Introduction to the Vision for the Church Internet Bible Study

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Part of JesusWalk -- Vision for the Church

Dear {FIRSTNAME Friend},

You'll receive your first e-mail lesson in the "Vision for the Church" Bible Study on a Saturday. Here's the outline of what we'll be covering over the next five weeks.

Introduction to the Letter to the Ephesians. This part is important to lay the foundation for what we'll be studying from the Ephesian Letter -- authorship, date, purpose, and life-setting. 

Week 1

Power in the Church (1:16-23; 2:6; 3:20-21). There is a huge, untapped reservoir of power in the church. Christ himself is orchestrating all things for the benefit of his church. I'll help you see it, grasp it, believe it.

Week 2

God's Presence in the Church (2:11-22). If you think that the church is just a human institution, you are wrong. Yes, it involves humans, but it is much more than that. I want to help you see Christ at its very foundation as well as in its exalted arches. I want you to see your church as the spiritual dwelling place of God himself.

Week 3

Unity in the Church (4:1-6). We have partitioned the church of God into tiny fiefdoms called denominations that prevent us from seeing its unity. My conviction in Christ is that His church is essentially One Church. We'll explore this truth and its implications together.

Week 4

Ministry in the Church (4:7-16). Somehow we have turned our pastors into be hired guns to do the ministry of the church or into chaplains to comfort the members. But Christ's plan for his church is to mobilize a great army of trained and gifted ministers who will push back the spiritual barriers of mediocrity, ignorance, pain, and injustice. Let me share this vision with you.

Week 5

Holiness in the Church (5:21-32). Christ's desire is for a church that is like a dear wife to him -- cleansed, comforted, cherished, and brilliant in her reflection of the glory of God. I want to help you glimpse the glory of holiness in Christ's church.

There is no charge for this study, though participants are invited to make a free-will contribution to help support future studies. Currently contributions can be made by check or credit card (or with your credit card through PayPal in US and Canadian dollars, British pounds, Euros, and Japanese Yen). http://www.joyfulheart.com/joyadmin/offering.htm

Introduction to Internet Bible Study

Here's how this Bible study will work. Each Saturday for the next five weeks you'll receive the lesson with questions to help you grapple with the issues raised by the text. I encourage you each Saturday to 

  1. Pray, then
  2. Read the Bible passage, then 
  3. Read my exposition of the passage. Finally,
  4. Consider the questions at the end of the lesson.

I'm trying to immerse you in this passage over the period of the week. I want you to live, breath, think and dream these lessons. To help you do that, each day -- Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, you'll receive a question or two to ponder and then answer. (Note: You can opt out of receiving the daily questions by signing up again and then selecting the "weekly lessons only" option, but when you do that you'll begin again and receive your first lesson a week from next Saturday. So I encourage you to stay with the daily lessons. You can see which group you're in by looking at the very bottom of this e-mail message.)

After you've formulated your answer, why don't you post it on our Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum (http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?c=6). Your thoughts will stimulate others' thinking. Then read what others may have said about this question. In the process you'll be internalizing the Bible truths the lesson teaches. If you'll stick with this over the period of five weeks, you'll find that your thinking is clarified and your commitment to live as Jesus' disciple will be deepened.

Forum Guidelines

Here are a few guidelines for use of the Forum. You need to register at the Forum before you can participate, so be sure to do that. Remember ...

  • Our Assumptions. We're assuming here that the Bible is more than just literature, but literature that is written by people inspired by God. That doesn't mean that it's easy to understand immediately or that we'll all agree about our interpretations. That's okay. We here to learn and differences can help us learn and clarify issues.
  • No Denomination Bashing. This study group practices the unity of Christ's Church. We come from many different backgrounds and traditions -- Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed, Mainline Protestant, Pentecostal, Baptist, you name it. Some may not yet have become Christians. Thus we do not engage in criticizing other denominations. Our focus and unity is in Jesus Christ and the Word of God. 
  • A Loving Spirit. You may not agree with everyone's opinion you see on the Forum. Feel free to disagree in love and state your reasons. This way we can learn from each other. But if your motive is to set everyone straight, please don't bother. Judgmental comments are not welcome, and posters who don't demonstrate a loving spirit will be banned.
  • Removing Comments. We trim comments on the Forum occasionally, so don't be offended if your comments aren't "eternal." :-)
  • Stay On Topic. It's important not to wander off-topic in this Forum. If your comment isn't on the topic of the Bible text we're studying, please "hold that thought." This isn't a "Christian chat" but a focused Bible study.
  • Be Discrete. Share carefully, realizing that many other people will be reading. Don't share things that are too personal. Though you'll give your e-mail to register as a Forum member, it won't be visible to others. Please don't share your e-mail address openly in your Forum postings, since that will get you picked up by spambots and added to a spam list. But if you'd like to e-mail another Forum member you can do that going through the Forum itself. 

Check In

Why don't you check in now with other "Vision for the Church" participants. Register on the Forum and tell us something about yourself in order to get acquainted. You'll find this great fun and it'll get you ready to start answering the questions when it's time. http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?act=ST&f=23&t=81

How to Use the Forum

Why don't you forgotten your name and password click here and follow the instructions VERY carefully.) When in doubt, you can always register with a slightly different name.

If you're wondering just how to use the forum, look at the instructions. Studying these instructions carefully will pay off in learning how to use the Forum. It's not hard, but a bit confusing at first. Be sure to read the instructions if you have question. http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/instructions.htm

Lessons and Questions Posted Online

In case you miss a lesson or question, please don't e-mail me. Rather, you'll find each weekly lesson and all its questions posted at http://www.jesuswalk.com/church/church.htm  You may see the lessons there for future weeks, but please don't rush ahead. Learning is a process, not a destination. Take this at the pace of one lesson per week, with questions spread out during the week so the Word of God has a chance to sink into your heart and mind. Thank you.

I look forward to doing this Bible study with you. You should receive the first lesson via e-mail tomorrow..

By the way, you are welcome to invite others to sign up for this study, too, at http://www.jesuswalk.com/church/  And you may use the materials in your own local church or group for a small group or Sunday school Bible study at no charge -- just e-mail me and let me know how you are using these lessons.

My prayer is that your life will be greatly enriched as we study the Word of God together.

Yours in Christ's service,
Pastor Ralph

P.S. When the study is over, I'll ask you to fill out a brief questionnaire to evaluate your experience with the Vision for the Church Bible study. Thanks in advance for doing that.

Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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