All around us, and perhaps even within our families or workplace, there are those who are held captive in what seems like an impenetrable fortress of darkness. In dismay we ask, "Can someone really rescue him from those binding chains? Who will release her confined spirit and set her free?"
God the Father loves us so much that he sent Jesus to come down and rescue us from the sin that entangles us. And if God's Son sets you free, you are truly free (John 8:34-36).
At the start of His earthly ministry, Jesus summed up what He came to do by quoting from Isaiah 61 (see Luke 4:18-19). He came to 'open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness' (Isaiah 42:7). He came to set us free from selfishness, legalism, addictions, brokenness, despair. Even in death, Jesus demonstrated His power and dominion over the evil strongholds when He broke open the gates of hell and preached to the imprisoned spirits (1 Peter 3:18-19).
Now, the same power that raised Christ from the dead is in us as individuals. And we, as part of His church, are a mighty, advancing force! Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" Matthew 16:18. God the Father remains in control and, by His grace, one person after another is being saved from eternal damnation. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves" Colossians 1:13. And having been set free, Jesus gives us love, joy, purpose, healing and hope.
We should, however, not underestimate what it takes to break down the barriers of the evil one. These gates will not give way to human effort or weak prayer.
Only Jesus, through His church, and the Holy Spirit's power within us will continue what He started during His earthly ministry; and amazingly, Jesus will use us to accomplish even more. "I tell you the truth," He said, "Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" John 14:12-13.
When we pray in Jesus' name we pray with the authority He entrusted to us. But we must believe that God is able to answer our prayers and expect that He will (James 1:6). God's power is released through our faith. When we pray we should remind ourselves that no person is so far from God that His grace cannot save him, and there is no situation so hopeless that His power cannot deliver us.
Through our faith in God, our passion for the lost, and armed with the powerful message of the Gospel, the church is a mighty force that will continue advancing and growing as one after another is set free to live for Him.