Often we overlook much prophetic truth when we read and study God’s Word. The Bible is without limits in its rich wisdom available to be mined. The Creator’s purpose in giving His Word to the human race is to provide direction for living in the most abundant way possible.
Jesus Christ is that Word. The last book of the Bible—Revelation—is the unveiling of Jesus in all His power, glory and majesty.
Prophecy—telling of the future—resides at the heart of that Word. The promises issued from the holy pages guarantee eternal life for each person ever to be born who genuinely accepts God’s grace-given redemption from sin through belief in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Godhead, whom God the Father sees as the nucleus around which all things hold together:
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16–17)
So, with it established that the Lord Jesus is preeminent in all things, we come back to the opening statement to add that one truth we often overlook deals most directly with the next prophecy to be fulfilled—the Rapture of the church.
Jesus spoke about this commentary’s primary topic—the gates of Hell. Although the disciples He was speaking to really had no concept of what He was referring to, the prophecy and its details have been coming to pass ever since—and are now set for fulfillment.
“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 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 16:15–18)
They didn’t understand the concept of “the church;” at that point they were totally ignorant of that “structure” Jesus prophesied to be built. But built it was, and it is still under construction as each person who comes to salvation is added.
The specific part of this prophecy I want to look at in perhaps a new way is wrapped within the phrases “my church,” “the gates of hell,” and “shall not prevail against it.”
My study of how God deals with people–including believers—in different dispensations leads me to conclude that there are entirely different fates awaiting believers in Christ. And I’m talking about physical fate, not spiritual/eternal fate.
In terms of eternal fate, the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail or win against any believer in Jesus Christ. All believers, of every dispensation, will enjoy the bliss and exultation of Heaven forever. But in terms of physical fate, believers are prophetically scheduled to meet differing destinies.
Here is something we’ve looked at before, but still is not the primary point I wish to address.
Jesus said in Matthew 16, as we’ve read above, that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. That has turned out to be the dispensation we call the Church Age. This began at Pentecost, as recorded in Acts chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers. (I’m aware there are those who believe the church began along the shores of Galilee when Jesus began His ministry.)
On the other hand, the same Jesus, in His ascended form, gave the following prophecy to John to write in the Revelation.
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)
So it is plain that in the physical sense, Satan (his Antichrist) will overcome—prevail against—the saints (believers in Christ). But the gates of hell, referring to Satan’s evil domain, will not prevail over the church. The devil will never be able to physically or spiritually totally overcome or destroy Christ’s Bride, the church.
Now to get to that nuance of examination I hope will help make clear just how important this promise to the church—all believers of the Church Age—really is.
My friend Jonathan Cahn, in his most recent book, The Return of the Gods, points to the spiritually and even physically observable reality that portals of the demonic sort have been somewhat opened in these obviously manifest times of insane, anti-god activity. We’ve examined many of the bizarre manifestations over and over in these columns, but I will only repeat that it looks like God is in the process of turning rebellious human beings over to a reprobate mindset—to demented, upside-down thinking, as Paul prophesied in Romans chapter 1:
I’m in agreement with Jonathan. And I believe these portals equate to Jesus’ reference to the gates of Hell. Those gates are opening wider by the day, it seems. The demonic minions from those portals, as well as the human minions that are anti-God, intend to completely erase all vestiges of the true Christian church from the planet.
That will never happen. The very God who created all that exists has said so: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”—the church Jesus Christ is still building.
I’m convinced that the moment the Restrainer (the Holy Spirit) lifts His hand of restraint against these hellish forces, all believers will go to the Lord Jesus when He says: “Come up hither!” (Revelation 4:1).
The church cannot and will not be on planet earth when those gates of Hell are fully opened and allowed to overcome the saints of the Tribulation era (those saved following the Rapture). We have Christ’s Word on that wonderful promise.
With all the wickedness deluging this time on earth, the end is about to come like a flood (Daniel 9:26). The gates of hell will soon swing fully open, bringing the most horrible, deadliest time of human history, according to the Lord (Matthew 24:21).
But you and I, if we know Christ for salvation, don’t have to worry for a second about being here to face that time. Jesus said He will keep us out of that hour of horror (Revelation 3: 10). To be sure you are a part of the church that will be taken out before that Tribulation era begins, follow Paul’s Holy Spirit-given instructions.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9–10)