Monday, November 21, 2011


By Gerald Cowan
     The preacher is too often given credit, or  takes it for himself, whenever a person makes a positive response to the gospel,  either to become a Christian or to correct and improve his relationship to the  Lord, or grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. It is not likely that such  credit is ever deserved. Many factors combine to produce the response, and it is  inappropriate to single out any factor or person as being “the one” to which  credit is due. We should learn to attribute all positive responses to the work  of God (1 Cor. 3:6).
     This lesson is drawn out  clearly in 1 Cor. 3:5-9. Paul was the first to proclaim the gospel of Christ to  the Corinthians.  He planted (compare 1 Cor. 2:1-5). Apollos watered (1  Cor. 3:6). He exhorted, encouraged, and otherwise built upon the foundation Paul  laid (1 Cor. 3:10). There are often a great number who do the watering. Not only  by teaching and exhortation, but also by praying for each other (1 Tim. 4:12, 1  Cor. 11:1, Mt. 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). But the planting and the watering will  accomplish very little without God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7). The  one who plants and those who water are one, one in purpose and desire (1 Cor.  3:8), and are workers together with God. The final product, building, fruit,  etc. is the result of God’s work. God is at work in and through those who preach  and teach, and those who admonish and exhort (Rom. 10:15, 2 Cor. 5:20, 1 Cor.  3:9), and so God is to be thanked for the  increase.
     Some may claim to be “self-made”  Christians. They see their conversion to Christ and their growth in Christ as  the result of their own study and application of God’s word, and their own  obedience to it. But they should not forget the debt they owe to those human  instruments inspired by God to record and preserve the gospel in written form.  Nor should they discount the evidence of faith in others which reinforces their  own desire to find the Lord. All of us should heed the admonition to “work out  your own salvation,” but do not forget that “it is God who works in you both  will and do of his good pleasure” (Phil.  2:12-13).
     Let us not discount any of the  contribution factors to conversion and growth in Christian faith. We should  certainly be grateful for all who have a part, however small. But do not forget  that it is God the Father who is above all, through all, and in all (Eph. 4:6).  He is ultimately responsible for the increase and He is to be thanked for  it.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

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