Victorious Church

This passage is indeed common, especially for those of us who grew up in the Christian church. But pay close attention to the last words we just read: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven."

October 9, 2023

Matthew 16:13-19 – he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

This passage is indeed common, especially for those of us who grew up in the Christian church. But pay close attention to the last words we just read: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Notice that it’s not one key; it’s multiple keys. Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” He’s not talking about how to get to heaven, but rather, he’s talking about the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

So, where is the kingdom of heaven?

The Kingdom of Heaven Within

Luke 17:21 – nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

When you receive Jesus, the King, you receive the kingdom within you. There’s an entire kingdom within you. Unfortunately, many believers are waiting for death to experience the kingdom, but it’s already within them.

When you receive the king, you can experience the kingdom right now because ‘kingdom’ comes from two words, ‘king’s domain.’ The king’s domain refers to the jurisdiction where the king rules. So when you receive the king, the entire reality of God’s kingdom enters your life because the kingdom follows the king. Wherever the king is, the kingdom follows. Have you received the king? Yes. If you’ve received the king, you’ve received the kingdom. The kingdom of God is within you.

The Keys to the Kingdom

Jesus says, ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ He wants to give you these keys. But when do you need keys? You need keys when things are locked. So you’ve received the kingdom of heaven, but to unlock its reality, you need keys. It’s possible to have received Jesus, the king, and not experienced the reality of the kingdom in your entire lifetime because that reality remains locked within you. Why? Because you haven’t used the keys to unlock it.

Romans 14:17 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The reality of the kingdom is always characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy. However, unless you understand what unlocks this reality, even though you have the kingdom within you, that reality remains locked. You need the keys to unlock it. Jesus said, ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom.’

What is the key to the kingdom? What key do I need in this season to unlock the reality of the kingdom and break free from a defeated life? What key can help me navigate through overwhelming moments and recurring patterns, enabling me to live as an overcomer? These keys are not singular; they are multiple. Understand that there are multiple keys, not just one.

The Foundation of the Church

Now, let’s go back to how this all began. Jesus asked his disciples, ‘What do people think about me? What’s the talk?’ And the disciples mentioned various opinions – that he might be a prophet, Elijah, Jeremiah, or John the Baptist. But then Jesus posed a more profound question to Peter: ‘Who do you think I am?’ Peter’s response was, ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Notice how Jesus responds to this. He says, ‘Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.’ In other words, your natural mind or human logic didn’t lead you to this conclusion. It was my Father in heaven who revealed this to you.

So, if you recognize Jesus as the Son of God, understand that it’s not something you arrived at through human reasoning; it’s a revelation from the Father. If you’ve never heard the Father’s voice and are wondering if God only speaks to pastors, apostles, or those in ministry, I’m telling you, God is speaking to you right now. You may not be able to recognize it, but this is proof that if you can acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, it means you’ve heard from the Father. It’s the Father in heaven who has revealed to you that Jesus is the Son of God.

In fact, this morning, you may have woken up and wondered why you should go to church. What’s the point of it all? Perhaps you contemplated sleeping in for an extra hour. Yet somehow, for some reason, you made it to church. You may want to give yourself the credit, but let me tell you, if you’re sitting here, it’s because my Father in heaven drew you into His presence. Everything spiritual that occurs in our lives is the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s the work of God in our lives.

Even when you wake up and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ perhaps without fully meaning it, that simple prayer has been inspired from heaven. It’s not merely your own thought; it’s an inspiration from heaven. I like to think of our mind as a bridge. It’s not a factory that produces thoughts; rather, our mind is a bridge that can either connect to heavenly realms or link to the demonic.

Here, in this passage, Jesus looks at Peter and says, ‘You are blessed, Peter, because the thought you had is not something you manufactured or produced; it came from heaven.’ But just a few verses later, Jesus calls Peter ‘Satan.’ He says, ‘Get behind me.’ Let me show you.

Matthew 16:21-23 – From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

It’s as if Peter had just attended a faith conference and was warned about being careful with his confessions. So, when he saw Jesus confessing death, he thought, ‘I must rebuke Jesus.’ But Jesus responded, ‘Get behind me, Satan, you are a hindrance to me. You are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man.’

Pay attention to what Jesus said: ‘You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’ In the Bible, you won’t find a gray area between the spiritual and the demonic. It’s either the way of the Lord or the way of man, which can be demonic. There’s no middle ground where the ways of man are just secular or harmless.

Why am I saying this? Because we are constantly being influenced by the world in various ways—through newspapers, social media influencers, news sources, philosophical influences, and the books we read. We often don’t realize what doors we are opening to these influences. We may think it’s harmless because they talk about love or unity. However, anything that contradicts God’s word is considered demonic. There is no middle ground; it’s either light or dark. There’s no ‘no man’s land.’ God has delivered you from the kingdom of darkness and placed you in the kingdom of His Son.

It’s essential to consider what you are entertaining in your life. Does it contradict the word of God? If it does, you are allowing demonic influences, no matter how good or loving they may seem, to impact your life. Unity and cohesion are valuable, but if they contradict God’s truth, we must be cautious and align our minds with the things of God. Anything that contradicts the Word of God, anything that contradicts the message of Jesus, who died for your sin, sickness, and demonic oppression, to set you free once and for all, is from the pit of hell. You should reject it.

We often underestimate how much we’ve opened our minds to these demonic influences because we’re constantly bombarded with them. Whether it’s through Netflix, TV series, or various media, the influence is subtle, and you might think you can filter it out. But your mind can tire and let these thoughts into your subconscious. Before you know it, you’ve embraced these philosophies without even realizing it.

That’s why it’s essential to immerse ourselves in the Word of God day and night. We can’t stop external influences, but we can protect our minds by filling them with God’s Word. As the Psalmist said, ‘I have hidden your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.’ The only solution to darkness is the light of God’s Word. If you’re empowered by the Word, you’ll have the discernment to recognize when something is not right, when it’s demonic.

It’s worth noting that demonic influences can even come through people close to you. The solution isn’t to cut ties but to train yourself in the Word of God. The Word is like a sword, and you need the skill to wield it effectively. That’s why you come on a Sunday morning – to be trained in God’s Word so that you can use it effectively in your life. This is your training ground.

Church is not merely a place where people gather and enjoy a meal. While we appreciate the occasional biryani at the Lighthouse, church is, above all, a training ground. It’s where you are equipped in righteousness and God’s Word, allowing you to stand victorious at all times. Say it with me, ‘victorious at all times.’ The battle is not over until it’s won. If you haven’t won the battle, it’s not over. This means that you come to church to learn God’s Word continually. Keep learning until you achieve victory, whether it’s a battle against sin, sickness, mental oppression, or demonic oppression. How do you win? It’s through the Word of God. The Word of God is your weapon.

So, we get trained, trained in the Word of God. What we do on a Sunday is not merely a gathering in a building; we are the church. A building isn’t the church; we are the church. The church must be equipped to become matured for the ministry of the Lord.

Ephesians 4:12 – to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

How do you get equipped? Through fellowship, where we learn and train ourselves in the Word of God. The Word of God is like a sharp sword with two sharp edges. If you don’t know how to use it, you can hurt yourself. Many Christians are bleeding from self-inflicted wounds because they lack the knowledge of how to handle God’s Word. So we need training. See, just because your parents gave you a Bible or you know all the books of the Bible doesn’t mean you’re trained in it. You need to be trained in it like a skillful warrior, day in and day out. Take this seriously. Every word you hear on a Sunday prepares you for the week ahead. Apply that Word during the week. I believe the Holy Spirit releases the Word through the pastor not as a mere revelation but to equip you for the upcoming week.

What’s interesting is that when I asked how many of you had a bad report coming two weeks ago, 90% of the church raised their hands. Is that a coincidence? No, it’s because we are part of the same body of Christ, and when one member of the body is hurt, the whole body feels the pain. Any problem in the church is not just your personal problem; the entire body understands and supports one another because we share similar patterns and circumstances.

If your toe gets hurt, do you say, ‘It’s just my toe; I’m fine,’ or do you cut off your toe? The entire body feels the pain. You must believe that we are one in Christ. Your struggles and problems are not isolated; they are shared by the entire body. When you said ‘yes’ to Jesus, you became a member of the body of Christ. That’s what the church is—we are members, intertwined and connected. Whether you believe it or not, when Jesus encountered Saul on his way to Damascus, Saul asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ and Jesus replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.’ Saul was not persecuting Jesus, but Jesus emphasized that Saul was persecuting His body. We are part of the same body.

Your problems are not yours alone. Don’t try to deal with them in isolation. Let’s come together because your problem is our problem. Let’s face it together. There is power in unity, especially in your private battles when you think nobody sees them. Battles like jealousy, comparison, insecurity—every victory you win is a breakthrough for the entire body of Jesus. Someone else doesn’t have to go through that battle because we are all connected; we are the body of Jesus.

The Offensive Church

Matthew 16:17-18 – And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Jesus uses the word ‘Petros’ for Peter, which means a small, loose stone. On the other hand, the word for ‘rock’ is ‘Petra,’ which signifies a big rock, boulder, or large stone. Jesus says, ‘You are a loose stone. But on this rock,’ referring to Petra, ‘I will build my church.’ So, what is the rock that Jesus is referring to, the foundation upon which every church is built?”

What is a rock? It’s not just Jesus. It is the revelation of Jesus being the son of God. So Jesus says to Peter, Peter, you’re blessed because this revelation that you have is not natural. It is heaven’s revelation that has been given to you on this revelation, I will build my church. Jesus builds his church on the revelation that he is the son of God. You are being built on the foundation that Jesus is the son of God. That is the underlying foundation. If everything is stripped away, if everything is taken, the underlying foundation is I believe that Jesus is the son of God.

1 John 5:4-5 – For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Understanding that Jesus is the Son of God is not merely an item to be added to your theological doctrine. It’s the very foundation upon which Christ builds both you and the church. This is the foundation that enables you to become an overcomer. You see, when you have this revelation, you can stand against anything that comes to threaten you—be it insecurity, fear, sickness, mental oppression, financial worries, or any other challenge. You can stand confidently on the foundation that says, ‘I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and I believe that Jesus is building my life, my house, my ministry, my church, and everything I’m called to do.’ It’s as simple as that.

No matter what you lack or what you face, as long as your foundation is the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, you will be an overcomer. There’s no other way. The Word of God is final. Jesus told Peter that upon this rock—meaning the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God—He will build His church, and the gates of hell or death will not prevail against it. It’s not something I’m saying; it’s what Jesus said.

In the past, I was taught to pray fervently, and there’s nothing wrong with prayer—I love it. However, the problem was the posture in which I prayed. It often came from a place of defeat. I was told to pray because if I didn’t, the devil would come and devour my life. It led to a posture of fear, not victory.

Prayer is significant, and I’m all for it. However, when you pray, do it from a position of victory and intimacy with God, not a posture of defense. It’s not as if God is sleeping in heaven, and your prayer awakens Him to protect you. The enemy thrives on attention; don’t give it to him. He’s not worth your attention.

For instance, before going on a trip, people often pray for protection. It’s a good practice, but when you do it from a place of defeat, as if your prayer is the sole source of your protection, you might miss the point. While I’m all for prayer, remember that it’s not prayer alone that activates God’s protection. True power and protection come from a revelation of God’s Word.

It’s prayer that brings you into intimacy with God and opens the door to the revelation of His Word. Thus, you need a balance of both prayer and the Word. Praying in a defeated manner is not in line with the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God. Instead, we should pray from a position of victory in Christ.

Now, let’s get back to Jesus saying, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’ To understand this, think of ancient warfare. There’s the attacking army and the defending army. The defending army remains behind the castle walls, protecting their gates. Gates are symbols of security, preventing the enemy from invading. The attacking army’s goal is to overcome those gates. Once they break through, they can enter the castle and conquer it.

Now, Jesus says, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’ So, who’s attacking and who’s defending?
We are not on the defense, my friends; we are on the offense. The devil is the one trying to defend what influence he has on the world, attempting to maintain control. As Jesus said, ‘this church shall break through the gates of hell,’ and the gates of Hades and death shall not prevail against the power of the church. You are not part of an army in a defensive posture; you have been enlisted in an army that is pushing through, attacking, and overcoming.

So, let’s stop playing defense. Haven’t you heard in football that they say, ‘the best defense is a good offense’? You are on the offensive, relentlessly attacking the enemy. So, whenever the devil attempts to intimidate, deceive, or fill your thoughts with insecurity, fear, or shame, stand firm.

Rise up! Stand up and declare, ‘Not anymore, not anymore, not anymore!’ We are on the offensive. A child of God doesn’t cower in fear; a child of God stands up and speaks in faith because faith is our victory. Yes, faith isn’t just what we hold inside; it’s what we release. A released faith is the most powerful faith; one that’s held back is ineffective. To exercise faith, you must release it.

So, instead of allowing the devil to bully you repeatedly, stand up and speak to him. Rebuke him. This isn’t the time for passive prayer; prayer is for intimacy with Jesus, expressing your love for Him. He has empowered you to confront the devil and declare, ‘I rebuke you. Get behind me, Satan. You have no hold over my life.’

As the next verse says, ‘I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.’ But what are these keys? A key is something that unlocks, and when you receive a key, it unlocks the reality of the kingdom. However, you need multiple keys to access the diverse dimensions of the kingdom because the kingdom of God is multifaceted. These keys are unique revelations of Jesus.

Let me share my experience with a key that launched me into ministry. There was one key, and it still sustains me to this day. It was the revelation that I am God’s beloved son in whom He is well pleased. When I heard the Father speak these words over me, I was filled with confidence. Prior to that, I was timid, shy, and afraid of interacting with people. I believed that playing the guitar was the most I could do for God because I couldn’t handle speaking to people. However, when I received the key of sonship that declared, ‘You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,’ it transformed me. It unlocked a reality within me, propelling me to boldly preach the gospel. I began in 2013 and haven’t stopped since. Even when I didn’t have a platform, I was preaching to myself, encouraging and reminding myself of this truth.

Some of you may be waiting for a platform to activate your ministry, but I have a prophetic word for you: your ‘bathroom ministry’ is the most powerful ministry you can ever experience. In those moments, you’ll sense the presence of angels and the cloud of witnesses cheering you on. I want to share my journey; I was never handed a platform. But I persisted with my ‘bathroom ministry,’ and God created platforms for me where people didn’t invite me. If you’re genuinely called, I encourage you to hold onto the key you’ve received; it will happen, it must happen to fulfill your divine assignment.

I started with just one key for my ministry. Even now, when I feel threatened or unproductive, I close my eyes and remember the Father’s words, ‘This is my beloved son, in whom I’m well pleased.’ What God said once, I’ve heard many times, and it keeps me going. This is why Paul told Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God through remembrance.

Another key I received was a year ago when the Lord told me, ‘The blessing of the Lord shall come upon you and overtake you.’ I meditated on this verse for eight months. Overtaking blessings became a key for my finances. When I face financial challenges, I declare that overtaking blessings are my portion, and I have not experienced lack this whole year despite significant tests of faith.

The Role of Joy in Submission and Honor

I’ve shared two keys, and while it’s possible that we might not have enough time to receive all the keys individually, there’s a practical solution. We can seek out people who are already walking in those keys. If we lack the time to receive a particular revelation or aren’t sure how to unlock a specific dimension, we can find individuals who are already operating in that dimension, and through honor, we can tap into their revelation.

Jesus himself said, ‘If you receive a prophet as a prophet, you shall receive the rewards of a prophet.’ So, when we honor someone walking in a particular dimension, we can piggyback on their revelation. In the past, I used to be quite arrogant. I wanted to learn everything on my own, believing that if someone else could walk in a certain way, I could too. But I soon realized it can be time-consuming. Time is something we may not have in abundance.

Honor is the easier way. When we honor the grace that is upon someone else’s life because they’ve unlocked a specific key, that grace starts to flow into our lives as well. This concept aligns with what Paul said to the Philippians, ‘You have become partakers of my grace,’ not God’s grace, but ‘my grace’ through honor.

So, here are your options: you can ask the Lord for a key, and be persistent if it takes time. Alternatively, you can identify people who are walking in those dimensions and, through honor, latch onto their revelations. The rewards will flow. Now, I want to be vulnerable for a moment. When I first received the key that propelled me into ministry – ‘You are my son, and I’m well pleased’ – I became arrogant, driven by the success of my ministry. It’s important to learn from my mistakes and not let arrogance take over. Remember, there are multiple keys in the kingdom, and just because one is working doesn’t mean you’ve discovered them all.

People often make the mistake of finding one key that works for them and then rejecting all other possibilities, even branding them as ‘demonic.’ I urge you not to repeat my mistake, as this can stifle the full measure of God’s grace in your life. It was last year when I was praying at 2 o’clock in the night. The Holy Spirit revealed to me a limitation in our ministry. I asked the Lord what the limitation was, and His response was clear: ‘You have dishonored your father.’

My father is a pastor, and I never used harsh words or openly disrespected him, but in my heart, I looked down on what he had accomplished in his ministry. I thought I knew better because of the key that had unlocked for me. I believed I could do better. For the past year, the Lord has been dealing with my heart, emphasizing the depth of the journey my father has had with the Lord over the course of 40-50 years. When you start honoring him, blessings flow into your life naturally.

Inheritance Through Honor

Some blessings aren’t earned; they come to you through inheritance. The beauty of inheritance is that you didn’t work for it; your parents did, and you receive it through honor. The Lord continued to work on my heart, urging me to recognize my father as a man of God, despite theological differences. As I began to honor him, I experienced incredible breakthroughs.

A recent situation illustrates this transformation. I was supposed to officiate Sammy’s wedding, and my father granted permission. However, just last week, my dad decided he should officiate the wedding instead. I agreed, but not joyfully. It was a begrudging acceptance. It was during my conversation with Sammy last night that I realized true submission and honor require joy. I must believe that God has placed my father over my life for my protection. If he makes a decision that doesn’t align with my desires, I need to believe that it’s God’s word coming from his heart, and it’s for the greater good of the situation. So I told Sammy that even though I initially didn’t like the change, I now want to receive it with joy and believe it’s a good decision. Let my dad officiate the wedding; it will be amazing. Submission and honor are challenging, and the secret is embracing them with joy.

The secret is joy. Even when we don’t fully understand a decision, we can choose to receive it as a privilege and a sign that we are protected. It might not be our time, and that’s okay, but we can embrace it with joy. This situation reminds me of challenges many people face with their bosses. Sometimes, you have no choice but to agree with your boss’s decisions. The key is to do it with joy, believing that even when you don’t understand, God is working something powerful.

The Bible teaches that God places people in authority, so whoever your boss is, it’s by divine arrangement. If you can trust that God is working in this situation, even when it seems unfair, it can make a difference. We may think we witness injustice, but it’s not our role to question the one we are submitted to. God will hold them accountable.

Remember the story from Exodus where Moses’ sister, Miriam, challenged him. God dealt with her directly, showing that He hears what’s said and takes care of injustices. It’s not for us to confront our God-appointed authority. We should be accountable to them, and if they make mistakes, God will address it. Moses made one mistake, and God held him to high standards.

If you’re under authority, you’re also under God through that authority. The good news is that human standards are often lower than God’s. Being under authority allows you to glean from those above you and step into the same power and authority through inheritance. For example, my father walked 25 kilometers from Noida to Delhi to evangelize and sell tracts. I don’t have to do that because his efforts have become my foundation. Everything he’s worked for in the ministry is now my starting point, my inheritance. What you’re fighting for, your children won’t have to fight for because you’re securing a legacy for an entire generation. So, don’t think that just because you’re standing on their shoulders or have a broader view, you’re superior.

Once, the Lord showed me a powerful image: this generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one. The previous generation can see, but we can see even better. Yet, just because we see better, it doesn’t mean we know better. We must avoid cutting off the shoulders we stand on. It may seem that we see better, know better, and understand better, but we must not dishonor the work God has done through the previous generation. We’re standing on their shoulders, and we need to acknowledge that.

So, there are two ways to approach this. First, you can ask the Lord for the key for yourself. Second, you can flow into the same grace through honor. Remember the last line I mentioned: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.’ Some translations say, ‘Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven.’ What does this mean? You can only bind something on earth that has already been bound in heaven. You can only release something on earth that has already been released in heaven. It happens in heaven first, then on earth.

Receiving the Revelation of Jesus

The keys are revelation—revelation of Jesus. Today, what you need isn’t a change in circumstances; you need a revelation of Jesus. Ask God for the revelation of Jesus you need for your specific situation. If you’re struggling financially, ask for the revelation of Jesus for your finances. If it’s family or relationships, ask for the revelation of Jesus in that context. All you need is a revelation of Jesus, like a key that unlocks the kingdom within you.

God told Abraham in Genesis 15, ‘Do not be afraid, for I will be your exceedingly great reward.’ It was a revelation. Whenever God appears to anyone, He reveals Himself. This is why people in the Bible often give God new names based on their encounters. So, for any problem you face, seek a revelation—a revelation of Jesus. And if you don’t have time to obtain one, find someone who’s walking in that revelation and honor them. Through honor, you can receive that revelation and walk in it. You don’t need a change of circumstances. Tell yourself, ‘I don’t need a change of circumstances; I need a revelation. All I need is a revelation of Jesus.

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

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