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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are the Gates of Hell Winning?

The believer stands on one declaration which cannot be overcome. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. He is the One who has overcome the forces of evil. This declaration is more than words. It is a complete commitment to who He is. When the believer makes this statement as who he is the devil cannot have the victory.

Gates where generally the most defended part of a stronghold. The fortress would fall if the gates were breached. The Gates of Hell refers to death. It is death that is the stronghold of the devil. The declaration of Peter that Jesus is the Messiah resulted in Jesus saying the Church would be built upon what he had just said. Jesus said the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church when the Church kept that alive.

I have seen many churches having tremendous trouble lately. I know of many that are on the verge of going out of business. In each case I believe these churches have forgotten what they stand for. As their congregations got old they ceased to take their responsibilities for the gospel. They stopped working in the nursery and stopped inviting people to come join them. They secluded themselves in their homes. They had no witness to their neighbors.

These churches were able to operate for years because their members continued to tithe even though they didn't reach new people. Instead of being a positive witness in their communities, they hoped their communities would just leave them alone. They were afraid of anyone neighboring them. They looked down on those who came in less than suits and dresses. They were afraid of any other color.

In some cases they sent their money to mission agencies so that they could declare they still were witnessing to the world. Of course, that temporarily helped the mission agencies but it makes the church a failure because a church must first reach those around it. When the church dies the mission agency will get no more money to operate. The church must think of ways to reach people in its own neighborhood. It must make sure that it never forgets its foundational statement.

Of course, we should expect that a church will die when it no longer stands on Jesus as the Messiah. The foundation has been eroded. The building must fall. The Gates of Hell will prevail.

That should never be the story of any church. It should revisit why it exists again and again. It should evaluate itself based on whether it is making a statement that Jesus is the Messiah.

This is true of the individual as well. You are either helping your church live or allowing it to die. Do you stand and say that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah?

Matthew 16:18 (NIV)
18  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

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