Christians need a major shift in perspective. It seems many have taken up a defensive position, holding out until Jesus returns. We need to standup, shake off our fears and refocus, because God wants us to take up our battering rams and go to war.
There is a verse in Matthew that for years I misinterpreted. When I first read it, for some reason I believed that the church was under siege and that somehow Christians needed to hang on until the end.
But in fact it said the exact opposite. God intends the Kingdom of God to be the aggressor and taking the battle to the enemy.
In Mathew 16:18 (NKJ), Jesus said to Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
The Greek word for Hades, ‘hadou’, refers to what we know as hell. The place of torment (Luke 16:23). And the gates guarding hell would not be able to hold up against the church’s battering rams.
Jesus’ was simply restating the prophetic word, with a bit of a twist, given to the patriarch Abraham shortly after the angel of the Lord stopped him from sacrificing his son Isaac:
“Indeed, I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand of the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gates of their enemy.” (Genesis 22:17 NASV)
This prophetic word was ready to be fulfilled.
Though Abraham certainly imagined these gates would be made of wooden beams, Jesus changes the focus to spiritual.
This promise made centuries earlier was now fulfilled through the church.
What hadn’t changed was the promise of victory for the people of God. Jesus said the church would forcefully batter the very gates of Hell and Christ promised that these gates would not stand the church’s brutal assault.
We are the invaders and it’s D-Day for the church.
There is an interesting story from the 19th century that shows the advancement of the Kingdom of God as one believer dealt with the demonic controlling the area.
Johann Blumhardt (1805-1880) was your traditional Lutheran pastor in the small town of Mottlingen located in the infamous Black Forest in Germany.
Little did he know that his quiet, idyllic, pastoral life was about to make a dramatic shift. He had no idea in 1840, how much the arrival of the Dittus family would not only shake up his life but the town as well.
The family consisted of two brothers and three sisters whose parents had died years earlier. The youngest of this sibling group was a girl by the name of Gottliebin who from a young age had actively participated in the magical and occult arts commonly practiced in this region of Germany.
Shortly after the five had moved into their small apartment, Gottliebin began to experience a number of unusual and frightening manifestations. She saw lights and visions of small figures.
There was also a mysterious image of a shadowy woman holding a dead child who neighbors were convinced was a previous resident of the apartment who had died. Then there was the loud banging noise that even the neighbors claimed to hear.
Gottliebin’s siblings were naturally horrified by the events unfolding before their eyes.
Over the next few years, the family painfully watched Gottliebin withdraw into her own darkened world. Her physical condition deteriorated as she experienced severe convulsions that left her foaming at the mouth.
When relatives initially approached Blumhardt for help, he refused but was finally persuaded to become involved when Dr. Spath, the local doctor, who was at his wit’s end, pleaded to the Pastor for help. The doctor believed the girl was demon-possessed.
This was the beginning of Blumhardt’s two-year intense prayer battle with the forces of hell. Over the intervening months, the pastor became so obsessed with this fight that he not only neglected his pastoral duties, but many in the village were concerned about Blumhardt’s mental and physical well-being as well.
But as suddenly as it started the battle came to a climatic and sudden end.
During one of his regular session with Gottliebin, a sister in the room unexpectedly wailed “Jesus is victor.” The words were no sooner out of her mouth than Gottliebin was instantaneously delivered.
Blumhardt was relieved the battle was over, but any notions he had of things returning to normal were quickly dispelled.
Revival broke out in the town.
People flooded to the church. Blumhardt was forced to preach five times on Sunday to accommodate the crowds and even then there were times when people gathered around the outside of the church up to a kilometer deep to hear the service.
Then came the healings.
It was not that Blumhardt purposefully set out to heal anybody as he was just laying hands on people in the traditional Lutheran practice of absolution when one day a parishioner was spontaneously healed.
News of the revival even reached the ears of the emperor, Ferdinad I, who visited the town to see firsthand what was going on.
What happened in the Black Forest of Germany very much patterned the revival that hit Capernaum after Jesus delivered a man of an evil spirit in a local synagogue (Mark 1:21-27). That revival included further deliverances, healings and many getting saved including one of the 12 disciples — Matthew (Mark 1:21-27).