Enemies of the Cross

Have you noticed that everyone is talking about Jesus these days? I just read again my article “The Time Draweth Near” that was posted in October of 2002. I wrote that religious events would become major news stories as we race toward the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue this planet from the strangle hold of Satan and his evil ones. The scriptures clearly point to Jerusalem as the epi-center of all this attention, Zechariah 12:2-3. The entire world has now experienced Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” which chronicles the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus as he suffers the agony of being crucified on the cross. In a strange way, this movie has grabbed the attention of the world’s media. What happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago is now front and center once again. You can rest assured that Jesus Christ and his teachings will remain center stage. The debate and argument you will hear on CNN and MSNBC will be over who he really is, and what his teachings and prophecies mean….how will they be interpreted?

Who do you think of when you read the title of this article, “Enemies of the Cross”? Many of you will instantly link the Islamic terrorists, who almost daily are murdering all who oppose their strict, literal interpretation of the Koran. Islam rejects Christendom and considers us as infidels, because we think Mohammed is a false prophet. There are some of you who consider the Jews as the greatest enemies of the cross and are jumping aboard the anti-semitic bandwagon that is sweeping the Earth. Others of you probably think the Hindu and Buddhist masses, who also reject the Lord Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, are the enemies of the cross. Some of you would say that all of the above is the correct answer. I suggest that we see what Paul, who wrote the letter to the Philippians, has to say about this matter. Let’s see how he responded to the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:10-21. (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might “attain” unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (16) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. (17) Brethren, be followers together of me, and “mark” them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (18) “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: (19) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. (20) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Please read this scripture again, slowly, letting it sink deep into your heart. It helps us to understand the heart of Paul when we know that until the day he fell on his face before the Lord in repentance and godly sorrow for his sin, he helped to persecute and punish the followers of Jesus in Israel. Some say he had much blood on his hands and he even admits to hating and hunting down his Jewish brethren who loved Jesus and followed him as their Messiah. Paul was a religious leader among the Jews who could no longer stand the pricking of guilt that overwhelmed him. If he were being interviewed today on Fox News, he would be the first to say that before his conversion he was the enemy of Jesus Christ. He thought Jesus deserved to die for declaring himself to be the Son of God. He would acknowledge that he was in agreement with the mob who cried out to Pontius Pilot “crucify him”. Like most everyone in those days, who witnessed first hand the ministry and murder of Jesus, Paul was ignorant of the prophecies that called for the Messiah to first die for the sins of the people. He had been blinded by pride and could not see the Saviour in the bloody animal sacrifices for sin mandated by God in the Old Testament. The Jewish religious establishment refused to see him as John the Baptist did…. the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, John 1:29.

But Paul is now writing to believers in Philippi, that his deepest desire is to know more about Jesus, to experience the power that comes from having faith in the cross and resurrection of the Lord. He knew the risen Lord Jesus Christ was returning to this Earth someday to resurrect the dead bodies of those souls who are already in Heaven. He knew that anyone who refused to repent of their sin and rejected the grace and mercy of Jesus would then be judged and sent to an eternal Hell. He knew the only way to Heaven was through the bloody cross. And more than anything, he knew what Jesus meant when he said…pick up your cross and follow me, Luke 9:22-26. We see in Paul’s heart that he wanted to “attain” the fellowship of the Lord’s suffering and was willing to die on a cross just as his Lord had. My dear friends, this is the attitude of a man who loved people so much that he was willing to confront them with the truth of their sinfulness. He was willing to suffer at the hands of people who had just become his enemies for telling them their only way of escaping the bondage of sin and Hell was through Jesus Christ. Paul shares with us the difficulty in allowing ourselves to suffer like the Lord. He understands that it is impossible to walk in the footsteps of Jesus without having the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit to empower him. Paul struggled with his old nature and attitude that seeks revenge on his enemies, that loves only those who love him. He cries out to the Philippians that he has not yet attained perfection in this love for his enemies, but is pressing forward toward that goal, and will not waver from it until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in the day of resurrection.

Paul instructs the believers then and now to mark or identify those in the church who follow this basic application of the gospel….love your enemies. If this was done in today’s patriotic environment it would cause a riot. For as in Paul’s day, Christendom today is being deluged with people who think highly of Jesus, even say that he died on the cross and rose from the dead. But Paul said…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. Who are the “many” Paul is talking about? Who are they today? Let’s be clear here that Paul is not talking about Islamic terrorists or atheists who mock the existence of God. He’s talking about men who would raise their right hand and swear under oath that Jesus died on the cross. Then why does Paul call them enemies of the cross? These are men who want the cross to escape the judgment of an eternal Hell, but have “no desire” to depart from the sins that send them there! Read that again and think about it carefully. Their understanding and application of the cross had been distorted by false teachers who crept into the churches. Paul is weeping because he loves these brethren that are heading down a road….whose end is destruction. There can be no doubt that Paul was aware of the prophetic teaching of Jesus that “many” would come saying they are Christians, but are really wolves in sheepskin suits, Mathew 7:15, 22, 24:5.

Now, 2000 years later, it’s not so much a matter of a few false teachers sneaking in the backdoor to spread their deceptions. For entire denominations now teach these distortions. For example, there are many denominations who follow the Calvinist doctrine of “once saved always saved” where men can be set free from Hell, but staying free from sins that send them there doesn’t really matter. For the sinning Christian is assured by the Calvinists he can never lose his free pass into Heaven, no matter how much he sins. He will just forfeit his rewards and if his sin gets too bad, the Lord will take him to Heaven early. This heresy makes it easier for the Christian to walk in the appetites or desires of his belly, as Paul said. While they profess the Lord with their lips, their real God… is their bellies. In other words, they look at the death of Jesus as a license to wallow in their desires for the finest of food, clothing, shelter, and even sexual appetites. They would never admit this, but their lifestyles prove it to be true. They want a free pass from Hell, while refusing to acknowledge that….he was manifested to take away our sins….that he might destroy the works of the devil, I John 3:5-8. Pay close attention, Paul and John do not include Hell as the works of the devil. It is not surprising then that many Calvinists in America are among the most militant and patriotic of all branches of Christendom. For if there is no desire or power to overcome the lusts of the flesh, there will be no power to love their Islamic enemies.

Paul goes on to say of these brethren….whose glory is in their shame. The militant patriotism of many American Christians reflects perfectly what Paul is saying. Can you imagine for a minute Paul standing alongside the professing Christian, George Washington, encouraging him to take up arms against the King of England? I can imagine Paul on his knees, crying out for Washington to reconsider what he is doing. He would remind him of his words to the Roman Christians….be subject unto the King. From what you now know about Paul’s desire to be made conformable to the cross of his Lord, do you really believe he would get entangled in the violence of President Bush’s war on terror? I think not! The pride that is woven into patriotism and political revolution is blinding militant Christians to the destruction that awaits them. Instead of being ashamed for wanting their Islamic enemies killed, they actually glory in it. They are…minding earthly things. They have not completely embraced the citizenship that Jesus offers in his coming kingdom. They are not longing for his return to put an end to Satan’s kingdom that controls all nations, even America. They want the best from both kingdoms….to escape Hell and live in luxury and pleasure now. They are not desiring the new sinless glorified bodies that Jesus will give to his own when he returns.

I must pause to remind everyone that God has temporarily allowed human government to maintain armies and police forces to restrain and punish evildoers, thereby preventing anarchy. Christians in any nation should pray for, respect, and obey all civil authorities. However, what God allows unregenerate civil leaders to do, punish and execute evildoers, he forbids his followers to do, Romans 12:17-13:1-7. Furthermore, I have written many times before how Christians should respect and honor veterans who, in ignorance of the truth of the cross, laid their lives on the line for the people of their nation. Having served in Vietnam has just reinforced my understanding and position on Christian non-involvement in violence. The Lord Jesus Christ has called his followers to respect the kings and their armies as people for whom Jesus died, while at the same time warning them of their disobedience to the King of all Kings that is sending them all to Hell. Bravery and self sacrifice is admirable, but will not wash away the sins of the greatest of military heroes. Hell can only be avoided through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Calvinists are not alone in their derision. The Charismatic branch of Christendom is very comfortable with wallowing in the desires of their bellies because they have been convinced by their Health and Wealth teachers that God wants them that way. They out do their Calvinist brethren by christianizing their carnal desires. These teachers have taken the very elements of the carnal nature of man described in the letter of I John….desires of the eyes, desires of the body, the pride of life, and hatred of others…. the things Jesus died on the cross to save us from, and somehow, through their clever twisting and redefining of the scriptures, encourage their followers to seek after and indulge themselves in these same things, all in the name of the Lord. Again, because there is no power over the desires of the belly, there is no power to love their enemies. Today they are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Calvinists, encouraging the President in the wars of the Middle East.

In my last article “Like a Snare” I wrote extensively about Mel Gibson and his movie and how it fits into the prophecies of the last days. Mel Gibson is a member of the Catholic branch of Christendom which prays to the Queen of Heaven for all Christians to unite to save the world. I am convinced that the demonic “ecumenical” process within Christendom has been given a giant boost with this film. I also respect my Lord Jesus Christ enough to know that what the devil will use for evil, God will turn it for his good. There is enough truth revealed in that movie to cause some to ask questions about the life of Jesus. My hope is they will seek the answers from the scriptures and understand they don’t need Mary or the sacraments to help them fellowship with the Lord and that doing so is to commit idolatry. Think about it for a moment. Since Jesus rose from the dead and promised to personally come into the life of all those who truly repent of their sin, why would he then institute a clergy-laity religious system that prevents him from doing just that? The Catholic sacramental system is just another way for the enemies of the cross to walk in the desires of their bellies. When they sin all that is required is to confess to the clergy and do penance by saying a few prayers to Mary. Indeed, the beloved mother of Jesus is in Heaven, and if she could she would tell everyone to stop praying to her, for it is idolatry. That religious ritual will not cleanse man from any sin. This then becomes a cycle of man made traditions that make it easier for men who really don’t want to depart from the pleasures of their sins. Again, if there is no power over the carnal desires, there is no power to love their enemies, 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

I have one other important question for all Catholics, Calvinists, and Charismatics who saw the movie. Did you enter into the theater a militant patriot who thinks Christians can become entangled in “just” wars declared by their leaders? After watching the Lord being beaten and scourged, did it affect you at all when he looked down on the worst of his enemies and offered them forgiveness? Did you come out of the theater the same way you went in? If you did you missed the truth of the cross. Paul’s letter to the Philippians clearly shows the truth of the cross and “marks” those who tamper with its purpose.

What will be the end of these marked and unrepentant multitudes in Christendom? Where are they headed? The answer is sad but simple….they have a one way ticket to the judgment in Jerusalem. I began this article by stating that “Jerusalem and Jesus” have once again become center stage for the audience that is the world’s media. It is important to remember that Paul, being a Jew, was aware of the role Israel would play in the last days leading up to the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ. When he told the false brethren in Philippi their end was destruction, I’m sure he imagined the great tribulation of Daniel’s 70th week of seven years that Jesus himself referenced in Matthew 24:15. He knew Jerusalem would be overrun by Gentile armies and the people of Israel would be scattered again for their sins. Paul knew the day was coming when the leaders in Jerusalem would mock and scorn the prophets God would send to them. Read the words of Isaiah written 2700 years ago, where he describes events that are now being discussed on Fox News and CNN.

Isaiah 28:14-23. (14) Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye “scornful” men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. (15) Because ye have said, We have made a “covenant” with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the the “overflowing scourge” shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: (16) Therefore, thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a “precious cornerstone”, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (17) Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (18) And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the “overflowing scourge” shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. (19) From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. (20) For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. (21) For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. (22) Now therefore be ye not “mockers”, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the “whole” earth. (23) Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech.

Everyone knows today’s war on terror is directly connected to the land and people of Israel. Since their rebirth as a nation in 1948, the Jewish people have known nothing but war and terrorism. Their Arab and Islamic enemies have proudly taken up the sword of Hitler and will not rest until they kill every Jew on Earth. It appears that only America supports and stands with Israel. And that support is shallow and hypocritical at best. It is not a coincidence that Israel has made itself totally dependent on America. In spite of Israel’s idolatry of America, the God of Israel has protected the Jewish people and until now has prevented another holocaust. I fear however, that his protective hand will be removed when Israel signs a peace covenant with its enemies. We can see this covenant on the horizon as the daily news shows discuss the dire need for peace in the Middle East.

We can also see the hateful Islamic enemies of Israel are today coming to the point of no return with America and Israel’s war on terror. The superior Jewish and American armies are not leaving the Middle East. So they must either change and make peace with Israel or one by one be destroyed and occupied by American and even Jewish armies. Soon they will secretly plot with their guides in Russia to outwardly support a peace covenant with Israel, while behind closed doors they lay out their plans to invade and destroy Israel once and for all, Daniel 8:25, Ezekiel 38:7-16. They will even agree to the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount to prove they are really sincere, Revelation 11:1-3. After this happens, as Isaiah describes, the leaders of Israel will be confronted by God’s prophets. This confrontation begins on the 869th day of Daniel’s 2520 day prophecy. The Prime Minister and Knesset will be given a choice. They can continue down the road that leads to destruction by maintaining the peace covenant they signed with the American government and others, whom the prophets portray as the agents from Hell itself. They will call it a covenant with death.

The other choice the Jewish prophets will offer the Prime Minister is the precious cornerstone of Jesus Christ. They will tell him that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who came as the Lamb of God. They will explain to him the heresies of the Great Harlot of Christendom that has guided the American government. They will refer to the President and Pope as imposters who are following a false gospel, who will betray Israel when the Russians make their move and invade Israel. They might even quote Paul’s letter to the Philippians as they call the leadership of Israel to repentance. They will tell them to publicly repent and call the entire nation to do the same. The prophets will explain to them the horrible events that are soon to befall the nation for its sins.

It will be like the days of Jeremiah, when he foretold of the inevitable Babylonian invasion that could not be stopped. And that in order to save their own lives, Jeremiah told them to surrender to their enemies, Jeremiah 27:12. You can well imagine the reaction of the Prime Minister to the words of the prophets. Isaiah records this reaction very well….ye scornful men….be ye not mockers. The Prime Minister and his cabinet will renounce these prophets and call them unpatriotic traitors. They will immediately call their American counterparts and apologize for what these prophets are saying on television broadcasts. A great division will take place among the Jewish people. A large remnant of Jews will head the warnings of the prophets and become the target of intense persecution. The message of the returning Jesus Christ will be spread around the world by this faithful Jewish remnant, Revelation 7.

The Catholics, Calvinists, and Charismatics of Christendom who supported this momentous peace covenant, who started out defending the state and land of Israel, will become increasingly offended by the message of the Messianic prophets. They will not appreciate being called heretics and imposters who are following a false gospel. They will appear on “Hannity and Colmes” and other talk shows to demand these Jewish prophets repent of their blasphemy. This debate will begin to awaken some in Christendom to the lies they have been swallowing from their clergy leadership. A remnant will develop among the Gentiles of Christendom who will stand with their new Jewish brethren.

Many evangelical prophecy teachers of Christendom have for decades been proclaiming that the restored Israel of 1948 will never again be defeated and scattered among the nations. They have convinced multitudes of prophecy students that Israel will successfully defend themselves, even until the very day Jesus returns at Armageddon, when it appears that Israel is about to be defeated on the battlefield by the two hundred million man army of China. The Jewish prophets will also expose these lies when they predict the utter defeat of Israel when the Russian-Arab armies invade. The prophecy teachers and their followers will not appreciate being called into account for their error. You can imagine the dismay and confusion in these people when the Russians suddenly break the peace covenant and roll over Israel like a dark cloud that covers the land, Revelation 6:1-4, Luke 21:20-24, Ezekiel 38:16.

This overflowing scourge predicted by Isaiah and Ezekiel will be “breaking news” on CNN. It will be a time of intense self reflection for the prophecy teachers. How could they get it so wrong? Then, while sitting in front of their television screens watching a nuclear world war that is killing people by the millions escalate out of control, another “breaking news” story begins to unfold. Reporters in Jerusalem, who were covering the victorious but infighting Russian-Arab forces, are now reporting fire that seems to be falling from the heavens upon the Russian-Arab armies everywhere, Ezekiel 38:21-23, Revelation 8:7. They are falling by the thousands. There is no where for them to hide. It appears as though some great force or beings are flying through the atmosphere looking for the enemies of Israel to cast their fire down upon them. The shocked and astonished anchormen on ABC and CBS will ask….who did this….who has stopped World War III….was it God or aliens in UFO’s?

The American prophecy teachers are now confronted with another question. Does this destruction of Israel’s enemies by supernatural fire from the sky, which the teachers believe is the work of God, mean the Jews are to be restored in Israel as God’s chosen? Or is God telling the Gentiles of Christendom that Jews have been replaced by the Church? It is clear to me that since the Jewish prophets are still running loose and calling them apostates, the answer to their question will be easy. They will advise the President of their error when they said the Jews of Israel would never be defeated again because they were God’s chosen people. They now believe Christendom, led by the President and Pope, should not restore control over the Holy Land back to the Jews. They should be in control….and the final holocaust will begin!

This my friends is the destiny of the enemies of the cross who refuse to repent. Remember, every one of us were born into this world with a evil nature inherited from Adam and Eve. It is a nature that has polluted the spirit or heart of all of us. God created man as a three part being…body, soul, and spirit or heart. The nature we inherited from Adam and Eve has penetrated and infiltrated all three parts of our being. It is a nature that is filled with rebellion, hatred, evil desires, and pride just like Eve received from Satan in the Garden of Eden. She accepted these lies and desires from the evil one and we all manifest this nature when we are born and grow up in this world. In other words, we are all enemies of the cross. But there still resides in the spirit of all men the God given ability to hear and understand our predicament. It is possible for our sick and sinful hearts to hear the truth about our lost condition, yet impossible for us to save ourselves. We need a heart transplant. Jesus Christ came to this Earth the first time to save men, not to condemn them. His salvation begins with receiving a new heart or spirit through repentance and faith in his shed blood as full payment before God the Father for our sin. It will end when he returns to redeem our sinful bodies. This new birth is the receiving of the Holy Spirit who washes away the old evil nature of Satan and replaces it with his own. Only through the Holy Spirit can we begin to live the “resurrected life” promised by God.

It is vital to understand what the “resurrected life” really produces in our lives. This article has only scratched the surface on its meaning. I must encourage you again to be like Paul and “mark ” them who interpret this new life as some sort of magic genie who will satisfy all of their natural and earthly desires. Mark them and warn them in the love of our Lord to repent and follow after Paul who knew the resurrected life was to enable us to walk as Jesus walked….in the newness of life, loving our enemies, all the way to our cross if necessary! I have decided to stand in agreement with Paul when he considered himself to be the “chief” of sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15. This startling statement of Paul to Timothy doesn’t mean he couldn’t help but practice sin. God forbid! What Paul clearly means is that even though he walked in the resurrected life provided by the Holy Spirit, he was keenly aware of the evil impulses of his fleshly body. And Paul readily admits that he was not perfect and there were times he sinned. And when he did, he had the assurance and comfort of the Holy Spirit within him that he was forgiven when he confessed it to the Lord, 1 John 1:9. Paul is teaching me that the closer you get to the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart, the more aware you are of sinful temptations that come into your mind. This is what he taught the Christians in Rome when he said….when I would do good, evil is present with me, Romans 7:21.

I must confess with shame that I have walked in the shoes of my unrepentant Catholic, Calvinist, and Charismatic friends. I know also this article steps on many of their toes and they are tempted to be very angry with me. I have no animosity toward any of them. More than anything, I just want all of them to be in Heaven when Jesus returns. Many times over the years I have been duped into the religious mindset that desires a free pass from Hell while hanging on to the pleasures of my sin. I now understand how impossible it is to love my worst enemies apart from the free gift and grace of the Holy Spirit. Without this personal one on one relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, I would follow the old nature that yet resides in my body. There is an ongoing battle in my soul or mind between my new heart and old body that is filled with sinful tendencies. Paul described this battle in his letter to the Philippians and in greater detail in Romans 6-8.

Do you now understand why I am always talking and writing about the return of Jesus? For when he returns he will complete my redemption by freely giving me a new perfect sinless body. The war in my mind will then cease to exist. Remember, if you haven’t as yet experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, you still have the ability to hear his following words….Therefore, whosoever “heareth” these sayings of mine, and “doeth” them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock….and everyone that “heareth” these sayings of mine, and “doeth them not”, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand, Matthew 7:24-26.