I say again: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about this passage in a second post. I used it last post to emphasize that we all, as individuals, need to come to an understanding of the truth that the bible teaches, but the passage above is emphasizing even more a collective learning process that brings us all to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
What the passage is talking about is a function of the church (referred to as the “body”) in bringing the saints, who are individual Christians, to a full and complete understanding of the truth to build a faith that is not tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. It teaches that we all learn together the truth of the gospel and work together to apply it to our lives, doing our share within the church.
“No man is an island”, as John Donne has written. We cannot simply isolate ourselves and expect to learn and practice the word of God in our lives. We all need other people and that is why God designed the church so that we may all learn together and work toward that goal of heaven in the next life together as well. We cannot expect to go to heaven if we do not become a member of a local church that teaches and practices the truth. Not only do the scriptures teach that we must belong to a local church, but we need each other to learn what the truth is and to turn to each other for support in our quest to the goal of heaven.
If we regularly study with others in a bible class setting and otherwise, we get perspectives and insights from others that we might have missed ourselves. The experience of others in dealing with and living the truth goes a long way in shaping and honing our own understanding, so that we may come together to the fullness of Christ and be what He would have us be.
We are not to take what others say as gospel, but we are to compare it next to the word of God, as did the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11), to see whether these things are so. This is how the first century Christians learned, by hearing the word of God from the Apostles and comparing it to what they found in scripture and then applying it to their lives. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” It is very difficult to build and maintain faith and perhaps even impossible, if we do not hear it proclaimed in the preaching and in formal bible studies.
Studying it by ourselves, although certainly necessary, is not enough to build our faith to what it should be. We need to find a church that we may all grow together to the fullness of Christ, who is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). If we are not a member of the church which has Christ as it’s head, how can we truly grow in our faith and our knowledge as we should. I submit to you that we cannot.
So, if you are seeking to join a bible believing and practicing Church it should be one that bears his name. See above link for a directory of churches of Christ that may aid you in your search. You must evaluate each individual one to see that they are truly practicing the truth. I cannot say that every one the list will be sound in the truth. Some that bear the name have departed from the truth and others only bear the name with no semblance of being a true church of Christ. Evaluate them for yourselves, but the above link may help get you started if you are searching for a place to worship God in Spirit and in Truth, as we are told we should do (John 4:23).
May God bless and keep you until next time.