Reading the Word
Ephesians 4:11–16 (ESV)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Christians are meant to grow. We are meant to grow into the fullness of Christ. This may seem like a tall order, but God has not left us to do this all alone. He has given us his word, his Spirit, his people, and teachers (i.e. pastors and teachers). We read here that the role of pastors and teachers is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood.” The role of our church leaders is to help us grow to Christian maturity through teaching.
Many have a mindset that all a believer needs is a Bible. I understand the reason for this way of thinking. After all, God’s word is sufficient and we do not want to become reliant on others to tell us what that word means. We should read and study it for ourselves. This is absolutely true! However, God has not called us to live autonomously as his people. We are called to live in community as the Church. And God has gifted fellow believers within the Church in unique ways. Some he has given the ability to teach his word to others and we would be unwise to disregard those who God has given us for our benefit. To do so would be to stunt our growth or maybe even wander off in the wrong direction. We need each other and we need the teachers God has given us so we can grow into the likeness of our Savior.
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