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35. Brought up in the family of God

The Master's Instructions about Christian's together. (Ephesians 4:1-32).

Just as a baby should grow into maturity, and God ordained the child should have a mother, father and family to care for it, so the born-again believer is given a local family of Christians to care for him or her and contribute towards his growth.

Luke 8:14 warns that not all seed will mature.

1st Peter 2:2 says the spiritual babe should grow up.

Hebrews 5:11 – 6:3 speaks of infancy and maturity. There are various signs of life both for a baby and for a baby

Christian. He will have a good appetite, showing general healthiness. He will make glaring, yet genuine mistakes as he knows no better! Over a

period he will show evidence of growth.

The Bible word for ‘maturity’ means ‘having reached its end; being


The church is given to help the believer grow. Both the leadership and

the membership do this. Every incident of life, every potential problem,

every meeting, every word spoken, every casual contact helps in the

maturing process.

The Bible says we should give and receive:

  • service (John 13:14-15),

  • possessions (Acts 2:44-45),

  • sober judgement (Romans 14:13),

  • spiritual acceptance (Romans 15:7),

  • competent instruction (Romans 15:14),

  • comfort in trouble (2 Corinthians 1:3-4),

  • halving of burdens (Galatians 6:1-2),

  • honour (Ephesians 5:21),

  • forgiveness (Colossians 3:13),

  • admonition (Colossians 3:16),

  • exhortation and encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25),

  • and pardon and prayer (James 5:16).

This means that you have something to give to your church and your church has something to give to you.

In Ephesians 4:11-16 we can see that not all members of the local church

have to be the same or to do the same things. Some will do one thing and

some will do another, but all will do ‘works of service’ (v.12). This verse

could almost be translated ‘to prepare God’s people to serve God’s people’.

God does give special gifts to His church through some people. They are

not special people. Apostles are those sent forth by God, frequently as

pioneers in evangelism and church planting, whose ministries are

sometimes marked by signs and miracles. Quite a number are named in

the Bible (Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:26; 14:14; Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 9:1-

2; 12:28; 2 Corinthians 12:12). The New Testament contains the writing

of some of the original apostles. Today’s apostolic witness will not

contradict this.

Prophets speak out the word of God. At different times they receive

guidance for the church, they predict the future, they speak

encouragement, they edify believers, they speak to men from God

(Acts 11:27-28; 13:1-3; 15:32; 21:9; 10-11; 1 Corinthians 14:3-5; 1 Timothy

1:18; 4:14; 2 Peter 1:21). There are various tests we can apply to

authenticate true Christian prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:29-33). Both the

Scripture and the Holy Spirit within us should witness to the truth of any

prophecy. God will not contradict Himself.

Evangelists are messengers of good news and preachers of the gospel of

Jesus Christ. Only Philip is named as an evangelist in the Scripture

(Acts 8:4-8; 26-40). Timothy was told to do the work of an evangelist

(2 Timothy 4:5). A true evangelist will never depart from his central

message of the cross of Christ. He will be where the people are, taking

them to the cross by the shortest possible route.

Pastors and teachers are shepherds and instructors. They tend the

flock, feed the flock and guide the flock. They are skilled in

communicating truth and applying it to situations. Similarly, elders are

those who have mature spiritual experience and understanding. They are

able with others to watch over the people in the church (Acts 20:17-38;

1 Timothy; 2 Timothy; Titus). A pastor is not a one-man show. The New

Testament always speaks of a plurality of local leadership. The

requirements for such a responsible role are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and

Titus 1:5-9.

While recognising these special gifts, always remember that God wants

you to give to the church as well as receive from it.

Discussion guide for ‘Brought up in the family of God’

Bible reading Ephesians 4:1-32.

1. How did your church look after you when you first made a

commitment to follow Jesus Christ? Was it a helpful or a not very

helpful experience?

2. Can you think of anything that would have made the experience

better for you? (Then you can make sure other people get a good


3. When you are first “born again” it is reasonable to say, “You are a

baby Christian”. What does a human baby need to grow strongly

into mature adulthood?

4. Can these ideas be paralleled into the growth of a Christian? See

1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:14; Philippians 3:15; Hebrews 5:14.

5. In the human family different people have different roles. The

same is true in the church. One role is not more important than

another – the roles are simply different ways to serve God and the

people. Share the different roles people have in your church.

6. Explain ways you are able to give and to serve in your church. What

would help you do more? Do you feel you are in the right role?

7. Reading 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 it becomes obvious that every

role is important to the church. Comment on 12:7; 12:11; 12:26-27;

13:4-7; 14:18-19; 14:33; 14:40. What should the overall character

of a church gathering be?

8. What does 1 Timothy 5:17-18 teach about a particular

responsibility of church members?


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