The Keys of the Kingdom – true confessions at the Gates of Hell

Key to the KingdomI found a key with ‘J’ on it in my sleeveless vest pocket.  I don’t remember acquiring it.  It must have been after I helped set up the sound equipment for my church, but I can’t find the owner of the key.  It’s funny because my initial is ‘J’ and I’d been reading in the Bible about the Keys of the Kingdom.

Where do these keys fit and what doors do they unlock?  What did Jesus mean when he said He would give the keys to Peter, the apostle who declared he was the Messiah?  The promise of authority came with a question; Who do you say I AM?”  Jesus asked.  Simon Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16).

Upon this rockAs servants, binding and loosing depends on the master’s will; as Jesus taught us to ask “Your Kingdom come, your will be done.”

Jesus still lends His authority to His true ministers today to do the same work. Sadly, many falsely claim this authority and misuse it.

The Roman Catholic Church maintains that the Keys of the Kingdom were handed to the Popes through Peter.  The keys are on the Vatican coat of arms.  That’s easily refuted.  The early church began in Jerusalem, not Rome.  It never had a Pope – from the early 3rd century the title was a general term used to refer to all bishops.  The title “Pontiff” belonged to Rome and the old roman gods.

This argument is made for one purpose: to give credibility to the idea that Peter was the first Pope in Rome.

Let’s give the scripture some context – the who, what, where and why;

Who was Jesus asking about before he spoke of the rock? 
Himself.
Jesus asked “Who do you say I AM?” and Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God, ”

What did he say he would build on the rock?
His church.
Jesus said he would build His church upon that confession, and the Gates of Hell would not prevail against it.

Cesarea Philippi

The Gates of Hell at Caesarea Philippi. The niches in the wall held images of the gods Pan, Echo and Hermes.

Where was he when he said that? 
He was at the Gates of Hell.  They were in Caesarea Philippi, a city dominated by immoral activities and pagan worship.  There was a huge rock there, at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon, with a grotto dedicated to the Greek god Pan.  (Pan has horns and hairy legs like a goat).  The locals called it “the Gates of Hell.”

Why did he go there?
Jesus made His declaration at Caesarea Philippi to declare war on the gates of hell.  When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples, he said; “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

He did not mean a sword like Mohammed’s.  The sword he spoke of is the Word of God.  In Isaiah 49:2 we read, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword”.  When Jesus returns to our world leading the armies of Heaven the sword will be in His mouth. (Revelation 19:15)

The Confession; The Rock; The Church
I recommend the page on this site: http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-matthew-16-16-18.htm

The Confession

For the question Jesus asked; “Who am I?“, the confession is all important.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
In fact, we know that the person who refuses to acknowledge this truth is refusing to be saved! Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”  John 8:24.

I hope you have made this confession.  They are the most important words you will ever speak.

The Declaration

The declaration is “I will build my church on this rock.”  Jesus did not have the Vatican or any other powerful religious structure in mind when he made that statement.  He is the rock.  Peter is simply named after him.  Jesus is going to shake the world like he shook Hell.
The prophet Daniel had a vision of the end times, where he saw a rock not made by human hands knock the statue representing the final world empire off it’s feet.  The New World Order was broken to pieces and swept away without a trace, but the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.  Daniel 2:34-35
God said there is no other rock beside him.  He said it twice in Isaiah 44:8 and 45:5;
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?  No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

The Church

Ekklesia means “called out ones”, the Church.  It is a nation of priests, of servants, built for faith, called out of darkness, wrested away from the Gates of Hell.
We become part of the Ekklesia when we confess Christ as our Lord.  His Church is built on that confession.
We are fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  (Ephesians 2:20).
NicolaitansWe were not made to be cogs in the wheel of an authoritarian,  man-made power structure.
Jesus hates that.  He spoke against it twice in his letters to the seven churches;
“But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  Revelation 2:6, letter to the Church at Ephesus.
Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”  Revelation 2:15, letter to the Church at Pergamum.

Who are the Nicolaitans?  ‘Nico’ means rule and ‘laity‘ means clergy.  Get it now?

The devil wants to render us powerless, but consider this; “everyone born of God overcomes the world.” (1 John 5)
Jesus said “whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.  And then He said, “The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”  Matthew 11:11-12.
They take it by force because they want to take the authority away from God.

Jesus delegates authority – just like He did with the twelve disciples, and He has given the Keys of the Kingdom to His Church, His called out ones.

Called out

Gypsy fairSummer in my home town heralded the arrival of the Gypsy Fair.  They would roll into town and park their colourful house trucks by the river.  I’d wander down there with my children to have a look at the entertainment and goods for sale.  I would look at the crafts, clothes, jewellery and watch the entertainment – but I steered clear of the tarot card reading. 

Why?  Fortune telling – isn’t it just a harmless bit of fun?  A friend from a different church took her daughter to have their fortunes told.  “What’s the harm in it?” she said.  There was no way I was going to do that.  Some of you are going to think I’m judgemental.  No, if I had been I wouldn’t have gone to the Gypsy Fair in the first place.  As a Christian I’ve been forbidden to indulge in witchcraft.  Leviticus 19:26 … “Do not practice divination or sorcery.”

Some of you will be thinking the Gypsy Fair is no place for a Christian.  Yes it is, the people need Jesus.  We are commanded to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  Mark 16:15.  Yes we have to be wise and make the most of an opportunity to witness, because we know the world doesn’t think the gospel is good news.  Bear in mind that preaching doesn’t always have to be done with words.

Where was the Apostle Paul in Acts 17?  He was in Athens, “a city wholly given to idolatry.  Where was Jesus when He revealed himself as the Son of God?  He was in Cesarea Philippi, a city dominated by immoral activities and pagan worship, a place dedicated to the Greek god Pan.  The locals called it “the Gates of Hell.”

“When Jesus brought his disciples to the area, they must have been shocked. Caesarea Philippi was like a red-light district in their world and devout Jews would have avoided any contact with the despicable acts committed there.  It was a city of people eagerly knocking on the doors of hell.  Jesus presented a clear challenge with his words at Caesarea Philippi: He didn’t want his followers hiding from evil: He wanted them to storm the gates of hell.”   Source: http://www.followtherabbi.com/journey/israel/gates-of-hell/

At the Gates of Hell, Jesus asked “Who am I?”  Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.”  (Matthew 16).

The rock that Jesus declared He would build His Church on is the rock at the gates of Hell and the truth that He is the Messiah, the Son of God.  The rock is not the Pope!

He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgement,
a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.  
Isaiah 28:6.

PointI know that the fortune tellers at the Gypsy Fair sometimes got hassled by Christians.  They would be told they were evil and ruled by the devil.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/6224095/Tarot-cards-tell-a-story.

I didn’t agree with that.  In my opinion it would just drive them further away from the Lord.  My husband says that if you point the finger at someone there’s always three fingers pointed back at you.

The Pagans are trying to access the spiritual Kingdom without submitting to the Lord.  How many of us have done that until we’ve learned to obey God?  “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”  (1 Samuel 15:23) To approach God, truth is the cost of entry.  I chose to walk past and leave them in peace, silently praying for them to come to know the truth so they would turn away from witchcraft.

At the Gypsy Fair you could look through the house trucks for a gold coin donation.  The homes were all interesting and alternative, just what you would expect from Gypsies.  One house truck I stepped into was remarkable in how different the atmosphere was.  Jesus was there.  His music played softly in the cabin.  Bible tracts were scattered throughout the room for people to take.  Imagine that.  I was surprised to say the least.  As the house truck owner handed me a tract, I asked him what they were doing in a New Age, Pagan, alternative community?  He said it was their ministry.  God had called them into it.

I was glad to see them being Jesus to a community that I knew God cared about.  They were being the Church to a community that needed them.   I’ve never forgotten the lesson I learned that day from the travellers.Ekklesia

What do you think when you hear the word Ekklesia?  I used to think it meant religion and priests wearing robes.  Ekklesia are people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church – the universal body of believers called out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.  Source:http://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm

Here is a brilliant whiteboard demonstration of the role of the Ekklesia and the Kingdom of God;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVHz34eiSPE

A guest to the Blog named “Victory Truth” left a comment that inspired me;
“A pastor/friend once said we are a ministry of ministers, so if the church treats all of their members as equal then the community recognize the difference too. instead of Sheeple, they see a holy nation / a peculiar people. The leaves of THIS tree will heal nations! pray We can let our destiny become bigger than ourselves.”  

People of the King, it’s time for us to remember who we are.
We are all in Ministry.
We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
We are the Church, called out of darkness into glorious light.  We are the Church, let us turn back the battle at the gate. We are the Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against us.