If storming the gates of hell sounds shocking, it is because we never hear about it. The church never preaches it. The pastors ignore it. The seminaries hide it.
Because we have made a pact with the devil. Soon after the church laid siege to the gates of hell, Satan offered a truce, and we accepted. How did this happen?
Satan’s Offer to Jesus
Satan had previously made the same offer to Jesus, but He rebuffed Satan, and went on to lead the charge against the kingdom of darkness (Luke 4:1-13). After Jesus rejected the offers of Satan, Jesus announced that His mission was to find the people in chains and set them free, to seek out those who were living in darkness and bring them to light, to discover the prisons where captives were held and break their bonds, and to come to those who were broken and enslaved by the enemy and give them healing, hope, and freedom (Luke 4:18-19). Most of these people Jesus sought to rescue were held imprisoned behind the gates of hell, and so Jesus laid siege against them.
However, three years into the battle, our leader, our general, our commander was struck down. We thought we had lost. We were disheartened. We were defeated. But three days later, our defeat turned into victory when Jesus came striding out of the gates of hell, leading many captives with Him (Eph 4:8)!
Jesus gathered us together to explain what had happened and reveal the plans for the final stage in this siege. Though the war had been won, though death and the devil had been defeated, there were still battles to be fought, and captives to be freed. And though Jesus had cancelled the power of sin and escaped the clutches of hell, the gates still stood and many people were held captive behind them. So Jesus gave us His power and sent us on the mission of continuing the task He started (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:4-8).
For 300 years, the church continued to lay siege to the gates of hell. Yes, there were many wounded among our ranks, and numerous people fell victim to the flames and the ferocious beasts sent out to slay us. But we held strong in our resolve to continue the mission of Jesus. Jesus was with us in word, power, and deed, and though many in the church fell wounded on the field, thousands of captives were freed. The gates were beginning to crumble.
Satan’s Offer to the Church
But just when the battle was almost won, tragedy struck. The worst part about it was that this tragedy was viewed by most in the church as a great victory. It happened near the beginning of the fourth century A.D. The devil came to the church, as He had come to Jesus so many years before, and congratulated us on our success. He had thought he could beat us through brute force, but we had overcome against all odds and held firm against the onslaught of his overwhelming forces. So he offered to concede to us some of what was rightfully ours. He offered to pay us tribute. He offered us power, recognition, wealth, and fame.
In exchange, all we had to do was discontinue our siege against the gates of hell. We would not have to concede defeat, but could return home as victorious conquerors, complete with glory, riches, and might. We could set ourselves up as rulers of the world, calling all the nations to our beautiful and expensive centers of worship dedicated to Jesus Christ. We would have free reign to travel about and tell people about Jesus, and to preach and teach about Jesus. We could ordain our own professional priesthood, consolidate our positions of power and influence in the world, and transform the world for Jesus Christ.
All we had to do in exchange back away from the gates of hell. Yes, there were still people trapped and enslaved behind them, but that was a small price to pay for the worldwide domination that was being offered. We could do so much other good with the power and money that was begin offered, could we not?
Our Deal with the Devil
It did not take long for the church to decide. The answer was obvious. The offer was too good to pass up. We took the deal from the devil, and almost overnight, the church was transformed from a struggling band of fugitives fighting against all odds to seek and save the lost, and became rich, powerful, and prominent. We confiscated pagan temples and converted them into centers for the worship of Jesus. We trained and hired a class of professional clergy and sent them out into the world to do the Lord’s work. We passed laws and rules to support the morality taught by the church, and even made Christianity the official religion of the Empire.
Christianity entered its Golden Age, but underneath it all, behind the scenes, Satan rebuilt his walls, fortified his gates, and sent out his forces once again to enslave and capture the people of this world. The church knew this was going on, but now that they had gained power and riches, they thought that the best way to proceed was to consolidate more power and riches, until eventually the church became so rich and powerful, that nothing could stand in our way. But this pursuit has led us only further away from the gates of hell and fulfilling the mission of Jesus.