Drawing Near

A Pastoral Perspective on Biblical, Theological, & Cultural Issues | The Personal Website of James B. Law, Ph.D.

Preaching Archive



February 2019



The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional, Leadership, Preaching

Gates of Hell will not prevail-14When our church celebrated our 100thyear anniversary, I discovered that we were constituted around the same time as Harley Davidson, United Parcel Service (UPS), Blue Bell, Walgreens, and Kelloggs. In thinking about our local congregation compared to these corporate giants, I was taken by the contrast in purpose.

Jesus Christ commended Peter when he made the great confession in Matthew 16. On that occasion Peter declared to Jesus, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  In turn, Jesus said, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”(Matthew 16:17,18)

Jesus pledged to build His church in this world, and that it would be indestructible. The Apostle Paul spoke of the church as “the pillar and support of the truth.” (I Timothy 3:14,15)  In fact, in reference to the church, the language of the New Testament is exalted with regard to its purpose and role within God’s plan for the ages. (Ephesians 1-3)

However, this is not the view many possess of the church. A local church is often portrayed as a lethargic, pathetic gathering which is relegated in the minds of many to be a place where you might get married or buried. It’s a place for old people to gather, and they do so out of a duty-bound allegiance to keep the club going. From this perspective, thoughts of church life exploding your soul or changing your life are slim indeed.

Reading the New Testament offers a much different view. I would contend that the church is the only institution called into existence to deal with the ultimate issues: life and death, forgiveness, reconciliation, heaven and hell, relationships, purpose in living, and true community.

On our church’s centennial celebration, I thought of our local Body compared to the corporate giants mentioned above. Interaction with these companies would be much different than a fellowship connection with a local church. For example, you wouldn’t walk into a Harley Davidson dealership and say to the salesman, “I’ve got cancer and the doctor says that I only have a few months to live, would you have the company pray for me?” (more…)