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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 12: Apollos at Corinth.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

The philosopher turns aside from the light of salvation, because it puts his proud theories to shame. The worldling refuses to receive it, because it would separate him from his earthly idols, and draw him to a holier life, for which he has no inclination. Paul saw that the character of Christ must be understood, before men could love him, and view the cross with the eye of faith. Here must begin that study which shall be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In the light of the cross alone can the true value of the human soul be estimated.

The refining influence of the grace of God changes the natural disposition of man. Heaven would not be desirable to the carnal-minded; their natural, unsanctified hearts would feel no attraction toward that pure and holy place; and if it were possible for them to enter, they would find nothing there congenial to them, in their sinful condition. The propensities which reign in the natural heart must be subdued by the grace of Christ, before fallen man can be elevated to harmonize with Heaven, and enjoy the society of the pure and holy angels. When man dies to sin, and is quickened to new life in Christ Jesus, divine love fills his heart; his understanding is sanctified; [p. 126] he drinks from an inexhaustible fountain of joy and knowledge; and the light of an eternal day shines upon his path, for he has the Light of life with him continually.

Paul sought to impress upon his Corinthian brethren the fact that he himself, and the ministers associated with him, were only men, commissioned of God to teach the truth; that they were individually engaged in the same work, which was given them by their Heavenly Father; and that they were all dependent upon him for the success which attended their labors. "For while one saith, I am Paul; and another, I am Apollos; are ye not carnal? 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."

The consciousness of being God's servant should inspire the minister with energy and diligence perseveringly to discharge his duty, with an eye single to the glory of his Master. God has given to each of his messengers his distinctive work; and while there is a diversity of gifts, all are to blend harmoniously in carrying forward the great work of salvation. They are only instruments of divine grace and power.

Paul says: "So, then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God; ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." The teacher of Christ's truth must be near the cross himself, in order to bring sinners to it. His work should be to preach Christ, and studiously to avoid calling [p. 127] attention to himself, and thus encumbering the sacred truth, lest he hinder its saving power.

There can be no stronger evidence in churches that the truths of the Bible have not sanctified the receivers, than their attachment to some favorite minister, and their unwillingness to accept the labors of some other teacher, and to be profited by them. The Lord sends help to his church as they need, not as they choose; for short-sighted mortals cannot discern what is for their highest good. It is seldom that one minister has all the qualifications necessary to perfect any one church in all the requirements of Christianity; therefore God sends other ministers to follow him, one after another, each possessing some qualifications in which the others were deficient.

The church should gratefully accept these servants of Christ, even as they would accept the Master himself. They should seek to derive all the benefit possible from the instruction which ministers may give them from the word of God. But the ministers themselves are not to be idolized; there should be no religious pets and favorites among the people; it is the truths they bring which are to be accepted and appreciated in the meekness of humility.

In the apostles' day, one party claimed to believe in Christ, yet refused to give due respect to his ambassadors. They claimed to follow no human teacher, but to be taught directly from Christ, without the aid of ministers of the gospel. They were independent in spirit, and unwilling to submit to the voice of the church. Another party claimed Paul as their leader, and drew comparisons between him and Peter, which were unfavorable to the latter. Another declared that Apollos far exceeded [p. 128] Paul in address, and power of oratory. Another claimed Peter as their leader, affirming that he had been most intimate with Christ when he was upon the earth, while Paul had been a persecutor of the believers. There was danger that this party spirit would ruin the Christian church.

Paul and Apollos were in perfect harmony. The latter was disappointed and grieved because of the dissension in the church; he took no advantage of the preference shown himself, nor did he encourage it, but hastily left the field of strife. When Paul afterward urged him to visit Corinth, he declined, and did not again labor there until long after, when the church had reached a better spiritual state.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...


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