Summary: We have a job to do as God's people. Today we face challenges that remind us that this is serious business.
Jesus promised to build His church. He promised that the gates of Hades would not be able to stand against His church. He built His church on rock. Ray Vanderlaan’s video series: That The World May Know, has an section on this passage in Matthew 16 where he gathers with a group at the foot of a mountain in Caesarea Philippi that he says was called, “The gates of Hell.” He believes Jesus may have been saying to His disciples, “You see this place where people practice all kinds of evil and wickedness? Right here, on this rock… That’s where I will build My church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
I don’t know if that is exactly what took place in Matthew 16 or not, but I know that Jesus’ promise to build His church stands secure: Nothing can stop Him from accomplishing His purposes and nothing can prevail against His church. The Kingdom of Christ will prevail against all the powers that this earth or hell can array against it.
And, do you know what? You and I are part of this church! We are called, chosen, converted and commissioned as followers of Jesus Christ and He adds us to His church, filling us with His Spirit to empower us to do His will. As part of His church you are in the kingdom of His beloved son, Colossians 1:12-14.
As part of His church you are a spiritual house in which God dwells and you are a priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him. 1 Peter 2:4-5.
But we also have an enemy. Ephesians 6:10-13 speaks clearly. (read). Satan once spoke through the apostle Peter to discourage Jesus from going to the cross. That event is recorded right in Matthew 16 after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ received such a blessing. (Matthew 16:21-23). Ephesians 2:2 tells us plainly that Satan is now at work in the sons of disobedience.
Satan works to divide even the church and tempts us to leave the will and word of Jesus Christ our King. He must take a lot of pleasure out of all the denominational divisions that mock the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17. He must delight in all the worldliness that entangles so many of those who claim the name of Christian. He must take pride in the lies and deception that are spoken in the very name of Jesus to distract and destroy the faith of Christ’s followers. Satan constantly whispers his lies and motivates accusation and blame against God’s will and word. Think of it! He can take highly educated men and women who spend their lives studying and practicing law and he can so twist their understanding that they can not see truth staring them in the face. They can not understand that marriage did not originate in the United States constitution and therefore marriage can NOT be defined or governed by mere human wisdom alone. Without the divine revelation of God’s word to us, what authority is there to set the standard or define the meaning of such an institution as marriage? Think of it. Who has the right to define marriage? When our founding fathers wrote the constitution, they knew what marriage meant and I’m sure they could not fathom such blindness and folly as we are seeing today. Just imagine if we could go back in time and ask them if it is constitutional or not for homosexuals to get married. What source do you think they would point to for answering such questions?
Almost 100 years after our constitution was written Abraham Lincoln gave this public proclamation:
Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!