Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:18-29
THE GATES OF HADES
1. Ancient cities gates very important; Entrance into walled cities (Neh. 13:19). They were subject to attack (Deut. 28:52) & from them armies were sent forth to wage war (1 Chrn. 19:9).
2. Symbolized the strength, power & glory of a city, since it was only as strong as its gates! (Jgs. 16:2-3; Psa. 147:13)
3. Matt. 16:16-18 - Jesus promised to accomplish a work over which even the gates (strength & power) of Hades (death, the grave, the unseen realm - the one with power over it, devil – Heb. 2:14) would not prevail.
4. Church would be established & would endure - It would weather every onslaught of the nether world & prevail!
I. THE ESTABLISHMENT & PERMANENCE OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
A. A Matter of Prophecy.
1. Dan. 2:31-35, 44 - Great mountain filled earth: Ever. kingdom.
a. Mk. 1:14-15; 9:1; Matt. 16:18-19 -- Church – (Acts 2).
b. Heb. 12:22-23, 28 - Mt. Zion (church) - Kingdom that can’t be shaken!
B. A Matter of Promise - Matt. 16:18.
1. If not established or if overcome by Satan, then Jesus’ promise failed!
2. The church’s founder had to face the gates of Hades to establish it - And the church has to face the gates of Hades as it serves its King in this world. Jesus’ promise was fulfilled!
II. THE GATES (Strength) OF HADES FACED BY CHRIST ON BEHALF OF HIS CHURCH.
A. Death (cf. Matt. 16:21).
1. Jesus: Crucifixion & resurrection - Acts 2:23-28, 31 - Death didn’t defeat His work - Resurrection announced His success!
2. Heb. 2:14-16 - Deliverance from the fear & bondage of death: Defeated Satan’s power!
3. Christians have victory over sin and death! (Eph. 2:5)
a. Acts 8:1-4 - Here, death strengthened the cause.
b. Phil. 1:21 - Death is gain.
III. OTHER STRENGTHS USED BY SATAN AGAINST THE CHURCH (devices to fight against God’s purposes & people).
A. Persecution from Without.
1. Jesus warned - Jno. 15:18-21 (Matt. 24:9-10). Christians must face & overcome it, too – 2 Tim. 3:12.
2. Made the church stronger – Acts 4:18-20; 5:28-29; 8:1, 3-4.
3. What will our reaction be when we are pursued/mistreated for obeying Jesus? (Matt. 5:11-12)
B. Apostasy from Within.
1. Satan uses compromise / error to plunder the church! – 1 Tim. 4:1-3
a. Doctrinally [Worship (rituals, organs, transub., etc.), creeds, …].
b. Organizationally [Bishops, archbishops, cardinals, pope; Protestant denominations.].
c. Morally [cf. decline in the world…in the church].
2. Through it all – Church was not destroyed!
a. Tries kill the plant, but cannot kill the seed.
b. Word of God incorruptible – 1 Pet. 1:22-25.
c. Mk. 16:15-16 – Preach – Obey – Saved (Acts 2:47).
C. Corruption from Within – Acts 20:28-30.
1. Compromise with error – Jude 3; Gal. 2:5.
a. In organization, worship, morality.
b. Jude 4 – Denies the Master & devours souls!
2. Loss of faith –Not trusting God’s word & obeying it – 2 Tim. 2:18.
a. His plan for the church (organ., worship, work).
b. His plan for man (holy, conformed to Christ) – Col. 1:21-23, 28.
3. Lack of self-control – 1 Cor. 9:25-27.
a. Toward spiritual things (obedience) – Rom. 12:1 (pos.).
b. Toward the world (abstinence) – Rom. 12:2 (neg.) 1 Jno. 2:15.
4. Lack of brotherly love – 1 Jno. 3:13-16.
a. Satan destroys souls when he destroys love.
b. Prov. 6:19 – God hates those who sow discord (sin!).
c. 1 Jno. 4:12, 19-21 – We have not yet loved God if we don’t love our brethren!
D. Discouragement & Apathy – Gal. 6:9; Heb. 6:9-12.
1. Due to physical, external circumstances – Num. 13:32-33.
2. Strength & courage; Reverence & obedience – Josh. 1:7-9.
3. Consider Jesus & do not grow weary - Heb. 12:3-4.
1. Rom. 8:37; 1 Jno. 5:4 – Victory through faith in Christ.
2. Matt. 10:22 - We must endure to the end.