competition!
This is a partnership.
Remember, we are simply ministers, servants through whom people believe.
Our responsibility is to share the gospel.
Mark 16:15
Mark 16:15 NKJV
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
How are we doing with that responsibility?
What gospel seeds are we planting?
They can’t believe on Jesus if they never hear about Him.
They can’t hear about Him if we are not proclaiming Him.
We have a responsibility to share the gospel.
Responsibility #2…

b. Trust the Lord v. 6b

1 Corinthians 3:6 NKJV
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
This is vital. We do not save anyone.
We are not the ones who cause the seeds to grow!
We are not the ones who make the water work!
We didn’t make the seed.
We didn’t make the water.
All we do is share what God has given!
After we have proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, we leave the results in His hands.
We cannot force people to trust in Christ.
Immeasurable harm has been done when we coerce people into praying a prayer or saying they believe when they really haven’t.
We are about to have a baptism. I have talked to each of these young people and heard their salvation testimony.
Their parents didn’t do that.
We didn’t make them believe.
We wait until they are ready.
God is the one who brings the increase.
Can you trust Him?
To trust the Lord with the results of the gospel we must believe in Who He is.
God is sovereign.
He has promised to draw people to Himself.
His Holy Spirit convicts.
He is faithful to do what He has promised!
We proclaim the gospel. We water that seed.
Then we pray and wait.
Are we trusting God for gospel results?
God alone gives the increase.
Paul didn’t. Apollos didn’t. God did.
You and I cannot bring increase. We cannot make the gospel take root and grow.
All we can do is faithfully share the gospel and trust the Lord.
That is our responsibility.
This is how we cure hero worship.
We gain understanding in 4 key areas.
Area #1. Know your value.
You are a minister called by God for service.
Area #2. Know your responsibility.
You are to share the gospel and trust the Lord for the outcome.
Area #3…

3. Know Your Place v. 7

There is a very interesting verse in the book of Proverbs.
Well, there are a lot of them, but I want to focus on two in particular.
Let’s look at Proverbs 25:6-7.
Proverbs 25:6-7
Proverbs 25:6–7 NKJV
6 Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of the great; 7 For it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,” Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.
Jesus addressed this same idea in Luke 14, where He describes a wedding feast where someone chooses the best seat and then has to be asked to move when someone more important comes.
He ends his address with this verse.
Luke 14:11
Luke 14:11 NKJV
11 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This principle lies at the heart of our next verse.
We need to know our place.
The Corinthian church was elevating teachers to positions that rightfully belong to Christ!
The way to avoid this is knowing our rightful place.
Paul addresses this here.
There are two facts that help us know our place.
Fact #1…

a. The glory is not ours v. 7a

1 Corinthians 3:7 NKJV
7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
Paul is not saying that we have no value. We already covered that in v. 5.
His point is that planting and watering do not make us somebodies.
This word “anything” is the idea of being a somebody.
Our status in the body of Christ is not determined by whether or not we plant or water.
Why not? Because God is the one who brings the increase!
Sure we plant and water. But nothing grows without God!
Here is what Paul is trying to get across to the Corinthians.
Paul and Apollos are ministers. They are servants.
Exalting them for planting and watering is like exalting a hammer and nail for building a house.
Sure it’s part of the process but nothing get’s built without someone swinging the hammer and holding the nail.
We are part of the process, but it is God who builds the house.
Our miniscule part in the salvation process does not make us worthy of exaltation.
The glory is not ours.
It is of vital importance that we know who we are and understand our place.
While God has chosen to communicate the gospel through us, we accomplish nothing apart from Him.
We also must recognize that being the one who plants or waters doesn’t make us better than other Christians.
We are not somebodies.
Being the body of Christ makes us interdependent.
While a hand is important, it cannot function without the muscles, nerves, and tendons below the surface.
All of us in the body of Christ need one another in order to function.
Ultimately a body cannot live without its head.
Christ is the head of the body and we cannot exist apart from Him.
Am I stealing glory?
This is an important question.
The glory is not ours.
We are simply watering cans or planting fingers.
We are hammers and nails.
The tools used to accomplish the goal don’t get the glory.
The builder does.
Fact #1. The glory is not ours.
Fact #2…

b. The glory belongs to God v. 7b

1 Corinthians 3:7 NKJV
7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
This verse ends with a contrast.
It isn’t about the one who plants.
It isn’t about the one who waters.
It is about God who gives the increase.
In Revelation 4:11 we have recorded for us what the 24 elders say as they worship God seated on His throne.
Revelation 4:11
Revelation 4:11 NKJV
11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
He alone is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power!
James 1:18 tells us that God brought us forth of His own will.
James 1:18
James 1:18 NKJV
18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Salvation comes by the will of God!
Go to Ephesians 1:3-6.
Ephesians 1:3-6
Ephesians 1:3–6 NKJV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
We have been chosen to be holy and without blame.
He predestined us according to the good pleasure of His will.
To the praise of the glory of His grace!
The glory for salvation belongs to God alone!
It isn’t about Paul!
It isn’t about Apollos!
It is about Jesus Christ!
When we make it about anyone else, we damage the body of Christ.
This brings us to an all-important question.
How will I bring glory to God?
That is my proper place.
I don’t exist to bring myself glory.
I exist to bring glory to God.
Psalm 115:1 puts it perfectly.
Psalm 115:1
Psalm 115:1 NKJV
1 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.
He gets all the glory because He gives the increase.
We plant, we water, but God makes it grow.
We gain understanding in 4 key areas.
Area #1. Know your value.
You are a minister called by God for service.
Area #2. Know your responsibility.
You are to share the gospel and trust the Lord for the outcome.
Area #3. Know your place.
The glory is not ours, it belongs to God alone.
Area #4…

4. Know Your Reward v. 8

In a construction project, who gets paid?
Everyone who does the work.
If you work, you get paid. Right?
Now, if you have not been hired by the company, but you still do pretty good work on your own projects, does the company pay you? No.
You have to be an employee to get paid.
People who think they will get to heaven simply by being a good person are like someone expecting a construction company to pay them for patching a wall in their home!
If you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ, you are not a child of His!
You only get to heaven if you belong to Jesus.
Now, let’s say you have been hired by the company, but you only work every other day, will you make as much money as a full time employee? No.
You have to work to get paid.
Your still an employee, but your pay, your reward, depends on your labor.
Christianity is the same way.
If you have trusted in Jesus, you get to go to heaven.
However, that doesn’t mean you get rewards. Rewards are given based on your labor for Christ.
If you don’t work, you don’t get rewarded.
Two questions.
1 - Have you trusted Jesus Christ as Savior?
There is no heaven without Him.
Maybe you think you don’t need Him or will trust Him later.
All have sinned.
Penalty for sin is death.
Gift of God is eternal life.
God demonstrates His love.
Confess with mouth, believe in heart.
2 - Are you laboring for Christ?
What are you doing for Him?
We have positions here at Grace Church that need to be filled.
We have work that needs to be done.
There is no reward if there is no work.
That is where Paul goes in v. 8.
He has made it clear that God is the one who brings fruit from our labor.
This could cause some to question why we labor at all.
One reason we labor is out of obedience.
But there is another reason we labor.
We labor for the reward.
There are two important lessons about rewards here.
Lesson #1…

a. The reward is for individuals v. 8a

1 Corinthians 3:8 NKJV
8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
In v. 7 we learned that God is the one who gives the increase.
However, we will still be rewarded for our activity v. 8.
This is important.
Even though the results of gospel preaching lie in the sovereign hand of God, those who faithfully plant and water will be rewarded for their labor.
Some will say, well that’s not why I serve. Good. That doesn’t change what Scripture reveals.
Rewards are part of the Christian life.
Those who plant and those who water are on equal footing.
What is that equal footing?
We are all servants of Christ!
None of us are better than the other.
However, that doesn’t mean we all get the same reward.
Let’s go back to our earlier illustration for a moment.
Everyone works for the same company, in that respect they are all equal.
However, everyone does not get the same pay.
You get paid for the work you do.
Paul says here that each one will receive his own reward.
You don’t get paid for my work and I don’t get paid for yours.
Rewards are not given based on corporate success.
Rewards are given based on personal activity.
What work are we doing for Christ?
Paul is going to take this theme of rewards and deal with it more thoroughly in the next few verses.
What I want to emphasize today is that you and I will be rewarded individually.
Your reward depends on you. My reward depends on me.
Galatians 6:7-8 makes this really clear.
Galatians 6:7-8
Galatians 6:7–8 NKJV
7 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.
You don’t reap what I sow. I don’t reap what you sow.
That’s lesson #1. The reward is for individuals.
Lesson #2…

b. The reward is for labor v. 8b

1 Corinthians 3:8 NKJV
8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
You get rewarded for your labor.
You don’t get paid simply for being an employee. You get paid for your work.
Now, let’s be clear.
We are not talking about earning heaven.
Heaven is a guaranteed benefit for all who trust Christ.
What we are talking about is rewards.
Biblically speaking a reward is something we receive from the Lord.
Oftentimes Scripture refers to them as crowns.
These are what we will cast at the feet of Jesus.
Will we have anything to give Him?
Scripture indicates that our faithfulness now determines our ability and extent of service in eternity.
Those who are faithful with their little will be given more.
Those who are unfaithful will be given less.
My purpose is not to scare you into service.
My purpose is to accurately handle the Word of truth.
This is what God’s Word reveals.
You and I will be rewarded or not based on our labor for Christ.
Revelation 22:12
Revelation 22:12 NKJV
12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
Rewards are a reality.
Paul’s point is that while the increase is determined by God, we are still rewarded for planting and watering.
What reward will we receive?
There is going to be a time of evaluation.
It is never too late to begin.
We need to know our reward. It is given for our labor as individuals.


What do we do with all this information?
Personal - We have been called and placed by God to minister where we are. He has placed us here at Grace Church. Are we ministering? We each have unique gifts and talents, a combination no one else has! Are we using that for the Lord? Choose an area of service here at Grace Church.
Relationships - Each of us has a unique sphere of influence. We have an individual responsibility to share the gospel. The results are up to God. We did an evangelism class here awhile back. We memorized verses to help share the gospel this year. We have no excuses. Make a plan to share Christ with someone in your sphere of influence.
Parenting - We will always have a special connection with our children. There are ways in which we can influence them that no one else has. Use that. Labor in the lives of your children for the gospel. If they are grown you have the opportunity to make little investments into their lives. Take advantage of those. If they are still at home, you have the opportunity to mold and shape them. Be sure your children understand the gospel. Trust God to bring results in His will and timing.
Marriage - The person you are married to is God’s best for you. You are right where He wants you to be. Your responsibility is to be the best husband or wife you can be for the glory of God. The effect of the gospel on our lives should be clearest to those who are closest to us. Plan a way to show Christ to your spouse this week.
COMMITMENT: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
We have value because we are ministers who have been called by God.
Where we have been called and what we have been called to will differ.
The call doesn’t change.
We have been placed where we are to serve Christ.
Do it.
We have a responsibility to share the gospel but ultimately the results are up to the Lord.
Are you confident in your ability to share Christ?
If not, how will you gain that confidence?
Remember, we don’t save anyone.
We simply share the good news of Jesus.
We exist and serve for the glory of God.
This means we must bring Him glory intentionally.
What are we doing to glorify Him?
How are we serving?
We will be rewarded individually according to our labor.
What kind of reward will we receive?
The call in these four verses is clear.
Faithfully work, serve, and witness for the glory of Jesus Christ.
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