Vision for the Church
Regaining a Vision for Christ's Church
from Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

So often we take the church for granted. Even worse, we sometimes resent or despise the church because of the failings of its all-too-human leaders and members. When you look at the history of the church you see some shining mountain tops, but you also see some rank pits of degradation. Shouldn't we just give up on it? No!

I invite you to take a five-week walk with me through Paul's letter to the Ephesian church. I'd like to share with you a glorious vision for the Church -- Christ's vision for his beloved Body. If you can see it with your spiritual eyes and grasp it with your mind, then you can help bring it to pass as a leader and champion. You can help your own local congregation become all that it can be -- should be -- in Christ. But you must see the potential first.

Can the glory of God fill his Church as it once filled the tabernacle and temple? By merely human effort, no. But there are resources we have scarcely begun to tap. Consider Paul's doxology found in the very heart of Ephesians:

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Here are the lessons we'll ponder over these five weeks:

  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.

This is not a sectarian study designed to induce you to switch churches or denominations. Rather it examines the basic foundations of all branches of Christ's church and has application to every congregation, denomination, and fellowship throughout the world.

Fasten your seatbelts. Be ready to see some new visions and dream some new dreams! Why don't you sign up now, so you'll receive the first lesson this Friday. In the meantime, why don't you begin to read and study the Letter to the Ephesians in your own devotional time.

This five-week study is delivered each Saturday via e-mail, with questions sent Sunday through Thursday to keep you thinking about the week's lesson (though you can select the "weekly lessons only" option if you like). You'll also have opportunities to interact using our Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum with other participants, to read and respond to their comments on these passages of scripture.

You'll receive your first lesson the Friday after you sign up. There is no cost to participate in the study, though donations are encouraged so we can create more studies and reach more people.

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Please don't sign up for more than one of my Bible studies at one time. There's no penalty, but each of them is pretty intensive. If you try to do too many studies at the same time without adequate reflection, you'll miss out on God speaking to you.

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