Judgment & Gates – I Peter 4:17 & Mt 16:18

Gates Of Hell

I Peter 4:17 tells us that judgment begins in the house of God. Now, why would that be? Christ says in Matthew that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. How do those two tie together? In this writer’s opinion, when the church is doing its job, society will be righteous, just and morally upright, and when the church is falling down on its responsibility, then society will deteriorate and degenerate into the abyss of immorality that was exemplified in Sodom and Gomorrah in the time of Abraham and Lot. With that in mind, the church must be judged first, because it will be the church that will restore a fallen society.

So, what will “judgment” in the house of God look like? Scripture gives a good example. In ancient Israel, the church was comprised of Jews. They were given very specific commandments to obey in order to have the blessings of God, and if they disobeyed, they would have the curses (judgments) of God upon them. See Deuteronomy 28 for the expositing of those blessings and curses as delivered by Moses in his last sermon to the nation of Israel. At that time, Israel was a Theocracy (rule by God).

Now regarding Matthew 16:18, the gates of Hell. Let’s parse this a bit. Gates can have two functions; one to keep people in such as prison, and two, to keep people out such as a defensive position to protect a city or political entity. Now, in the case of Hell, that would definitely apply to both applications. Satan doesn’t want any of his minions to be able to escape his clutches, and two, he doesn’t want any Christians to get in.

It also says these gates will not “prevail against”. That is most definitely in the image of being defensive. In so doing, the implication is that the church is on the offensive. We know from Ephesians 6:11-13 where Paul admonishes and exhorts Christians to “put on the whole armor of God” that it is spiritual warfare about which he is speaking. So, the church is to be in a battle over life and death for the eternal souls of mankind. Satan wants to fill Hell with as many souls as he can capture, and Christ, in conjunction with Father God and the Holy Spirit, want to fill Heaven with as many souls as God chooses (Jn 17:9 & 10).

If the gates of Hell will not prevail, then that means that the church must attack spiritually those gates. How shall we describe the gates and how shall the church be on the offensive? There are two ways to be on the offensive; one is to give offense to evil, and the other is to attack evil. Christians (who make up the church) are offensive to the world just by their existence (Jn 15:18). The second way is to attack verbally by proclaiming the Gospel and identifying and condemning sin to those in the world who need to hear the truth (Jn 14:6 & Eph 6:19). And, what are the “Gates” of Hell? The gates may best, first and foremost be described as sin. We are bound by sin (Rom Ch. 7) Sin comes under many guises (II Cor 11:14). The bottom line is that man can be spiritually captured or imprisoned in his sin and Christ is the only way from which to be released (Romans Ch 8). What are some of those captivating sins? One of the most frequently mentioned is sexual immorality; adultery (resulting in divorce), fornication, homosexuality, incest, pornography, rape etc. How does the church view these aforementioned sins?

Look around you and see how many churches have some kind of welcoming and approving ministry for homosexuals. How many churches turn a blind eye to abortion which is the fruit of sexual sin or the sin of lust, selfishness and hatred of your fellow man (baby in the womb). Believe it or not, until the 1960’s Hollywood had a censorship board run by ministers and priests who provided Biblical guidelines for what was or wasn’t acceptable in a movie. Hollywood producers lamented the elimination (voluntarily done) of the board, and warned that movies would degenerate into vile stuff which is exactly what happened, and does the church do an effective job of speaking out against it? No!

There are certainly other sins that violate the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Do you see rampant homelessness in America. How about drug addiction, greed, materialism, paganism, hedonism, pedophilia, and now even talk of bestiality, and probably soon necromancy. We no longer have honest weights and measures (Deuteronomy 25:13-16) when with no backing, the governments of America and around the world can print money without limit and without labor backing it up. America’s Constitution, the only one that does in the whole world, calls for money to be gold and silver (Genesis 23:12-16), and it gives a definition to that which specifies a certain weight, or measure, to be a standard for the dollar. By inflating (increasing the money supply) the dollar, there are more dollars chasing the same amount of goods and services, and human nature in a free economy will lead to the bidding up of prices, and therefore, the value of the dollar declines and therefore has no store of value. It is dishonest weights and measures of that sort that steal (Exodus 20:15) from the little guy. Those who obtain that “new” money first get full value for it, but as it circulates through the economy, each time it becomes worth less and less until ultimately it will become worthless which is cheating (Exodus 20:15-17) – a combination of lying, stealing and coveting. You can make anything legal, but that doesn’t make it right or Godly (I Corinthians 10:23) Making things legal is easy.

So, you can see the problem, and so can the church as a whole. What will the church do about it, and how severe will the judgment have to be before the church acts? These are two imponderable questions for which only God knows the answer. We have a Sovereign God for whom a sparrow does not fall from the sky apart from His will (Mt 10:29), every hair of our head is numbered (Lk 12:7), and He knows our rising up and our sitting down and our thoughts afar off (Psalm 139:2), our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:4), and though we make our plans, He guides our footsteps (Proverbs 16:9). Man rolls the dice but God determines the outcome (Proverbs 16:33), and He raised up Pharaoh for just that purpose – to glorify Himself before all of mankind and fulfill His promise and prophecy to free Israel from 400 years of slavery (Exodus 9:16). God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 7:3). And as a result of Joseph saving his family from death and starvation (Genesis 50:20-21). Don’t forget, in Genesis 3:15, God spoke of Christ as Savior, and the crucifixion and resurrection were all planned millennia in advance. No, God will not be caught off guard, and nothing happens by chance; as U.S. President Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt said, “It’s all very carefully planned”. Roosevelt was speaking of the rich and powerful conspirators of his day who worked assiduously to enslave mankind to sin, poverty and hard labor, but God is able to thwart that plan with a flick of His little finger, and in everything that happens, God has much more carefully planned and set in stone His will (Psalm 58).

The image of God in man by R. C. Sproul HERE.


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