June 18, 2017 – Ephesians 4:11-16

Lesson Date: June 18, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 4:11-16

AIM: To lead students to discover God’s plan for His church, and to urge them to get involved in doing the work of the ministry so that their church can be edified and mature.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 4:11-16 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Cut apart the puzzle pieces on the “Church Puzzle” sheet. Get a piece of cardboard, poster board, or a clipboard to bring to class. The students will use the board to assemble their puzzle pieces into a completed picture. Place one puzzle piece on each chair in your classroom. If your class is small, pre-assemble the sky pieces that do not have words printed on them. Put the remaining pieces on the chairs in which students usually sit.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask the students if they enjoy jigsaw puzzles. Direct their attention to the puzzle piece they found on their chair (be sure everyone present has a piece and that all the pieces have been picked up). Tell them we are going to start class today by putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Ask the students to work together to assemble the puzzle. After it is completed, ask: “What picture was formed by putting all the pieces together?” (a picture of a church).

Tell the class in today’s lesson we will learn about God’s plan for His church, and how each of us fit into that plan.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of Ephesians.
    • Tell them that Paul spent a lot of time in Ephesus and cared very much for the believers there (locate Ephesus on the map).
    • Remind them that the first half of Ephesians is primarily doctrinal, while chapters 4, 5, and 6 contain very practical instructions for living the Christian life.
    • Ask: “What did we learn about in Ephesians 4:1-6?” (walking worthy of our calling).
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Christ’s triumph over Satan and his forces).
  2. God Gives Leaders to His Church.
    • Remind the class that in last week’s lesson we learned that the Lord Jesus “gave gifts unto men” (verse 8).
    • Tell them that Ephesians 4:11 names some of the gifts He has given to His church.
    • Ask a volunteer to read that verse.
    • Ask: “What has the Lord given to the church?” (apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers).
    • Explain the meaning of those words using the following notes:
      • Apostles were the early church leaders through whom the Lord delivered most of the New Testament to us. There are no longer any living apostles: according to Acts 1:22 they had to be eyewitnesses of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The church, however, still follows and teaches “the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42).
      • Prophets were those in the early church through whom God spoke. They received direct revelation from God. There are no longer any living prophets in the biblical sense (people who receive direct revelation from God), but the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” ( 2:20).
      • Evangelists are those who spread the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to lost people. Evangelists are still active in the church today.
      • The words Pastors and Teachers are generally understood to refer to the office of the pastor-teacher, the modern pastor who shepherds and instructs the local church.
    • Ask everyone to look back at verse 11.
    • Ask: “Where do the church’s evangelists and pastor-teachers come from?” (God gives them to His church).
  3. God’s Plan for His Church.
    • Ask the class to brainstorm this question: “What are some things churches expect their pastor to do?” Allow time for several responses.
    • Tell the class Ephesians 4:12 tells what God expects pastors and evangelists to do.
    • Ask a volunteer to read that verse.
    • Ask: “What does God expect pastors and evangelists to do?” (perfect the saints).
    • Explain that in the Bible the word saints refers to saved people.
    • Explain that the word perfect means to equip, completely furnish, or make mature.
    • Tell the class God expects the pastors and evangelists to equip and mature the believers within their church.
    • Ask the class to look closely at verse 12 again.
    • Ask: Why are they supposed to perfect the saints?” (so the saints can do the work of the ministry, which results in the church being edified and strengthened).
    • Tell the class God’s plan for the church is:
      • For the evangelists and pastor-teachers to grow and equip the saints,
      • So the saints can do the work of the ministry,
      • Which results in the church being built up and strengthened.
    • This verse summarizes God’s plan for His church.
  4. Results of Following God’s Plan.
    • Tell the class the rest of the verses in this lesson reveal what happens when the church follows God’s plan.
    • Ask the class to listen for results as you read Ephesians 4:13.
    • Ask them to name the results they heard (the church will be unified and the believers will be mature).
    • This verse reveals two important truths. Explain the following:
      • Church unity requires common doctrinal beliefs (“unity of the faith”).
      • Church unity requires genuine saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (“the knowledge of the Son of God”).
    • Stress that if church members are not truly saved and don’t share the same doctrine it is impossible for them to experience real unity!
    • When the church follows God’s plan believers can reach their fullest earthly potential in Jesus Christ, but violation of God’s plan stunts the spiritual growth of believers.
    • Read Ephesians 4:14.
    • Ask: “How does this verse describe immature believers?” (as children who are easily tossed about and deceived).
    • Tell the class immature believers are like a plastic grocery bag on an expressway. As a car drives over the bag it may shoot out to one side and fly up high into the air. While it’s airborne other cars may pass under it, but eventually the bag will drift down low enough to get into the turbulent air near the traffic. Then it might shoot up high again, or even travel into the other lane of oncoming traffic. Sometimes it may even reach the roadway, but soon another car or truck will pass over and it will be airborne again.
    • Explain that the church that follows God’s plan will develop mature believers who cannot be easily tossed about by winds of doctrine or deceived by false religions.
    • The Bible assures us that there are false teachers in the world. Churches that don’t follow God’s plan produce immature believers who easily fall prey to false teachers.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 4:15.
    • Ask: How will mature Christians speak to one another? (truthfully and lovingly).
    • Ask: How will they continue to grow? (in Christ-likeness – “into Him”).
    • Read Ephesians 4:16.
    • Ask: “Who are the joints or parts of the body?” (we are).
    • Tell the class this verse makes us think of a skillful stonemason, who painstakingly shapes each stone to fit perfectly beside the others without any gaps or spaces. The stonemason who is a true artisan will not hurry his work, but will take whatever time is necessary to perfectly shape each stone.
    • That’s the way the Lord Jesus Christ puts us into His church. Each of us has an important part to play.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Summarize the lesson by telling the class that when the church follows God’s leaders and God’s plan, the wise Master Builder (the Lord Jesus Christ) will shape and fit each member to fit perfectly into his or her unique place of service among all the other members. All of the members will then participate in the work of the ministry, and the combination of the unique contributions of all of the members will result in church growth, continued edification, and genuine love. This is God’s plan for His church.

Direct the students’ attention to the puzzle they assembled earlier. Point out the fact that the church in the picture is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Without them, we wouldn’t have a church or any doctrine to teach. Point out the pieces labeled “Evangelists” and “Pastor-Teachers.” Tell the class that the church would be incomplete without them.

Remove one “Member” piece from the puzzle. Tell the students that any one piece when viewed by itself doesn’t look very important or meaningful. The same is true for us. Individually, we may look a little strange, unnecessary, or even out of place. Direct the class’ attention to the puzzle again, which now has one piece missing. Tell the class that an individual piece may not seem that important, but it leaves a gaping hole when it is not there. The same is true in the church. Individually, we may not think we are that important to the kingdom of God, but if you or I are missing from God’s church, a gaping hole is left in our place.

Tell the class that God has given us a pastor to lead our church. His God-given task is to help us grow in maturity so we can do the work of the ministry. Ask: “Are you involved in doing the work of the ministry in your church?”

Tell the class about any needs you might have for class officers, class members to go on visitation, or members who will invite others to Sunday School. Tell the students if they are saved but not involved in doing the work of the ministry through their church, then they are out of God’s will. Urge them to confess their sins, repent, and get involved immediately. Lead a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Ephesians 4:11-12. Offer to help your class members get involved in doing the work of the ministry. Urge them to read their Bible every day, study their Sunday School lesson, and come to Sunday School next week.

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