The Church

The Chur h by Barry Chant Vision CollegesJesus said: "I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Mt 16:18).

That saying comes strangely to our ears - we do not usually think of gates as prevailing - but to the people of Bible days it was pregnant with meaning. In fact, Jesus' words must have had a stunning impact on his hearers.

The phase "the gates of hell" was a common idiom in the Greek world. It was used to convey the idea of the strongest possible force. Today we might say, "mighty as an atom bomb ... powerful as an earthquake ... terrible as a tornado;" but when a Greek wanted to express irresistible, invincible force, he would speak about "the gates of hell" - he could think of nothing stronger.

Now to people who were familiar with that idiom, the effect of associating it with Jesus' little band of disciples must have been quite startling. As though he had said – "Until now you have known nothing mightier than the gates of hell - but I am about to create a new thing, my church, against which the gates of hell will be as impotent as a paper sword against granite!"

What does this mean to us?

The church an image of toughness? The idea is a joke to many people. But behind the facade of denominationalism there still remains the real church of Jesus Christ, the one that he is building. That real church, that inner core of committed people, will prove today and in the future to be as unconquerable and as triumphant as it has been in the past. As S. Baring-Gould sang in Onward Christian Soldiers! –

"Crowns and thrones may perish Kingdoms rise and wane But the church of Jesus Constant will remain; Gates of hell can never ‘'Gainst that church prevail", We have Christ's own promise - And that cannot fail!"

This book is now also available as an  ebook from Smashwords The Church - Ebook version 


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