“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail overcome it.” Matthew 16:18
Last week my brother invited me to a special prayer meeting at his church. While many in our country were getting ready for family cookouts, we were gathering to pray. You see there were people in my brother’s church that were going through spiritual warfare and he wanted to do something about it. As we gathered he spoke briefly in way of introduction. He told of the various spiritual attacks that were happening to the people of his church. Then he said that he felt it was time to “push back”. As he said this I was reminded of the verse that is quoted above.
Many people in the church read this verse and take great comfort in it. They are comforted by the fact that the hell can not win against Jesus’ church. However, I think that many miss the point with this verse. We use this verse to make ourselves feel comfortable within our walls. We use them to feel comfortable within lives lived separate from the world. That is not what Jesus is saying in this verse.
Gates are DEFENSIVE.
This passage is not talking about Jesus taking care of us as we huddle together in our safe little church buildings. When it talks about gates it is not talking about US being safe from THEIR attacks. Gates are defensive. They are designed to either keep something out, or to keep something in. In many cases it’s both. Think about a pen housing thoroughbred horses. The fence and the gate around that pen. It is certainly designed to keep the horses from wondering off. However, it is also designed to keep people that would seek to steal or harm the horses. THAT is what this verse is talking about. The GATES of hell will not prevail against the Church. This doesn’t mean that their attacks against the church will not be successful. Rather it means that Jesus is promising US an advantage.
Defending against what?
If a gate is a for defense, then it implies that there is a pending attack. At the very least it means that there is the possible of an attack. If hell has defensive gates, then what are they defending against? The words of Jesus tell us that the thing that hell is defending agains it US, the Church. When was the last time you knew of a church that posed a significant threat to the gates of hell. We claim to hold the words of the Bible as both sacred and true. We hold the words of Jesus to be even more so. Yet we act as if these gates are impenetrable.
It’s time to push back.
If we believe the words of Jesus to be true, then we, as the church, represent a power that the very gates of hell CANNOT prevail against. These are not my words. These are the words of Jesus. In preparation for this post I took some time to look up the original meanings of the words used intros verse. When I looked up when it says that the “gates of hell” it means… “the gates of hell.” When it says “will not prevail against it” it means “will not prevail against it.” Jesus is telling us that we have the power, through Him, to take on hell.
For far too long the church has been satisfied simply sitting in our comfortable, or even not so comfortable, seats in our comfortable buildings and refusing to take the battle to the enemy. We have been satisfied defending our home base. This is NOT what Jesus prescribed in this verse. What Jesus is telling us is that we should be attacking the gates of hell, not hiding from them. I’m not saying that the things we are doing at the church building are wrong. There may be some practices that need to change, but many of these things are good. However, we DO need to get out of the building and into the community. The enemy is attack people all around us and it is happening within the community.
So, what can you do as a Christian, as a church leader or even as a church member to attack the gates of hell? I once heard Perry Noble talk about when he was asked, “What would you do tomorrow if you knew you couldn’t fail?” His answer is that he would start a church. Jesus has promised us that when we attack the gates of hell, we can not fail. My question you is KNOWING that you can not fail, what will you do?Matt Norman
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