God interacts directly with every human creature. He is intimately connected with each one of us as individuals. I like the way the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper puts it:
…God enters into immediate fellowship with the creature, as God the Holy Spirit…Thus there is no grace but such as comes to us immediately from God.*
We might ask, “What then is the place of Pastors and Teachers?” These two offices, and others besides, serve to remind us that this original relationship between God and man has been strained. The classic passage by Paul bears this out. In Eph. 4:11-13, he wrote:
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.
Verse 12 is crucial: “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry”. They exist to build up other believers. As Paul said elsewhere, they are all servants and ministers for building up God’s flock (1 Cor. 3:1-7). God has given them to us because our sinful and fallen state has put us in need of direction and instruction. We have become blind and weak through sin, God has shown us mercy by giving us a new heart and sending His Spirit to work in us. And the ministry of Pastors and Teachers is one of the means by which God works to conform us to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (v. 13).
Thus, they are vital God-given vessels. Nevertheless, we must not forget that they are but vessels; God is the One at work. We dare not turn them into our Saviours or look upon them as dispensers of grace. The trend in the modern age is to so venerate them that we forget their role as servants. God deals with each believer individually, and each one is a priest along with the others. His officers help us to grow in our relationship with Him; they are not meant to alter that relationship.
May God draw our hearts in loving fellowship with Himself.
*Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, p.12