One of the most encouraging yet misunderstood verses in the Bible is Matthew 16:18. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus gave the Church this great promise just after Peter recognized Him as the long-awaited and prophesied Messiah. But what did Jesus really promise in this verse? I believe many Christians, including myself at one time, have missed it!
Christians have been so brainwashed by pessimistic doomsayers, that they unwittingly turn the verse upside down to read, “Hell will not prevail against the gates of the Church!” They visualize this passage as teaching that the Church will remain safe behind Her gates while being pounded relentlessly by the hordes of Hell. But read the verse carefully. It’s the gates of hell that are being relentlessly pounded, and they will not be able to withstand the onslaught of the Church! You see, Christ is commanding the Church to march onward and overcome the gates of Hell with the power and truth of the Gospel. And best of all, Christ promises that we will be victorious!
Such a clear and optimistic teaching of Scripture directly challenges the teaching of many Bible prophecy “experts” today. These doomsayers teach that since the time of Christ’s first advent, the world has been growing increasingly darker. They believe that before the end, the tares will far outnumber the wheat. This unfortunate belief flies directly in the face of numerous Bible passages, which promise the widespread and thorough victory of the Gospel. Consider Isaiah’s prophecy found in Isaiah 11:9, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” The Psalmist predicts, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto Jehovah; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship after thee” (Psalm 22:27).
These are just a few of many such wonderful promises of God’s Word. In his book, Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope of Postmillennialism, Greg Bahnsen states,
He calls us to believe His promises. If there is going to be widespread conversion, a growing kingdom, a completion of the Great Commission, then of course there must be secondarily [sic] success seen in the moral improvement and consecration of vital areas of earthly life and conduct to the Lord. Psalm 72 speaks of charity being shown to the poor and of those who are being oppressed being relieved. It speaks of justice in our laws and in our courts. Isaiah 2 speaks of a turning away from warfare. Isaiah 65, of the expansion of life-spans, Revelation 21:24 speaks of kings who have been converted now honoring Christ and coming into the new Jerusalem. There is going to be a subduing of the earth to God’s glory and we are going to see the kingdom of Jesus Christ come to expression in medicine, in technology, in the arts, in economics, in politics, in our courts, in our families, in our schools. Indeed Zechariah 14:20 tells us very nicely what it will be like in that day when the Lord is King over all the earth, Zechariah says, ‘In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, ‘HOLY TO THE LORD”–upon the bells of the horses–the least significant detail of life–that final touch that you do when you take a horse out on parade day, and you put bells on its bridle, even those bells will serve the glory of God in that day. How much more everything else?”
Whenever I share these Bible passages with my “pessi-millennial” brethren, they usually respond with the claim that these prophecies of victory will only be fulfilled during some future, earthly reign of Christ. While sincere, they are sincerely wrong! The Bible teaches that Christ is already reigning, and that He is reigning from heaven with the earth as his footstool (Acts 2:29-36). The earth is Christ’s, and we are seated with him in heavenly places as He progressively defeats his enemies throughout history (Eph. 2:6, 1 Cor. 12:25)!
This belief in the straightforward reading of the Bible gives those of us at American Vision great strength and hope as we continue in the battle to restore America’s Biblical foundation. Whether or not God chooses to restore America in our lifetime is yet to be seen. But one thing is for sure: the Church, crossing all political and geographical boundaries, will not fail. Never lose sight of the great promise and call-to-action of Matthew 16:18 to take the Gospel to every nation. Take heart in knowing that the Great Commission is going to be fulfilled!
 Greg Bahnsen, Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope of Postmillennialism (Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Press: 1999)