November 4, 2018

In this issue: "The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against It" by Roger Lindsey

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In the first ever mention of the church, the Lord said to Peter that He would build it and the "gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16.18).

These are some of the most picturesque words in all of scripture, but they are also loaded with meaning and comfort.

Gates throughout ancient history have been associated with the power of the city they protected. They were the means of entrance and exit, a place of counsel, and where armies exited to conduct war and entered afterward either in victory or defeat. The bigger the gates, the more prestige and power the king behind them supposedly possessed. And as we consider the seemingly innumerable members of Satan's followers, both spiritual and earthly, we are tempted to fear and forget this promise of our Lord (Matt 7.13-14).

There are two things that "hell" may refer to here; first, death, and second, Satan's domain. These two are about the same thing. We read in Hebrews 2.14 that Jesus took on flesh and blood in order to "destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil." It is by the devil's deceiving Eve that sin came into the world, and death by sin (Rom. 5.12).

We are promised that these two enemies of the saints, Satan and Death, will not overcome the church.

Satan's symbol of power is in every grave stone and marker. Jesus destroyed that power by His works, and in particular, the resurrection. By what Jesus accomplished in his sinless life, perfect sacrifice, death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God, we see his victory demonstrated. So, we too, who are members of the body of Christ, the church, have this victory over Death (1 John 3.8).

As a kingdom also, the church is promised victory over all other kingdoms, and since Satan had power over all kingdoms (Luke 4.5-8), the church would ultimately break that power as well. Daniel's prophecy says "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever" (Daniel 2:44).

But to consider the statement further from the standpoint of the gates of hell representing Satan and those who follow him, let's look at it this way:

First, though Satan certainly has the biggest gates and the broadest, easiest way, that way leads to destruction. It will eventually come to nothing, worse than nothing, because of his and their final destination in the fires of Hell.

"and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." Revelation 20:10

And those who fall to his deceptions will also end up there:

"And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:15

Even Death and Hades will end up there:

"Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire." Revelation 20:14

So it may look like he's winning now, but that won't be the case in the end.

Second, the counsels of Satan and his followers will not ultimately overcome the Lord's church. It can seem almost certain that the attacks against belief in God and godliness are coordinated by some overpowering operative and that there is no hope. The theory of evolution may seem to have won the world to Satan; our children seem hopelessly infected with the worldliness that threatens to drown the world in sin; there may seem to be no more interest in the Lord and his church. But ultimately, the church wins!

The Lord comforts us forever with these words, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

And last, though the entire world and all its institutions be enlisted in Satan's service and it seems that we are helpless against such an overwhelming army, we have been promised victory. Remember the days of Israel's conquest of Canaan, and the giants, the sons of Anak, who were in the land. The Israelite spies sent to spy out the land said of them:

"And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." Numbers 13:33

And yet without siege weapons, without chariots of any sort, without even horses, the people of God overcame them all and the inhabitants of the land of Canaan were completely given into the hands of Israel, including the giants. The Lord fought with and for them so that no enemy could stand before them. And more examples are available to us, not the least of which was a time during the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, when Assyria had already destroyed and taken captive the ten northern tribes of Israel and had begun the siege of Jerusalem itself. Things seemed hopeless, but Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, and we read:

"And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh." 2 Kings 19:35-36

All these things are recorded for our benefit.

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4

We are promised that regardless of what may happen in this life, if we are faithful unto death, we will live eternally (Revelation 2:10b), totally and eternally victorious over Satan, his counsels, his armies and death itself. ~

Roger Lindsey

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