The church is an institution that has stood the test of time. It has been attacked, undermined, criticized and condemned, and yet it has lasted for 2,000 years.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not overpower it.”
When Jesus said the gates of hell would not stop the church, the imagery he used is not one of defense but of offense. Gates are never used as an offensive weapon. Gates are tools of defense.
The early church was on the offense. Not even the gates of hell could stop them. They had one powerful offensive weapon imaginable — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That same victory is still present in the church today. It’s time for the Christian church in America to stop playing defense. It is time for us to realize that there is a lost world out there in need of a Savior.
We have the message that can change the world, and we can’t keep it to ourselves. We have a mission given to us by Jesus himself. That mission is to go into the entire world proclaiming the hope that is found only in Jesus Christ.
New Testament Christians didn’t huddle in the upper room every Sunday and rejoice that they were saved. Instead, in Acts 2, it says Peter boldly stood up in the Jerusalem marketplace and said, “Jesus of Nazareth was proven to be the Messiah, but you crucified him. But God has raised him from the dead, and now God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.”
Three thousand people repented and were baptized just that day. The religious elite were furious, and they tried to stop the disciples. They said, “You can’t speak about Jesus in public anymore.” They threatened the disciples with imprisonment if they continued witnessing. But the disciples said, “We must obey God, not men. We can’t help but speak about what we’ve seen and heard.” The truth of the gospel led to thousands of people placing their faith and hope in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is keeping His promise to this very day. It is time for the church to be the church God is calling us to be. We must press the cause of Christ forward in a secular culture that stands against virtually every value that we hold dear as Christians.
The church isn’t perfect, but thank God for what it does get right. Thank God for the faithful men and women who have sacrificed before us. Thank God we are not alone.
You may read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at [email protected].