KNOWING CHRIST AS THE ONE
HAVING THE KEYS OF HELL AND OF DEATH
A Sermon By Wayne Camp
SCRIPTURE: Rev. 1:10-18
TEXT: Rev. 1:18
INTRO: Death and hell are horrible things to contemplate. You have heard the cliche, "As long as there is life there is hope." This indicates truly that when life is over there is no hope. And in the context that is it used the cliche is usually true in its positive statement and its negative inference. I am reminded of God's discussion with Job after some of the things Job had said. God asked him, "Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?"
Death is darkness to us; we know little or nothing of it. We grieve, therefore, when a loved one enters the realm of death and are with us no more. Some Christians, I am sorry to say, approach death with a sorrow and fear that is a bad reflection upon their testimony.
Hell is also a terrible place. Its evils are beyond our comprehension. The incessant screams and cries of torment must be indescribable. If God were to open up hell and let us hear those screams and cries of torment that go up from the lips of millions who are there it would probably haunt us to the grave.
I rejoice that neither of these regions can exercise their power without divine rule. Psalm 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. Hell is a deep place, a bottomless pit, and God governs all deep places. I rejoice in knowing the one who has the keys of hell and death.
There is something else in which I rejoice. It was as the man Christ Jesus that the one who has the keys of hell and death secured those keys. It was as man that Jesus Christ entered into the realm of death plucked out its terrible stinger. It was as man that Christ Jesus suffered the equivalent of hell for his people. As our representative he has gone into the kingdom of death and hell and taken them captive. Listen to his words again. Revelation 1:17-18 Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
That is my subject this morning, "Knowing Christ as the one having the keys of death and hell." In this message I would direct your minds toward three things. First, let us consider what it means to have the keys of hell and death. Second, we will seek to discover by what Christ is qualified to have the keys of hell and death. Third, we should rejoice in the fact that Jesus Christ has the keys of hell and death.
I. CONSIDER WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE THE KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH
A. The Greek word translated key signifies authority or power. It comes from a verb which signifies to shut, to shut up.
1. Thayer says, "Since the keeper of the keys has the power to open and to shut, the word is used in the New Testament to denote power and authority of various kinds.
2. Having the key indicates complete authority and sovereign authority.
B. This sovereign authority of Christ is seen in his giving the keys to his people. Matthew 16:18-19 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. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
C. It has the idea of a prison securely fastened so that the prisoners are in subjection to the keeper of the keys. Acts 5:23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.
D. The complete sovereignty of Christ is seen in his statement to the church at Philadelphia. Revelation 3:7-8 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.
E. The idea of authority and power is seen in the power given to the two witnesses during the tribulation period. Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth . . . Revelation 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
1. The word shut in verse 6 is the verb form of the word translated key in our text.
2. Note that it is Jesus Christ who gives them this authority and power so it is his delegated to them.
F. This sovereign authority of Christ is again seen when it is delegated to the angel in Revelation 20:1-3. And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
G. This sovereign power and authority of Christ is seen again in his giving the key to the bottomless pit to an angel. Revelation 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
H. In our text we see the absolute rule, the complete sovereignty of Christ over death and hell.
1. Jesus Christ can open the gates of death and hell as he wills because he has the keys, the sovereign rule over them.
a. Death's door will not open for one of the Lord's people until it is the will of Christ that it be opened so fear not.
b. John fell down when he saw Christ no doubt fearful that he might perish in his glorious presence but he need not fear for Christ had the key of death and its doors could not open for John until he was ready.
c. When it is time for us to go through the door of death we need not fear for it shall be gently and lovingly opened to us by the hand of our own dear Saviour, the man Jesus Christ.
d. When it is time for death to give up out bodies in the resurrection of the righteous, we need not fear for none other than Jesus Christ will open the door to bring us back from where ever our bodies may be. John 11:25-26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
2. Jesus can shut the doors of death when he wills.
a. The doctor may look down in your face as you lie on a hospital bed in critical condition and say, "There is no chance that he will make it."
b. Fear not, our Saviour must open the door of death before we can be ushered through.
c. If you are unsaved you owe Jesus Christ the credit for your being still alive for he has the keys of death.
d. If you are unsaved, you ought to thank the Lord Jesus Christ that you are not now burning in the torments of everlasting flames for he has the keys of hell.
I. The keys signify Christ's authority to shut his people in heaven, shut the lost in hell and block passage from one place to the other. Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
1. Jesus with his keys has locked out of heaven all sinners who die impenitent and unbelieving. Luke 13:25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.
2. It will not matter what you have done, it is whom you know and who knows you. Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
J. The key speaks of the sovereign rule of Christ and he does rule the region of death and hell.
1. He rules the condemned spirits of those who would not have him rule over them in this life. Luke 19:14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. Psalm 2:1-12 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
2. Our text implies that he has the rule over all demons and devils.
a. While on earth he cast them out at his pleasure and command. Matthew 8:28-31 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
b. No demon Spirit, no fallen angel was ever able to resist his authority and power.
II. DISCOVER WHAT QUALIFIES JESUS CHRIST TO HAVE THE KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH
A. As God they have always been his and he has always ruled over the region of death and hell.
1. He kills and makes alive as he wills. 1 Samuel 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
2. He does according to his will in all deep places including hell. Psalm 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
B. As the Son of Man he has conquered them and the keys of hell and death belong to him because of his conquests as the Son of Man, the man Christ Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
1. We have seen in another message how he has conquered Satan.
2. We have seen in another message how he has overcome the world.
3. We see in this message that he has conquered death and hell.
a. He stared hell in the face in Gethsemane as God revealed to him what would be involved when he made his soul an offering for sin and it caused him to sweat great drops of blood yet he withstood its destructive force and left the garden a conqueror.
b. He endured the equivalent of all our eternities in hell during the awful three hours of darkness on the cross and in the end was in complete control and when the work was finished he commended his own soul to the Father and left the field the victor.
c. He died, he went to the grave but his body never saw corruption and he came forth the victor having extracted the sting of death and robbed the grave of its victory.
d. He laid down his life and he took it up again after three days and nights because it was not possible that death should be holden of him.
C. As a reward for his conquests he must enjoy the fruits of his conquests. Isaiah 53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
D. As a reward for his conquests he will be universally worshipped even by those who despise and hate him. Philippians 2:9-11 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1. That fallen angel Lucifer, now called Satan and the devil, shall bow at his feet and confess him to be Lord over all.
2. Every demon spirit shall worship him and bow to him.
3. Every Christ rejector, every unbeliever will confess him to be Lord as their knees are bowed to him.
4. The whole creation must tremble at his presence.
5. Death must open and close at his pleasure.
6. Hell must open her mouth to receive the wicked and close her mouth so that not one of his redeemed ever enter because he has the key and the sovereign rule over hell.
III. REJOICE BECAUSE JESUS HAS THE KEYS OF HELL AND DEATH
A. Rejoice because death and hell hold no danger for us. Revelation 1:17-18 Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
B. You may be very sick but the Lord, who has the keys of hell and death, will make your bed in your sickness. Psalm 41:3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
C. You may loose all and die in poverty but he has the keys of hell and death and you will go through the gates of death when opened to you my your blessed Saviour and you will enter heaven escorted by an entourage of angels.
D. Let us not fear Satan but resist him and set him to flight because the man Christ Jesus has bruised his head.
E. Let us not fear man for he can do nothing to us that is not for our good and God's glory.
F. Let us not fear death because our Saviour has pulled its sting and holds the key to its gate.
G. Let us not fear the grave because the man Christ Jesus has already passed through it and wrought such a victory over it that it could not even cause his flesh to start corrupting.
H. Let us not fear hell because our dear Shepherd will never let us perish in its torments because he will never open its doors to any of his elect.
CONC: Let me close with a word to you if you are not saved. If you have never been brought to the end of yourself and have never laid hold of Christ by faith, you have every reason to fear the devil because he is bent on destroying you in hell. You have every reason to fear death because it is just before hell for you. You have every reason to fear hell because it holds everlasting flames of torment in fire and brimstone for you.
I have good news for you. The one who holds the keys of hell and death is also the door to salvation and heaven. "By me if any man enter in he shall be saved." "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by me." John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Trust him. Come to him and he will never cast you out.. Believe on him and you will be saved. Receive him and he will never leave you nor forsake you. Lay hold of him by faith and he will be your salvation.. Drink of him and he will be your water of life. Eat of him and he will be your bread of life. Flee to him and he will be your city of refuge. Know him for to know him is eternal life. Confess him before men and he will confess you before his Father. Hear his voice and he will give you eternal life and never allow you to perish.
When you have received him, if you do, the words of our text will then be very precious to you. He will lay his hand on you and say, "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
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