Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Over the Church: Guaranteed!

Summary:  Satan and his demons hate you. Their hope and desire is to rob, kill, and destroy you, Jesus said. The Bible pictures the devil as a roaring lion seeking to devour you. That should make us tremble, right? Wrong! The Bible (James 2:19) says that it’s the demons who tremble. By contrast, Christians are the victors over Satan and his demons. How? Come see.

Matthew 16:18, KJV  …I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Among respected Bible commentators and teachers there are multiple interpretations of Jesus’ expression “the gates of hell.” A sample of some of those are: the strength and forces of Satan…the fortifications of hell [Hades]…the place where leaders meet (that was often the city gates in ancient times)…death and/or the grave…and others. In specific application there is probably merit in a number of these interpretations.

One of them that I believe carries considerable weight is stated by the late Bible teacher Kevin Conner of Australia: “The powers of Satan shall not prevail, or overpower the Church, or be able to hold out against it… ‘Hades’ — “the place of departed spirits. The power of the infernal region. Speaking of Satan’s evil spirits, principalities and powers with whom the Church will have constant warfare” [A New Testament Commentary: Messages from Matthew, Kevin J. Conner, p. 229].

That’s the perspective we’ll focus on, captured in seven centrally important words that Jesus spoke — “The gates of hell shall not prevail” against the Church! That wicked devil Satan and his evil demons will not prevail! The Church will be victorious; Satan and his demons will not.

The arch-enemies of the Church in the time of “this present darkness” (RSV) are “the rulers…the authorities…the powers of this dark world…the spiritual forces of evil…the devil’s schemes…the evil one” (Ephesians 6:11-16). This ongoing spiritual warfare will last until Christ's Second Coming. But Jesus the Son of God promised that hell/Hades shall not overcome or prevail against His beloved Church, for which He died and rose again to save us (1 Corinthians 15:2-4).

1 John 3:8b, NASB  The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

This is an eternity-changing truth. The devil, Satan, is a wicked, foul spirit. The apostle Peter told us that “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). That’s Satan’s nature. He despises the Lord’s Church and its people. If we give in to him, he and his legions of evil spirits will have a very destructive influence in our lives.

However, in our verse just above the apostle John reminds us that one of the specific reasons Jesus came from heaven to earth was “to destroy the works of the devil.” The Lord did that very effectively by His death on the cross for our sins, His burial, and His glorious resurrection from the dead.

Now our privilege as believers and followers of Jesus Christ is to walk in the victory that He secured for us over “the works of the devil.” Remember, through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). Therefore, as the Lord promised, “The gates of hell shall not prevail!

Acts 10:38  …how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

During the 3-1/2 years of His public ministry on earth, Jesus consistently demonstrated His total power over Satan and demons. Acts 10:38 tells us how God the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. Subsequently, in the fullness of heavenly power, Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil.”

Bible scholars have differing opinions on the amount of influence the devil might have in regard to our physical health. But that’s not the main point. The central issue is the certainty that our infinitely strong, omnipotent Savior Jesus had (and still has!) unlimited healing and delivering power over the “power of the devil.” Whatever the devil’s attacks against you might be, remember and act upon the fact that your Savior Jesus has all power over the devil, and He came to earth to destroy the devil’s works. Satan no longer has power over your life. Walk confidently in that truth—Hell shall not prevail!

Colossians 2:15, NLT  In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Here too there are varied interpretations. But the main thought clearly remains this: Jesus secured victory over the devil and his demons. And the focal point of that victory was the cross, pointing to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for our great salvation.

There is immense power in what Jesus did for us at the cross. The apostle Paul wrote that “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). At the cross, said the apostle, Jesus disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God (2 Corinthians 10:4). By sharp contrast, Jesus came to destroy the devil’s works and, by His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, he “disarmed” Satan and his hosts of demons. And that brings assurance to us, His people, that “The gates of hell shall not prevail!”

John 10:10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

If all we had was the first part of that verse, we’d be in deep trouble. Yes, the “thief” — believed by many to refer to the devil; see John 8:44 — does come against mankind with the malicious intent to “steal and kill and destroy.” But in direct opposition to that, Jesus reassures His followers that He has come to bring us life to the full!

Again, in any and all demonic attacks against you, remember these truths, and choose to side with the Victor (Jesus) over the defeated ones (Satan and his demons). Because of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Hell shall not prevail!”

Matthew 8:28-32  When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

This is just one of many Gospel accounts of Jesus exercising total authority and dominion over demon spirits. Those violent, lunatic men were fully possessed by many wicked demons. With a word to the demons — “Go!” — Jesus cast them out and cured the men.

In any encounter you may have with demons, expect to be the victor. Empowered by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and with the Word of God and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have authority that the forces of hell cannot resist. Remember Jesus’ promise to His Church: “Hell shall not prevail!”

Luke 10:17-20, NKJV  Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you… [20] the spirits are subject to you…”

You might at this point be saying, “Well, that works for Jesus, since He’s the Son of God. But can we, mere mortals, expect to exercise similar power over the devil and his legions?” And the answer is a definite “Yes!”

Jesus sent out a large group of His disciples to minister. They returned joyfully and reported that “even the demons” were subject to them. And His promise to them rings true and valid right down to our time: “I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy… [20] the spirits are subject to you.” Back then and still today, Jesus gives to His believing followers “authority…over all the power of the enemy.” The next verse (just below) confirms the promise that “The gates of hell shall not prevail,” since the Lord’s Church and His followers therein are the ones who are given the Lord's authority and power to prevail over demons.

Mark 16:15-18  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation… [17] And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons

These verses and Matthew 28:18-20 are what is commonly called Jesus’ “Great Commission” to His Church. Remember the verses above, where Jesus told His followers, “I give you the authority” over evil spirits. Here He is sending them out to preach His gospel to all creation. And among the supernatural signs and manifestations of Holy Spirit power that will accompany them (us too) is this: “In my [Jesus’] name they will drive out demons.” No demon will be powerful enough to resist a Word-wielding, Spirit-filled Christian rebuking the devil biblically in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When such a Christian meets a demon, any demon, Hell shall not prevail. Why? Because Jesus promised such a believer that he or she will have the victory over demons in His Name.

Acts 16:16-18  Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

The apostle Paul demonstrated the power Jesus promised to believers over demon spirits. He had been ministering for many days in Philippi. A woman who had a fortune-telling evil spirit had begun following Paul around. When he discerned the demon in her, Paul cried out, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And she was instantly delivered. Paul fully understood that even the wickedest demons shall not prevail against the name of the Lord Jesus Christ spoken in faith.

Act 28:3-5  Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand… [5] But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.

The apostle Paul and his shipmates had been shipwrecked on the island of Malta. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire. Driven out by the fire’s heat, a venomous snake bit Paul on the hand. But Paul simply shook it off into the fire, and the Lord allowed him to suffer no ill effects (see Mark 16:17f). Unshaken, Paul went on to minister divine healing to the island chief’s father, and that led to a healing revival on the island (vs. 9).

The bottom line? The Spirit-filled, Jesus-honoring servant of the Lord simply shook off the dangerous serpent! We too, by faith in Jesus and His name, can shake off “serpents” (demons), since Jesus has given His followers “authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” In every encounter with the devil’s forces, oppose them with the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18) and the all-powerful name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan shall not prevail; the Lord’s Church will!

Revelation 20:2, 7, 10, KJV  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years… [7] And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison… [10] And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

In the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the serpent deceived Eve, which led to Eve and Adam partaking of the forbidden fruit. In the last book of the Bible John clearly tells us that the “old serpent” of Eden is the devil, Satan.

In the Garden of Eden Satan got victory for a time. Then some 2,000 years ago Jesus came from heaven to earth, lived, preached, taught, and healed and delivered people in need. Then He went to the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the 3rd day. Alive again forever, our Savior ascended back to heaven to God the Father, having redeemed from the sentence of sin and eternal punishment all who will come to God in repentance for sins and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

Many Christians (I too) believe that Jesus’ Second Coming is not far off. He will return to earth “in flaming fire” wrath against those who oppose Him (2 Thessalonians 1:8). But in glory and love He will gather all the redeemed to Himself (vs. 10). The saved will “reign with Him a thousand years” [the Millennium] (Revelation 20:6). Finally Satan, whom God had locked up for the 1,000 years of the Millennium, is cast by God into never-ending torment in “the lake of fire and brimstone” (vs. 10). The saved, the redeemed, live on in God’s indescribably glorious presence for all eternity (Revelation 22:1-5). And the promise of Jesus that “The gates of hell shall not prevail” shall be celebrated eternally by His people, who will experience the glorious fulfillment of the Psalm’s promise that “In thy [God’s] presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). There will be no devil or demons and no sin or sickness or death in the blissful eternity that the saved will enjoy in the presence of the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In closing, let me list three Scripture verses that have strengthened me greatly over the years. Each of the three speaks of the victory, the triumph, that Jesus brings to us. May they be a blessing and a faith-builder to each of you, as they have been to me. God bless!

Romans 8:37-38  In all these things [including demons, vs. 38, NIV] we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

1 Corinthians 15:57
  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
  Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ


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Pentecostal Sermons
and Bible Studies by
Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.