Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 67
BUT GOD! (Gave the Increase) – Part 2
I Corinthians 3:7 and Other Pertinent Scriptures
All right, it is good to see you all in here again. For those of you out in television, again we want to invite you to an informal Bible study. We do not have any organization holding their thumb over us. We’re totally independent. It’s between us and the Lord. We just want people to learn how to open the Scriptures and study them, and which we trust we might have accomplished a little bit in that last program.
Now, toward the end of that last lesson I totally digressed, but maybe it’ll help people understand that once in a while you’ve got to fill in some details. Do it scripturally and prayerfully, but whenever the Scripture just seemingly says, well, now what’s it talking about? That’s when you get in and dig. Find out what it’s talking about!
All right, we’re going to do like we did in our last program. To show what I’m always talking about by rightly dividing the Scriptures, there is a statement by a gentleman way back in the 1500’s. There it is. Okay, I didn’t think I was seeing it, but anyway, what Coverdale wrote way back in the 1500’s, and again, I’ll just read it off of our monitor, “It shall greatly help you to understand Scriptures if you see what is written, what is spoken, and all these things ask of whom and to whom, with what words, and what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, what goes before and what comes after?”
Now, if you take all that into consideration as you study, then things will finally start opening up. First thing you say, “Well, who wrote this?” Well, Paul did. “What were the circumstances?” He’s writing to a church of Gentiles that have got a lot of problems. All these things sort of help you understand.
Well anyway, we digressed in our last program. We didn’t even finish the one we started, so we’re going to go back on this program to I Corinthians chapter 3. We were down to verse 5, I think it was, and I explained that sometimes you just have to fill in some of the details. I guess where I took off was with this man Apollos. Apollos wasn’t a Corinthian. He wasn’t a native of Corinth. He was actually from Alexandria in Egypt, and he was a highly educated Jew. What we pointed out in our last program was how Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and explained to him more fully the Pauline revelations.
The man was humble enough, that, in spite of his pomp and circumstance, his education and his oratory, he was willing to listen to a couple of simple lay-people who “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” as they had learned from the Apostle Paul.
But anyway, he became a man of influence even in the Corinthian church. Now, somebody at break-time just asked me this question, because Peter comes into the picture, not right here, but he does a little bit later when they say, well, we follow Peter. They asked me how Peter got involved. As far as we know, he was never over at Corinth. But, like I said in the last program, were people any different then than they are today? Well, of course not. So, Apollos had probably known all about Peter, having been an educated Jew, and others may have come their way that knew all about the Twelve and their ministry. So, the Corinthian believers had a pretty good handle on who Peter was and what kind of influence he had in Christ’s earthy ministry. So, he gets lifted up as someone to be followed instead of Paul. There are many that still do that today. Sad, isn’t it? All right, let’s come back where we left off in verse 5.
I Corinthians 3:5
“Who then is Paul, (In other words, he’s putting himself on the same level with these others to whom they were dividing their attention.) and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, (In other words, it was through the instrumentation of men opening up the things of God.) even as the Lord gave to every man?”
Now, I think that’s an appropriate place to stop. Scripture with Scripture is the only way. Come back with me to Romans chapter 10, and like I said in the last program, there are rare exceptions where people come to salvation with nothing but the Word of God. No help. No tutors. They find salvation alone in the Word. But that’s rare. Others may take a lot of teaching. They may take a lot of witnessing on behalf of believers before they finally come around.
Then others, as I mentioned again last program, we had a call at the end of one program, just one program, where the Lord had gloriously opened their eyes and saved them! They never go back to their other situation, and they become students of the Word. I could name several of them, but I don’t name names on my program, hopefully. But nevertheless, these are the various circumstances that take place. But for most, myself included, there had to be someone who was an instrument in God’s hand.
All right, Romans chapter 10 and let’s start at verse 13.
“For whosoever (Regardless of our station in life. Male or female, black or white, rich or poor, oriental or western, it makes no difference.) shall call upon the name of the Lord (for salvation) shall be saved.” That’s a promise. All right, now here comes the logical question.
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” Or, I’m going to even express it as – that they’ve never heard of? Now, we’ve got tons of people all around us, even in the Bible belt, and they’ve never heard the Gospel of salvation. Yes, I see heads nodding. You know what I’m talking about. They’ve never heard it. But here it is. How are they going to hear it then?
“…and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? (That’s logical, isn’t it?) and how shall they hear without a preacher?” I think when I taught Romans, I said I thought a better word out of some of the Greek dictionaries that I use is proclaimer. Someone who is proclaiming the Word of God, I like even better than preaching. So, “How shall they hear without someone that’s proclaiming?”
“And how shall they preach (proclaim), except they be sent? (Now you see, when we get back to Corinthians, we’re going to put ourselves in Paul’s and Apollos’s shoes, because they’re the sent ones. How can they accomplish anything unless God is the sender?) as it is written, How beautiful (Now, this goes back to the book of Isaiah.) are the feet of them who preach (proclaim) the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Now, isn’t it amazing that people don’t want to hear that? They just don’t want to hear it. Leave me alone. I’m comfortable.
I see heads nodding. I appreciate that. That let’s me know that you’re on the same page as I am. They don’t want to hear it, and yet it’s so simple. Why wouldn’t someone want to hear glad tidings? Why wouldn’t anybody want to hear good things? But they don’t. Well, you know why? I Corinthians 4:4 says “that the god of this world, (Who’s that? Satan!) has blinded the eyes of them who believe not.” So, even though they’re sitting in church every Sunday. Even though they’re members in good standing, and they won’t miss a service for anything, they’re eyes are still blinded by the god of this world. Consequently, they can’t handle the truth. They can’t handle it. It just bugs them. All right, but let’s read on in verse 16.
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. (Well, that’s for sure. Even Isaiah back in the Old Testament economy said it.) For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” Who believes what we tell them? Verse 17 is the frosting on the cake.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It’s the only way.
All right, now back to I Corinthians chapter 3, and we’re dealing with these carnal Corinthians. They’re not on fire yet for the Lord. They’ve been saved out of paganism. They’ve pulled away from their idolatry and all of their pagan worship and their immorality and all that, for the most part, but not completely. All right, so now Paul is making the argument in verse 6.
I Corinthians 3:6a
“I (Paul says) have planted,” Now, I always like to remind my listeners that back at the time of Israel’s history and on up into Paul’s ministry, even up until almost the turn of the century – 1900, 90 percent of the world’s population were what? Agricultural. They were agrarian. They were close to the land and their livestock. All right, now it is the same way here. Even though they were in a cosmopolitan area like Corinth, they were all perfectly aware of agricultural do’s and don’ts, and one of them was that a seed will never grow while it’s standing in the granary someplace. I t has to be planted into the ground.
The Lord Himself used it. You know that. He gave you four distinct areas of seed. Some fell on stony ground, some fell amongst the thorns, some fell on soil so thin that it sprouted but had no substance to sustain the root system and it died. But some fell on what? On good ground. Well, what was that? That’s agricultural! That’s for people that have a farm background. They can understand that. The asphalt jungle may have a little problem with this, but for those of us out here in the rural areas, this all makes sense. All right, now here he used the same thing, the same concept of planting and watering. Paul says, “I have planted.” But you can’t just leave a seed in dry dirt. It has to have what? Well, sunshine and water.
I Corinthians 3:6b
“…Apollos watered;” He doesn’t refute what Paul is preaching. He doesn’t tell everybody, don’t listen to that man Paul, but what does he do? He enhances it. That’s where you and I come in.
Now, I debated half the night last night whether I should do this or not, because everybody in Minnesota is going to know who I’m talking about, because the guy is just so open with his testimony. But I’m going to share it, because he would never mind. But it was a perfect example of somebody planting and somebody watering. We hadn’t been on the Minnesota station very long and we got this glowing account of this man who had come to know the Lord and how it happened.
He was a housepainter by profession, and he had fallen off a ladder and went straight down and splintered his heel – shattered it. So, after they fixed him up and put on the cast, the doctor, in so many words, said to just go on home, put that foot up and watch television. “Well,” he said, “I had never watched any kind of religious or Christian television in my life. But, when you’re there all day long,” He said, “I couldn’t help but hit it, and your program was one of them.” And he said, “Right off the bat God opened my eyes, and I became a believer.” He just became, well, you remember, when you were at the retreat, out at the fire? You remember him giving his testimony. He just grew, like I always say, like a bad weed.
You know what I mean by a bad weed? A bad weed is something that can grow ten times faster than anything else. All right he grew, just like that! Well, a couple or three years later, I was teaching in a church about 100 miles west of Minneapolis and a young man about 25-26 years old came up and he says, “Les, do you know so and so in Minneapolis?” I said, “Yes, you know him?” He said, “Do I ever. You know he had a painting business? Well, I was a student at the University of Minnesota, and I worked for him part time in his painting business, and I witnessed to him – over and over.” “But,” He said, “I never got to first base. The minute he hears you, the first program, everything that I’ve done came to fruition!” I said to, whatever his name was, I don’t remember, I said, “That’s the way it works. That’s the way we’re supposed to be doing.”
You won’t always win somebody to the Lord when you witness to them. But listen, you’re sowing the seed. Someone else will come along and will see the results of it. And it was no different even with the Apostle Paul. He had proclaimed the Gospel to these pagans, then along comes Apollos, and he brought them on into saving faith. And so it goes. All right, now let’s continue on.
I Corinthians 3:6c
“…but God gave the increase.” Now, think about that again for a minute. In spite of the greatness of the Apostle Paul, in spite of the refinement of Apollos, highly educated, an orator like no one could ever compete against. Yet, what did it take to bring these people into salvation? The power of God!
Now, I’m not a Calvinist. Don’t ever accuse me of that. On the other hand, I’m not at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t say that God had nothing to do with it. But I bring the two together. Absolutely we use the power of God and the working of the Spirit within the individual, and the two come together and salvation becomes believable, and we can trust it because it is relatively simple. But it does take the power of God.
Again, that’s why I’m always emphasizing the resurrection. You know, so many of our tracts and even so many of our good preaching, they’ll talk about Christ’s death and maybe His burial, but they just seemingly leave off His resurrection. Beloved, that’s the key! Had Christ not been raised from the dead– Now, we’re going to see that in another scripture a little while later. Not today, I don’t think, but down the road we’re going to be in I Corinthians 15. Had it not been for the power of resurrection, we’d still be as lost as a goose. But it did take God’s power to raise Him from the dead! And the moment we believe the Gospel of salvation, that same power is imputed to you and me.
It’s that resurrection power that makes us a new person in Christ. How can they leave it off? It just boggles my mind. The Gospel is the fact that He died for our sins, His blood was shed, He was buried for three days and three nights, but He arose from the dead in power and glory and majesty and ready to give that eternal life to anyone who believes that for their salvation (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
All right, now that’s exactly what Paul is saying here. Yes, I presented the Gospel to you. Apollos came along and enhanced it, but God brought you in. We can’t leave Him out. Now, that brings up another Scripture, you know which one I’m going to. Go back to Acts chapter 16. This is one I’ve referred to over and over, and once in a while, especially at my seminars, somebody will come up and say, “Well, Les, are you a Calvinist?” Land, no, I’m not a Calvinist. Well, then why do you use this account of Lydia? Well, that’s not Calvinism. Now, you know, when I speak of Calvinism, I’m not talking about individuals. I’m talking about their doctrine. They maintain that God determines who’s going to come to His heaven and the rest are going to go to His hell. I will never agree to that.
Never does God say you’re going to heaven, or you’re going to hell. No, that isn’t what God does. God has left salvation open to every human being, and the Holy Spirit will work just as much on one as the other. But the individual is left to that final choice. We can say yes and embrace it, or we can say thanks, but no thanks. That’s the way God leaves it.
All right, now Lydia, to me, is the prime example, and that’s in Acts chapter 16 dropping to verse 14.
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, (That’s over in Turkey, but she was over here in Philippi in Greece. She was religious lady.) which worshipped God, (but in unbelief) heard us: (Now, Luke is writing, so he’s using the plural pronoun. Now, look at the next portion.) whose heart…” That seat of understanding – who opened it? God did.
Why, because God, in His foreknowledge, knew that here was somebody that was ready to receive what He had offered free for nothing. Now, that doesn’t mean that she was isolated and picked out and the rest of her group was sent to hell by God’s design. No way. But see, when God sees the conviction of the heart. When God sees the interest, when God sees this person that is crying out as we saw in Romans 10:13, when we call upon the name of the Lord, then what does God do? He moves in, and He gives us the faith to believe. He gives us the assurance of sins forgiven. It’s a God thing! And you can’t leave Him out of it.
“…whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended (or listened) unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” And when she heard the Gospel and believed it, again God finished the transaction and brought her into the Body of Christ. She’s a child of God forever. Never to lose it – once she is in.
All right, and here is what Paul is talking about, back again to I Corinthians chapter 3. We’ve got make a little headway today, I guess. So then, it really doesn’t matter who plants, it doesn’t matter who waters, the primary thing is God gives the increase. All right, I can’t help it. I just can’t help it! Let’s go back to John’s Gospel where we were in the last program. Back to John chapter 12 where we were just in the last half-hour, because I didn’t make any comment on what happens when that kernel of wheat is planted and watered and the sunlight hits it.
John’s Gospel chapter 12 verse 24, because this all fits. I don’t care whether God was dealing with Jews under the Kingdom economy, or whether He’s dealing with Gentiles under grace, it’s still the same God. He says in verse 24:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except (or unless) a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Now, first and foremost, what death is He talking about? His own!
Because unless He finished the work of the cross through His death, burial (the planting aspect), and His resurrection, it would have all been for nothing. But see, He finished it! He went all the way through the death, the suffering, and the shed blood. He went through the three days and three nights in the tomb. Then, in power and glory and majesty, He arose from the dead. Now, what will that death, burial, and resurrection result in? Harvest!
Now, I’ve never taken the time to count how many kernels are on one stalk of wheat. I’m just making a guess. But I imagine, with the hybridizing that they’re doing, you can probably get a hundred or a hundred and twenty kernels. Now, some wheat farmer will probably call and say, “Hey, no, Les, we can get two hundred.” I don’t know, but whatever, one kernel of wheat will easily generate a hundred new kernels when that next crop comes around. That’s what Jesus is talking about. He could not be the object of faith to the Gentile world until He Himself had died, been buried, and arisen from the dead.
That’s why He didn’t address these Greeks back here in chapter 12. He could not be the object of faith to Gentiles until the work of the cross was finished. That’s exactly why He didn’t invite them in. He didn’t go out to meet them. He just told Philip and Andrew here that after He’s finished the work of the cross, then He’ll go to the Gentile world. And we know that’s exactly what happened.
All right, now back to I Corinthians, once again. We’re just about through another half-hour. I Corinthians chapter 3 verse 8 and here’s where we all come in. You can plant the seed. Maybe you’ll never see the results, but someone else is going to come along and they’re going to. You know, I think so often of parents. I’ve known a few, myself, who pray and pray and pray for a wayward son. And they go on out into eternity never having seen their prayers answered. But you know, invariably, a short time later, it happens. We sometimes wonder, now God, why didn’t you let them have the joy of seeing it happen? Well, God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, because we’ve seen it happen. All right, now the same way here in verse 8.
I Corinthians 3:8a
“Now he that planteth and he then watereth are (What? They’re the same.) one:…” Doesn’t make any difference what part of the process you happen to be in. Whether you’re the first one that approaches some lost person with the Gospel and someone else comes along, or maybe it takes two, three, four others, but one day, that person comes to a knowledge of salvation, and who’s going to reap the reward? All of them! Not just the first one. Not just the last. But we all reap reward. We’re going to come on into that in the next portion. All right, so one plants and one waters, but they’re all one. Then look at verse 8, the last half.
I Corinthians 3:8b
“…and every man shall receive his own (What?) reward according to his own labour.” Reward! It has nothing to do with salvation. It’s the reward that’s going to follow. Now, I’ve got another verse. We’ve got time to look at. Come back to Romans chapter 7, where Paul is, in different language, talking about the same thing. Believers get to work!
You know, I always use this illustration: how much of a crop would a farmer get if, in the spring of the year, he’d sit down in his easy chair and turn on the TV and say, well, God, it’s time for the corn to be planted, and I expect you to do it. How much crop would he get? Well, he’d get nothing but weeds. It’s no different spiritually. You’ve got to get out and share the Gospel. That doesn’t mean you’re going to win them to the Lord on the spot. Doesn’t mean you collar them. But as you have opportunity, just say, well, have you ever considered the fact that Christ has done everything for you that needs to be done? And then maybe somebody else can come along and water.
“Wherefore, my brethren, (Again, he’s writing to believers.) ye also are become dead to the law (legalism) by the body of Christ; (In other words, by His work of the cross.) that ye should be married (or brought into union) to another, (And who’s the other?) even to him who is raised from the dead, (For what purpose?) that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Like the kernel of wheat should bring forth a hundred kernels. So, every believer should bring forth fruit. Not just your own family. In fact, you know what? I can look back in my old home church, way back. I don’t think parents ever made any effort to win their kids to the Lord. You know why? The consensus was that’s the preacher’s job and the Sunday school teacher’s job. Horrors! Horrors! Parents should be winning their own children to the Lord.
“For when we were in the flesh, (carnal unbelievers) the acts of sins, which were by the law, (thou shalt not and thou shalt not and all those things) did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” All it did was pile up a record that’s going to come up before the Great White Throne.
“But (But – Oh, I love these “But Now’s”. I think I even missed this one.) now (as a believer on this side of the cross) we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” We’re not under Law. We’re under grace!