The Battle At The Gates!
~A teaching addressing disinformation, revelation and the importance of knowing the difference~
"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say that I am?'
"Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'
"Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the very gates of hell will not overcome 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 shall be loosed in heaven' (Matt. 16:13-18, NIV).
Beloved saints, never before has the truth in this particular passage of scripture meant more to us than in this day and time. If you were to ask the average believer who Jesus is, they could probably give you any number of answers that are common this day. But ask them where they got their information from, and you will be surprised how many of them will quote popular men, well known books, cultish teachings, popular opinion or some other non-biblical source.
"Well, so what?" one might say. "What difference does it make where you get your information from?" Beloved, understand this: where you get your information from will determine whether or not you live this life as a believer full of spiritual authority or simply a believer full of worldly opinions and ideas!
Information or Revelation...
Saints, we must understand that there is a major difference between information and revelation. When Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" They began to respond with just that -- the sayings and opinions of men. They had heard it all: that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, and any number of other prophets. Their heads were full of information and opinions from other sources. These opinions were all that they had! they didn't really know who Jesus was personally!
Then Jesus asks another question: "But what about YOU? Who do YOU say that I am?" Jesus was saying, "Don't tell me what others have said; I want to know what your personal opinion is!"
Suddenly, everyone stopped speaking. The men who had given up all they had to follow him didn't have the courage to try and answer the simplest of questions: do you really know whom you are following? Finally one of the disciples, Peter, speaks up and boldly says something that is totally contrary to the current opinions: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
Notice Jesus' response: "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah..." Now, why was Peter blessed in his answer? Listen closely to Jesus' reason: "... for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." There it is, saints: Peter's source of information was none other than God the Father, speaking into his spirit!
There is an extremely important point being made here: This passage points to the fact that there are two different sources of understanding available to believers. One is based on hearsay, opinion, and natural understanding; the other is straight from the throne of Heaven. One provides information; the other, revelation. One is temporary, shaky and ever changing; the other is eternal, sure, and consistent. You MUST be able to tell the difference, for the source you listen to will determine the success, growth, and direction of your spiritual life!
The symbolism of the Gates...
Even as you read this, there is a battle taking place at the gates to influence the minds of men. But in order to understand the nature of this battle, you must understand the symbolism of the gates. In the Bible, gates have two meanings for a city; they are points of access and authority. Regarding access, the gates allow things both in and out of a city. When things enter in through the gates, the city is affected; when things are allowed out of the gates, the surrounding cities are affected. In any Israelite city (which was surrounded by huge walls), it was the battle at the gates that many times determined who won the war and which culture would influence the land.
How are gates a point of authority? In the Israelite culture, the important, influential leaders of the city gathered at the gates to discuss and share opinions, news events, wisdom, and understanding (Prov. 31:23,31). Whatever they thought and shared determined much of what the city believed. This is what the men with Jesus were repeating: what they had heard at the gates of the city!
Notice the gates of which city Jesus said was sharing opinions and understanding: "...and the very gates of HELL..." Now, why did he say such a thing about Jerusalem? Because of the leaders who were giving their opinions at the gate -- the blind, unbelieving Pharisees and Sadducees! These were the very religious leaders whom Jesus said were "of [their] father, the devil" (John 8:44). These were the very leaders who sought to trap Jesus with words who opposed him at every step, who tried to turn people against him, and who were ultimately the instruments of his death. Truly, they were sharing opinions from hell's gates!
Beloved, is it not the same today? Judges, religious leaders, and influential people are telling others, "there's nothing wrong with homosexuality! If you believe it's right, then it's right for you! There isn't just one truth! God is in everybody! It doesn't matter what you believe! Everyone's religion is acceptable to God!" Saints, when they promote such thinking, are they not opposing God's word and sharing opinions from the gates of hell? Every were you turn -- television, newspapers, books, radio, secular singers, movie actors, politicians, public schools -- everyone is promoting the information from the gates of hell, trying to draw you into that very city!
The Bible teaches us that God's method of sharing truth is definitely different than the worlds' method. God wants His children to receive truth through spiritual revelation. That is why He gives us His Holy Spirit; to teach us and lead into all truth: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13). It is God's will that spiritual truth be shared with us through the Holy Spirit revealing it to our born again spirits.
The word revelation means: to enlighten, to make manifest, appearing, to disclose, to take the cover off. Understand this, saints: we cannot receive the spiritual things of God unless His spirit reveals them to us, and they cannot be understood unless we are born again; they are hidden from the natural world (1 Cor. 2:10-14, Matt. 11:25). You see, when God speaks of "knowing" something or someone, He is speaking of more than mere head knowledge; He is speaking of an intimate, personal encounter that results in life. When Adam "knew" Eve, it produced life; similarly, when we come to know God, it produces spiritual life, strength and power in us (Gen. 4:1, Dan. 11:32). Just like a husband gains intimate knowledge of his wife when he "knows" her physically, we also gain intimate knowledge of God when we come to "know" Him by His Spirit! This is the only way anyone can come into the true revelation of God; by knowing Him intimately. This is why we pray, worship, praise, and study His Word!
This is also why the world can neither know nor understand spiritual truth, because they do not know the Holy Spirit of Truth, sent by the God of all wisdom. This is why they hold fast to opinions, fables, stories, myths, and lies (1 Tim. 4:1-7, 2 Tim. 3:1-7). But you, Beloved, can know all things if you develop an intimate relationship with God (1 John 2:27). We are to get our revelation direct from the gates of Heaven!
The Battle at the Gate...
"In that day shall the Lord of Hosts shall be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate" (Is. 28:6-7).
Beloved, we must understand that God does not give us His spiritual revelation just for us to be puffed up with understanding of spiritual things; He gives it to us that we may fight the battle for the minds of men, to turn back the lies of the devil, to speak up and be a light of truth and understanding in the world. Saints, God's church is the only entity on earth with direct access to God's revelation, and God expects us to resist the lies coming forth from hell's gates with all of our might! We must show the world that God's revelation is superior to all other sources of information; it is greater than opinion, tradition, and science! That is why Jesus said, "...and on this rock (the revelation knowledge of Jesus) I will build my church, and the very gates of hell will not overcome it." He determined that His church (or "the called out ones") would consist of those who have received a personal, spiritual revelation from God about himself: that he is the long-awaited Christ, that His death has freed us from sin, and that he is the only way to God the Father. A person can only know this is true if the Holy Spirit reveals it to their spirit.
This is where the battle comes, Beloved; Satan will not allow this revelation to be shared openly. Many saints have died because of it, as will many more. Many will be cast out, jailed, fired, labeled crazy, and attacked because of it. Many more will be deceived and accept the opinions that are coming from the gates of hell, listening to the voice of carnal men and demons instead of the voice from heaven. They will "walk in the counsel of the ungodly." But to those that stand strong in their revelation, Jesus promises the keys to the kingdom, the spiritual authority to bind and loose as the Lord allows. This will be the main difference between the gates of Heaven and the gates of hell, saints: God will confirm His church's words with power from on high! "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4-5).
This is why that gates of hell will not prevail against us, saints; this is why we will win the battle at the gate, for the very God of Heaven will fight with us. We cannot lose!
~Pastor Ron Barnes