God’s Game Plan

My Bible study class is discussing Chip Ingram’s book, The Miracle of Life Change. These few pages are my notes for that class.

Leaders are Gifted to Equip God’s People:

How does one put into practice that which is learned? We will continue in Ephesians 4:11-13, which details God’s design for the church. If we don’t understand what God has designed for the church, we will never be able to tap into the grace that is available there.

Apostles: originally given to someone who received a divine commission, to be sent out, like on a mission from God. It was for those who had been eyewitnesses to the risen Christ and received a divine commission. Today it usually describe those called to start new work; like pioneers and church planters, maintaining the goal of spreading the message.

Prophets: What illustration does Paul use to describe the church (Ephesians 2:19-21)? What is the foundation? A prophet was someone who communicated God’s truth with power, and people’s lives changed because of it. It’s no longer foretelling the future and receiving new revelation from God, but forth-telling a message and proclaiming God Words to others. Prophets today clarify and present the truth of Scripture in a culturally relevant manner.

Evangelists: this is a supernatural ability to share the gospel with others that motivates them to respond. We all have the task of evangelism, but some people have the gift.

Pastors and Teachers: these tend to go together. A pastor is a shepherd, giving oversight, feeding, caring for and giving direction to the faithful. A teacher is someone who communicates God’s truth in a systematic way.

Leadership: Think about what you believer is the role of church leaders today. The actual role of leadership is to equip the saints for the work of ministry! Equip means to restore. Like a compound bone fracture being put back into alignment, or fishermen mending their nets.

Every Member is a Minister:

According to Ephesians 4:12, what is the reason leaders equip and train God’s people? “Works of service” really means ministry. Ministers are just regular people, not just the paid staff at a church. Remember that you have been given a spiritual gift to be used in the service of the kingdom (Ephesians 4:8). So every member of the church is a minister of Christ. You were sealed, adopted and forgiven (Ephesians 4:13-14) and now the task is to discover and practice your gift.

Ministries are to Help Believers Live as Jesus Would Live:

What is the goal of equipping the saints? (Ephesians 4:13)

Until they attain the unity of faith: being connected to the body of Christ. Not just connected by proper theology, but by sharing a common life.

Until they attain the knowledge of the Son of God: knowledge here is ginosko, meaning to know by experience. The word also has a prefix, epiginosko, meaning a deep, personal, intimate knowing. Paul desired to know Christ (Philippians 3:7-10).

Until they become mature: the word is teleios, which we get telescope, referring to a design or pattern. You are designed to become a new person in Christ.

Until they attain the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ: God’s standard is maturity, conforming to the image of Christ.

Here is a passage on maturity – Hebrews 5:11-14.

How to Know if You’re Morphing:

If we are not morphing, or transforming, I dare say we are simply going through religious motions. In Ephesians 4:14-16, we are given a way to measure our transformation, sort of a litmus test on how we’re doing.

Doctrinal Stability (Ephesians 4:14): do you have a settled knowledge of God’s Word? There are a few verses that describe the actions of a doctrinally stable believer (Romans 16:17-18, Colossians 2:8, 1 John 4:1-3).

Authentic Relationships (Ephesians 4:15): a commitment to both people and the truth, to tell it not only when it is convenient or when it works for you. Do you have people in your life to whom you speak the truth in love, and that speak the truth in love to you? (Proverbs 27:5-6).

Full Participation (Ephesians 4:16): coming from the words whole, every and each. Individual parts being held together, like the construction of two boards with a hinge. The body of Christ depends upon you, and you depend upon the body of Christ. You do not just look out for your own needs, but for others.

Growing Capacity for Love (Ephesians 4:16): Paul uses the term agape, which is God’s sort of love; unconditional, I love you anyway. It’s not an emotional response but a supernatural love.

Diagnostic Tool:

Rate yourself, or let a friend do it for you, on these statements:

  1. I am currently involved in activities and training that are equipping me to do the work of ministry.
  2. I am currently participating in intentional, meaningful, biblical worship on a regular basis.
  3. I am currently in an apprentice or mentoring relationship with an older believer that is stimulating my spiritual growth.
  4. I am currently ministering and building into the lives of others
  5. I am becoming more like Jesus in my everyday life, evidenced by a desire to read the Bible, disciplined study, and the ability to recognize false teaching.
  6. I am currently more like Jesus in everyday life, as evidenced by enjoying deep authentic relationships in Christ.
  7. I am currently in a small group where speaking the truth in love is common, and personal accountability is expected.
  8. I am currently becoming more like Christ in everyday life, as evidenced by a desire to become deeply committed to God’s people, to worship, to learning, to serving, to meeting needs; a clear sense of where I fit into the body of Christ; and I am loved by others.

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