Valley Bible Church is committed to equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11). We believe that this process is enhanced by specific challenges. In order to challenge this fellowship we are in the process established the following equipping plan which involves four essential areas. We hope to be ready to implement this plan sometime this year.
The most fundamental area of the Christian life is our walk with God. It is the very center of who we are and what we do. Since apart from Jesus Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5), we must attend to our relationship with God as our first priority.
However, while our involvement with the church and the world are necessarily dependent upon our walk with God, our walk with God must result in involvement with the church and the world. We cannot believe we are walking with God unless we are serving the church, evangelizing the world and knowing the Bible. These areas should be something we develop in concurrently throughout our lives rather than move from one to the next.
In order to enjoy the benefits of salvation in the context of everyday life, we must walk with God.
To walk with God is to have Christ's life in us (Galatians 2:20). We live in the power of His life when we are yielding control to Him without reservation or compromise (Romans 12:1). This is called the "filling of the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18)
The filling of the Spirit referred to in Ephesians 5:18 is synonymous with "letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within you" (Colossians 3:16). This is quite clear from the similar results that are listed in the two respective passages. The Spirit fills us as we by faith, wholeheartedly, yield to the teachings of the Word of God.
We can delude ourselves into thinking we are walking with God even though we are truly living for our desires. Here are a few questions to help you examine your life to see if you are yielding yourself to God.
1. Are you enjoying meaningful consistent devotions which includes time in the Word and prayer? This should be the rule and not the exception.
2. Are you prayerfully seeking to be obedient to God in all areas of your life?
3. Are you willing to do things that are difficult simply for the Lord's sake?
4. Are you enjoying the fruit of the Spirit even when you are in difficult circumstances (Galatians 5:22-23)?
A word of caution is in order: We may experience His victory over sin at a specific point in time, but this does not mean that we will continue to enjoy that victory. We will continue to enjoy Christ's victory only as we continue to yield our will and ourselves to Christ. This is possible only through a continuous ongoing communication to God in prayer. We must also set aside time every day for Bible reading in order to understand what God is saying to us. Without that communion with the Lord through His Word and through prayer we will not walk with God.
And now a word of encouragement: In addition to our prayers we will hopefully enjoy the benefit of other Christians interceding for us in the midst of our spiritual battles (Ephesians 6:10-20). We need to encourage this intercessory prayer by open sharing, including the confession of our sins (James 5:16).
As we prayerfully examine our life in light of the teachings of God's Word and surrender any area that might not be pleasing to the Lord, we should ask fellow believers in Christ to pray for us, particularly in the areas involving the pursuit of holiness. This is where an active involvement in one of our growth groups is so important
As we seek to walk with God, we must develop a basic understanding of the Bible. If we are going to help others follow Christ, we should become aware of current doctrinal issues and to be better prepared to study the Bible.
A Basic Understanding of the Scriptures
Do you know a very basic outline of the Bible with information about each of its major parts? It is very difficult to understand the specifics of the Bible until you have a familiarity with the whole.
It is therefore important to be knowledgeable of how the Scriptures are structured and then in addition to this very important skeletal outline there is a need to add certain very basic but important information about each of its parts.
Current Doctrinal Issues
During each period of church history there are new challenges that face the church doctrinally. The church must continue to be vigilant lest the teachings of God's Word become undermined.
In our day and age there are television programs, audio tapes, video tapes, books, magazines and high powered conferences spreading information within the Christian community. But is this information biblically based? Is this information accurate?
It is important that we become familiar with Bible doctrine. It is important that when we are being exposed to new ideas, new methodologies, new teachings that we examine these things in the light of the Scriptures and be able to defend the faith against those things which are not consistent with the teachings of God's Word.
How to Study the Bible
Do you know how to study the Bible and are you studying it? It is clear from the Bible that the Word of God should be central in our lives (Colossians 3:16). It is therefore important that we are prepared to understand and apply its truths effectively. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth." All attempts to study the Scriptures are certainly good, but hopefully we desire to be as well equipped as possible and to make our study as profitable as it can be.
We believe that to be able to study the Bible properly we must be equipped to do the following:
a. Appreciate the importance of God's Word.
b. Approach the Scriptures with the proper heart attitude.
c. Have a clear understanding of the principles of Biblical interpretation.
d. Know how to continually apply and integrate the Word of God into our lives.
It is necessary to become personally involved in ministering your gifts informally to fellow believers and more formally within the recognized structure of your local church. Why? Because God has given us gifts and directs us to use them for the benefit of other believers (1 Peter 4:10,11).
A local church is an organism and an organization. The church is an organism because when people become Christians they become joined to Christ as members of His body (1 Corinthians 12:13). The church is an organization because the Lord desires His children to join themselves together in local fellowships under the care of elders (Titus 1:5).
Because our church is both an organism and an organization we have a responsibility to each aspect of the church. We have a responsibility to minister to individual believers at our church and to the programs of our church as overseen by the elders.
The Scripture teaches that we are responsible to minister to individual believers within our church (1 Corinthians 12:7). We should not take this lightly. We need to expend effort in considering how to stimulate one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
We are responsible to minister within the programs of the local church because the elders, in attempting to set in order or organize the church (Titus 1:5), have established them. Our leaders have encouraged us to not only participate in the programs but to take responsibility for them as well (Hebrews 13:17).
The motivation for contributing to the work of the church, whether in serving others or in financial support, is not so much because of the great need but simply because it is God's will. Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18) and His followers are the means by which this building occurs.
The Bible makes it clear that each of us is responsible to go to the unsaved of this world to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).
In order to become a true disciple, or follower, of Jesus, we must first receive Him as our Lord and Savior. Since no one can believe unless they are told about Jesus (Romans 10:14-15), we must be equipped to explain the gospel that brings the forgiveness of sins to mankind. The Bible says we must be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).
To be prepared we must be equipped to do the following:
1. Lead a person from a general conversation into a discussion of spiritual truths.
2. Clearly explain the gospel, giving adequate attention to grace, man, God, Christ and faith.
3. Lead a person from the place of understanding about Jesus to the process of following Jesus.
4. Follow up with the person to help them mature.
Preparation requires opportunity. We must also develop our ability to "go" and take the initiative to build relationships with non-Christians for the sake of the gospel. The first step should be to pray for opportunities to help people understand the good news of Jesus Christ and forgiveness of sin (Colossians 4:2-4). We must learn how to effectively develop meaningful relationships with unbelievers so that they may hear of God's grace. We must also learn how to communicate the gospel with love.
Our Going To The World section is designed to motivate and equip the entire church toward relational evangelism. Each Christian must see this as a priority in their life.
Putting It All Together
We have designed the Pursuing Maturity program to bring a balance to each of the four areas of training. To emphasize any area to the exclusion of any other area is unhealthy for our spiritual life. Much like an unbalanced wheel, if we are underdeveloped in one area, we will be unstable in our Christian life.