‘Same Fight Different Round’

Matthew 11:12; Matthew 16:15-30

Introduction: I have a pastor friend that when I would ask him how it was going he would say, ‘Same fight different’.


Transition: I want to discuss what I perceive to be a great challenge to every church.


Matthew 11:12

  1. Once Upon a Time – Eagerness and Pursuit

Other translations put it like this: “The kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it” (NIV).

“Violent people have been trying to take over the kingdom of heaven by force” (CEV).

“The kingdom of the heavens is taken by violence, and [the] violent seize on it” (Darby).

Question: This is indeed a puzzling verse at first. How can God’s kingdom suffer, and what do violent people have to do with it?

A basic rule of hermeneutics is that context is king. As already mentioned, Jesus is speaking to the crowds about John the Baptist’s ministry.

  • Immediately before His statement that the kingdom of God suffers violence, Jesus honors John as the greatest prophet (Matthew 11:11).
  • Immediately following His statement (verses 13–14), Jesus signifies that John was the capstone of the Old Testament revelation and the one who fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi 4:5. Jesus then speaks the familiar words “whoever has ears, let them hear” (verse 15)—words that suggest He has been speaking figuratively.

    Another rule of hermeneutics is to compare Scripture with Scripture.

  • One thing that had characterized John the Baptist’s ministry was the large number of people who came to hear him: “And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Mark 1:4–5). This crowd was as loyal as it was diverse.
  • Those who responded to John’s message of the coming Messiah included people who some thought would never repent, including tax collectors and prostitutes and Roman soldiers (Matthew 21:31–32Luke 3:14).
  • This crowd believed John to be a true prophet of God, and they were adamant about it (Matthew 14:5Mark 11:32).

So they were eager and pursuit of messianic prophecy.

  • The pressing multitudes that had followed John continued to follow Jesus’ ministry (Luke 5:1512:1).

This is the key to understanding Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God suffers violence.

  • Pointing to the huge crowds that followed John and that were now following Him, Jesus likens them to an invading army surrounding a city to capture it.

“From the days of John the Baptist until now,” there has been an extraordinary rush of people pressing in from all sides, eager for a blessing.

  • The “kingdom of heaven suffers violence,” figuratively speaking, in that people were so thronging to hear the gospel that they resembled an army trying to besiege a city. And the “violent take it by force”; the people entering the kingdom were not violent literally, but their eagerness to see the coming of the Messiah was so overwhelming that it was as if they were attacking a city and beating down the doors to enter.

  • Jesus’ statement that “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence” is a graphic picture of the enthusiasm and excitement generated by John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ teaching.

Application: People were hungry for the truth and would not be kept away. For centuries, God’s prophets had predicted the Messiah’s coming, and now that the Messiah was here, nothing could hold back the flood of people pressing into the kingdom.


We see some of this fervor in Luke 5:18–19, when some men literally tore through a roof to get to Jesus, and in John 6:15, when a crowd “intended to come and make him king by force.”

Application: We should take note of the response of the believing people in Jesus’ day and share their passion. The gift of eternal life is beyond compare. Knowing Christ has come should create earnestness in us and a striving to be closer to Him. There is no place for apathy or ambivalence in the follower of Jesus Christ.

Transition: So much has happened over the centuries that have to a certain degree turned this paritular tide from eagerness to skeptisism.

  1. The Changing Tide – circumstances, cynisims and digression.

Since the first century church, a lot has changed!

Transition:

  1. A Present Dilemma – Latter day difficulties

I would characterize today’s growing spritiual context this way, ‘When I want to, where I want to, how I want to, if I want to!’


But there is good news! Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’

The phrase the “gates of hell” is translated in some versions as the “gates of Hades.” “Gates of hell” or “gates of Hades” is found only once in the entire Scriptures, in Matthew 16:18. In this passage, Jesus is referring to the building of His church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

At that time Jesus had not yet established His church. In fact, this is the first instance of the word church in the New Testament. The word church, as used by Jesus, is derived from the Greek ekklasia, which means the “called out” or “assembly.” In other words, the church that Jesus is referencing as His church is the assembly of people who have been called out of the world by the gospel of Christ.

Bible scholars debate the actual meaning of the phrase “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” One of the better interpretations to the meaning of this phrase is as follows. In ancient times, the cities were surrounded by walls with gates, and in battles the gates of these cities would usually be the first place their enemies assaulted. This was because the protection of the city was determined by the strength or power of its gates.

As such, the “gates of hell” or “gates of Hades” means the power of Hades. The name “Hades” was originally the name of the god who presided over the realm of the dead and was often referred to as the “house of Hades.” It designated the place to which everyone who departs this life descends, regardless of their moral character. In the New Testament, Hades is the realm of the dead, and in this verse Hades or hell is represented as a mighty city with its gates representing its power.

Jesus refers here to His impending death. Though He would be crucified and buried, He would rise from the dead and build His church. Jesus is emphasizing the fact that the powers of death could not hold Him in. Not only would the church be established in spite of the powers of Hades or hell, but the church would thrive in spite of these powers. The church will never fail, though generation after generation succumbs to the power of physical death, yet other generations will arise to perpetuate the church. And it will continue until it has fulfilled its mission on earth as Jesus has commanded:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).

It is clear that Jesus was declaring that death has no power to hold God’s people captive. Its gates are not strong enough to overpower and keep imprisoned the church of God. The Lord has conquered death (Romans 8:2Acts 2:24). And because “death no longer is master over Him” (Romans 6:9), it is no longer master over those who belong to Him.

Satan has the power of death, and he will always use that power to try to destroy the church of Christ. But we have this promise from Jesus that His church, the “called out,” will prevail: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

Application: Some of the more recent ‘attacks’ upon the church (as I have seem and discerned):

Role & Place of Egotism / Narcissism

Narcissim = excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance.

Similar: vanity, self-admiration, self-adulation, self-absorption, self-obsession

Opposite = modesty, diffidence

PSYCHOLOGY

selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

PSYCHOANALYSIS

self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.

Pastor Mike’s big 3!:

  1. Syncritism
  2. Racecism
  3. Politics
  1. End Time Awareness & Expectations

2 Timothy 3:1-5, ‘In the last days…lovers of themselves, etc.

  • Eternal Assurance

‘Gates of hell shall not prevail…’

The phrase the “gates of hell” is translated in some versions as the “gates of Hades.” “Gates of hell” or “gates of Hades” is found only once in the entire Scriptures, in Matthew 16:18. In this passage, Jesus is referring to the building of His church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

At that time Jesus had not yet established His church. In fact, this is the first instance of the word church in the New Testament. The word church, as used by Jesus, is derived from the Greek ekklasia, which means the “called out” or “assembly.” In other words, the church that Jesus is referencing as His church is the assembly of people who have been called out of the world by the gospel of Christ.

Bible scholars debate the actual meaning of the phrase “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” One of the better interpretations to the meaning of this phrase is as follows. In ancient times, the cities were surrounded by walls with gates, and in battles the gates of these cities would usually be the first place their enemies assaulted. This was because the protection of the city was determined by the strength or power of its gates.

As such, the “gates of hell” or “gates of Hades” means the power of Hades. The name “Hades” was originally the name of the god who presided over the realm of the dead and was often referred to as the “house of Hades.” It designated the place to which everyone who departs this life descends, regardless of their moral character. In the New Testament, Hades is the realm of the dead, and in this verse Hades or hell is represented as a mighty city with its gates representing its power.

Jesus refers here to His impending death. Though He would be crucified and buried, He would rise from the dead and build His church. Jesus is emphasizing the fact that the powers of death could not hold Him in. Not only would the church be established in spite of the powers of Hades or hell, but the church would thrive in spite of these powers. The church will never fail, though generation after generation succumbs to the power of physical death, yet other generations will arise to perpetuate the church. And it will continue until it has fulfilled its mission on earth as Jesus has commanded:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).

It is clear that Jesus was declaring that death has no power to hold God’s people captive. Its gates are not strong enough to overpower and keep imprisoned the church of God. The Lord has conquered death (Romans 8:2Acts 2:24). And because “death no longer is master over Him” (Romans 6:9), it is no longer master over those who belong to Him.

Satan has the power of death, and he will always use that power to try to destroy the church of Christ. But we have this promise from Jesus that His church, the “called out,” will prevail: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

Conclusion: What is our role?

  1. Clear on deception.
  2. Challenge of what everyone else states as ‘truth’.
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