And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (see Matt. 16:16-18).
Some gates and walls are designed to keep people out. The gates of hell are designed to keep people in. The great privilege of Christian witness is to be part of seeing people freed from their bondage.
Many people are in bondage, prisoners of the forces of hell. “I can’t live the Christian life,” they say. “God couldn’t love me. I’m too far gone.” Yet when the gospel is preached, they find hope. There is a way out of their hellish prison. The gospel brings hope to addicts, sinners, backsliders, agnostics, atheists. The “god of this world has blinded their eyes” yet the truth of Christ opens the eyes of the blind.
Jesus came to set the prisoners free. Although we all are rightly accused of having broken God’s laws and are deserving of death, Jesus went to the cross on our behalf. He took the “handwriting of ordinances that was against us,” which was contrary to us in that even our consciences agreed, and nailed it to his cross, taking it out of our way. And so he opened the gate of our prison and allowed us to go free.
The promise is that when the church goes against the very gates of hell, they will not prevail against us. Ransomed and freed Christians the world over are a living testimony to the truth that the gates of hell are no match for the gospel.
Go to the cross. There is the triumph over evil. There is the deliverance of the prisoners. There is the freedom of the captive. And Satan and his forces can say nothing. They stand stooped and beaten at the cross. And the prisoner goes free. The sinner is saved. That is the victory of Jesus!