July 31 – LD 31, Day 2: The Spiritual Nature of the Keys of the Kingdom

Read: John 20:19 - 23

The keys’ power is spiritual in nature. This is very important for everyone to understand. The same thing can be said in another way. The authority which Christ has given to His church on earth is spiritual in nature, not physical. God has given physical earthly power to the state. This power is called in scripture the power of the sword. See Rom.13: 1-3. Kings and princes, governors, prime ministers and other rulers of the nations of this world were given by God the power of the sword. The power of the sword is the power to maintain law and order in the state. It is the power to administer physical punishment to the evildoers and the power to reward those who do well. As Christians, we are to honor all those in authority over us. This honor is especially shown by submission and obedience. Those who do evil should fear being punished by the state for their evil doing. The Bible teaches that the government does not bear the sword in vain, so we ought to have a proper fear of those whom God has appointed to rule in the state. The state even has the power to put those who do great evil to death. The power of the sword given to the state is also the right to defend itself against aggressors and to wage war against them.

The power of the keys which Christ has given to the church however is spiritual. The church does great wrong when she imagines that she also has the sword’s power. She does wrong when she threatens physical punishment to those whom she judges even rightly, to be wrong. She does wrong when she takes up the sword and engages in war to advance the cause of the kingdom of Christ and His truth. God has not given this power to the church. Throughout history there have been churches who have imagined that the church has the power of the sword. She has engaged herself in worldly politics. She has been the leader to stir up revolt against governments perceived to be unjust. She has at times even encouraged civil disobedience. Any church who does this does not have the blessing of God. She will herself be punished by the state and God will judge her through this punishment.

The key power given to the church is spiritual. It has to do with declaring the forgiveness of sin and the salvation of God’s people.

That the power of the keys is spiritual does not mean that it is really nothing, and that it need not be feared because such spiritual power really cannot do anything. That would be a very grave mistake. The spiritual power of the keys of the kingdom is the power to open and shut the kingdom of God. It is the wonderful power to declare to the penitent sinner that their sins are forgiven them for the sake of Christ Jesus. Believers are declared righteous before the sovereign of heaven and earth. God’s people are promised a place in the glorious kingdom of Jesus Christ. The key power is certainly a great and wonderful power.

The power of the keys is also the fearful power to declare to impenitent sinners that as long as they continue in their wicked sin and impenitent lives, they are in danger of being cast out of the kingdom unto everlasting judgment in hell by the just and holy God.

The power of the keys is ultimately that of Christ, the king of His kingdom. In the book of Revelation, it is said that Christ has the key of hell and death. Rev.1:18. It is also said with reference to the kingdom of God, that Christ is the one who opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens. Rev. 3: 7.

Last modified on 25 July 2015

Additional Info

  • Date: 31-July
den Hartog, Arie

Rev. Arie denHartog (Wife: Sherry)

Ordained: October 1974

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1974; Foreign Missionary, Singapore - 1979; Randolph, WI - 1987; Redlands, CA - 1990; Minister-on-Loan, Singapore - 2001; Southwest, Grandville, MI - 2005; emeritus, Dec.31, 2016

Website: www.southwestprc.org/

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