Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 11, 1969

The Church Which Jesus Built And The Gates Of Hell

John W. Hedge

While upon the earth Jesus promised to build his church, and added: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." By the "gates of hell" Jesus doubtless referred to the evil forces of the devil. Jesus had come to "destroy the works of the devil" and, to accomplish this he promised to build his church through which to operate. Christ is here telling his disciples that in spite of all the opposing forces (or gates) which the devil would use to oppose him and his church would not "prevail against it." When I was a boy upon the farm I used to help my father to build gates — gates for the fields, pastures, and lots. Always we built these gates either to keep within or without our livestock of certain enclosures. These gates stood as barriers to the livestock. What were some of "the gates of hell" which the devil used to prevail, against Christ and his church?

1. There was the gate of death. The promises of many individuals to do certain things have been broken off by reason of their death. Not so with Christ and his church! In spite of his death at the hands of evil men, he arose from the dead and built his church as he had promised. He "despoiled him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Heb. 2:14-15) Not only did Jesus over-ride the gate of death, but his church in the early days of it's existence did the same thing. The death of the early Christians did not stop the church in it's work of destroying the works of the devil. Perhaps it experienced its greatest growth in those days. It began as "a little stone cut out of a mountain without (human) hands," but in spite of the death of many of it's members it became a mountain and filled the whole world with it's presence. (see Dan. 22:44-45)

2. The gate of persecution: Many movements among men have failed because of persecution. Not so with Jesus and his church! Jesus had said to his disciples, "If they have persecuted me they will persecute you also." He even went so far as to tell them that the time would come "when he that killeth you think that he doeth God service." The history of the early Christians is a history of intense persecutions. All modes of punishment were used to check the growth of the church, but all such did not "prevail against it." The "trial of your faith," Peter declared to the saints of his day, "is more precious than fine gold though it be tried in the fire." Filled with the "Spirit of Christ," which never knew surrender to evil, the church broke down the gate of persecution and marched triumphantly on to victory.

3. The gate of the dark ages: Both Christ and the apostles had foretold that there would be "a falling away" on the part of many unstable Christians. This great apostasy culmated in the dark ages. Historically, we can see the church which Jesus built, and against which the "gates of hell" would not prevail, as it goes into "the wilderness period," but we can also see it coming forth from those dark days "as fair as the moon and as terrible as an army with banners." Those dark days did not prevail against the church in the sense that it was completely destroyed, otherwise the prophecy of Daniel to the effect that "it shall stand forever" is false. Moreover, Paul said: "Unto him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages." (Eph. 3:21) The church which Jesus built, and of which he is the head, is just as indestructible as Jesus himself. If Jesus "abides forever" so does his body which is the church, regardless of all "the gates of hell." This leaves no ground for the formation of any other "bodies" (churches) to exist to do the work of destroying the works of the devil. The church which Jesus built exists today in the world, but many in the world knows it not.

4. The gates of modern times: The many "gates of hell" which confronted the church which Jesus built did not prevail against it in the past, and I am persuaded that all the modern "gates of hell" will not prevail against it now. The "gates of hell" of today does not consist of killing it's members, or sore persecutions, nor of "dark ages." Such consists of more subtle devices of satan in the form of substitution of denominationalism for the church, error for the truth, and "many ways" for "the way." It consists of turning the church into a social order, and changing the main mission of the church into other channels other than what the Lord has authorized. The gates of hell today are strong gates and oppose the on-going of the church in accomplishing the will of God; but such will not prevail against h. Always there will be the "gate crashers" those who love the Lord and know his ways and will. They may not be in "the majority" of the members of Christ's church — but they have "their senses exercised to discern between good and evil" and are determined, let come what may, to cleave unto the Lord and His way. Let no one think that "the gates of hell" do not confront the church which Jesus built today. Perhaps it is not amiss to say that "the gates of hell" which confronts the church which Jesus built are the strongest which the devil has ever built. We need to "do all to stand" against the wiles of the devil. Don't "throw a rock and run."

— 304 N. Glover Dr., Longview, Texas 75601