I have a question for you. Specifically for any Christians out there: Who wants to attack hell with me? We have a responsibility to do this you know.
The Gates of Hell
Nobody believes in hell any more, right? So how is it that Jesus spoke of it frequently, and left us this intriguing passage:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 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. (Matthew 16:17,18)
Where is the gate?
A gate is usually stationary. It’s the weak point in an otherwise solid barrier that is part of the defense of a location or place. Gates don’t move or go on the attack. On the contrary, if the gates of hell are not prevailing, then they must be under attack. So who is attacking the gates of hell, against which they will not prevail? The context of the passage tells us that it is the church. How many churches are attacking the gates of hell today, and what does it even mean?
Is the Gate of Hell a place?
There is some scriptural support for the idea that the Gate of Hell is a place. We’ll take it as a given that hell is at the center of the earth, indeed, we have seen in another post that Global Warming is the result of the expansion of hell.
Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all. (Job 38:16-18)
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:17,18)
So it is possible that the Gate of Hell is a physical place, however, if it is, it is far deeper in the earth than we have ever dug or drilled, and it would be physically impossible to attack it. What else could the Gates of Hell be referring to?
Most Bible commentaries conclude that the Church will withstand all of the attacks and assaults of the devil. For instance, see Barnes:
“Hell” means, here, the place of departed spirits, particularly evil spirits; and the meaning of the passage is, that all the plots, stratagems, and machinations of the enemies of the church would not be able to overcome it a promise that has been remarkably fulfilled. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
This kind of makes sense, except that the sense is the exact opposite of what the passage says. It still leaves me with the nagging question: How can a gate go on offence? A gate is at the boundary of something. It does not move. The gate of hell is deep inside the earth and we’re safe in our church and in our lives, separated by thousands of miles of the earth’s crust and mantle.
The Gate of Hell as used here must be referring to something else. The gate of hell is a physical thing, but we can also consider that it has a spiritual meaning. A lost soul, someone living without Jesus Christ, could be said to be at the gate of hell, because if they died, that’s where they would go. Hell is only a heartbeat away. If a gate is not going to prevail then it must be attacked. This means that taking up an offensive position at the gate of hell, in order to turn back any souls who stray too close, is to be boldly proclaiming a warning about the reality of hell. Attacking the Gate of Hell is thus preaching the gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. “Salvation from what?” I hear atheists say all the time. Salvation from hell. Are we attacking the gate of hell?
Look at the despair in the world today. Medical science, good nutrition, and law and order have contributed to the steady decrease in mortality rates across all demographic groups. Civilization and hand washing have seemingly won the day against chaos and confusion. Yet we have reached a tipping point. The longer healthier lives we are leading has given many of us more and more time to ponder the meaning of life, and a greater number than ever are concluding that it is overwhelmingly grim and are opting out. Now suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse are taking such a steady toll that death rates are rising for middle aged Americans.
Couple that with the great success of Science Fiction in describing for us a vast universe with limitless possibilities and people are turning away from churches, in favor of either no religion or something they consume from the internet. Despite the prevailing narrative, science has not solved any of the big questions that we face: where do we come from and where are we going? More importantly, science hasn’t solved any of the little problems either, like: why am I so empty inside? The great success of science: iPhones, the internet, space exploration; only highlights its failure: an entire generation who mock even the possibility of a spiritual life.
There is a modest drop in overall rates of belief and practice, but religiously affiliated Americans are as observant as before. The troubling question is: what is happening to the children of this generation that is wavering? Even religious people are being fed a diet of soft liberal mush. Dad is on the computer, mom is on the iPad, the kids all have a phone each. That’s where the people are. At the gates of hell.
Who Wants to Attack The Gates of Hell?
The Church has been given a mission, more specifically, The Great Commission, to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them how to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ and how to live a Godly life. There’s a big problem though: the people that we need to reach aren’t in the churches, it’s is not acceptable, or safe, in this day and age to walk around knocking on people’s doors to give them the good news. These days the people are playing with their phones and computers. The good news: this means that they are reachable. This is a vast mission field.
With just a phone you could potentially reach 1.6 Billion people.
We have young people who love their phones, love interacting on the web. Why not give them all a job to do within the scope of the outreach work that the church is doing? Why not have a social media committee and assign one person to each social media platform to promote the gospel, spiritual life, and the church?
Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13,14)
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
What’s the point? The world is so far gone does it even matter? Look at it this way: there are more people than ever before that are EASILY REACHABLE with the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Plus, you don’t even have to get out of bed to do it. No Christian with a smart phone or computer has an excuse to not be involved.
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)