Lessons for Living (volume 3)
Heroes of Faith is a curriculum designed to provide a more profound appreciation of the “Heroes of Faith” as listed in Hebrews 11, an impressive list of remarkable and heroic men and women whose biblical accounts stand out to encourage and strengthen the faith of the reader. The reader will be challenged to reflect on and make an assessment of his/her own faith at various times throughout the study. The contemporary relevance and necessity of faith in the life of the believer will be stressed. Our desire is that these lessons, each outlined with a Key Verse, Discussion Questions, and a Final Thought to Remember, encourage each reader to dig deeper into the Word of God.
Lesson 4: Bishop Austin Layne - Developing a Diocese
Key Verse: And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter (Acts 15:4-6).
After completing this lesson, the learner will be able to:
1. Define the words “diocese” and “unity”.
2. Describe the purposes of a diocese or council.
3. Explain why unity is wrong when it compromises the doctrine of salvation based on culture.
There is an old adage with many variations that says:
1. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
2. Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.
3. When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.
In January 1945, a physician named Gordon A. Eadie wrote an article in a journal called Mental Hygiene during World War II. The article focused mainly on the overall mental health of the industrial plant with a particular emphasis on military veterans. What was profound about the article is that Dr. Eadie encourages the veterans to realize that this was not simply a physical battle, but a battle of the minds. In other words, they wanted to try to show what they were fighting for, not simply what they were fighting against; it was not about keeping the status quo like the good old days because this could be dangerous if we become comfortable and complacent with the status quo. Dr. Eadie challenged the veterans to stand for their principles, beliefs, and values or be subject to fall for anything. Thus, they had to realize they are fighting two wars – the war of arms and the war of ideas.
Even now, over 70 years later, we are still fighting two wars, one that is natural and one that is spiritual. There is another old adage that says “pick and choose your battles”. Brian Courtney Wilson sings a song entitled, “Worth Fighting For”. Some things really are just worth fighting for, for example, in the case of the Jerusalem Council, the Apostle Paul, Barnabas, the other apostles, and leaders faced some challenging days as the gospel of Jesus Christ began to spread all over the world. As the gospel of Jesus Christ began to spread, those who had received the message first did not want to let others or outsiders into the church unless they adhered to the same things that they had to do to become a Christian. In the Jewish tradition, an individual had to be circumcised - not from their heart, but in their flesh so that they could to gain acceptance into the synagogue. Thus, Acts 15 begins with individual Jews advising non-Jews and other Jews that perhaps did not know when they arrived in Judea that the circumcision in the Mosaic fashion was required, or they could not get saved and delivered from their sins.
Once Paul and Barnabas heard these comments, they fiercely objected because they knew that salvation was of the Jews according to John 4:22; but the time had not come that God wanted true worshippers to worship Him in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). God was no longer interested in circumcising people’s flesh but their hearts. These things were only types and shadows of what God really desired, which was faith that comes through intimacy with Him.
Bishop Paul H. Evans, Sr. is the pastor of Grace Gospel Temple. He has been married to Helen R. Evans since the 14th of June 1959. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and has a B.S. in Sociology. Bishop Evans is the leader and vanguard behind the Lessons for Living publication.