And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, KJV).
In ancient times of war, armies did not use scud missiles, B-52 bombers and tanks to defeat their enemies. The cities were fortified with huge walls. In order to take the city, it was necessary to beat down the gates with a huge battering ram, and then to storm the city with the various other weapons of warfare.
When we think of the verse of scripture in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus said that the “gates of hell” would not prevail against the church, we often have a defensive mindset, thinking in terms of the church being sustained under the constant attack of the forces of darkness.
However, it is obvious that Jesus intended that the church would exercise power over the enemy and bring forth the Kingdom of God in the earth. Consider these scriptures:
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19, KJV).
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8b, KJV).
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils. . . (Mark 16:17a, KJV).
God has called His church to be aggressive in defeating the enemy in the earth. In the scriptures, “gates” represent authority. The word “hell” here represents death or the unseen realm. It is interesting that the scripture tells us that Jesus became a man so that he could “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14, KJV).
Jesus said that He would build His church and use His church to enforce the defeat of the powers of darkness. He has called us to be aggressive in bringing forth the Kingdom of God and defeating the powers of darkness.
Upon This Rock
Jesus said “And thou art Peter (a stone) and upon this rock (massive rock) I will build my church.” Some have thought that Jesus was teaching that Peter would be the foundation of the church, but as we read the scripture in context we see that was talking to Peter about his revelation of Jesus Christ.
Peter had said, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. . .”
Jesus said, “Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Peter had a revelation of Jesus. Upon this revelation and confession, the church of the Living God is built. There are many different “flavors” of churches all around the world, but the one thing that distinguishes the true church is a revelation of the person of Jesus Christ.
Our unity is in Him. He is the “sure foundation, the precious cornerstone.” As long as we stay true to Jesus, our house is “built upon the rock” and it will stand. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11, KJV).
We, like Peter, are lively stones, built up as a spiritual house as a habitation of God by the spirit, but Jesus is the true foundation.
As we realize this we can be “strong in the Lord.” We can be secure in Him, knowing that we are built in Him, our foundation is sure, we can operate out of a position of strength and power.
We Are in a War
The church of Jesus Christ is in a war. We are not just some social club that comes together regularly to pat one another on the back and talk about the weather. Our local churches are to be organized battalions that are aggressively fighting the powers of darkness in this earth.
One does not to listen to the 6 o’clock news or read a newspaper or even walk among the people of this world for long to realize that we are in a terrible crisis. The tremendous divorce rate, crime, perverted lifestyles, greed and hostility that are in our society are all potent reminders that we are living in a world that has gone amok.
But There Is Hope
The church of the living God, build upon the the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, will rise up in this hour and shine with the glory of God. We will put off our slumber, our penchant to follow sideline issues, our tendency to divide into warring factions, and we will rise to new heights in the glory of God and defeat the enemy.
For too long, the church has been bound with fetters and chains, thinking that we have no power, to means to overcome the enemy. The church has been enslaved, bound, held back from its destiny, but in this hour God is breaking through, and we are breaking out of bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
In this hour, we will rise with the high praises of God on our lips and a two-edged sword in our hand. That sword is the Word of God, and we will proclaim it with power and defeat the enemy.
Yes, we’re in a war, but we’re on the winning side.
An Offensive Weapon
We are called to by an offensive weapon in the hand of the Lord. God is wanting to use His church in the this critical hour, to preach the Gospel, to pray as never before, to speak to the consciousness of our nation, to our communities. . . to be a powerful force for good in the earth.
Your church, your local assembly of believers, has a destiny in God. God wants to use you to change your environment. Why do we accept the attitudes that prevail in our society concerning divorce, concerning promiscuous living, concerning greed and oppression of the pour? It’s time to do something. . . to take action. . . to speak to the principalities and powers. . . to speak into the spiritual atmospher, words of judgement, words of power, words of healing, words of deliverance.
“Yes, you can change. Yes, God can deliver you. Come out from among them and be ye separate sayeth the Lord.”
We are not without the ability to DO SOMETHING.
He says, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, KJV).
We have mighty weapons: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the name of Jesus.
Oh church, use what you’ve got.
I want to encourage pastors and congregations to rise up and discover your destiny. Quit trying to follow the latest trends, or what the megachurch in the nearby city is doing. That’s not YOUR destiny. Discover YOUR destiny. What does GOD want to do in and through your church? What is the Kingdom plan for your local fellowship of believers. No doubt, He has a definite and specific plan for you.
There are three things that we need in this hour in our churches in order to be effective battering rams for the Lord: a balanced attack, a team approach, and a strategic advance.
1. A balanced attack. For too long we have been like the man who sold everything for the “pearl of great price.” The only problem is that our “pearl” has been the latest fad or teaching to come down the pike. Whatever the particular movement of the hour happens to be we have put all our eggs in one basket and majored in that one thing, leaving all else behind. We have named our churches and identified our ministry after these movements and many times have lost sight of the big picture of what God is doing in the earth.
In God’s sovereign plan, he is adding certian truths, revelations, emphasis to the body of Christ at various times. While some take the approach of rejecting every “new” thing, others run with it to excess.
We need all the truth, the fulness of God in our church. In this hour God is giving us revelation of the need for a balanced approach. We don’t need a “faith church” or intercession church” or “missions church” or “evangelism church” or discipleship church.” The purpose of the local church is to incorporate all these things together so we can walk in the fullness of strength that God has for his church.
While there are specialist ministries for these various areas, the local church needs to have a balanced attack. We need to get people saved, yes, but then we much develop ways to disciple them, teach them and train them in the things of God. We must bring the church to maturity and then help people to find their place of ministry in the church.
2. A team approach. Realize that in order for the armies to take the cities, it was necessary for them to work together as a team. They needed to pick up that battering ram and work together in a coordinated way to smash down the gates.
In the same way, God is teaching us today that his ministry through the local church is not a “one-man show,” but a team effort of believers from all types of backgrounds and with all types of spiritual gifts. As we unite and work together, we can “turn the heat up” on the devil and make him run for cover.
Did you ever notice that institutions that are serious about accomplishing a goal have tended toward a team approach. Whether it be in sports, business or the military, it’s people working together for a common goal that gets the job done.
Like someone said, “God so loved the world that He didn’t send a committee.” The committee approach is more democratic. It’s value is that it provides everyone with a vote.” The problem is it is combursome, weak and fleshy.
Can you imagine the soldiers lifting up the battering ram a preparing to crush the gates of the enemy? The leader shouts, “Ok everybody, go forward on three.” However, someone else wants to assert their privilege and says, “Let’s make it on four.”
What we are looking for in the church is the will of God, not the will of man, this is why we need a team approach. We need cooperative team leadership, working together. We need to listen to the team members is a spirit of cooperation, but at some point the leader needs to say, “Let go this way.” This is the biblical pattern. . .from Moses to Nehemiah to Jesus to Peter to Paul. God uses anointed leadership.
However, the leadership must lead in a godly fashion at with a servant’s heart. Otherwise, pride will operate and the will of the flesh will again prevail.
3. A strategic advance. So much has happened in such a short time in the church in the last hundred years. I think we are trying as hard as we can to keep up with the Holy Ghost and the present move of God.
But, too often, we are following man and not God. We hear about something a particular church or ministry is doing and right away we want to impliment it in our own particular setting.
I think that this is particularly true for those of us who have pastored in the rural setting. We see certain methods employed by the metropolitan church and we just think it’s the cat’s meow. But the truth is, while we can learn many good principles from the large metropolitan churches, the methods will, most often, be completely different.
Same Holy Spirit, same Gospel, but it’s being delivered in a different world.
What we need to do is to find God’s destiny for our particular church. I know of one small church in Minnesota that caught a vision for helping the poor people of Mexico. So they have an ongoing project of buying clothes and other items at garage sales and taking in donated items, cleaning them up, fixing them, packaging them and sending them to Mexico through another ministry. That is part of the destiny of that particular church.
We need to find our niche and work it. Not every church is called to be a voice to a nation, but some are. Some churches will be involved in various social causes, street ministry, missions, etc. But there is a particular call a destiny for every church. Some churches don’t fit the mold, the pattern, of every other church in the world, but as they seek the will of God, they are finding their destiny in God.