Vol. 12 No. 5 May 2010
As Jesus was with His disciples in Caesarea Philippi, He declared before them: “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 16:18). Of particular interest, for our consideration, is the expression, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The plan is certain, and He is resolute. No opposing power in all the universe can preempt nor stand in His way of accomplishing the eternal plan of God in building His church (Ephesians 3:10-11).
There was no time in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth when He was unaware of what the direction and experience of His life would be. All along, He knew that rejection by His people and death by crucifixion upon a Roman cross was a necessary part of His future to redeem and deliver God’s people from their enemies (Satan, the effects of sin and death, etc). The forerunner of Jesus, John (who was filled with the Spirit of God, Luke 1:15) cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus could only address our sin problem by His vicarious suffering and death that was prophesied hundreds of years prior by Isaiah in the book that bears his name (Chapter 53).
Because Jesus was made of the seed of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16), and He was tempted as we all are and even subject to death. Verse nine of this same chapter records, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” For us, death is our common enemy that often prevents us from accomplishing our goals; however, it was through Jesus’ death that He was able to accomplish God’s plans for us. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
There are those who claim God miscalculated in His timing of the sending of His Son, that God did not foresee how the Jews would reject Jesus and the kingdom He was seeking to establish. They further claim that God arbitrarily initiated the “church phase” as a backup, temporary plan. Obviously, such doctrine is anti-biblical heresy to the core. Acts 2:23 destroys such nonsense as the apostle Peter declared of Jesus how He was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” This was part and parcel of the Divine plan going all the way back to Genesis 3:15 in that the “seed of woman” would ultimately “bruise the serpent’s head,” rendering him a fatal injury. (See Hebrews 2:14-15 above.)
Because Jesus was “the son of man,” He was subject to death. Because He also is “the Son of God,” He could not be held by death. The apostle Peter thus spoke of the Son of God: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24). Through David, God prophesied of the joy to be experienced within the heart of Jesus “because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [“hades,” ASV, NKJV], neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27). Through Divine inspiration, Peter gave the interpretation of what David had written. David foresaw the resurrection of Christ, and through God’s power, He would be raised up from death and hades to sit on David’s/God’s throne. Now, He reigns as King supreme over His eternal kingdom, which is spoken of interchangeably with “his church” (Acts 2:34-36. Matthew 16:18-19).
Jesus came to do the Father’s business (Luke 2:49) of redeeming Adam’s race, to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to build His church (Matthew 16:18), which is the body of the saved (Ephesians 5:23). Satan was powerless to stop God from executing His plan of human redemption. The apostle Paul wrote through Divine inspiration: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).
The presence of Christ’s church in today’s world is a declaration to all of “the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). Jesus promised to build His church, and He did. The reality of Jesus’ church in today’s world is a glorious demonstration of God’s mighty power: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell [hades] shall not prevail against it.” They didn’t! “And the Lord added to the church daily such as were being saved” (Acts 2:47). He still does today. Are you in Christ’s church?