Summary: Jesus tells Peter that the nature of the Church is one that will endure it. No matter the opposition—it will remain.
THE CHURCH JESUS BUILDS
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Pastor Brian Matherlee
Matthew 16:18-19, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
A motorcycle gang was involved in a robbery gone badly and they were all killed. They found themselves at the beautiful Gates of Pearl and asked St. Peter to let them in. Peter told them their names weren’t on the list and the gang became unruly. Peter decides to ask God what to do with the rowdy bunch. God tells him, “Do what you always do with those whose names aren’t in the book and send them on!”
Peter returns some time later and says to God, “They’re gone!” God replies, “The motorcycle gang?” “No”, says Peter, “the gates!”
Jesus said, the gates of Hades will not overcome “my church”. The church Jesus builds is enduring.
Throughout the story of Faith, endurance has been the watchword.
• Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden led God to tell the serpent about the future enduring of God’s purpose—“You will strike him on the heel and he will crush your head”.
• Abraham was told about a future born in spite of impossible conditions.
• The covenant given to Moses and the children of Israel was about the future deliverance and a people that would endure despite oppression.
• Jeremiah foretold the hope and future of Israel God had in store.
Jesus tells Peter that the nature of the Church is one that will endure it. No matter the opposition—it will remain.
What do we discover about the nature of the battle?
1. Jesus acknowledges the reality of Hell & that Satan & his minions are opposed to the church He is establishing.
a. Hell, Satan, and demons are not fairy tales. They have been made up in mythology. They weren’t designed to scare people into living right! Evil has a tangible source, presence and destination:
i. Its source comes from the fall of Lucifer-an angel who chose against God. (Isaiah 14:12-15)
ii. Its presence is referenced on several occasions throughout scripture—demon possession, evil spirits, etc.
iii. Its destination is hell—Matthew 25:41. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
2. Jesus underscores the limited power of Satan & his dominion
The gates of hell - As gates and walls were the strength of cities, and as [courts of law] were held in their gates, this phrase properly signifies the power and policy of Satan and his instruments. Shall not prevail against it - Not against the Church universal, so as to destroy it. And they never did. There hath been a small remnant in all ages. (John Wesley, Notes on the Bible—Bible Classics.com)
a. Limited in strength
i. Carl Armerding recounted his experience of watching a wildcat in a zoo. "As I stood there," he said, "an attendant entered the cage through a door on the opposite side. He had nothing in his hands but a broom. Carefully closing the door, he proceeded to sweep the floor of the cage." He observed that the worker had no weapon to ward off an attack by the beast. In fact, when he got to the corner of the cage where the wildcat was lying, he poked the animal with the broom. The wildcat hissed at him and then lay down in another corner of the enclosure. Armerding remarked to the attendant, "You certainly are a brave man." "No, I ain’t brave," he replied as he continued to sweep. "Well, then that cat must be tame." "No," came the reply, "he ain’t tame." "If you aren’t brave and the wildcat isn’t tame, then I can’t understand why he doesn’t attack you." Armerding said the man chuckled, then replied with an air of confidence, "Mister, he’s old--and he ain’t got no teeth."
ii. The only power Satan has over people is the fear of death. Heb 2:14. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—Heb 2:15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
iii. Mt 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
iv. Live for the Lord and there is no fear of death. Philippians 1:21-23, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know. I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far”.