Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Scripture reveals that the early apostles had the right understanding about their role in God’s service. They were simply mouth pieces, frail, human instruments that God would use to do great things. Nothing of themselves was power but Christ in them. In the time proceeding Christ’s death the church began to lose sight of that until they were not only honoring men, but worshiping them as gods. That yoke of bondage was broken during the Protestant Reformation and Christians were freed to worship God according to His word. Sadly today we can see the church piecing that yoke back together and fitting it onto ourselves. During what is commonly referred to as the Dark Ages, the people didn’t have access to a Bible, at least not in a language they could understand, and thus they placed their reliance upon men who could read it. But today we have the Bible, many of us have multiple copies and translations, yet we are choosing not to read it. If we could see the people who gave their lives so that we could have the Bible today, how shocked they would be to see it so neglected.
The Protestantism of today is simply a modified version of Catholicism. Sure, we don’t bow down to the pope anymore, but we are still following men rather than God. Whether it be our local church pastor, our favorite televangelist, etc, we allow men to study the Bible and interpret it for us, rather than seeking God ourselves. I understand, it’s easier to sit back and watch a sermon than to actually have to study for myself and think through the difficult passages. But what will the final result be if I trust my walk with God to another man? (Psalm 118:8)
Recently the pope made a statement that the Protest is over, referring to the Protestant reformation, and to be honest, looking at Protestantism today, including my own church, I would have to say, in action, he is correct. Many people don’t even know what Protestant means or understand what the protest is about. We are just following what our pastor tells us. We MUST get back to the Bible, remembering that God will speak to us all individually. He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
The man who ministers is nothing but a tool in God’s hand. We are each called to be one of those tools (Matt 28;18-20). Those of us in ministry have to beat back the devil’s lies that tell us how great WE are when we have finished a sermon or given a Bible study. We have to return to the understanding that Paul shared here and remember that we are nothing, God alone brings the increase. If anything is gained through our labors, it is His glory, not ours. That doesn’t negate our need to work, or even lessen its importance, but it keeps us from allowing God’s blessings in our lives to make us feel we are worthy, or better than anyone else. There are separate roles given in the church and we are called to act in accordance with leadership, but our personal relationship with God needs to be just that, personal.
Have you been allowing yourself to rely on someone else to read the Bible for you? Will you make a covenant with God today that you will seek Him personally and allow Him to be your Guide and Teacher? Open His word and see what He has to say to you today.
Tip: The best way to stay excited about His Word is to share what you read with others.