If you have been a believer for any length of time, then you may recall the discourse held between Jesus and Peter in Matthew 16:17-18 concerning how the “gates of hell would not prevail against the church.” What exactly does this mean and how do we implement this into our walk as believers?
According to Matthew Henry, this implies that the church has enemies that fight against it and endeavor to accomplish its ruin and overthrow. The gates of hell speak of the city of hell which is directly opposite to the Kingdom of God, the heavenly city, the city of the Living God. The gates of hell are the powers and policies of the devil’s kingdom; the dragons head by which he makes war with the Lamb. They fight against gospel truths, corrupt gospel ordinances, persecute good ministers and good Christians. The gates of hell were designed to root out the name of Christianity (Psalm 83:4), to devour the man-child (Revelation 12:9) and to raze the city to the ground.
NEWS FLASH!!!…this is NOT the fate of the church of the living God! Matthew 16:17-18 assures us that the enemies of the Church shall not gain their vantage (a position that provided an advantage) point. While the world remains, Christ WILL always have an overcoming, productive, faith-filled, Bible-toting, scripture-quoting, Church, in which HIS truths and ordinances shall be owned and kept up, in spite of all the opposition of the powers of darkness. They shall NOT prevail against the Church!!! (Isaiah 54:17, KJV), says no weapon formed against thee shall prosper.)
Understanding the Word
Other translations which assist us in understanding this passage of scripture, in Matthew 16, further are listed below:
Expanded Version-On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death (gates of Hades/the underworld) will not be able to defeat (overpower, conquer, prevail against) it.
Passion Translation–I give you the name Peter, a stone and this truth of who I am will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church— my legislative assembly and the power of death will not be able to overcome it.
The VOICE-This is why I have called you Peter (rock): for on this rock I will build My church. The church will reign triumphant even at the gates of hell.
Message-Jesus came back, God bless you Simon, son of Jonah. You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.
Understanding the Order and Government of the Church
Every nation appoints ambassadors and regents to represent the interest of the nation and speak on behalf of the King. Whenever a city or society is incorporated, officers are appointed and empowered to act for the common good of all the people. Jesus delivered two invaluable things to constitute the establishment of the government of His Church. These two items are: a.) The keys to the Kingdom, and b.) The power to bind and loose. Keys denote authority. Jesus passed on His authority in the 1stCentury AD to Peter, then on to the 12 Apostles, and to us as believers. What do we bind and loose? Bind those things which are in opposition to the culture of heaven and loose those things which advance the Kingdom of heaven and its agenda.
Jesus says in Matt 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This authority enables us to: go, make disciples, baptize, teach them to obey God’s Word, and take territory for the Kingdom of God. Who gave it to Jesus? God did, and Jesus gave this authority to us. . . so we are authorized Kingdom Ambassadors who have been deputized to share the message of the Kingdom with everyone we encounter.
According to Dr. Myles Monroe (2004), as ambassadors of Christ, we have additional qualities, and responsibilities:
- We are appointed by the King (Jesus, Chief Ambassador)
- Appointed to represent the Kingdom (Mature Sons & Disciples, indeed)
- Committed only to the Kingdom’s agenda (Bible, Word of God)
- Totally covered by the Kingdom(Provision)
- Totally protected by the government of the Kingdom (Blood of Jesus)
- Never become a citizen of the regent to which we are assigned (carnality, worldly)
- Goal is to take territory for the Kingdom (make disciples)
Understanding the Clash of Two Kingdoms
All through the scriptures, we find examples of places where there were “showdowns” between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of darkness, trying to prevail against righteousness. Whether it was Moses and Pharaoh, David and Goliath, Elijah and the prophets of Baal or Jesus healing the blind man–each case represented a greater Kingdom infiltrating a lesser kingdom and ultimately ending in a show down of epidemic proportions!
In Exodus 5:1 we find Pharaoh enslaving the Children of Israel, and God rose up Moses and Aaron to set his people free so they could do the will of the Lord, to “hold a feast unto the Lord in the wilderness.” The gates of hell were trying to prevail against the plan of God! Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he thought he could wrestle with God. There were many plagues, illnesses and eventual death to convince Pharaoh that he was no match for the living God. God’s people waxed stronger and stronger under such harsh conditions, and continued to be fruitful and multiply, because the hand of the Lord was upon His people. God made a path in the sea and delivered His children out of the hands of Pharaoh . . . a Showdown!
In 1 Samuel 17: 26 we find David inquiring about the reward for whoever destroys the Philistine who dares to defy the armies of the Lord. David did not allow the negative chatter about him being a youth, or his inability to walk and maneuver in the king’s armor to discourage him from engaging in warfare with Goliath. This showdown is another example of the gates of hell trying to prevail against the plan and purposes of God. David chose weapons he was accustomed to using as a shepherd boy . . . five smooth stones. And he used his mouth to prophesy to his enemy and his resume to remind himself of the faithfulness of God when you face various enemies. The best part is when David hit Goliath in the forehead with the stone and he fell to the ground. The stone made him fall down but that was not enough…David used Goliath’s sword to take his head off! This showdown was such an amazing feat, that David chose to carry the head of the Philistine around for other enemies to see and remember. . . no one defies the armies of the Lord and lives to tell about it . . . a Showdown!
I Kings 18:24 we find a showdown between Elijah (the man of God advancing the Kingdom of God) and the Prophets of Baal (representing hells agenda) . . . the real God and counterfeit gods… and the God who answers by fire . . . is God. And God answered and consumed the entire sacrifice and all the water surrounding it.
John 9:1-12 reveals the miracle of Jesus healing the man who had been blind from birth. Jesus told the disciples, this happened so that the works of God (Kingdom agenda) might be displayed in Him . . . and let hell know, you have no authority or jurisdiction here!!!!! Another Showdown!
Understanding Who Wins
I have come to ENCOURAGE you today to recognize, trust, and be confident, that God will show up for you even in the fire. (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are witnesses to this!) In Daniel 3:26-29, we find them exiting the fiery furnace (a place where they were supposed to be consumed, burned and destroyed) without being burned, or one hair singed, or smelling like smoke! When there is a show down, you will not even have a residual of the trial on you and your enemy will DECLARE that Your God is God! The gates of hell will not prevail against the church!
Look up believer and place your confidence in the Word of God and in the God of the Word! Your show down is about to manifest!
Article Written by: Dawn Lawrence, Ed.D.
Monroe, M. (2004) Rediscovering the KINGDOM Ancient Hope for our 21stCentury
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