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God’s “Fellow Workers” Help Spread Salvation & Grace

God’s “Fellow Workers” Help Spread Salvation & Grace October 29, 2021

We “Impart Grace”, “Save” Others, Win Souls, Help Them “Obtain Salvation”, Etc., In Our “Work of the Lord” 

God (rather strikingly) uses us as His conduits or vessels or ambassadors, and refers to us as His fellow workers:

Mark 16:20 (RSV) And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them . . .

Romans 15:17-19  In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. [18] For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, [19] by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyr’icum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ,

1 Corinthians 3:9 . . . we are God’s fellow workers . . . (KJV: “labourers together with God”)

1 Corinthians 4:1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10  For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

1 Corinthians 15:57-58  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [58] Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God.

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2 Corinthians 5:20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (cf. Acts 2:43: “And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”)

2 Corinthians 6:1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.

2 Corinthians 13:3 . . . Christ is speaking in me . . .

Galatians 2:7-8 but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised [8] (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles),

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Philippians 2:13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts.

1 Timothy 1:11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (cf. 6:20; 2 Tim 1:12, 14)

Titus 1:3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by command of God our Savior; (cf. Hosea 12:10: “I spoke to the prophets; . . . and through the prophets gave parables.”)

God goes beyond that. He gives us partial credit for spreading His grace:

2 Corinthians 4:15 For it [his many sufferings: 4:8-12, 17] is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Ephesians 3:2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you . . .

Ephesians 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

St. Paul is so gung-ho on the notion of his distributing grace to folks, that he mentions this at the beginning of practically every epistle that he wrote. When Paul and others use the common greeting of “grace to you” (e.g., Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:2; Phlm 1:3; Rev 1:4) it is in the sense of “may God give you more grace.”

St. Paul is stating that he hopes and prays that his readers will receive more grace from God, as in the sense of 2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:7; James 4:6; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2, etc. And in so doing he is acting, again, as a sort of “mini-mediator.” Jesus is ultimately the mediator of grace. It all comes through Him. But He also clearly uses human beings to distribute the grace, allowing others to attain salvation, as these passages establish beyond any doubt.

God even gives us partial credit for being vessels or conduits of His salvation:

Psalm 51:13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.

Acts 2:38-41 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [39] For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” [40] And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” [41] So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 11:12-14 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. . . . [13] And he told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, `Send to Joppa and bring Simon called Peter; [14] he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’

Romans 11:13-14 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry [14] in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 3:5 What then is Apol’los? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.

1 Corinthians 7:16 Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

1 Corinthians 9:22 I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

2 Corinthians 1:6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; . . .

1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed to yourself and to your teaching: hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

James 5:19-20 My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, [20] let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives

God even chooses to share His glory with us: His creatures, as I have shown in many Bible passages.

Now, I can envision the predictable objection: “well, most of these passages were from or about St. Paul or other apostles! Certainly they don’t or can’t apply to us!” That might possibly work to “get us off the hook”, except that Paul also made it very clear in many passages that we were to imitate and emulate him, as an example, as he in turn imitated Christ (also that we should imitate God, other holy persons, and be an example, ourselves, to others):

Romans 4:12 . . . follow the example of the faith which our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

1 Corinthians 4:16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us.

Philippians 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.

1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; [7] so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo’nia and in Acha’ia.

1 Thessalonians 2:14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus which are in Judea; for you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,

1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, [8] we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. [9] It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate.

1 Timothy 1:16 but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 4:12 set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

2 Timothy 1:13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus;

Compare:

John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Hebrews 6:12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.

James 5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

1 Peter 2:21 . . . Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 5:3 not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock.

3 John 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God.

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Photo credit: St Francis Xavier preaching and healing. Oil painting after Peter Paul Rubens. [Wellcome blog post (archive) / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license]

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Summary: The Bible teaches that we are God’s “fellow workers” who “impart grace”, “save” others, win souls, help them “obtain salvation”, etc., in our “work of the Lord”.

 


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