Summary: The Church that Jesus builds is unstoppable; are we in the blueprints?
“Storming the Gates of Hell!”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer,
Pastor of Grace UMC, Soddy Daisy, TN
My little five-year old nephew, Davis, is Catholic and on a recent trip Davis asked his mother (Kristen) what happens to people after they die.
Kristen tried to explain it in a way that a child would understand.
She told Davis that if we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and do our best to live a godly life, then we will go to heaven.
At this, Davis became very serious, “I don’t live a godly life.”
To which Kristen replied, “That’s why we have confession. Before you take your first Communion you will go into a booth and confess your sins to the priest.”
To which five year old Davis responded, “That’s not going to be a pretty sight!”
People are yearning to be saved in this life.
As Descartes once declared, “Human beings are created with a God-Shaped Void,” and we will never be satisfied nor at peace until that God-Shaped Void is filled with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ!
We all need to be saved!
In our Gospel Lesson,
Jesus said that “the gates of Hades” shall not prevail over His Church!
In this context, Hades can either be interpreted as the place of death or as the place of torment.
I have a blended interpretation—I believe it means both—death and hell!
In Revelation 1:17-18 the Victorious Jesus declares: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
In Matthew Chapter 12:29 Jesus uses the metaphor of “a strong man” in reference to Satan when Jesus asks, “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”
And in the Epistle Lesson that Ron Read for us earlier Paul declares: “…having disarmed the powers and authorities, he [Christ] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
In any event, Jesus declares in our Gospel Lesson for this morning, “…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
And that Triumphant Church is made up of you and I, my friends!!!
Many of us have a gate at home.
Is a gate an offensive or a defensive weapon?
Notice that there is no two-week cooling-off period before a person can purchase a gate.
Police don’t pack loaded gates.
Terrorists don’t hold victims “at gate point.”
We don’t send weapons inspectors overseas to search for “gates of mass destruction.”
Dogs don’t run loose with a little sign around their necks that read “Beware of gate.”
Gates are not a threat; they are defensive.
And the Church is to be on offense, not defense.
Sure, the enemy we face is powerful.
But, Jesus Christ entered the Strong Man’s house when God became flesh, and He tied up the Strong Man by His death and Resurrection.
And through this, the greatest act of love to ever occur, it is Jesus Who carries off the Strong Man’s possessions which are you and me and everyone else who is saved by the blood of Christ…
…Jesus is in the business of robbing Satan’s house!
And this is also the business of Christ’s Body, the Church.
How are we doing at this most important task?
Satan is on defense—not the Church!!!
We, the Church, have been held hostage—at gate point—for far too long.
It is time we stop being intimidated by a gate!
It is time for the devil to be back on his heels rather than the Church of Jesus Christ!!!
Can you imagine what would happen if the University of Tennessee’s Football team decided to bring only their defensive unit to play against the Georgia Bulldogs?
No matter how well their defense plays, they can never win without scoring some points.
And as the Church we need to switch from defense to offense if we are going to be all that Jesus intends us to be!
My friends, the devil can only play defense.
His hands are tied.
He only has control over those who are still living inside his gate, and his control is only as strong as the free-will of people.
The devil strives to hold onto all who live inside his prison house, but Jesus’ Church will triumphantly storm the gates and rescue those who live within.
Why are we so often afraid to share our faith, to go on the offense, with those who are grasping to be saved?
Or why does it often fall so very low on our priority list to invite the people we work with, go to school with, live next door to, work out with…whatever…to come to church and meet Jesus with us?