May 6, 2015
Mathew 16:18, 19
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Let’s see if we can finish this mission statement Jesus told His disciples in 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 learned that we – the Body of Christ, the Church – are built upon the Rock, Christ Jesus (see Matthew 7:24-27; I Corinthians 3:11-15, Ephesians 2:20). And the first phrase of this mission statement is in verse 18:
• Matthew 16:18 – “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” This is not a defensive measure – hiding in the church so the devil can’t get us – but offensive! We are to be out attacking the authority and power of Satan’s kingdom of darkness, demolishing the very gates of hell! It is like what Jesus told His followers in Luke 14:23, as part of the parable of the Great Supper: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Go out and fight against evil any place you find it! Go out and tell people the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ that they may be freed from bondage to that evil one!
• Matthew 16:19 – “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.” First, let me say this is not as one major branch of Christiandom teaches – men ordained to certain positions have the power to unlock or lock up eternal life and heaven for people, or to forgive sins or to not forgive them! What then does Jesus mean?
Keys in one’s possession are a sign of authority. What the Lord gave to Peter was the authority to open the gospel to all the people groups mentioned in Acts 1:8, the final Great Commission Jesus gave His disciples just before His ascension back to heaven:
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and
you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria,
and to the end of the earth.
In Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached the gospel to the Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem from all over the known world: “Parthians…Medes…Elamites… Mesopotamia, Judea…Cappadocia, Pontus…Asia….Phrygia…Pamphilia, Egypt… Lybia …Cyrene…Rome… Cretans…Arabs…” (Acts 2:9-11). Again in Acts 3 Peter preached the gospel to the Jews. In Acts 8 Peter ministered to the Samaritans. Finally in Acts 10 the Holy Spirit directed Peter to open the gospel to the Gentiles as he gave the good news to Cornelius, his family and friends. In this way Peter used “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” to open the door of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ to Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles – just as Jesus had said in Acts 1:8.
Every Christian who is faithful to proclaim the gospel to others is in possession of “the keys of the kingdom of heaven”!
What about binding or loosing of things that affect life on earth and in heaven? Does it mean that people in certain positions of ecclesiastical authority have the power to forgive sins (and by implication not to forgive sins)? What does the Bible say? In Mark 2:7 the Jewish scribes raised the question, “Who can forgive sins but God alone? ” Jesus did not challenge their statement as being wrong. He used it to apply this truth to Himself: “…the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…” (Mark 2:10).
All Christians who understand the Biblical concept of how sins are forgiven – that “…if we walk in the light as He is in the light…the blood of Jesus Christ His [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin…” (I John 1:7). It starts – this walking in the light – with receiving the One who is “…the light of the world…” (John 8:12) as our Savior.
I have a neighbor who three months ago God led me to go and tell him about Jesus Christ, how He died for him, and that this neighbor needed to open his heart and life and accept the Lord as his Savior. With tears of sincerity, this man prayed, asking Jesus to forgive him and come into him to save him. After that prayer, I had the privilege and power to declare this one saved and in possession of eternal life! (See John 5:24; I John 5:11-13). He was loosed of his sins both in heaven and on earth!
May you also have this experience of “…whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”