Upon This Rock

“… upon this Rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt 16:18b

Jesus speaking to Peter is recorded as saying that the gates of Hell should not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ. He did not say that the armies of hell shall not be able to destroy the church, but that the gates of hell shall not prevail against – or withstand – the church of Christ. This is battle language with the church on the offensive.

The church of Christ is called to storm the gates of hell. Hell is the prison of every man and woman who has not faith in Christ. Every cult member, and every person without Christ is presently consigned to hell.

Jesus was not telling Peter to dig in and hold ground until He returns. His command was to ‘go’ preaching the gospel and making disciples. The church is called to advance on the stronghold of death and be the vehicle through which God releases death’s captives by sharing the live-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. There is no other name than Jesus by which men may be saved. We are called to proclaim Christ to the nations, and He has brought the nations to our doorstep.

God has deposited a mission field at our feet: Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons come to our very doors. Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists by the millions have come from their far countries to our own neighbourhoods. Every one of these people is a prisoner of a lie that will take them into eternity without Christ.

The church must stop being ashamed of the gospel of Christ. We must be available and equipped at all times to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for our hope. We must be ‘instant in season and out of season’ with the gospel. It is not for us to decide that someone isn’t ready to hear, or is unwilling to listen, or we don’t know them well enough to talk about ‘religion’. These are really just excuses to cover our own ignorance or to avoid the uncomfortable possibility of offending them by telling them that there is only one Truth, and their life hangs in the balance based upon their acceptance of Him.

This world is passing away. Eternity is endless. Do we not care that these people will die without receiving the grace of God? Do we not understand that they have been deceived and manipulated by their leaders, and need to be given the chance to be set free? Or do we really not know the grace of God, that we are saved from the penalty of our sin by Christ’s atoning death, and receive eternal life by placing our faith in Him? Do we think they are worse sinners than we? (Lk 13:1-5)

Jesus came to call sinners to repentance, and He has sent us to tell them He has called. When they come to our doors, move into our neighbourhoods, join us at work, we must learn to see as Christ sees: sheep without shepherds, lost and abused by those who make merchandise of them, buying their bodies and souls for power and wealth. Proclaim Him. Declare God’s grace and love. Storm the gates of hell to release the prisoners of death.