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ThePreacher
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Joined: 2006/3/26
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 The Message of the Cross and the Enemies Thereof

The Message of the Cross and the Enemies Thereof

An article written by Josef Urban

-------------------------------------------------

"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." -Philippians 3:18-19

If any one will do so much as to even skim briefly over the epistles of Paul, they would unavoidably come to a recurring theme time and again. This theme is considered to be utter foolishness to the world, along with those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God; for God's strength is made perfect in weakness in the over-abounding sufficiency of His tremendous grace.

This underlying theme is the message of the cross. It is the greatest message of shame and humiliation toward men that the world has ever known, and yet, at the same time, it is the greatest message of honor and exaltation toward God that the world has ever known. It is a savor of death to those who are perishing, because they can't possibly understand it as it confounds the wise, glories in shame, humbles the proud, puts the first in last, and brings life out of death. It's a message that says you have to die in order to live. To us who are the elect of God, however, and are called according to His purpose, it is a savor of glorious life and liberty in the resurrection power of God by the Spirit whom the world cannot receive because it does not know Him, because as we deny ourselves and put the flesh to death, the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and gives them to us so that we may walk as He walked and live as He lived; in the abundance of life in the realm of the Kingdom of God, yet in the abundance of sufferings and death in the natural world all at the same time.

The message of the cross is the greatest message and underlying theme of the whole New Testament. That is why Paul repeatedly wrote of it, over and over, in all his epistles. Notice how Paul boasts in his weaknesses, glories only in his shame, speaks of terrible sufferings as the mark of his Apostleship, and repeatedly points to his sacrifice and self-denial as the way to win Christ. He even says that he has been crucified with Christ and no longer lives, but Christ lives in Him by the power of His resurrection. It is through the cross that Paul exalted the glory of God in everything he did, and it is the shame, humiliation, sufferings, and persecutions of the cross that made him the great Apostle that he was to God's glory.

The message of the cross did not originate with Paul, however. It originated with Jesus Christ. He said that if any man will come after Him, he must deny himself and take up his cross, even daily. Jesus said that if you try to save your life or if you love your life in this world, you will lose it eternally, but if you lose your life and hate it in this world for His sake, then you will keep it unto life eternal. He said that if you don't forsake everything you have, and love Him more than you love everything else, including your own family, then you cannot be His disciple (follower). The Lord said we will be blessed when we are persecuted and spoken of as evil for His sake, but that we will be cursed if we seek the things of this world and are spoken well of by the world. Jesus said that no servant is greater than his Master, and that the world would hate His followers.

Do you obey and relate to this message? If not, and if you think this message is one of foolishness, then I have the authority of the Word of God to boldly state that you are perishing (1 Cor 1:18). If the contempt of the cross of Christ is too much for you to bear, then don't even think about being a follower of Jesus. What man attempts to build a building without sitting down first and calculating the cost in order to see if he has what is required to finish it? In the same way, we must count the cost before committing ourselves to the Lord Jesus, and if we are not willing to forsake all that we have, then we cannot be His follower. Why would anybody not be willing to forsake all they have, die daily as they take up their cross, and hate their own life for His sake? The reward far outweighs the cost, for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy of being compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. After all, what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his very own soul? So why would a man not be willing to forsake all that is in the world in order to gain the incorruptible crown of unfading glory in the glorious Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ?

As you can see, this message is a hard one, yet it is unsurpassed by anything this world has to offer in its' concluding glory and reward. In light of the "hardness" of this message, though, we can clearly come to the obvious conclusion that such a message of self-crucifixion would have many enemies. It would be much easier to twist the scriptures out of context, cut and paste only the scriptures we like out of the Bible while completely ignoring or explaining away the rest, and to create false doctrines that ease the burden of the cross's message, than to accept and follow such a hard message. But be warned that such people who do this commit the grave sin that the Apostle Peter warned of in the 16th verse of the third chapter of his second epistle: these unstable souls wrest the scriptures to their own destruction.

In the opening text, the Apostle Paul states that many, in fact, do walk as enemies of the cross. Notice that he does not specifically state that they are the enemies of Jesus Christ, but that they are enemies of the cross. In being the enemies of the cross, they are the enemies of Christ as well, but what does this entail?

Enemies of the cross may claim the name of Jesus in all they do. They may "come in (His) name...” They may appear to be the Lord's most enlightened ministers. They may appear to be the greatest preachers the world has ever seen or known. They may even operate in deceptive counterfeit signs and wonders and many impressive miracles, but we know that if Satan can be transformed into an angel of light, it is no surprising thing for his servants to be transformed into ministers of righteousness. The Word of God says that the spirit of anti-Christ will come with many counterfeit signs and wonders, and that this spirit was already at work in the world at the writing of John's first epistle nearly two thousand years ago.

This spirit of anti-Christ often imitates the true Spirit of Christ. It counterfeits all that the Lord does. It is no wonder for this false spirit to heal and prophesy. It operates through false teachers while most of them are unaware, imitating the Spirit of God, and it presents a message contrary to the true Gospel's message of the cross. The spirit of anti-Christ operates in accordance with the world, and worldly "Christians" are drawn away by it, enticed by their own selfish desires. This spirit is after the working of Satan and offers worldly satisfaction, material wealth, comfortable living, ear-tickling prophecies, and appeals to the desires of men's hearts and flesh, and most often does it all in pretense under the name of Jesus. It offers the exact opposite of the message of the cross and completely disregards all sacrificial commitment to Jesus through self-denial. This spirit appears to be good in all its' manifestations, and appeals to the senses, but in the end its' sting is full of bitter and deadly poison.

Listen up now because I speak as one entrusted by God with a burden for this truth. Many strange doctrines are going around in the church today that are foreign to the Word of God; doctrines of selfishness, worldliness, carnality, pride, and covetousness. The message of worldly abundance that is floating around in the modern church is a message of self-satisfaction and self-gratification. It draws the people of God away from the message of the cross and makes them put their eyes on themselves and the things of this world. It opens the people up to set their hearts on themselves and their riches, exalting worldly success as a standard to measure godliness and thus causes people to covet more and more. It causes people to lift up their souls unto vanity, and to set their minds and affections on the things of this earth. This prosperity message is the opposite of the message of the cross, and yet from the surface it appears to be a great revelation from God.

I tell you the truth that this prosperity message is an enemy of the cross because it teaches just the opposite. Rather than denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, crucifying ourselves to the world and to all of our carnal desires including the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, this modern message tells us to ignore all of that and live it up in pleasure, seeking the abundance of this world to satisfy our carnal desires. Accumulated worldly riches make it possible to fulfill the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life in abundance, while they don't encourage us to make self-denying sacrifices for our Lord according to the cross's message. Worldly riches pull our hearts away from God with an ever-increasing strength and cause us to seek pleasure instead of sacrificial acts of obedience to the cross. This is why Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God; in fact, the only reason he can is because all things are possible with God!

The prosperity message is one that says "gain is godliness". It says that the more godly you are, the more gain you're going to get, whether it be material goods, worldly status and popularity, health and healings, and all other such temporal things. Paul, however, warned us in the sixth chapter of his first epistle to Timothy, that those who teach such things are proud, they know nothing, they have corrupt minds, and they are destitute of the truth: And what is the identifying mark of such people? They suppose, "...gain is godliness...” The Apostle then charges us, saying, "...from such withdraw thyself".

I speak now with all boldness by the authority of the Word of God, with a heavy burden on my heart, in saying that this message of worldly prosperity and abundance that has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ is being propagated by the spirit of anti-Christ, the same spirit that has been at work in the world for over two thousand years seeking to deceive the people of God. This message is the exact opposite of the message of the cross, and those who preach this message are working against the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. All such people, knowingly or not, are enemies of the cross. Those who propagate this message are leading many away from the truth of the cross and are working against God, despite their so-called success, fame, and prosperity. This message encourages friendship with the world, but the Word says that whoever chooses to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God, and all those who refuse the shame and death of the cross are the enemies of the true Gospel because they are working against it.

The enemies of the cross seek their own selfish desires above the will of God. They are driven by indulgence, and ever so subtly. They may be slick as snakes and sly as foxes, but they can be known by their fruits. Let us briefly examine the fruits of these enemies of the cross according to the words of the inspired Apostle.

In the opening scripture, the Apostle states that their god is their belly. Take note! Their god is their carnal appetites and sensual desires. They will be obedient to what feels good rather than crucifying themselves to sacrificially serve God in all things. They may seek comfort or gratification above the will of God, and they try to use the Lord to get what they want to live happily. Their god is their own bellies, their own selves, and they use God as a means to obtain their desires, rather than allowing God to use them as a means to fulfill His desires. They often deceive themselves into thinking they are saved when they aren't, and they claim the holy name of Jesus to get a free ticket to Heaven in order to selfishly escape the damnation of Hell, and yet live selfishly on this earth pursuing their own agendas as if His grace isn't good enough for their wholehearted devotion and obedience. These enemies of the cross encourage the people to fatten themselves with the things of this world to live in pleasure on the earth. James, however, replies to such people: "Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter" (Jam. 5:5). Take heed and examine yourself thoroughly in light of such a terrible warning, because even though you may think you are, I read nowhere in the text where your name is stated as being exempt.

The next fruit of identification that the Apostle gives is that these enemies of the cross "glory in their shame". In other words, they are prideful of the very things they should be ashamed of. An obvious example is the boasting of modern "prosperity preachers". They boast of their material goods as if gain was godliness, and the very riches they exalt and boast of are the very things that steal their hearts away from the message of the cross. They, along with a great many American Christians, should be ashamed of selfishly accumulating this world's goods while over a billion people suffer severe hunger and malnutrition across this world, but instead of feeling convicted over their selfishly blind eyes to the needs of the world, they boast of how "blessed" they are. They are completely oblivious to the afflictions of the body of Christ, which the Lord loves as His very own self. In withholding funds from these brethren to ease their suffering, such people are withholding from Christ Himself (Mat 25:40). Then they turn around and boast about it! Their glory truly is in their shame. These enemies of the cross call evil "good" and good "evil" in their shameful glorying, but Isaiah the prophet said, "Woe unto them" (Isa 5:20)!

Do you remember the cry of the lukewarm church which Jesus apparently addressed as the most sinful of them all? The church at Laodicea's cry was, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing". However, the Lord called them, "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked". It appears that their riches and goods drew them away from the message of the cross with all its' sacrificial zeal to die to selves that they might live to God. It wasn't that they didn't believe in Christ or that they lacked faith, instead, they refused to obey the message of true discipleship; that "foolish" message of shame and sacrifice dealing with self-crucifixion to all the things of this world and the resulting zeal of the crazy, sacrificial love of reckless abandon and total dependency that follows. They were lukewarm and would be spit out of His mouth if they didn't repent. Only to those who repented and overcame did He offer the chance to sit with Him on His throne in His Kingdom. The lifestyles of those at the church of Laodicea were apparently contrary to the message of the cross. With this in mind, let me state that the American Church today, with the exception of a faithful remnant, is filthy and wretched with the terrible stench of lukewarm stagnation.

For those of us who dismiss the message of the cross as foolishness, I'm afraid that Jesus will dismiss us as fools for not giving up everything we have to purchase the pearl of great price (see Mat 13:45-46). We are to buy of Him that, "gold tried in the fire", lest we be found spiritually poor on the Day of Judgment with nothing to offer God except dead works and the filthy rags of our own righteousness, destitute of the riches of Christ because we weren't willing to pay the price He demanded. In light of this, let us re-examine our own walks with God right now, and next time we hear a "brother in Christ" boasting of their material goods, let us either stand up and rebuke them in the boldness of the Holy Ghost or run for our lives!

The third and final identifying fruit the Apostle Paul gives regarding these enemies of the cross is that they, "mind earthly things". Their minds are not on things above where Christ sits at the right hand of God, nor are their minds on the things of the invisible Kingdom of God, or on the world to come, but their minds are on the temporal and physical things of this world. Though they may even sound spiritual in speech and quote Bible verses, their minds are still on carnal things. They often think about the "here and now" rather than the age to come. They desire physical blessings above the fruit of holiness so they can receive immediate satisfaction. These carnally minded professing Christians want tangible and physical things they can see and feel, and they go to the scriptures with a carnal mind that seeks to back up their selfish desires, reading their pre-conceived ideas into the scriptures when the scriptures say no such things. They want the best of both worlds and completely ignore obedience to the many "hard" sayings of Jesus.

Lastly, but definitely not of least significance, the Apostle states the end of all such enemies of the cross; those who, despite what they profess or believe, lack the true fruits that the message of the cross entails: fruits of death to self and abundant life in God; of self-denial resulting in Christ-consciousness; of humility and shame resulting in glory and honor; of death to self resulting in being resurrected in the newness of life by the power of Christ. Those who work against the message of the cross, propagating a message of self-satisfaction and self-seeking happiness, will one day find out on the terrible day of wrath that their "end is destruction".

Jesus said that many will come in that day and say to Him things like "Lord, Lord, have we not done many wonderful works in Your name?", and He will respond to them, "I never knew you. Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity". Let me state once more that even though you think you are, I don't see your name listed in that scripture as being exempt. Jesus also said that not every one who says to Him, "Lord, Lord" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the ones who do the will of His Father. Those who are teaching contrary to the message of the cross and promoting self-centeredness, seeking their own will rather than God's, are doing the opposite of the will of God. They are working against Him, empowered by a spirit that imitates the true Spirit of Christ, even being deceived themselves.

I call on you now to examine yourself, and see if you are in the true faith. Have you been deceived by a message contrary to the message of the cross? Do you pick up your cross daily to follow Jesus, or do you cast it aside and seek your own agenda first and foremost? Do you serve God or do you serve yourself? Have you died to self and been buried with Christ by baptism unto death that you may live only to God, or do you try to get away with as much sin and compromise as you possibly can while still making it to Heaven? If so, you probably won't. Let me ask you one last great and final question: Do you obey the message of the cross? Your life; your eternal life; depends on it. Take this message to heart and don't harden your heart against the conviction of the Holy Ghost. He may convict you but He does it because He loves you and wants you to repent and get right. Jesus said that He rebukes and chastens those whom He loves, so please examine yourself in all honesty and let the searcher of men's hearts search you now and purge out the old leaven that so defiles. Then pick up your cross and bear its' shame!!!


_________________
Josef

 2006/3/26 18:51Profile
ed4Him
Member



Joined: 2006/3/24
Posts: 3
Cairns, Australia

 Re: The Message of the Cross and the Enemies Thereof

How sad that so many christians are being led astray by these enemies of the cross. I agree entirely with your article that really this is the only message of the bible, but how sad that this is rarely preached today. Many people who are searching for answers to life's difficult questions get caught up in this web of deceit and even those who are genuinely seeking the truth find it hard to see through the lies. Praise God He has given us His infallible Word to give us light on our path.
ThePreacher wrote:
The Message of the Cross and the Enemies Thereof

An article written by Josef Urban

-------------------------------------------------

"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." -Philippians 3:18-19

If any one will do so much as to even skim briefly over the epistles of Paul, they would unavoidably come to a recurring theme time and again. This theme is considered to be utter foolishness to the world, along with those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God; for God's strength is made perfect in weakness in the over-abounding sufficiency of His tremendous grace.

This underlying theme is the message of the cross. It is the greatest message of shame and humiliation toward men that the world has ever known, and yet, at the same time, it is the greatest message of honor and exaltation toward God that the world has ever known. It is a savor of death to those who are perishing, because they can't possibly understand it as it confounds the wise, glories in shame, humbles the proud, puts the first in last, and brings life out of death. It's a message that says you have to die in order to live. To us who are the elect of God, however, and are called according to His purpose, it is a savor of glorious life and liberty in the resurrection power of God by the Spirit whom the world cannot receive because it does not know Him, because as we deny ourselves and put the flesh to death, the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and gives them to us so that we may walk as He walked and live as He lived; in the abundance of life in the realm of the Kingdom of God, yet in the abundance of sufferings and death in the natural world all at the same time.

The message of the cross is the greatest message and underlying theme of the whole New Testament. That is why Paul repeatedly wrote of it, over and over, in all his epistles. Notice how Paul boasts in his weaknesses, glories only in his shame, speaks of terrible sufferings as the mark of his Apostleship, and repeatedly points to his sacrifice and self-denial as the way to win Christ. He even says that he has been crucified with Christ and no longer lives, but Christ lives in Him by the power of His resurrection. It is through the cross that Paul exalted the glory of God in everything he did, and it is the shame, humiliation, sufferings, and persecutions of the cross that made him the great Apostle that he was to God's glory.

The message of the cross did not originate with Paul, however. It originated with Jesus Christ. He said that if any man will come after Him, he must deny himself and take up his cross, even daily. Jesus said that if you try to save your life or if you love your life in this world, you will lose it eternally, but if you lose your life and hate it in this world for His sake, then you will keep it unto life eternal. He said that if you don't forsake everything you have, and love Him more than you love everything else, including your own family, then you cannot be His disciple (follower). The Lord said we will be blessed when we are persecuted and spoken of as evil for His sake, but that we will be cursed if we seek the things of this world and are spoken well of by the world. Jesus said that no servant is greater than his Master, and that the world would hate His followers.

Do you obey and relate to this message? If not, and if you think this message is one of foolishness, then I have the authority of the Word of God to boldly state that you are perishing (1 Cor 1:18). If the contempt of the cross of Christ is too much for you to bear, then don't even think about being a follower of Jesus. What man attempts to build a building without sitting down first and calculating the cost in order to see if he has what is required to finish it? In the same way, we must count the cost before committing ourselves to the Lord Jesus, and if we are not willing to forsake all that we have, then we cannot be His follower. Why would anybody not be willing to forsake all they have, die daily as they take up their cross, and hate their own life for His sake? The reward far outweighs the cost, for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy of being compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. After all, what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his very own soul? So why would a man not be willing to forsake all that is in the world in order to gain the incorruptible crown of unfading glory in the glorious Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ?

As you can see, this message is a hard one, yet it is unsurpassed by anything this world has to offer in its' concluding glory and reward. In light of the "hardness" of this message, though, we can clearly come to the obvious conclusion that such a message of self-crucifixion would have many enemies. It would be much easier to twist the scriptures out of context, cut and paste only the scriptures we like out of the Bible while completely ignoring or explaining away the rest, and to create false doctrines that ease the burden of the cross's message, than to accept and follow such a hard message. But be warned that such people who do this commit the grave sin that the Apostle Peter warned of in the 16th verse of the third chapter of his second epistle: these unstable souls wrest the scriptures to their own destruction.

In the opening text, the Apostle Paul states that many, in fact, do walk as enemies of the cross. Notice that he does not specifically state that they are the enemies of Jesus Christ, but that they are enemies of the cross. In being the enemies of the cross, they are the enemies of Christ as well, but what does this entail?

Enemies of the cross may claim the name of Jesus in all they do. They may "come in (His) name...” They may appear to be the Lord's most enlightened ministers. They may appear to be the greatest preachers the world has ever seen or known. They may even operate in deceptive counterfeit signs and wonders and many impressive miracles, but we know that if Satan can be transformed into an angel of light, it is no surprising thing for his servants to be transformed into ministers of righteousness. The Word of God says that the spirit of anti-Christ will come with many counterfeit signs and wonders, and that this spirit was already at work in the world at the writing of John's first epistle nearly two thousand years ago.

This spirit of anti-Christ often imitates the true Spirit of Christ. It counterfeits all that the Lord does. It is no wonder for this false spirit to heal and prophesy. It operates through false teachers while most of them are unaware, imitating the Spirit of God, and it presents a message contrary to the true Gospel's message of the cross. The spirit of anti-Christ operates in accordance with the world, and worldly "Christians" are drawn away by it, enticed by their own selfish desires. This spirit is after the working of Satan and offers worldly satisfaction, material wealth, comfortable living, ear-tickling prophecies, and appeals to the desires of men's hearts and flesh, and most often does it all in pretense under the name of Jesus. It offers the exact opposite of the message of the cross and completely disregards all sacrificial commitment to Jesus through self-denial. This spirit appears to be good in all its' manifestations, and appeals to the senses, but in the end its' sting is full of bitter and deadly poison.

Listen up now because I speak as one entrusted by God with a burden for this truth. Many strange doctrines are going around in the church today that are foreign to the Word of God; doctrines of selfishness, worldliness, carnality, pride, and covetousness. The message of worldly abundance that is floating around in the modern church is a message of self-satisfaction and self-gratification. It draws the people of God away from the message of the cross and makes them put their eyes on themselves and the things of this world. It opens the people up to set their hearts on themselves and their riches, exalting worldly success as a standard to measure godliness and thus causes people to covet more and more. It causes people to lift up their souls unto vanity, and to set their minds and affections on the things of this earth. This prosperity message is the opposite of the message of the cross, and yet from the surface it appears to be a great revelation from God.

I tell you the truth that this prosperity message is an enemy of the cross because it teaches just the opposite. Rather than denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, crucifying ourselves to the world and to all of our carnal desires including the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, this modern message tells us to ignore all of that and live it up in pleasure, seeking the abundance of this world to satisfy our carnal desires. Accumulated worldly riches make it possible to fulfill the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life in abundance, while they don't encourage us to make self-denying sacrifices for our Lord according to the cross's message. Worldly riches pull our hearts away from God with an ever-increasing strength and cause us to seek pleasure instead of sacrificial acts of obedience to the cross. This is why Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God; in fact, the only reason he can is because all things are possible with God!

The prosperity message is one that says "gain is godliness". It says that the more godly you are, the more gain you're going to get, whether it be material goods, worldly status and popularity, health and healings, and all other such temporal things. Paul, however, warned us in the sixth chapter of his first epistle to Timothy, that those who teach such things are proud, they know nothing, they have corrupt minds, and they are destitute of the truth: And what is the identifying mark of such people? They suppose, "...gain is godliness...” The Apostle then charges us, saying, "...from such withdraw thyself".

I speak now with all boldness by the authority of the Word of God, with a heavy burden on my heart, in saying that this message of worldly prosperity and abundance that has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ is being propagated by the spirit of anti-Christ, the same spirit that has been at work in the world for over two thousand years seeking to deceive the people of God. This message is the exact opposite of the message of the cross, and those who preach this message are working against the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. All such people, knowingly or not, are enemies of the cross. Those who propagate this message are leading many away from the truth of the cross and are working against God, despite their so-called success, fame, and prosperity. This message encourages friendship with the world, but the Word says that whoever chooses to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God, and all those who refuse the shame and death of the cross are the enemies of the true Gospel because they are working against it.

The enemies of the cross seek their own selfish desires above the will of God. They are driven by indulgence, and ever so subtly. They may be slick as snakes and sly as foxes, but they can be known by their fruits. Let us briefly examine the fruits of these enemies of the cross according to the words of the inspired Apostle.

In the opening scripture, the Apostle states that their god is their belly. Take note! Their god is their carnal appetites and sensual desires. They will be obedient to what feels good rather than crucifying themselves to sacrificially serve God in all things. They may seek comfort or gratification above the will of God, and they try to use the Lord to get what they want to live happily. Their god is their own bellies, their own selves, and they use God as a means to obtain their desires, rather than allowing God to use them as a means to fulfill His desires. They often deceive themselves into thinking they are saved when they aren't, and they claim the holy name of Jesus to get a free ticket to Heaven in order to selfishly escape the damnation of Hell, and yet live selfishly on this earth pursuing their own agendas as if His grace isn't good enough for their wholehearted devotion and obedience. These enemies of the cross encourage the people to fatten themselves with the things of this world to live in pleasure on the earth. James, however, replies to such people: "Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter" (Jam. 5:5). Take heed and examine yourself thoroughly in light of such a terrible warning, because even though you may think you are, I read nowhere in the text where your name is stated as being exempt.

The next fruit of identification that the Apostle gives is that these enemies of the cross "glory in their shame". In other words, they are prideful of the very things they should be ashamed of. An obvious example is the boasting of modern "prosperity preachers". They boast of their material goods as if gain was godliness, and the very riches they exalt and boast of are the very things that steal their hearts away from the message of the cross. They, along with a great many American Christians, should be ashamed of selfishly accumulating this world's goods while over a billion people suffer severe hunger and malnutrition across this world, but instead of feeling convicted over their selfishly blind eyes to the needs of the world, they boast of how "blessed" they are. They are completely oblivious to the afflictions of the body of Christ, which the Lord loves as His very own self. In withholding funds from these brethren to ease their suffering, such people are withholding from Christ Himself (Mat 25:40). Then they turn around and boast about it! Their glory truly is in their shame. These enemies of the cross call evil "good" and good "evil" in their shameful glorying, but Isaiah the prophet said, "Woe unto them" (Isa 5:20)!

Do you remember the cry of the lukewarm church which Jesus apparently addressed as the most sinful of them all? The church at Laodicea's cry was, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing". However, the Lord called them, "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked". It appears that their riches and goods drew them away from the message of the cross with all its' sacrificial zeal to die to selves that they might live to God. It wasn't that they didn't believe in Christ or that they lacked faith, instead, they refused to obey the message of true discipleship; that "foolish" message of shame and sacrifice dealing with self-crucifixion to all the things of this world and the resulting zeal of the crazy, sacrificial love of reckless abandon and total dependency that follows. They were lukewarm and would be spit out of His mouth if they didn't repent. Only to those who repented and overcame did He offer the chance to sit with Him on His throne in His Kingdom. The lifestyles of those at the church of Laodicea were apparently contrary to the message of the cross. With this in mind, let me state that the American Church today, with the exception of a faithful remnant, is filthy and wretched with the terrible stench of lukewarm stagnation.

For those of us who dismiss the message of the cross as foolishness, I'm afraid that Jesus will dismiss us as fools for not giving up everything we have to purchase the pearl of great price (see Mat 13:45-46). We are to buy of Him that, "gold tried in the fire", lest we be found spiritually poor on the Day of Judgment with nothing to offer God except dead works and the filthy rags of our own righteousness, destitute of the riches of Christ because we weren't willing to pay the price He demanded. In light of this, let us re-examine our own walks with God right now, and next time we hear a "brother in Christ" boasting of their material goods, let us either stand up and rebuke them in the boldness of the Holy Ghost or run for our lives!

The third and final identifying fruit the Apostle Paul gives regarding these enemies of the cross is that they, "mind earthly things". Their minds are not on things above where Christ sits at the right hand of God, nor are their minds on the things of the invisible Kingdom of God, or on the world to come, but their minds are on the temporal and physical things of this world. Though they may even sound spiritual in speech and quote Bible verses, their minds are still on carnal things. They often think about the "here and now" rather than the age to come. They desire physical blessings above the fruit of holiness so they can receive immediate satisfaction. These carnally minded professing Christians want tangible and physical things they can see and feel, and they go to the scriptures with a carnal mind that seeks to back up their selfish desires, reading their pre-conceived ideas into the scriptures when the scriptures say no such things. They want the best of both worlds and completely ignore obedience to the many "hard" sayings of Jesus.

Lastly, but definitely not of least significance, the Apostle states the end of all such enemies of the cross; those who, despite what they profess or believe, lack the true fruits that the message of the cross entails: fruits of death to self and abundant life in God; of self-denial resulting in Christ-consciousness; of humility and shame resulting in glory and honor; of death to self resulting in being resurrected in the newness of life by the power of Christ. Those who work against the message of the cross, propagating a message of self-satisfaction and self-seeking happiness, will one day find out on the terrible day of wrath that their "end is destruction".

Jesus said that many will come in that day and say to Him things like "Lord, Lord, have we not done many wonderful works in Your name?", and He will respond to them, "I never knew you. Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity". Let me state once more that even though you think you are, I don't see your name listed in that scripture as being exempt. Jesus also said that not every one who says to Him, "Lord, Lord" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the ones who do the will of His Father. Those who are teaching contrary to the message of the cross and promoting self-centeredness, seeking their own will rather than God's, are doing the opposite of the will of God. They are working against Him, empowered by a spirit that imitates the true Spirit of Christ, even being deceived themselves.

I call on you now to examine yourself, and see if you are in the true faith. Have you been deceived by a message contrary to the message of the cross? Do you pick up your cross daily to follow Jesus, or do you cast it aside and seek your own agenda first and foremost? Do you serve God or do you serve yourself? Have you died to self and been buried with Christ by baptism unto death that you may live only to God, or do you try to get away with as much sin and compromise as you possibly can while still making it to Heaven? If so, you probably won't. Let me ask you one last great and final question: Do you obey the message of the cross? Your life; your eternal life; depends on it. Take this message to heart and don't harden your heart against the conviction of the Holy Ghost. He may convict you but He does it because He loves you and wants you to repent and get right. Jesus said that He rebukes and chastens those whom He loves, so please examine yourself in all honesty and let the searcher of men's hearts search you now and purge out the old leaven that so defiles. Then pick up your cross and bear its' shame!!!



_________________
Eddy

 2006/3/26 22:42Profile
ThePreacher
Member



Joined: 2006/3/26
Posts: 5
Northwest OHIO

 Re:

Sometimes I wonder what good it even does to evangelize, preach the Gospel, and turn people loose to seek the truth on their own. Like you said, those genuinly seeking truth usually get caught up in a web of deceit. How bad we truly need some teachers of sound doctrine to make disciples! If only we could learn to pray and seek the Lord and have Him reveal His Word to us!


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Josef

 2006/3/29 18:47Profile









 Re:

Quote:

ThePreacher wrote:
Sometimes I wonder what good it even does to evangelize, preach the Gospel, and turn people loose to seek the truth on their own. Like you said, those genuinly seeking truth usually get caught up in a web of deceit. How bad we truly need some teachers of sound doctrine to make disciples! If only we could learn to pray and seek the Lord and have Him reveal His Word to us!



Hia brothers.

Can I just maybe add a thought to this.

We do need good teaching, but where it is impossible to get ... Jesus makes it clear that those who are "genuinely seeking truth" WILL be kept doctrinally - even if they never find a teacher anywhere. That's a Promise. :-)

We need to pray that more will learn alone at His feet and then go out and disciple folks.

Sometimes "training" can do more harm than good.
I believe Paul was 14 years alone with the Lord alone in the wilderness "learning" before he started his Public ministry.
Something to be said about that.

Just another thought.
Grace and Peace.

 2006/3/29 20:57





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