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Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:7, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
Here is a paraphrase from Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon #2246 “Come From the Four Winds, O Breath!” discussing the dependency of pastors on God.
If the Holy Spirit does not come, and give spiritual life, we may preach until we have not another breath left, but we shall not raise from the tomb of sin even the soul of a little child, or bring a single sinner to the feet of Christ.
Look sir, you may study your sermon; you may examine the original of your text; you may critically follow it out in all its bearings; you may go and preach it with great correctness of expression; but you cannot quicken a soul by that sermon. You may go up into your pulpit; you may illustrate, explain, and enforce the truth; with mighty rhetoric you may charm your hearers; you may hold them spellbound; but no eloquence of yours can raise the dead. Another voice than yours must be heard! Other power than that of your thought or persuasion must be brought into the work, or it will not be done.
You may organize your societies, you may have excellent methods, you may diligently pursue this course and that; but when you have done all, nothing comes of it if the effort stands by itself. Only as the Spirit of God shall bless men by you, shall they receive a blessing through you. Whatever your ability or experience, it is the Spirit of God, who must bless your labour. We are nothing; you are nothing. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts,” is a message that should make us lie in the dust, and utterly despair of doing anything in and of ourselves, seeing that all the power is of God alone.
It will do us good to be very empty, to be very weak, to be very distrustful of self, and so to go about our Master’s work.
Pastors, we can study, study, study, and preach, preach, preach, but if God doesn’t give the increase, we’re wasting our time. Remember always Who it is that gives the increase; appeal to Him alone, and trust that He knows how and when to give the increase. You remain faithful regardless the increase.
I realize that Southern Baptist baptisms are lower than they’ve been in 60 years. What does this mean? It means that you and I should continue being faithful and examine where we can be more faithful. God gives the increase, and sometimes, He gives more increase than at other times. Just look at the random number of baptisms in the New Testament. True baptisms cannot be manufactured, contrary to popular belief. So, we must stop emphasizing baptizing more people, which is something we have no control over, and start asking and depending on God to baptize more people. He alone gives the increase. All you and I can do is be faithful.
What are your thoughts?