May 4, 2015
Mathew 16:18, 19
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Let’s continue to examine Jesus’ mission statement from Matthew 16:18 and 19:
…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not
prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven
and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever
you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
We saw last time that the Church is built on the Lord, “…Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…” (Ephesians 2:20). More than “the chief cornerstone,” He is the very foundation – solid bedrock! – upon which we are to build our lives, and He the Church! (See Matthew 7:24-27; I Corinthians 3:11-15).
Remember also that “…He is the head of the body, the church…” (Colossians 1:18). We are to take directions from the Head, Jesus Christ, and He will build His Church – us! As individual members of His Body, we have different functions in that Body, and He gifts us with and by the Holy Spirit to work out His plan to grow His Church. So do not allow jealousy or envy to enter into that upbuilding. Follow His leading, do your best for Him, and you will be fulfilling His dream for you!
But let’s look at some of the phrases in this mission statement from Matthew 16:
• Matthew 16:18 – “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Too often it is interpreted this way: “I am safe in the church! Even Hades (the realm of the dead, hell) cannot get in to get us!” Wrong! How many times have you been attacked by a gate?! How often has a gate jumped off its hinges and chased you down the street? But how many times have you had to attack a gate that was closed and perhaps the latch was rusty and resisted your efforts to open it? I think you get the idea. Jesus is not speaking of defense, but offense!
Also, in Bible times, the gate of a city was often an elaborate affair roofed over with side rooms and a large gathering place where the officials conducted the city business. So the gate would represent the authority, the government of the city – the town hall, you might say. Jesus is telling us that we are to offensively attack the authority of Hades (the realm of the dead, hell) and bust that gate right off its hinges!
What authority does Hades have? It can be summed up in four words – sin, death, hell, and Satan.
1. Sin – Every mother’s child is caught up in sin! We all have a sin nature that naturally rebels against God’s authority. It is written in Romans 3:23: “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” And in John 8:34 Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is the slave of sin.” Jesus has already busted the authority of sin’s dominion over you when He died on the cross! He paid the full penalty of sin before God, and – when we accept Him as our Savior – He provides us with a new nature that desires to please God. (See II Corinthians 5:17).
2. Death – There was no death before sin entered into creation. God told Adam in Genesis 2:16 and 17, “Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” Adam ate, and Adam died – spiritually first, when he ran and hid from God, separated from his Creator. He died physically many years later (see Genesis 5:5). “…and thus death spread to all…because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12). But Jesus conquered death when He arose from the tomb! And He reconciles us back to God by His sacrifice on our behalf! And so, when we accept Him into our heart and life, He gives us eternal life! (See John 5:24; I John 5:11-13). One more benefit we have over death is listed in Hebrews 2:14 and 15: “…through death He…destroy[ed] him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
3. Hell – People may make light of it, but hell is an absolutely terrible place! It is a place of eternal torment that Jesus described this way in Mark 9:44, 46 and 48: “…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched…” (See also Matthew 8:12; Revelation 14:10, 11; 21:8). He has given us heaven instead – the most wonderful place ever even imagined! (See I Corinthians 2:9).
4. Satan – If you have read the previous blogs on Jesus’ mission statements, you may remember the April 10 blog, Destroying The Destroyer. It is based on I John 3:8: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” And it is not just his works that are destroyed, for Jesus defeated him at the cross, and he is headed for the eternal hell! (See Luke 10:18; Revelation 20:10).
Is it any wonder that Paul joyously exclaims in I Corinthians 15:57, “…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…”?