Message of Grace
“FOR BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED THROUGH FAITH; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD: NOT OF WORKS, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST” EPHESIANS 2 :8
Enemies of the Cross
But there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:7 They are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Phillipians 3:18
If one wants to remain popular, the best stand to take on any issue is that of indifference. But if we are to be true to our God and His holy Word, we cannot be indifferent over the issues concerning the gospel. Many in our day have taken the gospel and rounded off its edges so that it will be offensive to no one. They have diluted it and mixed it with strange fruit, so that it might be more palatable and easily digested by men. But the 'true gospel' will always be offensive to some because, "the Stone which the builders disallowed (rejected), the same is made the Head of the corner, and a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offense" (1 Pet. 2:7,8). Its edge can never be blunted, "For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). We need never apologize for His Word, nor should we ever back down from openly proclaiming it. Though there be many who despise the gospel and its Christ; "unto you therefore which believe He is precious" (1 Pet. 2:7).
Often, the best way to positively set forth the gospel message is by exposing those things which stand against it. Not only are we armed with "the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17), but also with "the shield of faith" (Eph. 6:16). We are not only to "contend for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), but to be even as Paul, "set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil. 1:17). We must not only build the walls with carefulness, but we must be at all times prepared to defend those walls against their enemies (see Neh. 4:17). One of the old Puritans, Thomas Manton (1620-
When we say 'enemies of the cross', what do we mean? Simply this: 'the cross' is often used in the Scripture to denote 'the gospel' (1 Cor. 1:18, Gal. 5:11, 6:12). those who are 'enemies of the cross' are enemies of the gospel which is the message of God's redeeming grace revealed in His son, Jesus Christ. An enemy of the gospel is ultimately an enemy of Christ.
I believe these 'enemies of the cross' fall into three categories:
1. Those who openly oppose the gospel and teach against it. These enemies are seen quite clearly, so very few words of warning are needful. We are not sent to do battle with infidels and supposed atheists, but we will "let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Mt. 15:14). They are "raging waves of sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 13).
2. Those who make no profession of love for Christ nor faith in His person. This group is often not so easily distinguished as 'enemies' of Christ as the first group clearly is. contained in this category are those who are obviously opposed to Christ for they live in open sin and heed not the warnings of the gospel to "flee from wrath to come" (Mat. 3:7) nor obey its commands to repent (Acts 18:30) and believe the gospel and be baptized (Mk. 16:16). But this group also contains those who do not live in open sin and unrestrained wickedness, yet do not follow Christ and profess Him before men. While those of the latter division are esteemed more highly in the eyes of men, they are equally condemned in the sight of the Lord, who said, "he that is not with me is against me" (Mat. 12:30). "Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him sill I also deny before my Father which is in heaven" (Mt. 10:32,33). "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Lk. 14:27).
3. Those who professedly and seemingly walk in the gospel, yet in reality are set against it. This category is the most difficult to deal with; for those who make it up are often extremely hard to distinguish from the true bearers of the cross. Therefore they are the most dangerous enemies and the ones which Paul specifically warns us of in the texts. "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:14,15). Another difficulty in dealing with this group is that many sincere people (and I doubt not, come true children of God) follow the teachings of these false prophets out of ignorance. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 Jon. 4:1).
These enemies of the cross are those who set up any standard for faith, conduct, doctrine, or practice, other than the Holy Scriptures. Of course they would not be bold as to blatantly deny the supremacy of the Work, yet they subtly set up other standards. Such persons rely on tradition ("Well, we have always believed this or done this"), what their denomination or church teaches ("If it's not what my church believes, I don't even want to hear it or think about it"), special revelations and leadings of the Lord ("I feel like the Lord is leading me to..."), or their own ideas and understanding ("That doctrine cannot possibly be true because I don't understand it"), rather than being like the Bereans who, "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). They are the 'enemies of the cross' for, "if they speak not according to this word (the law and testimony) it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20).
Those who teach that the free will of man is the determining factor in salvation are also subtle 'enemies of the cross'. Their teaching has spawned a generation of hypocrites who "draw near (the Lord) with their mouth... but have removed their heart far from (Him) and their fear toward (Him) is taught by the precept of men" (Isa. 29:13). Many have been swallowed up by their zeal to make converts. but oh how many true converts are there in this day of those "who mind earthly things" (Phil. 3:19) and have a "form of godliness but deny the power thereof" (2 Tim. 2:5)? Who can give "a reason of the hope that is in them" (1 Pet. 3:15)?
These are also 'enemies of the cross' whose message of salvation begins, is sustained, or ends with anyone or anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Some give pre-
Finally, they are 'enemies' who preach any message which gives men any thing that they can glory in or boast of in their salvation. From the beginning to end, our salvation is all of God's grace. He has designed it, He has provided it, He applies it, and He sustains it. He is going to have all the glory in salvation of men and He will not share that glory. Salvation is in Him and Him alone (Acts 4:12). We are helpless and hopeless. We need Him. He does not need us. We are shut up to His mercy. A man will not be saved unless God is pleased to grant mercy. There is no salvation but that which He wills to bestow upon men. Oh but this is good news, for He is a God who delights in mercy. He has shown to thousands who call on His name. My friend, I plead with you to fly to His throne this moment and seek that saving mercy. Perhaps He shall be pleased to save you from your certain ruin. Bow down at His feet today; call upon Him while He is near. But oh believe not the great swelling words of those who tell men that they can be saved anytime they want to by an act of their own will. I tell you even weeping, 'they are the enemies of the cross of Christ'.
If anything is hated bitterly, it is the out-
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-
Long sin's darkened midnight held me,
Bound and ruined in its grasp;
But the Light of lights was shining,
Though mine eyes were closed fast.
Then came the mighty, heavenly Power,
Marching on with purposed step;
Took my blinded self-
Crushed it at the Savior's feet.
Now the glories of that Day-
Shine within my lightened breast;
And shall still my eyes keep open,
Til He leads to lasting rest.
Originally published: July 1978
|1.2 The God of the Bible|
|1.3 Who is this King of Glory?|
|1.4 Jesus Christ the Righteous|
|1.5 The Sinfulness of Sin|
|1.6 Christ, the Lord|
|1.8 What Must I Do To Be Saved?|
|1.9 The Power of His Resurrection|
|1.10 Understanding Our Sin|
|1.11 The Whole Duty of Man|
|1.12 Christ is All|
|2.1 Enemies of the Cross|
|2.2 The Blood of the Lamb|
|2.3 Worthy is the Lamb|
|2.4 Why Do Men Perish|
|2.5 The Lord of Glory|
|2.6 Eternal Life|
|2.7 Vile Affections|
|3.12 What Child is This?|
|4.1 A New Beginning|
|4.3 The Son Stood Still|
|4.4 A Son Returns|
|4.5 You Think|
|4.6 Wise Men|
|5.1 Our Only Message|
|5.2 False Hope|
|5.3 Water for the Thirsty|
|5.4 The Shepherd of the Sheep|
|5.5 Blood and Water|
|6.1 Triple Jeopardy|
|6.2 Debtors at the Cave of Adullam|
|6.3 Comforted by Lies Wounded by Truth|
|6.4 Light at Evening Time|
|7.1 Do You Want To Go To Heaven?|