The Gates of Hell
(Matthew 16:18) 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. Our text today is one of the most frequently quoted verses of the Bible. Let us focus on the last clause of the verse: “...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christ promised that His church would endure. It would face opposition but the opposition would not have ultimate victory: His church would not be overcome. This agreed with Daniel's prophecy that in the days of the Roman Empire, God would “...set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed...” (DAN 2:44). And so, N.T. saints have received “...a kingdom which cannot be moved...” (HEB 12:28). Thus, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (EPH 3:21). The phrase, “gates of hell” deserves further attention. What are they? Whatever they are, Christ assures us that they will not prevail against His church. They will oppose, they will trouble, they will try to bring it down by corruption but they will not prevail against it. Consider the juxtaposition of “gates of hell” with something that Jacob observed. GEN 28:10-22 tells of where Jacob fell asleep and “...dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (GEN 28:12). God spoke to him in that dream of great things, after which he awoke and “...was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (GEN 28:16-17). He then set his stone for a pillar, then poured oil on it and called the place Bethel, which means house of God (GEN 28:18-19). It is no accident or mean coincidence that Jesus Christ upon whom God's Holy Spirit was poured as rich anointing oil (LUK 4:18 c/w JOH 3:34) said unto Nathanael, “...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (JOH 1:51). He is the “...chief cornerstone” (EPH 2:20) upon which His church is built, “...the stone which the builders disallowed...” (1PE 2:7). Mind that Jacob saw a place of communion and correspondence between heaven and earth which he called the house of God and the gate of heaven. Mind that Christ's church on earth which is his spiritual body (EPH 1:22-23) is “...the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1TI 3:15). It also has communion and correspondence with heaven. When Christ's church gathers for worship on earth, it comes “...unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (HEB 12:22) and the presence of all the elect there, of God, of Jesus and His blood (HEB 12:23-24). Was Jacob's house of God the gate of heaven? So also is Christ's house of God, the church. It has fellowship, communion and correspondence with God through the “...Spirit of truth...” (JOH 14:16-17); truth being an absolute requisite (JOH 4:23-24). Christ promised to build His church, to preserve His church, and to guide His apostles into all truth (JOH 16:13) to direct His church. As long as a church is walking by that truth, it is indeed well-connected. Now if the house of God be the gate of heaven and if heaven's correspondence with that house be according to truth, it stands to reason that the gates of hell are Satan's false religions on earth which are connected with hell itself through lies and the devil who is the great liar. God is the “...Father of lights...” (JAM 1:17); Satan is the father of lies (JOH 8:44). From hell Satan sends forth “...seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies...” (1TI 4:1-2), “...spirits of devils, working miracles...” (REV 16:14), “...lying wonders...” (2TH 2:9). Liars all. Perhaps if Jacob's reprobate twin, Esau (ROM 9:10-16) had dreamed, he would have seen unclean spirits and devils ascend and descend on his ladder, so to speak. Liars all. Satan's power is in deception, in the lie. Find religious systems that are built on lies and you may well have found the gates of hell. False religions are Satan's many-headed Hydra: they may not be all alike but they are all rooted in his scalp. But they shall not prevail against Christ's church. As long as even only one faithful church remains at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan will not have prevailed against His church. It may be said, "Government of the Lord, by the Lord, and for the Lord shall not perish from the earth." Mind another observation: there is ONE gate of heaven but there are gates of hell. The spirit of ecumenism says that all religions have validity---they are just different roads to the same place. Except for the true faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ecumenicalists have a point: all other gates, all other roads do lead to the same place---they are connected to hell. Access to hell is readily available: there are many gates, and each one is wide and many there be which go in thereat (MAT 7:13). Jesus Christ declared Himself to be “...the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (JOH 14:6). He is not one of many ways, or diverse truths or an alternative lifestyle. There is no access to God in eternity outside of Christ; there is no approaching God in time but through Christ. Therefore it behooves the elect to seek His truth, seek His church which is the pillar and ground of the truth (1TI 3:15), and strive to worship in spirit and in truth (JOH 4:23-24). There are many alternatives, many substitutes, many counterfeits, many gates of hell that are vying for members. Jesus said “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (LUK 13:24).