Working Together

1 Corinthians 3:1-9   Matthew 5:21-37      Deuteronomy 30:15-20       February 16, 2014

It is awesome to see people in the church realize who they are.  You were once people of this world.  But now you are not people of this world.  You were once focused on just yourself.  But now you are not focusing on yourself.  Individually you tried to justify everything you did in your life.  Now that Jesus Christ has brought you together, you know the one who makes you just before God Almighty!

As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about their problems as a church, we get to read about how to be the church.  The problems in the Corinthian church may not be the same as is in the church today.  But we can learn how to overcome any problems in the church today by reading this letter.  Paul does masterfully in helping both the Corinthian church and our church.

You see, we are called to be saints, since we have been sanctified in Christ Jesus (1:2).  Since we call upon Jesus, like the saints in Corinth, we are all part of the church.  We have gifts from God so that the church can have strength to get to the end.  Then we, like all other saints, may be found blameless (1:4-9).  As we are waiting for the end, we keep on proclaiming Christ crucified on the cross.  God’s Spirit shows through this preaching that God’s power is at work in this world (2:1-5).  And God’s Spirit helps us to use the gifts we have been given.  We gain the mind of Christ as we follow the lead of the Spirit of God. 

And the Spirit of God has been working for thousands of years in the church.  Only less than 140 years ago there was a preacher used by God to bring more saints into the church.  This saint, C.H. Spurgeon, was a preacher in England.  He preached a sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.  I am borrowing his main points for today’s sermon.[1]  These points are that the Church is God’s Farm – he explains that a field is the basis for a farm.  Another point is that God employs laborers – that is, we have work to do.  The next point is that God is the great worker – our work is dependent upon God.  May God use these points today to help us see how we work together!

  1. The Church is God’s Farm (3:9)
    1. You are God’s field – the Corinthian church, the London church of the 1800’s, & this church
    2. It is in fields that crops are grown, thus the Church is God’s Farm
    3. Israel was God’s vineyard, as described by the prophets & Jesus
      1. God protects his vineyard
      2. God waters his vineyard
      3. God husbands his vineyard (trims & prunes)
      4. God expects a harvest from his vineyard, his farm
    4. God’s Farm is not subdivided & sold off for our own individual kingdoms!
      1. Paul planted
      2. Apollos watered
      3. They worked on God’s farm for God and not for themselves!
      4. We provide a place for God in this world and we are a place of God in the midst of the wider community
    5. We are meant to grow.  We grow in our spiritual understanding.  We grow in numbers because we preach Jesus Christ crucified.  We belong to God.  We are God’s farm.  This land of the free and the home of the brave needs God’s farm, the church.  During my college days, I joined a fraternity.  It was not just any fraternity.  It was STE (Sigma Theta Epsilon).  This Christian Service Fraternity brought together all kinds of men.  We had people from the city and the farm together.  We had men who thought all along the political spectrum.  We had men who were pursuing a variety of college majors.  We were a motley crew!  We had come together to encourage one another in matters of Christian faith.  It was 1993 when we came together to reorganize the Delta Chapter of STE.  We had some difficult times.  We had some awesome times of prayer, worship, and growth in our faith in Christ.  We served the community – both the college and the city of Alliance.  Why did we did we come together like this?  At that time, we realized that we were God’s field, God’s farm.  Together, we realized we were working with God.  That is actually what STE represents in Greek.   “Sunergoi Theou Esman”(fellow workers with God) comes right from 1 Corinthians 3:9.  God employed the men of STE then, and God employs us here today.

 

  1. God employs laborers (3:8)
    1. We are to preach about Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20 & Acts 1:8)
    2. We are equipped to do the work before us (Paul planted, Apollos watered)
    3. Our work is to show God to the world
    4. “Many of the members of our churches live as if their only business on the farm was to pluck blackberries or gather wild flowers. They are great at finding fault with other people’s ploughing and mowing; but not a hand’s turn will they do themselves. Come on, my good fellows. Why stand ye all the day idle? The harvest is plenteous, and the labourers are few.” – Charles Spurgeon[2] (Farm Laborers)
    5. We praise God for the work that Stan McCready, Joe Marine, and Doug Hyndrich did amongst us.  They, and the other pastors who have served here, were each employed by God for a specific task.  I have heard it said that you don’t pray for a better preacher, you pray for the one you have!  The opposite is also true for preachers, we don’t pray for a better church, we pray for the church we have!  So, I pray for this church to be better – that each of us would labor so our community would know Jesus Christ!  But, we cannot do this work ourselves.

 

  1. For our work is dependent upon God (3:1-7)
    1. Paul is direct with the Corinthians – some were acting like babies!
    2. Whenever we see jealousy & quarreling, we realize our flesh is acting up

–          Whether we follow a certain pastor

–          Or whatever divisive issue in the church

  1.  “The Spirit of God allows no party zeal” – John Wesley
  2. Our work is to be about bringing people to God
  3. God provides the growth
  4. God provides the harvest.  God provides the workers.  You are the workers on God’s farm.  Together we have work to do.  This community, this world needs to know God.  It is by the church working together that people get to know God.  It is when the church is fighting over what kind of toilet paper to use that people do not want anything to do with God.  That is right, silly arguments keep us from doing the work that God has for us to do.  When we are working together, we see that God’s power is evident as the harvest is brought in to the church.

You are saints.  You are working on God’s farm.  You are to work with whomever God has placed in your life. You are to work with the gifts that God has given you.

The Church is God’s Farm – God provides what we need – we are joined together because of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  God employs laborers – each of us has work to do – none of us can sit idly in the pews.  God is the great worker – our work is dependent upon God – by not fighting with each other, we see God doing great work.

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