"Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (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.)" Phil. 3:17-19
The word gospel means good news. The gospel of Christ means good news about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 15:1-4) This involves the virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death (substitutionary death on the cross), burial, resurrection, ascension, ministry of intercession, and Christ's bodily coming back again. The focal point of the gospel is the cross in which Paul said he would glory. (Gal. 6:14) Paul also stated that there were many who were enemies of the cross (Phil. 3:18) which is equivalent to our title--"Enemies of the Gospel."
You may ask who would be an "enemy of the gospel?" Let me answer that by saying, "Anyone who would short-circuit the work of the Holy Ghost in salvation." When His work is short-circuited then the gospel ceases to be the "power of God unto salvation." (Rom. 1:16) Let me give you some examples of those who are "enemies of the gospel."
When preachers point men to the written Word only instead of the living Word they are "enemies of the gospel." Thank the Lord for the written Word but life is not in the written Word but the Living Word--Jesus. John 1:4 says, "In him (Jesus Christ--the living Word) is life." Also I John 5:12 states plainly, "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." The written Word is the record God gave of His Son and we must believe the record but we must not stop there. We need to follow the record which is like a sign pointing to the Son; therefore, we need to go to the Son--the living Word if we are to have eternal life. "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (I John 5:10-12) This is all a work of the Holy Ghost and not your doing nor the preacher's doing. Therefore, any preacher who would be instrumental in causing you to stop short of having the Son is an "enemy of the gospel."
Also anyone who tries to give assurance to someone else is really an "enemy of the gospel." Giving assurance is not man's job for when the gospel comes it produces assurance. "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. . ." (I Thess. 1:5) And this assurance lasts: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." (Isa. 32:17) It is not man's job to give assurance. It is the Holy Ghost's job. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." (Rom. 8:16) Therefore, anyone who tries to prop someone else up and give them assurance is really an "enemy of the gospel."
Another "enemy of the gospel" is one who tries to play God. It is true that one "whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God." (John 3:34) But it is also true that those words are just words to someone until God gives them an ear to hear. Those words must be quickened by the Holy Ghost (Heb. 4:12) for them to be effective. In Rom. 10:17 "word" means every utterance of God. In John 6:63 Jesus refers to the words He speaks. This refers to more than just the preacher's words even though the preacher is in Christ's stead. (II Cor. 5:20) Therefore, any preacher who tries to play God is an "enemy of the gospel." He may think he knows where you are and what you are going through but He is not God. Every preacher is human and subject to a margin of error. God must quicken the word the preacher preaches to an individual before he or she can have faith to act upon it. Thus, any body who tries to play God is really an "enemy of the gospel."
Yet another "enemy of the gospel" is one who tries to get someone to hold to an experience of salvation when it is not Biblical. When someone is having doubts and confusion, it is a good sign that something is missing in their salvation experience. And the last thing they need is some well meaning person to tell them, "I would not be too quick to throw that away." or "Your experience sounds ok to me."
These sayings are detrimental to the confused individual by causing them to hold on to some experience that is not real. Instead you need to pull all props from such individuals. You say, "That would harm them." Oh, no! If they are lost it will help them to get honest and seek the Lord to be saved. And if (I say "if" because most in this condition are lost) they are saved they will come forth stronger because the Holy Ghost will assure them and guide them into all truth. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13) So I say those who try to get people to hold on to an experience that is not Biblical are really "enemies of the gospel."
There are those who embrace a doctrine, which can even be true, instead of embracing the God of that doctrine. For example: the local church is a doctrine that is true. There is no such thing as a universal, invisible church for the word "church" means assembly which is local and visible. But there are some who have embraced that doctrine instead of embracing the God of the local church. These are "enemies of the gospel" for they preach more about the church than they do the Lord of the church.
Then there are those who worship the King James Bible instead of the God of the Bible. They will sit silently while the cross of Christ is being preached but will shout at the very mention of the KJV 1611. Thank God for the preserved Word but we need to thank God more for His Son who died on the cross for our sins--the gospel. Men who practice such as I have mentioned are truly "enemies of the gospel."
Last, but not least is those who practice easy-believism are "enemies of the gospel." Easy-believism comes in two forms. One, by having the lost to raise their hand and repeat after them a short prayer. This is done without any mention of the sanctification work of the Holy Ghost. "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." (II Thess. 2:13) Another form of easy-believism is using the Roman Road method of so called "soul winning" and have them call audibly ("For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Rom. 10:13) and then accusing them of calling God a liar when they do not have assurance. All these methods do is make such "twofold more the child of hell." (Mat. 23:15) Those who practice such methods are "enemies of the gospel."
Paul refers to those who are "enemies of the gospel" in Phil. 3:19 as living for the flesh. This would apply to preachers of our day who are more concerned about nickels and noses than they are souls of men. He also says their end is utter destruction not "the prize of the high calling" (Phil. 3:14) but everlasting death.
The sad thing is there are many in our churches today just like this group of professed Christians whom Paul calls enemies of the cross whose end will be utter destruction. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Mat. 7:21-23) May we not be one of them nor be like the Psalmist who when he looked at them said, "My steps had well nigh slipped. When I thought to know (understand) this, it was to painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God. Then understood I their end." (Psa. 73:2,16-17)
I don't know about you but I do not want to be an "enemy of the gospel." May the Lord help me to find truth, embrace truth, preach truth, and practice truth so that I will not be labeled an "enemy of the gospel."
THE PERSUADER - July-Sept., 1999