God’s Servants Humbled, Then Used and Rewarded (1 Corinthians Sermon 10)
November 18, 2018 | Andy Davis
1 Corinthians 3:5-9
One Night in Babylon
Turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was a staggeringly talented man. He was the ruler of the greatest empire the world had ever seen up to that point, he was a military genius, an amazingly gifted administrator, and he was a shrewd judge of men. He had penetrating discernment. He was able to organize lesser talented men, to maximize their abilities, and through sheer willpower and fear, he galvanized the Babylonian people into a force for world domination. By his conquests, he made Babylon amazingly wealthy. Gold and silver and jewels flowed into the city from the distant corners of his mighty empire, and with the wealth of his conquest, he made the city of Babylon brilliant. The walls were heightened and fortified, the houses were embellished and enriched with the finest materials. His own palace was the envy of the world. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, mythological perhaps, but a symbol of the beauty of the capital city of that empire. It was planted with trees from all over the world, and the fruit trees were lush and abundant.
Now, one night, King Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of his palace, and he looked out over his capital city with deep-seated pride. He was looking out over the city that his genius had built. He was in awe of what he had done, the things that he had built, and he breathed in the fragrant air of his creations and his successes, and he spoke in self-worship. "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" He didn't, it seemed, speak these words to anyone in particular, for I don't think he really much cared what any other human being thought. He was drunk with self-worship at that moment, but Almighty God heard what he said and he read accurately the pride of his heart. God knew that the spirit of Babylon was dominating this man's heart, it was a spirit of soaring arrogance that led the Babylonians centuries before that to build a lofty tower, the Tower of Babel, to make a name for themselves. And it was also the spirit of self-worship that led the true king of Babylon, Satan, to ascend in heaven to topple Almighty God from his throne, as it's reported for us in Isaiah 14.
The king of Babylon, Satan. "You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." God hates that arrogance in Satan's heart, and he hates the fact that we, the human race, have joined Satan in the same arrogant rebellion. And so, he had warned Nebuchadnezzar in a dream, a year before that evening walk out over the rooftop palace, that if he didn't repent of his pride and give God the glory for his empire, he would be struck by God and given the mind of an animal for seven years, until he acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, and gives them to whoever he chooses.
Now, friends, there's nothing wrong with a certain level of joy in accomplishment. God has created human beings in his image, and has given us remarkable brains and dexterous fingers. And we can make beautiful things, even amazing things. With our skillful labors, we can build strong, soaring buildings, we can paint masterpiece paintings, we can compose concertos for violin, and some of us have the skill to play them. And there's nothing wrong with working hard at our tasks in our jobs and feeling a certain level of satisfaction in our labors. As Ecclesiastes 2:24 says, "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God." However, everything we put our hands to in this world, every physical thing, is temporary, and someday it will all become dust in the wind.
God’s Servants Must be Humbled
Everything that God builds through the church, by the power of the Spirit, is eternal. All of the work that we do in the spiritual fields, the harvest field, spiritually, is eternal. The building that we do in the spiritual structure that is rising to be a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit, is eternal. The glorious work of the harvest, the glorious work of the building of the spiritual church of Jesus Christ, that's eternal. And to be qualified for this work, the highest and most glorious work there is, God's servants must first be humbled, and I mean humbled to the core. We must acknowledge, from the depths of our hearts, that we are merely servants who can accomplish nothing apart from Christ and apart from his Spirit. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Someday, we'll be in Heaven, we'll be in a far more glorious city than Babylon ever was. And I can imagine we might walk on the rooftops of aspects of the new Jerusalem, and when we do, God will not have a single one of his servants walking arrogantly before him, as Nebuchadnezzar did that night, saying, "Is this not the new Jerusalem I have built by my courageous missionary work, or by my boldness and workplace evangelism, or by my skillful teaching or preaching of the Word of God, or by my faithful hidden prayer life, or by my lavishly generous financial giving to the work of the Kingdom, or by my tireless unsung labors as a servant behind the scenes, or by my works, my sacrificial works of mercy to the poor and needy?" He will not listen to any of that and we will not want to do it, for we will be so completely humbled and understand that every one of the living stones that went into building that city were quarried by the sovereign power of Almighty God, and we're just part of it, and God was gracious to us.
And if God is going to use you greatly, brothers and sisters, he must humble you greatly, and this text will do it. This text has the power to humble the servants of God, to humble us deeply.
Remember the context here, the Corinthians were carnal in their mindset, they were focusing too much on hero leaders, great leaders. They loved the philosopher, the traveling philosopher types that would set up schools of philosophy and, by their skillful rhetoric, would gain followers for themselves. They were used to that in Greece. And along comes Paul, and he does this kind of thing, and they say, "Okay, he's our new leader." Apollos came later. And so we have that division uncovered for us in 1 Corinthians 1:12.
"One of you says, 'I follow Paul;' and another, 'I follow Apollos;' and another, 'I follow Cephas.'" (Cephas is Peter). Paul returns to this in 1 Corinthians 3:3-4, says "You're still worldly, you're still carnal" "For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one of you says 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not acting like mere men?" The gospel trains us in a whole new way of thinking about everything, and here, especially about human leaders. A humble way that recognizes that God alone can make this field produce a harvest. God alone can build the spiritual edifice, the structure, that is the living church of Jesus Christ.
Yet, though God could have done all this himself, or he could have chosen to use angels to do all of this work, instead, he chose to redeem us from being his enemies and serving his enemy, king Satan. He redeemed us from that dark domain and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved son, and enlisted him in his service, adopted us as his sons and daughters, and involves us in the family business. And we have a role to play in that family business, which is salvation for the elect to the ends of the earth, that's what God is doing. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. And so he will assign to each of us, as we walk with him, helpful, beneficial tasks to the end of building that kingdom, but it is vital for us, as his servants, to be humbled as we do those tasks.
I. What Are Paul and Apollos? Only Servants
And that's what 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 is all about. So Paul begins by asking, in verse 5, some rhetorical question. This question's for impact. "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." So Paul humbles himself and humbles Apollos. What are we? For the effective power behind the church, the Corinthians were looking at the wrong place, they were looking at human leaders, human hero leaders that God had used to plant and develop the church. Now, some of your Bibles, some of the translations say, "Who is Paul and who is Apollos?" Possible that that's what the text says, the original text. As though we are men with no name, no reputation, nothing special, no suitable qualifications.
You remember when the Lord called Moses to lead the Jews out of Egypt, and when Moses realized, as he's looking into the flames of that burning bush, the magnitude of the calling, he said to God, "'Who am I, that I should go to pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?' And God said, 'I will be with you.'" As though Moses were saying, "I'm not the kind of man you would choose for an important mission like this. I'm not qualified for it. I didn't go to prophet school, or ambassador school, or public speaking school. I'm not qualified for such a challenging mission, so who am I that I should do that? My credentials don't line up." God's answer to Moses' question, "Who am I, that I should go to pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" Was no answer at all, at one level. He didn't build up his ego or his self-esteem, like in a counseling session. "Oh Moses, you're underestimating yourself, you're exactly the kind of person that I need. You are qualified in ways you don't even really imagine." He didn't do anything of the kind.
Instead, he just simply said, "I will be with you," and that's all that matters. The power for the deliverance of the Jews from physical slavery in Egypt was not going to be human, it was not all about Moses' skill set, not his eloquence, not his clever diplomacy, not his military tactical skill. Just the outstretched arm of Almighty God. Now, if that was true with the Exodus, how much more true is it with hearts and souls being won to Christ and an invisible, spiritual church rising to the glory of God? Even more true, when it comes to that task.
But actually, I think the text doesn't say, "Who is Paul, and who is Apollos?" I think it, rather, it goes even deeper. "What are we?" It's almost more dehumanizing. Like, "what am I?" Not "who am I?" But "what am I?" It's more humbling. It goes to the core of what we are. I am a clod of dirt that was scooped up in the hand of God and God breathed breath into me. It's the same feeling, I think, that came over King David when he wrote Psalm 8, "When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place…" one thought dominates my mind: "What is man that you are even of him?"
So I think it goes to that level. What is Apollos, and what is Paul? Then Paul answers the question. We are "only servants, through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each his task." Compared to Christ, compared to the Holy Spirit, we played a minor role. So your focus, oh Corinthians, on Paul and on Apollos is twisted, and it's actually bizarre, if you see it properly. So imagine you and your friends have been invited to a lavish banquet at an incredible palace by a monarch. And he welcomes you in warmly, and commands his servants to care for your every need, and his servants seat you at your place at the banqueting table. And the servants are there to feed you and to give you whatever drink you desire, and they come and go, and you're eating, and you're amazed, you're looking around. It's just an incredible atmosphere, just an amazing time, but then you and your friends start to argue about which of the table waiters is the best.
"Well, mine brings our food a little more quickly than the other." It's like, "No, no, but this guy knows how to pour the drink like I've never seen, didn't spill a drop." And they go on and on for hours about the servants. Bizarre. In this analogy, you should be thinking about the king and his generosity and his lavish kindness to you in letting you be seated at the table. The servants don't matter.
II. The Lord Assigns to Each His Task
That's about the point that Paul's making here. "And we are just servants, as the Lord assigned to each his task." We had a task assigned to us. Now, the goal is the same, and that is the saving faith of the Corinthians. We are "only servants, through whom you came to believe, as the Lord has assigned to each his task." God used human instruments to bring the Corinthians to saving faith in Jesus Christ, an eternally consequential work. He used humans as servants to that end, through whom you came to believe in Jesus. So God assigned to Paul to arrive first in Corinth, and to serve as a trailblazing, church planting apostle to the Gentiles, that was his call.
He was called, we're told in Romans 15, not to build on someone else's foundation, but to go to some new place, where no one had ever heard the name of Jesus, and do that kind of work. That was Paul's calling. And so he went first, like he always did, to the Jews, and he reasoned, Sabbath by Sabbath in the synagogue with the Jews, seeking to prove, from the Old Testament scriptures, that Jesus was the Messiah that had been prophesied. And if he followed the same pattern that he did in other Gentile cities, he would go, during the day, to the marketplace, and would reason, day by day, with those who were there to buy and sell.
After his work in Corinth was done, because he was just a trailblazing church planter, it was time for him to move on and go do that same work in another Gentile city. Along came a different man, Apollos. And in Acts 18, we learned about Apollos. That he was "a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, he had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately." Now Priscilla and Aquila had to instruct him a little more accurately about the facts concerning Jesus' life, but once he got that, he just took off. And he was powerful in speech, and "he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate [Acts 18:28], proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ." That was Apollos. And he seems to have been a better speaker than Paul, very polished in his public presentation, very gifted.
Now, through both of them, Paul says, the Corinthians came to believe in Christ, but they had different tasks as the Lord assigned. Look at verse 6, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it." So Paul uses actually two images here, but first an agricultural image he's going to move for the rest of the chapter to an architectural image. They're just teaching the same thing different ways. But he starts with the agricultural image, the farming image as Jesus often did. The Kingdom of heaven is like a seed that a farmer went out and scattered or like a single seed in the garden that grows. It's a lot of agricultural images. In verse 9 he makes plain what this field is, "we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building."
So Paul's task is the planting of the seed with the Word. That would be initial evangelism, reasoning from scripture to the end that God's elect will first hear about Jesus, and begin to come to faith in Christ. Maybe just like we heard in the testimony that it's like a light switch for some, or like a dimmer switch for others. So maybe it was a process for some people, maybe others got it right away the same day they heard they could see it. But that was Paul's task, planting the seed. And along came Apollos and his task was to water seed that had already been planted to build on someone else's foundation, and continue the work. So I don't know a lot about agriculture, I know a lot about Biology. I know I can kill any seed that God has ever made. We can put it in the ground and nothing can come of it. I've proven that. My wife has a little more skill, she can put seeds in the ground and things come from it, good things that we can eat. So, I'm out of that business but I appreciate it. But I think my understanding is the seed has a hard shell that protects it until the time has come for it to grow.
So it can be in a bag of seeds, nothing's happening, but you put it in the soil and there's moisture in the soil, and then you add water. And I think the hard shell dissolves, to some degree, like Jesus said it dies, the seed dies and the internal genetic material starts to flourish. Tap root goes out and a root system starts to develop, and the thing starts to grow. That's as far as I'm going to go with that analogy, I can't carry it any further. But we see here, Paul planting the initial seed, Apollos coming and adding the necessary water. They had different tasks, different roles.
And God is very wise. Jesus is very wise in dividing the labor. He talks about this, Jesus does in John 4. You remember the encounter he had with the Samaritan woman at the well. And Jesus's disciples were in that town in Samaria, they were probably saying to each other. What are we doing here? Because they're Jewish people, they hated the Samaritans, Samaritans hated them, and they're like, "look, let's go and get lunch, buy lunch, and let's get out of here. I don't know why we're even in Samaria…" I don't know that they actually said this, that's not in the Bible, but you have that indication they're there to buy lunch and come back. Jesus is winning a soul. And he wins her. And she is so excited she leaves her water jar there and goes into the town and says to the Samaritans, "Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" And they all come immediately, and follow her to go find out more about Jesus. In the meantime Jesus's disciples have come back and said, "Okay we got lunch. Let's eat. Oh, they're about to get a spiritual lesson and if you look for it properly, a spiritual rebuke.
I have food to eat, that apparently you know nothing about. My food is not the food, you went and bought in Samaria. "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and finish his work." And then he said this. "Do you not say four months more and then comes the harvest? I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields. They are white for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages. Even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying, One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard labor and you have entered into their labor." It's the exact same teaching.
God’s Division of Gospel Labor
God wisely does a division of labor in the advancement of the gospel. In mission work, in evangelism, very rarely is it one person from beginning to end that brings a soul to Christ. In the history of the Christian church and especially in the history of missions, it is often the case that a trail blazer goes out ahead of everyone else, like a morning star and sees very little return on the costly investment. And then someone else comes along and things start to flourish. But it could never have happened without the hard initial trail blazing work. I get the image of our forbearers, the settlers, the colonial settlers, they were just a different level of human being than us. You get that feeling? I actually once tried to chop a tree with an axe that had blocked... My chain saw wouldn't start and I was swinging at a tree that was about eye level and after five strokes, this is a shameful thing to admit, I was done.
And after about five minutes, I could give another four whacks. I'm like, If Daniel Boone could see me now. But what were they like? They went through the Cumberland Gap on the wilderness road and settled in some valley somewhere in Kentucky. It was covered with trees and they got to work and they started cutting those trees down. Maybe they girdled it by taking the bark 360 degrees around and it eventually would die, but it would not produce leaves and so they could... The sunlight could stream through and they could plant a small crop, subsistence crop of beans, but it was a work in progress. And as the winter went on, they would chop down these trees cut it up for fire wood or for building timber.
I just can't... It's staggering the amount of labor. And then you got stumps and you got your team of oxen out there. And they use a certain kind of hewing axe to get the root system out and they pull up those stumps and they begin to plow. And they bump into some rocks and they pry them up and at some point they have a plow-able field and then they can start planting a crop. So, I have a similar image here with evangelism. Jesus uses a similar image. Others have done hard labor before you. You came along and you reaped what others have labored for.
There's an example of this in church history in the Puritan era in England, Medieval Roman Catholicism had not preached the true Gospel, there was centuries of spiritual darkness in England and then the Reformation came, and rediscovered the true gospel of justification by faith alone apart from works of the law and the Puritans came along and began preaching that true gospel but it was hard work. The earliest Puritan pastors had to plow some tough, hard soil.
Richard Greenham was an example of this, he was a pastor in a place called Dry Drayton. Seems to be like a spiritually a suitable name for the analogy here. Seven miles from Cambridge during the years 1570 to 1590, he worked extremely hard. He rose daily at 4:00 in the morning and each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, he preached a Morning sermon at day break to catch his people before they dispersed into the fields for they were farmers and he preached twice on Sundays, and he preached with such fervor that his shirt was drenched in sweat, and he catechized their children every morning and then spent every afternoon in evangelism, walking from field to field preaching the gospel among the farmers. He would walk along plowing farmers as they're plowing, sharing the gospel as they walked.
He was renowned especially as a skillful counselor of souls, he was really skillful at marshalling biblical truth to help troubled souls, but no one in his immediate vicinity cared about that counsel. People would come from miles away, to come and listen to his counsel. He had very little visible fruit in his own parish. JI Packer said about him, For all his godliness, insight, evangelical message and hard work, his ministry was virtually fruitless. There was, at the time, a little rhyme that was spoken of his, Greenham had pastures green, but his flocks were full lean, meaning they were like starving. But the generation that followed, other pastors came and reaped a bountiful harvest in that area. He did the hard work, others reaped the benefits of his labor. Packer said about England at that time, "There was much fallow ground to be broken up. It was a time for plowing and sowing but the reaping time was still in the future."
And so it is on the mission field. Missionaries may work among an unreached people group for a decade or more and see very little fruit but then God blesses and all of them are working for the glory of God. And Christ, I want you to notice is very wise in doing this, to assign to each is task. People have different gifts, different talents, spiritual gifts, different personalities and different callings and this division of labor humbles all of us. Because no one person is all competent, independent, able to do the whole thing himself or herself.
III. God Alone Gives Spiritual Growth
So verse 6 and 7, it's plain, God alone gives spiritual growth. "I planted the seed, Apollos watered, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow." Biological growth is a gift of God. The apple farmer can do all the right things, but he cannot make the seed grow into a sapling or the sapling grow into a sturdy tree with vigorous branches or the tree produce buds, or the buds turn into apples, or the apples come to full fruition. We can't do any of those intermediate steps. Something only God can do. Every step of the way is produced by the secret activity of God in the plant and the farmer cannot say he produced any of it.
In the same way only God can give spiritual growth, this is what we've been seeing in 1 Corinthians 2. Remember the Apostle Paul came to Corinth, and when he came, he resolved to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and him crucified. He was with them in weakness and fear and much trembling. And his preaching were not a display of human skill, human rhetoric, but of God's power through the Holy Spirit, so that their faith would not rest on man's skill and effort but on God who sends his Spirit.
He told us very plainly in chapter 2:14, The natural man cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him, and he cannot accept them, because they're spiritually discerned, and those people are blind, and we have not the cure to that blindness. And so, in all evangelism and in all missions, we have a limited role to play. The real work can only be done by God, through his Holy Spirit. So also, once an individual has come to faith in Christ, their growth, their progress and sanctification, is only by the sovereign Spirit of God. A pastor like me, I can preach the Word week after week, godly parents can raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, a discipler can meet with a disciple and pour out scripture and exemplify the Christian walk, but we can only do so much only God actually produces spiritual growth in a human heart.
And so Paul goes so far as to say we're nothing. We are nothing. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. So that's the answer. What am I? What is Apollos? We are nothing. God is everything. Now, listen, Paul isn't meaning to insult us, he's not trying to insult Apollos or any human being, we are created in the image of God. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, God knit us together in our mother's wombs and God sent his only begotten Son into the world to save human beings. "It's not angels he helps, says in Hebrews 2, but human beings. So he's not saying we're nothing in that sense, but what he is saying is God doesn't need us for any of this.
No one man or one woman, is indispensable to the work of the Kingdom. God is able to raise up from stones, preachers of the gospel, and evangelists and missionaries as John the Baptist said. God doesn't need us, but he graciously gives us a role to play, Isn't that marvelous?
So that you're not wasting your life on dust in the wind, you actually are called to do something of eternal consequence. Look at the next verse, in the next passage, that I'll preach on, God willing. Verse 10, where he says, "By the grace God gave me I lay the foundation, as an expert builder, and someone else is... " But God's grace gave me a role. God's grace gave me a ministry. It is by the mercy of God that we have this ministry, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:1.
IV. The Servants are One, and Each Will Be Rewarded for their Labor
And he says The servants, all of whom are called by Christ and empowered by the Spirit, we're all one. Look what he says again in verse 8, he who plants, and he waters are one and each will receive his wages or rewards for his labor.
So, we're one strong assertions of unity here. We're part of the same body. He will talk about that in Chapter 12, one may be a hand, another foot we're all part of the same body with Christ as the head. Different roles, different function, same body, and we have the same purpose. Apollos, and I we're on the same page. We have the same goal. And that is your completion your perfection in Christ, and Heaven. That's our goal. We have the same purpose, same Lord same calling. Different tasks, but we are one. Essentially he's saying, we're not in competition with each other, we're not rival factions. Paul versus Apollos like an MMA bout. Come and watch big fight Friday night. We'll see who wins. Not at all, they didn't have MMA back then, but you know what I mean. They did have wrestling. But no, it's nothing like that. We are actually one in purpose. And we're not in competition. Like you're saying. I follow Paul and not Apollos? Oh yeah, I follow Apollos and not Paul. That whole thing's wrong. It's foolish.
Picture you're out in an orchard and it's planting time and you see two people wearing the shirt of the orchard with the logo on the back and this one individual is planting all these little saplings and someone else is coming along with this sprinkler hose system. And as you're watching, you're not saying, Alright they're in competition, I wonder which one's going to win. They have the same purpose, and that is that the orchard will eventually be even more fruitful at harvest time, the same purpose. That's what he's saying. And then he mentions rewards the one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
Now I'm not going to talk about this at all today. I'm just saying God in His grace will reward faithful service. We're going to talk about this for the next two sermons in 1 Corinthians as we talk about gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay and straw, and how God will reward, faithful service for His glory.
Applications. To all you who are hard-working, servants of God. I just want this passage to humble you. Just be humbled by this. Learn to say I am an unworthy servant. I've only done my duty. Luke 17. Someday we're going to be there. Brothers and sisters, we're going to be there, we're going to see the glorious city, and I believe that God is going to show the human labor that went into building it. I think the rewards don't mean anything apart from that, the crowns don't mean anything if we don't know the story so we're going to learn the story, but all of us are going to be so thoroughly saturated in the mindset of the glory of God, we're going to see all of the human labor that went into building the new Jerusalem in the proper light.
And we're going to recognize and honor the human servants, but we're going to know to God be the glory, for all of it. So we're going to see that and we're going to be filled with a sense of the greatness of God in Christ. So the more you can do that now the better, don't think of yourself as indispensable. If you're a hard-working, fruitful servant of God, think of yourself with sober judgment, not too highly of yourself, or too lowly. However, I think you should celebrate the kindness and mercy of God in involving you in this work. Isn't it a good thing that you're not going to see all of your works, torched and turned to ash on Judgment Day? You actually get to do something that's going to survive and last, if you are serving God faithfully now.
Now to those of you who are believers in Christ, but maybe you're feeling some conviction, you're like... I actually just don't know what my ministry is. I would not say that I actually have a definable ministry. I mean I have a life and I go to church on Sunday and we pray, we give God thanks before the meal, and we do some things but I don't actually honestly have a ministry. Well, this passage then should convict you. It should convict you to say, God, would you please show me what my spiritual gifts are, and get me going, get me busy in the building of the kingdom of God, so I don't waste my life on an empire that will become dust, in the wind.
Babylon is gone. All of the things that mighty Nebuchadnezzar built are dust in the wind. They're gone. I don't want any of you, my brothers and sisters, to see that happen to your life work. So this may be a call to a fork in the road for you to say, "What can I do for the spread of the gospel here in Durham and to the ends of the earth? How can I be involved with the International Mission Board? How can I encourage some missionaries? How can I give more money, financially? What can I do to lost people in my company or on my college campus? What can I do to be involved? How can I encourage brothers and sisters that are already Christians, how can I help them grow?"
Now to you who are not yet Christians, I just want to give a final word, I just thank God you're here. Week after week, we pray that God would bring us people who are not yet converted. And I just want to reach out to you and say, "Oh that today would be for you the day of salvation. That you would realize through the preaching of the Word, that there is a creator, God who made the universe, and who made you. And because He made everything, he is a mighty king and because he is a king, he has a right to make laws and he has made laws, the Ten Commandments and the two great commandments, and we don't follow them, none of us do, all of us have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God and we are convicted by the law as law breakers. And we have no hope, we cannot make it right. But God in His love and His mercy, sent His Son Jesus, who was born of a virgin, and who lived a sinless life, and walked on this earth.
And taught many parables and teachings and did incredible miracles but He came especially to die. "All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him on Jesus the iniquity of us all." He is our substitute. And all you need to do to be completely forgiven of all your sins is trust in Jesus, repent, turn away from the darkness, turn away from the sin and trust in Jesus and you will be forgiven. Close with me in prayer.
Lord, we thank you for the time that we've had to study your Word. We thank you for the wisdom that flows to us from that Word. We thank you that you have taught us not to boast about men, but to trust in you, the one who gives good gifts to all of us. Thank you for the ministry of the Word. Thank you for faithful servants who bring it to us, but Lord, we know that the true growth, the real growth only comes from you, and so we give you all the glory in Jesus' name. Amen.