Here’s Matthew 16:18 (NIV) in its entirety:
“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.”
I’ve written in “Five reasons why we must storm the gates” that this was a confident prediction of an aggressive pursuit, with cosmic ramifications.
As Jesus’ followers bring his message of forgiveness and freedom to non-Christian people, some who hear are born again. They are set free and made living stones in the ever-expanding kingdom of Jesus Christ.
This is war, and the thought of waging war is intimidating to many.
But it helps to know that this most holy of all campaigns can be pursued in our own communities with at least some success. Christ’s ultimate victory is certain. We can only build the Kingdom; we cannot shrink it.
With that assurance in mind, consider how we can storm the gates of hades today, in our own communities.
- We can take advantage of the invitation to pray.
In the Bible prayer is an invitation to download the power of God for the glory of God.
It is a way of doing ministry – which I like to define as “work that works for eternity” – by empowering every other ministry.
Any Christian can do it. It takes no special gifting. The saint in the assisted living facility can do it as well as the pastor in his study.
If I understand God’s numerous invitations to pray correctly, the formula seems to be almost as simple as “the more prayer, the more power” and “two people praying is twice as good as one person praying.”
- We can adapt our methods while protecting our message.
Changing our methods is Biblical. Anyone doubting this need only to read the Acts of the Apostles. In the first thirty years of the church’s existence the methods of the church and the look of the church changed drastically. The message did not.
But changing our message, our teaching, our gospel, our theology – for the sake of making converts – is wrong.
And it is also unnecessary. We don’t have to talk people into believing by soft selling the gospel.
No one comes to Christ without a miracle of God anyway (John 6:35-45).
That being the case, what we need most when we present the good news about Jesus is the blessing of God upon our efforts. Certainly we are most apt to download the power of God upon our ministry when He is pleased, not displeased with our work.
The last thing we need are more “converts” whose conversion is so shallow that they wouldn’t have professed Christ without the message being compromised.
Besides that, unbelievers are unimpressed by a watered down message and an emasculated Jesus. They are impressed by an earth-shaking, life-challenging message and an awesome, world-rocking Savior. Who do you want to follow?
- We can make and keep it about Jesus.
What a relief it is to remember this! The gospel is not about the Church, it’s not about the Christian life, it’s not about Christian music, it’s not about the Christian life.
It’s about Jesus and Jesus never fails. He never disappoints. He never grows old. He’s never “un-cool.”
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