We kicked off day two of the 2010 Regional Conference with Burk Parsons who was tasked with the topic of “The Gates of Hell.”
The term “post-Christian” is not a new word. We see it throughout history and as a country we have been post-Christian for a long time. We have come to a place where many of the people who surround us not only don’t know the simple truths of what makes Christianity our faith, they don’t even understand things as basic as what a pastor is. Christianity has lost its influenced.
Who Is Jesus to the World?
The state of the church today looks to be in a dismal state. John MacArthur has said what our culture needs is not reform but redemption. In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus is asking His disciples who people say the Son of Man is. He is not looking for affirmation but to see how the disciples were responding to what people were saying about Him.
Here we see not only Peter’s confession, but three different confessions of who Christ is (vs. 14). Is He John the Baptist? Is He Elijah? Many see Jesus as just a prophet and only one of many ways to God. People have the illusion that Christ is just a peacemaker and a kind-hearted soul.
This is His greatest concern: To be sure that those He had called out of the world were properly addressing Christ to the world. Peter responds as a representative of the twelve claiming Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God (vs. 16). This is not something Peter could have manufactured on his own. Peter’s confession is something the Spirit of God must reveal to us. The real hero here is not Peter, but the Holy Spirit.
“I Will Build My Church”
We should not only be concerned with what Jesus did say here but with what He didn’t say. He didn’t say, “I will build your church” or “Go out and survey to see what kind of church the community wants you to build.” He didn’t say, “I need your money to build your church.” He said plainly: “I will build My church.”
We tend to land on the Great Commission alone with what we are to do and what action we are to take. But Matthew is filled with emphasis on what God is doing. Christ is the one who will build His church. When we do our own way of church growth and intervene in the grand way of redemption, we don’t produce new churches, we produce new religions.
What Is a “Church”?
When we hear the word “church,” what do we think? More often than not, we still tend to think of a building as a church. But a building could be blown away, and a church would still gather on the Lord’s Day to worship him.
A church is even more than just a people. It is a people called out of the world. We are made able to stand in His light and to come together as a church and be called to bring the light into a world of darkness. When the church fails to do this, not only do we cease to be the church but we cease to be the light of the world. Church services are designed by God to worship God. We are not to design our services for the world.
The Gates of Hell
Why is it that the gates of hell don’t prevail against the church? Because Jesus Christ is the living and active head of the church, just as Peter claimed. For God to be God, He must be living. He is sovereign over church growth, the means and the end. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we come under His discipline. Robert Godfrey once said, “I don’t feel like I’ve been to church unless I feel a little beat up.” The Gospel should rip us of any lofty notions of who we are in and of ourselves in our own strength. The church should discipline us with the Word of God with the ultimate goal of bringing us to repentance, faith, and restoration.
If we try to build the church in our own way, leaving behind the Gospel and the Word of God and replacing it with pop therapy and nice stories, not only will the gates of hell prevail against us, but we will become the very gates of hell. If we don’t have the Gospel, we don’t have life.
The only gates of death that will not prevail are the gates of the everlasting church of Jesus Christ. If we give up the Gospel, we have not only made ourselves susceptible to the prevailing gates of the devil, but we ourselves have become those leading others to the very gate of hell. Let us be a people that go back to our churches and into the world proclaiming the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.