"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?' And they said, 'Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.' He said unto them, 'But whom say you that I am?' And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in Heaven. And I say unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:13-19)
What an amazing passage which is worthy of our most focused attention. This is the first time Jesus uses the word "church" and in the Greek the word is "ekklesia." It is also the first time that "ekklesia" is used in the Bible. "Ekklesia" refers to the governing body in the Greek city-state. The ekklesia would be called forth to meet and the ekklesia held the ultimate power in the government. It was not a small group of people, but virtually all male citizens could participate. This is the word that Jesus used when describing the institution He was building. He was not making a physical structure, but rather He was calling out a group of people with power to rule. We are those people.
Now the rest of the passage makes great sense. We are God's chosen people with authority from the Kingdom of God, and Jesus gives us the keys to the Kingdom, and nothing shall prevail against us.
What a reality! Not only are we God's children and joint-heirs with Christ, but we are also governing officials in the Kingdom of God. We are not just common citizens under the rule of God, but we participate in God's government. Everyone knows the verse which says "seek ye first the Kingdom of God . . ." but how many of us truly understand what that means. I know that I have basically equated "Kingdom of God" with my church and Christianity as a whole, and I'm sure in part that is correct, but we've been missing out and not taking our appropriate place in the Kingdom. We are God's Ekklesia. God wants to work with us. God wants us to take our place as His mature sons and daughters.
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom." (Matthew 4:23) That is the first use of the word "gospel" in the Bible. Jesus never personally referred to the "Gospel of Jesus Christ", but He did refer to the "Gospel of the Kingdom" in Mark 24:14. You cannot separate the Gospel from the Kingdom of God, and to miss out on your true place in the Kingdom of God is to miss out on an essential part of the Gospel. Look at the first passage above again. As soon as Peter received the revelation of Jesus Christ as God's Son, Jesus immediately spoke to Peter about being in the Kingdom of God as a member of Jesus' ekklesia. He then spoke about the authority and power Peter would walk in as a result of His having the keys to the Kingdom of God. Glory to God!
Yes we are ambassadors for Christ, ambassadors of the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:20), but we are also more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37) We haven't just received citizenship in Heaven and the name "Christian", we have also received the Kingdom's power.
"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19). The "power" of the enemy is the Greek word "dunamis" which would refer to satan's physical strength. But the "power" given to us is "exousia" which refers to privilege, jurisdiction and authority. Whatever strength satan may have, we have authority over it. Moreover, Jesus told us "we shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon us, and we shall be His witnesses . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) In this passage, "power" is dunamis". We have been given both the authority and miracle working power of God as ambassadors and conquerors for the Kingdom of God!
Not only do we have God's authority and God's power ,but we also have the mighty name of Jesus, the name which is above every name (Ephesians 1:21). We are God's ekklesia and we are to go forth to this lost and dying world in the name of Jesus (Mark 16:17, John 14:13). There are differences between God's ekklesia and the Greek one. The Greek ekklesia would rule from their assembly, gathered together to exercise power, and then it would disband until called again. But we are called to stay together forever in an eternal unity which is created by the Spirit of God, and in this unity of love, wisdom and power we are sent to this world to see God's will come to pass.
Whatever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. The gates of hell shall not prevail against us. Why all of these statements? Because we have been given the keys. We can open the gates of hell and take back what the enemy has stolen (people, health, peace, prosperity, etc.). Moreover we can use those keys to loose and to bind. We do this in the Name of Jesus and by an exercise of our faith. "I bind you devil in Jesus" Name . . . I bind that sickness in Jesus Name." Maybe this sounds crazy, but it will work because God says it will work. I know people can get goofy in this area, but that doesn't change what God says. That doesn't change the reality that this is part of our calling in the Kingdom of God. We pray for God's will, but we must go forth with God's Name, authority and power to work with God to see His Kingdom expanded and His will accomplished in the earth.
Maybe we will look weird. Maybe we will need to step out and operate in a spiritual realm that others can't understand. But we have no choice. The alternative is to neglect an essential part of the Gospel of the Kingdom. We must get over those petty issues and embrace the awesome calling that we have into God's ekklesia. It's time to take back what the enemy has stolen. It's time to work with God to help bring His love and freedom to the world.