The Church is God’s environment for our spiritual growth. Basically that is what the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians. You need to know that the Ephesian church was a divided church. They were segregated by Jew and Gentile, slave and free, and male and female. Paul’s word to them was that they needed to be a united church, a church that enjoyed fellowship with each other just as the Spirit, Son, and Father enjoyed fellowship with each other.
In that same chapter, Ephesians 4, Paul tells them why they need to be a united church.
11 And it is he who gifted some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, and still others to be pastors and teachers, 12 to perfect the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of Christ 13 until all of us are united in the faith and in the full knowledge of God's Son, and until we attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in Christ. (verses 11-13, ISV)
The Church is God’s idea. It is not something man came up with, and in the church we are to grow. We can only grow if we take advantage of this great gift that God has given to us. We make use of the Church when we understand the purpose it serves in our lives. One of the purposes it serves is to bring us into fellowship with other Christians and who are dedicated to helping us grow. It is through our individual growth that the Church is strengthen and is able to carry out her purpose in our community.
These people God sends to us to help us grow are apostles, prophets, teachers, preachers, and pastors. Each one of these positions play a vital role in our lives. Apostles were the original 12 disciples (with Paul taking the place of Judas) who had been chosen by Jesus Himself to carry His message. That means they came with Jesus’ authority, and their writings are the foundation that we need to build our lives from.
Prophets are men and women who personally received a message from God. We usually think of prophets as people who tell the future, but in a Biblical sense they are people who proclaim the word of the Lord. Usually their message contained a call to repentance. It is generally thought they prophets died out in the first century as the church began to receive the Bible which allowed God’s Word became available to a larger group of people.
Teachers and preachers are people who communicated God’s word, not because they received a special revelation like the prophets, but because they dedicated their lives to learning and understanding the teaching of the apostles and the Old Testament. Today we still have people dedicated to knowing and understanding God’s word and sharing that knowledge with other people.
A pastor isn’t just a preacher or teacher, though he may do that, but is a person who cares for other people. He is a mentor, counselor, and servant. He will pray for you in time of need and do what he can to help in physical way as well. While in today’s world we have given the title of pastor to the preacher, in the first century pastor was the title given to the elders. The elders of the church family were expected to serve the people in that family. Having called and mature Christians are essential in providing the right environment for our spiritual maturity. Remember the Church is designed for our spiritual growth.
- Point to Ponder: God has given us people to helps us grow.
- Passage to Remember: Ephesians 4:11-13
- Question to Consider: Who has helped you grow spiritually?