The early months of our missionary career left us with the indelible impression that we weren’t in Kansas anymore, that the water really does swirl in the opposite direction “down under”, and that the spirit world is not a state of mind, but a life-and-death reality. Our gates (and maybe our foundations too) were being shaken and we needed to learn how to live and—fight—in a whole new way. Rather than passively waiting to absorb attack, we needed to climb out of the trench and make the longest run across no man’s land to shake the gates of hell.
It is useful to have an operational definition of those gates if we are to wage a good warfare. In Biblical parlance, a gate is “a symbol of strength, power, and dominion,” (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 2, page 656.) As such, when referring to “the gates of hell” (as found in Matthew 16:18) it is understood that we are not referring to the place of eternal punishment, but to those spiritual entities in league with Satan for whom hell was created.
To confront this league of evil, we must wage war in the spiritual domain, using spiritual strategies, tactics, and assets.
Like a tent spread over all of the following thoughts is Romans 8:37–39:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The principles offered in the next several posts depend upon the truth that our Father loves us and that there is nothing that can separate us from that love. Some of these principles may, at times, make us feel vulnerable, exposed to the enemy, at risk. Yet, we must risk suffering in order that we might truly know Jesus, that we might gain a better resurrection, and have our faith purified and made strong. Jesus defined eternal life as “know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
Be Known By God
Shaking the gates of hell is a cooperative venture with the Lord that begins with being known (or acknowledged) by God. In a general sense, God knows everyone. This is not about being known in that way. I’m referring to the kind of intimate, relational knowledge that the Father has of the Son and for those who, by faith, have crossed from darkness to light. Turn your attention to these passages:
Mark 1:9–11, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ”You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.””
Job 1:8, “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’”
Judges 6:11–12, “Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ”The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
Our authority to wage war in heavenly places is rooted in finished work of Jesus on the cross, the resurrection, and the mandate given us by Him. We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), therefore we exercise delegated authority. Just as an ambassador serves as an extension of the government he or she represents, we represent the Savior according to His agenda, his power, his authority.
The difference in the Kingdom of God is that we are not just one of a host of bureaucrats carrying out the political agenda of a distant and unknown leader. We are sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ, intimately known and loved by the One sending us to do his will. He has given us his Spirit to indwell and empower us, gifting us for the good of the body.
Christ’s finished work on the cross, his resurrection, even his mandate all exist under the great umbrella of God’s love for those whom He created. While these establish a foundation for shaking the gates of hell, they are merely the beginning. In the coming posts we will examine other elements of fighting the war in the heavenly places. Until then . . . may the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine upon you and give you rest.