Matthew 16:18-20 The Gates of Hades will not Prevail

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”
(Matthew 16:18-20)

The Gates of Hades will not Prevail

This post may not immediately sound relevant to this scripture; however, please read to the end.

Recently, I have not been writing commentaries as often as I wish, because I started a new job last week, and because my father-in-law has experienced deterioration in health. He was unexpectedly admitted to hospice on Sunday. We were given information that his condition was very serious, so my wife Kathleen, her mother, and I went to visit him. We had been gently trying to encourage him to end is 78 year old stand-off against God. We don’t know the details, but suspect that he turned away from God when his mother died when he was fourteen. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he prevented his wife Doris from having contact with the church for most all of their 66 years of married life. She now has intermittent dementia, memory impairment from strokes, and mental illness from marital abuse.

We prayed for him at the hospice house and asked him about his relationship with God. He refused to repent and turn toward God. He told us that He doubted that he would be forgiven. He drifted in-and-out of sleep, because he had been given too much morphine prior to being transferred from residential care to hospice in the afternoon. We continued to pray as he slept, and then we began our 50-mile journey back home.

Kathleen’s mother and father separated last June when her 88-year old mother was on the verge of an emotional breakdown, because of his mistreatment of her. Since then, God has helped us reconnect Kathleen’s mother with our Lord. We pray with her often, and have helped her confess long held bitterness, resentment, hatred, and anger. It is a miracle how she has moved from constant pain and agitation into the peace of God.

Yesterday, Kathleen’s father, Bob, called us wanting to talk with his wife Doris. Kathleen had helped Doris send him a Christmas card, and his stony heart broke open when he received it in the mail. So they got on the phone together. Kathleen was also on the phone with them so she could help facilitate communication, because they are both quite hard of hearing. He said that he wanted reconciliation. Doris did not understand what he was asking about so Kathleen told him that the most important reconciliation that he could have at this point in his life would be with God. She said that reconciliation begins with asking God to forgive your sins. She explained that Doris had reconciled herself to God and it would be necessary for him to reconcile to God before there could be any discussion about reconciling their marriage. She explained that Doris was much happier since confessing her sins. He stated that he was OK with God, because he was part of the church when he was a kid and he hadn’t done anything wrong. So, Kathleen decided to mention two sins. She mentioned the fact that he beat her through out her childhood and verbally abused Doris constantly when they were together. He denied ever having done anything inappropriate.

This is where the Holy Spirit really went to work. From out of the depth of dementia, Doris began to talk to her husband about God. She had been afraid to do this for their entire marriage. She was clear, strong, and filled with the conviction of God. She told him that she felt so much better since she confessed. She asked him “Do you want to feel better?” She then told him that if he did, then he needed to believe in God, and heaven and hell. She asked him, “Do you want to be with me in heaven?” She said, “If you do, then you better say yes to God and ask Him to forgive you.” From between his tears, he made a comment about the fact that we got her. My wife said, no, we didn’t get her, God got her and the only one He hasn’t gotten yet is you.

Kathleen’s father did not repent yet, or (as far as we know) change his mind about God. The last thing his wife said to him was, “You better think about what I told you. You drink your water and take the medicine they give you, and think about it.”

Today, Doris is back in dementia land, confused, disoriented, and acting like she is six-years old. It was God who gave her the power to speak truth to her husband for the first time. It was God who gave her the words to speak. It was God who cleared her mind so she could evangelize her husband. It was the power of God that stood up against the gates of hell and refused to let them prevail against the sinner that she still loves.

Thank you Lord Jesus. It was your willingness to forgive us and to let us become children of God, which made this all possible. You continue to do a mighty work in us, and your presence in the lives of committed believers is constantly adding new members to the Kingdom of our Father in Heaven. I ask those who read this to please pray that Bob will become willing to repent and turn his life over to the care of Jesus Christ our Lord. He is 92-years old and doesn’t have much time left. Thank you for your prayers. Amen.

Come and see

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9)

One likes Philip. He’d sought out his friend Nathaniel to tell him that Jesus was the expected Messiah, and when Nathaniel baulked, Philip said to him, “Come and see,” perhaps the best evangelistic invitation in the Bible. And now here, he’s naively and boldly asking Jesus to display God the Father to him and the other disciples.

Jesus seems a little taken aback. He replies, in effect, that Philip came and saw, and what he saw was Jesus; and seeing Jesus was seeing God the Father about his work.

According to tradition, Philip remained faithful to Jesus, dying as a martyr in 80 a.d.