No More Boasting About Human Leaders

First Letter to Corinth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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I myself has wondered why should I preach on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church?— Looking at the overview of this letter, we became aware of the problems that Paul addressed in this letter
The church in Corinth is reflecting the society in which it is set— there was pride, selfishness, jealousy and immorality
There are splits between different groups and there was rivalry between the leaders
It dawned on me that our church may have some, if not of all these problems too??
In this letter, Paul gave them, and us guidelines for holiness in a pagan society [society with little or no religion and delights in sensual pleasures and material goods]
He puts spiritual gifts in their proper perspective— he teaches about leading worship meetings, and later on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper
Looking back to when we started this series— Paul called on us for unity that we may be one
Accept each other’s weaknesses
Strive for harmony
Appoint wise leaders
Follow sound doctrine
And then Paul urged us to believe not because of human wisdom, but because of the power of God— because it is only the power of God that...
Fulfills His purpose in our lives
Gives us inner strength
Completes His work of salvation
Then after calling for unity, after contrasting human wisdom and God’s power— Paul made it very clear that nothing he said are received by unspiritual people— because spiritual truths are only received by spiritual people
We must focus on our new identity in Christ through the Holy Spirit— we must...
Learn to be led by the Holy Spirit in all we do
Grow in Christ by spending time praying and reading the Bible
Become more and more like Christ
Teach others of what we know about God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Today I’ll take you to chapter 3 of Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth— in a nutshell, these are what Paul discussed in this portion of his letter:
Immaturity in the Church
In Paul’s terms he equates spiritual immaturity to jealousy and quarreling
His basis for saying that was their rooting for preferred church leaders/preachers/teachers— they compare them!
They patronized their favorite preachers/teachers— Paul said they are all only servants that God used and through whom they came to believe
Various Church Roles
Paul said he planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but it is God who’s making them grow
In other words he was saying that we all have our unique purpose in the church
That we are all co-workers in God’s service— that we are God’s field [γεωργος — pronounced as yah-woh-reyon], a greek word that means cultivated land— Paul illustrated that we are God’s field and we need cultivation
He also illustrated us to be God’s building— that we are God’s building [οἰκοδομή— pronounced as i-ko-domi], a greek word that means edifice or building that stands on a foundation — a unified picture of the church community
Build Carefully
Paul charged them and us to build carefully because our work will be put to the test of fire— if we build using gold, the more you set it on fire, the more that it became radiant and pure
But if we build using wood, hay or straw— they will be roasted when put to the test of fire
The light of day will expose our work — Whatever is your motivation in ministry, it will be revealed
Do Not Destroy the Church
Paul warned them and he’s warning us now not to destroy the church— for it will have “personal” consequences
How do you destroy the church?— by triggering quarrels— harboring jealousy, selfishness and immorality— by gossiping about fellow church members
Do Not Be Deceived by Your Own Human Intelligence
Never assume that your craftiness [πανουργία— pronounced as pa-nor-hiyah, a greek word that means trickery, hanky-panky] could stand the test of fire— it will not! — on the contrary the only thing that it will build up in you is your pride!
No More Boasting About Human Leaders
He then concluded that section of his letter by saying— stop boasting about your church leaders— stop competing about them— stop comparing them—
After all, your church leaders cannot save you! Only Jesus can! John McArthur cannot save you! Rick Warren cannot save you! Francis Chan cannot save you! John Piper, Tony Evans… Tony Miranda cannot save you!
Now, let’s go to his letter…

BOOK 1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 3 (NIV)
1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.


Paul’s inability to address the Corinthian believers as spiritual people does not mean they do not have the Spirit; rather, they are conducting themselves like people who do not have the Spirit
The Corinthian believers are immature in their faith; Paul must address them as though they are still led by their own nature (choices) rather than the Spirit
How did they demonstrated their immaturity? — through their divisiveness, and failure to grasp the significance of the Lord’s death on the cross and resurrection from the grave
Immature Christians are worldly— they’re controlled by their desires — whereas mature believers are in tune with God's desires
How much influence do your desires have on your life?
Your goal should be to let God's desires be yours— Being controlled by your own desires will stunt your growth
Milk are for babies while meat are for the matured— it takes chewing [effort] to understand the content of the messages
Hebrews 5:12–14 NIV
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Tragically some church pledges loyalty to different teachers— Our leaders in the church should never be put on pedestals that create barriers between people— or set them up as a substitute for Christ.
God's work involves many different variety of gifts and abilities—   No superstars only team members.
We need to set aside our desires to be useful by God— We should not seek praise that comes from people instead seek approval that comes from God.
There are those who plant seeds [evangelize], and there or those who water them [discipleship]— but both of them share one purposeWhat is that purpose? — To bring the lost to Christ— He came to seek and to save the lost—
And to do this.... Jesus himself gave us the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers…
Ephesians 4:11–12 (NIV)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Some people bring the message of the gospel— Other individuals help individuals grow stronger in the faith.
Apostles [ἀπόστολος— pronounced as a-pos-tolos— a Greek word that means apostle] — Someone who is sent as an authorized agent by Jesus or by the Church— This could be anyone who are sent out on a mission to visit and exhort our global home churches.
Prophets [προφήτης— pronounced as pro-phi-tis— a Greek word that means prophets]— Any believer directed by the inspiration of God to proclaim His will— Holy Spirit-inspired Speaker who proclaims inspired utterances on behalf of God— inspired preachers— This could be anyone who preach God-inspired messages in our church.
Evangelists [εὐαγγελιστής— pronounced as evang-he-litis, a Greek word that means evangelist]— This is someone who proclaim the gospel to the outsiders [unbelievers]. Anyone who spread the Christian gospel— spokesperson for the church in proclaiming the gospel to the world— the evangelist makes the initial proclamation, while pastors and teachers provides the continuing follow-up ministry that develops maturity in the believers
Pastor [ποιμήν— pronounced as poe-min, a Greek word that means pastor]— Literally means “shepherd” — A leader of a church that cares for people and their spiritual needs— in the case of our church, this is me!— though other than this calling, God charged me to perform other ministries such as apostle [missionary], prophet [preacher] and evangelist [spokesperson] and teacher [discipler]— my strong points are being an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist and a pastor— I’m praying for teachers that can team work with me!
Teacher [διδάσκαλος— pronounced as di-das-kolos, a Greek word that means teacher]— A person who teaches others— he expounds the Scriptures— teaches in-depth study of the Bible.
More than one gift or ministry may be performed by the same person— Paul charged Timothy with his responsibilities as a pastor and teacher, and also exhorted him to do the work of an evangelist
2 Timothy 4:5 NIV
5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
You have to know in which of these 5-fold ministry or 5 categories you belong— do not deceive yourself in your determination as to which ministry you think you are called, because Paul said…
Galatians 6:3 NIV
3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
For we are co-workers in God’s service— and the primary purpose of the church is to make disciples that makes disciples
Field represents the people of God— that’s why you hear some says we are workers in His vineyard
A building is only as strong as its foundation— Two ways to destroy a building: tamper with the foundation and build with inferior materials
God’s building represents a unified picture of the church community— our five-fold ministry is the foundation, with Jesus as our chief cornerstone— our church leaders are the columns and the beams, and every single member are the bricks [living stones]
Ephesians 2:20 (NIV)
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
1 Peter 2:5 (NIV)
5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Are you building your life on the only real and lasting foundation?
Our Global Ministry is rapidly growing— we have to build carefully— and we have to build with care
1 Peter 5:2–3 NIV
2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Paul was concerned that if you mess around with the foundation the building (which is the Church) will (be destroyed) collapse
The followers should be united not divided— Should be focused with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said something on this and it was recorded in 2 of the 4 synoptic gospels in the Bible
Luke 8:17 (NIV)
17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
Mark 4:22 (NIV)
22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
Whoever builds the church must build with high quality materials (right doctrine and right living) that meet God's standards.
The church built on Jesus— each member would be mature, spiritually sensitive, and doctrinally sound.
The church must be built on Jesus— not on any other person or principle 
The day of judgement will reveal the sincerity of each person's work— God will determine whether or not they have been faithful to Jesus's instructions— Good work will be rewarded, unfaithful work or inferior work will be discounted.
However, the Corinthian church was filled with those whose work was "wood, hay, straw" basically members who were immature, insensitive to one another, and vulnerable to wrong doctrine.
Can your Christian character stand the test of fire?
Among other things, disputes and poor teachings destroys a church— but God’s wrath will come upon those who attempt to destroy His church
2 Thessalonians 1:8–9 NIV
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might
Isaiah 5:21 NIV
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
Woe is a word used to rebuke and often it is preceded with an announcement of judgment
Paul was again warning the Church not to let the earthly wisdom rule in their leadership— This wordly wisdom is useless
The thinking of the natural man is vain because God's Ways are wisdom and the world's ways are foolishness
Their arrogancy are focused on them than on the gospel— Pride, therefore, is our greatest temptation, and our cruelest enemy.
Show Video Clip of 40 year old Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida collapsed 1:30am Thursday where at least 156 are still missing while 5 are confirmed dead— in 2018 there was an inspection report recommending a major repair on its foundation— water build up due to inadequate drainage system and the pool on top of the basement parking contributed to the fatigue of its foundation that eventually led to its tragic and horrific collapse!
That is what’s gonna happen to our church if...
Jesus is not the foundation of our church
We don’t strive for maturity
We do not determine our individual church roles
We do not build with care
Let someone destroy our church
We are deceived by our own human intelligence
We polarize [break up into opposing factions] to our favorite preachers/teachers



1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV)
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
QUESTION: There are so many help books, programs, ministries and strategies on how to grow a church. But the average size of churches in America is only 70 people. Why do you think that is?


1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
“You” here is plural and refers to the whole church
QUESTION: Sometimes people say, “oh the Holy Spirit’s presence here at the church is so strong today.” But sometimes, the same people would say, “I can’t feel the Holy Spirit’s presence.” Why do you think that is? Where did the Holy Spirit go?


If you can find the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, here you can find His gifts
1 Corinthians 12:8–11 (NIV)
8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
QUESTION: What do you think is your spiritual gift(s)? How are you using your spiritual gifts to build up the church? Have you to talked to Pastor Anthony about your spiritual gifts to discuss how you may use it to edify our church? If no, why not?
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