“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.”—Revelation 1:18
DEATH is a land of darkness, as darkness itself, without any order. Yet a sovereign eye surveyeth it, and a master hand holdeth its key. Hell is also a horrible region…But hell trembles at the presence of the Lord…Let us rejoice that nothing in heaven, earth, or in places under the earth is left to itself to engender anarchy.
Everywhere, serene above the floods, the Lord sitteth King forever and ever. No province of the universe is free from the divine rule. Things do not come by chance. Nowhere doth chance and chaos reign. Nowhere is evil really and permanently enthroned. Rest assured that the Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens and His kingdom ruleth over all. For if the lowest hell and death own His government, much more all things that are on this lower world.
The government of hell and of death is vested in the person of the Man Christ Jesus. He Who holdeth the keys of these dreadful regions is described by John as “One like unto the Son of man” (Rev 1:13), and we know that He was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself…These keys are committed to the Son of man: and Jesus Christ—bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, made in all points like unto His brethren—ruleth over all…The metaphor of keys is intended, no doubt, to set forth the double thought of our Lord’s possessing both the rightful and the actual dominion over death and hell.
Christ hath the keys of hell and death—that is to say, He is rightfully the Lord over those dark regions and rules them by indefeasible title of sovereignty…He actually rules and manages in all the issues of the grave and overrules all the councils of hell, restraining the mischievous devices of Satan or turning them to subserve His own designs of good. Our Lord Jesus Christ still is supreme! His kingdom, willingly or unwillingly, extends over all existences in whatever regions they may be.
If to the righteous the lesson from all this is, “Fear not,” the lesson to the ungodly is, “Fear and tremble.” Christ hath the keys of death. You may die this moment. You have not the key of death. You cannot therefore prolong your life. But Christ hath it, and He can end the times of His longsuffering just when He so wills it. And what would it be to some of you if the gate of death was opened for you, and you were driven through it like dumb, driven cattle this very day? O man, what would become of thee? O woman, what would become of thee, if now those eyes should glaze and that pulse should stop?
I beseech you, consider thy ways, and turn thee unto God, lest you die and perish [suddenly]. Remember, soul, if thou wouldst fight it out with Christ and be His enemy, yet thou can not: for He is Lord and will be Lord. Even shouldst thou fly to hell to escape Him, He ruleth there…Wherever you may go, there shall the remembrances of His rejected love pierce you like barbed arrows! Even in hell shall the glory of His power, which you could not thrust down though you tried to do it, strike you with a deeper despair. I implore you to listen to His Gospel. “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mar 16:16). This is the message He gave us when He was taken up…O then, yield to His Gospel! Believe, that is, trust implicitly in Him Who died on the cross of Calvary to make atonement and now liveth to make intercession. Trust in Him…Be baptised in His name, confessing your sins and acknowledging yourself to be His disciple.
This is the Gospel: reject it at your peril.
Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)