Next door to me is a cute white cape cod, with blue trim ... and the gates of hell.
What? Are satanists practicing there?
Maybe evolutionists? [ArminiansCalvinists]? Terrorists?
Alright, what then?
It's a young man, his younger wife, and a baby of a couple months old at most. There's a Pearl of Great Price in a field right nearby to them, but they cannot get out past those gates. The gates of hell surround them. There's a kingdom of God waiting to be revealed to them, but the gates of hell prevent the kingdom's entry.
No, no, no. The gates of hell are out to destroy the church, but the church will prevail against them.
Well, I already dealt with this one, so it is something of a straw man for me to talk about it again, but I will repeat myself just a little. Gates don't attack. They stand there and prevent. Gates prevent my young neighbors from finding God, and the kingdom of God from finding them. Those gates will not prevail when the church attacks them!
The gates of hell are not simple, either. Hell practices "defense in depth." That is to say that you cannot just pray that the eyes of the lost will be opened, or that their consciences will be pricked. My neighbor might be entrapped by any number of things. He might be cynical about the church, worried about debts, running with "the boys," obsessing over a woman at the office, ashamed of an addiction, too proud to hear that he has need of God, too worried about missing the start of his favorite TV show, and/or just plain too tired to talk about anything tonight.
The gates of hell are built around the human heart, and built from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The gates of hell stand there like an evil declaration that God is only God in heaven, not here on earth. Here, men reign as gods to themselves, and no hypocritical church is going to tell them how to live. The gates of hell tell God, "No trespassing allowed" and "Keep your laws off my life".
The kingdom of God is not impressed.
Upon the Rock of Christ, His church is built to go forth like an army with banners, and those gates shall not prevail against it.
1 Cor 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
Paul went to Ephesus to pick a fight. He planted the church there, not as a tender reed, nor as a gentle rose, but as an outpost of empire. The wild beasts of Ephesus were on the defense! The church was advancing!
2 C0r 10:4&5 (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Need I say it? Paul and the Spirit do not say that our "defenses" are mighty to withstand the attacks of satan. No, our weapons are mighty to pull down the strongholds of satan, the imaginations that sin and lust have formed, and every thing that stands against the Truth. Our weapons bring destruction to the gates of hell, not the other way around. Even the armor of Ephesians 6 can be read to be attacking, rather than defending.
When you think of the gates of hell, don't think of Somalia, or Tibet, or Planned Parenthood.
Think of your neighbor.
Think of the treasure of a heart imprisoned by devils, chained to lies that purport to shame the Living God. Think of the glory that angels sing when such a heart is freed! Think of sharing the love of a brother or sister for eternity when those gates fail before the mighty weapons of Christ.
Then think about how to knock those gates down.
I'll share my first thought with you. Tracts ain't knockin' down no gates of hell. They hardly knock at the door.