Luke 18:8 When Christ Comes Again 10/12/2014
· An Example of Unrighteous Justice? (Luke 18:1-8)
#1. The Unrighteous Judge (Luke 18:8)
· What Is the Point? (Luke 18:1, 2King 19:14-19)
#2. Who Are the Faithful? (Eph 1:3-8, Jer 31:3, Ecc 7:20)
· How Shall Anyone Be Right With God?
#3. When Christ Comes Again (Luke 18:7-8)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 18:1 (2X). Remember the New Testament begins with the four Apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Did I quote that correctly?
As you know, I am not calling this the Book of Luke, because we may not call any section of the Bible a Book. That title is reserved for the whole Bible, for that is exactly how God uses this word in the Bible. Look at how God uses the words in the Bible: In the Old Testament God mentioned the Scroll of Exodus, or the Scroll of the Kings, or the Scroll of the Psalms, or the Scroll of Isaiah, but never a Book because books as we know them were invented near the birth of Christ. When we start counting from BC to AD that was about the time that books were invented. And so, it would be silly to say that we have read in the Book of Isaiah such and such, for the Book of Isaiah did not exist yet. The KJ translators introduced the word “Book” for “Scroll”, but that was an incorrect action, for this was not originally how they were called. Also, the Books of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are not Books. God calls them: The Gospel (The Good News) according to Matthew, or the Gospel according to Mark, or the Gospel according to Luke, or the Gospel according to John. Other writings in the New Testament are called, “The Epistle of Paul to the Romans”, or “The Epistle of so and so to the Corinthians,” or “The Epistle of so and so to the Galatians,” and so on. I know that these writings have been uplifted by men calling them Books, but God never calls them Books. Only the whole Bible is called One Book. I explained that in a previous sermon titled “One Book, One God.”
To have a writing included in the Bible is an act of God, which brings great honor to the person who was instrumental in writing that document. If we call that writing a Book, we have actually degraded that writing, and the person who wrote it, to something like any other book. But the Bible is not any other book; it is a Divine work of art dictated by God to His servants the prophets.
Today we are going to study a nifty corner of the Bible in Gospel According to Luke. It is a non-threatening message from this fire and brimstone preacher. Yes, I have those sermons also. Let us begin this study today with an example of unrighteous justice.
· An Example of Unrighteous Justice? (Luke 18:1-8)
Today we are focusing our eyes on a portion of Luke 18:8, which reads as follows:
Luke 18:8, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”
It is a verse referring to the Last Day of this earth. It has often been quoted out of context. That is a bad habit which we should not encourage anyone to do. Today we want to put it back into context, because we want to know what it means, and that also means that we are considering the times of the end. Therefore the title of this sermon is: “When Christ Comes Again.” We read in Luke 18:1-8,
Luke 18:1 ¶ And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
The Lord Jesus often uses a parable to begin a discussion of a new topic. Today the parable is about an unrighteous judge, and the focus is about prayer. In fact, the focus is on verse 7: “7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.”
And thus the background of this story is: “God will avenge His elect children speedily.” Let us see how this story of the unrighteous judge contrasts with the story of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is obviously the Righteous Judge at the time “When Christ Comes Again.”
#1. The Unrighteous Judge (Luke 18:8)
Why is this man called “an unrighteous judge?” Well, it is by his own admission that he says, “Though I fear not God, nor regard man, I will do for this widow what she asks of me.” He does not fear God, which tells us that he is an atheist. He is not giving this widow what God requires of him, but he is giving her what she wants, not what God wants. Is this what we as the servants of God must do for our fellow man? She asks for a favor from the judge. If we have the ability to give all kinds of gifts to men, should we give them whatever they ask? The answer is NO! We must first determine if this act is a righteous thing to do. We do not give any man indiscriminately what he asks for?
What does this widow asks for? She asks that the judge will avenge her of her adversary. Would that be a righteous act of that judge? The answer is: NO! The judge must first find out why she has an adversary and what she has done to deserve such an adversary. And thus, to give this woman whatever she is asking for, without first inquiring of this trouble is an unrighteous thing to do.
What motives might people have in asking anything from the Lord? One possible motive might be covetousness. Definitely we should not try to fulfil a request such as this. Another motive might be vengeance. But God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the Lord.” And so, the request of this woman to be avenged of her adversaries could be an unrighteous request. But this judge gave her what she wanted anyway. Was that a righteous thing to do? No it was not. This unrighteous judge was giving this woman whatever she wanted, because he was tired of hearing her and he was tired of her presence. He was afraid that she would wear him out. Basically he was satisfying his own flesh (2X). He did not want to hear her nagging voice again. But the job of this judge was that he should hear her out. This judge was a wicked judge, by his own admission: “Though I fear not God.” We should not try to imitate his wicked acts. And so we should ask the question:
· What Is the Point? (Luke 18:1, 2King 19:14-19)
The Lord Jesus used this parable to show that we must never cease from praying, and even pray though it might be an unrighteous request. Do not worry if your prayer is doctrinally correct. The sovereignty of God is a hard thing to understand, and it is even more difficult to remind ourselves of it when we pray. But if we do not understand it, it does not mean that we can do away with the sovereignty of God. When we read in the Bible that God knows the end from the beginning, and He also knows what we should pray for, we have difficulty including this in our doctrines when we pray. But nevertheless it is true. Praise God that He does not require perfection from us when we pray. He only requires that we are honest, and that we do not pretend when we pray. The primary thing is that we pray, and through our prayers we will be edified. Why is that so? Let us consider: What is prayer?
Praying is talking to our heavenly Father in the same way we speak to our earthly father. We speak and we lay our petitions before His feet like Hezekiah did when the insults of Sennacherib were levelled at him and at the God whom he worshipped. We find this in 2King 19:14-19. The intense love of Hezekiah for his God Jehovah gave him the courage to come into the temple and it gave him the confidence that Jehovah would hear him. May it be that we all develop such a relationship with God that we all address Him as our heavenly Father, and that we also mean it. May it be that we are sincere in the words that we speak, and that we speak it in any language.
For example, if we say that we believe Him, is it really true that we believe Him as our Heavenly Counsellor, the Mighty God, and the Prince of Peace. Do we truly believe all His writings, or do we find it just interesting to learn of His ways. I am asking these things because I know that there are many who are not interested in learning new things to feed their souls, but they are listening to discover what contradictions they might develop, so that they will have a list of things with which they can attack our teachings. And so, when we ask: “What is the point?” we really want to know why the Lord Jesus spoke this parable with the end time events in view. The major theme of the end time events is the Final Tribulation Period. It involves great tribulation for the saints. It does not involve much tribulation for unsaved people of the world, for Satan is not much interested in troubling them. Therefore it is during this Final Tribulation Period that we need to turn to the Lord in prayer more often and we beseech Him to keep us spiritually safe to the end. That is really the purpose of the Final Tribulation Period. God’s purpose is to make us strong. And what should we pray for? We should beseech Him to give us wisdom and strength. Wisdom, to guide us every step in this life for we know not how to walk in this life, and we need wisdom to apply our Biblical knowledge to our daily life. And we need strength to keep us physically and spiritually healthy and strong for the battle. But before we do battle we must know whom we are fighting. What does the Bible say who our enemies are?
The Bible says that there are two groups of people in this world: One group is in the camp of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the other group is in the camp of Satan. All the people in the camp of Satan are the enemies of God. God’s enemies are also our enemies. All the people in the camp of Christ are our spiritual brothers in Christ. They are the ones who remain faithful to Christ.
#2. Who Are the Faithful? (Eph 1:3-8, Jer 31:3, Ecc 7:20)
Those who remain faithful do not do it of their own accord, because it is by the grace of God that they receive the gift to remain faithful. Yes! This is how God operates: First He gives people the gift of grace to remain faithful, and then He rewards us for having been faithful and He takes us into the New Heaven and the New Earth. But none of these things is our reward or to our credit, for it is all a gift of grace from Christ. Nothing that we did deserves such a great gift. We are born dead in trespasses and sins and we are living our early life as if God does not exist. We are deserving the condemnation of God in the Lake of Fire. But God had mercy on some of us, and He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth to pay for the sins of those on whom God had mercy. Who are those on whom God had mercy? Let God answer this question. Please turn to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:3. These are God’s words. God explains to us here in Eph 1:3-8 that before the foundation of the world God elected, God chose, some of mankind to become saved and these are the ones who will remain faithful, because it is God’s work if anyone remains faithful. We read here in Eph 1:3-8,
Eph 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Let us understand these verses carefully one by one. When we read in verse 3 that the Father has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, we should note that the Greek text does not indicate that “in the past” God the Father has blessed us with spiritual blessings, and then He took His hands off from us and left us by ourselves. That is not the case. The Greek text says, “The Father blessed us, or blesses us (not hath blessed us) with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” He has done so before the foundation of the world, and He has done so at the present time, and He will continue to do so in the future until the end of time. The Greek language has a tense for it. It is called “the aorist tense”, and this verse is indeed written in the aorist tense. God knows that we need His constant guidance and supervision all the time. Moreover He blessed us in Christ. Only because the Father placed us in Christ do we qualify to receive the blessings that were reserved for His Children. Did the Father give those blessings to every human being in the world? No, He did not. That is why verse 4 says that He chose us. In other words, He chose us out of all mankind to pour His blessings upon us. It is not that we became His favorites, but we were His favorites all along already from eternity past. For example, we read in Jer 31:3,
Jer 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
What God is saying there to Jeremiah, He is saying it also to everyone of His elect: “I have loved thee from everlasting.” God did not make up His list of favorites at some time in the past. He already knew who His elect were from everlasting past, before He started creating the first speck of dust. Presently we do not understand those concepts. But God has written them in the Bible, which means that these are concepts and words from God, and we must believe them as words from God.
For what purpose has the Father chosen us? (Verse 4.) Answer: In order that we should be holy and without blame before Him. Only if we have been saved do we stand holy and without blame before Him on the Last Day. Only if we have been saved have all our sins been forgiven, and only when all our sins have been forgiven can God look upon us as people who are children of God. Does God love all His elect? Yes He does, for all of His elect are children of God; all of His elect are chosen to be saved, and all of His elect will stand before God on the Last Day holy and without sin.
And why does God love us? (Verse 5.) Answer: Because He has predestinated us. What does that mean? He determined our destiny to become adopted children of God through the payment Jesus Christ made on the cross. Who are those who have been blessed in this way? (Verse 5.) Answer: All those who have been chosen before the foundation of the world to become saved are blessed in this way. They were chosen not because of any qualifications on their part, but simply according to the good pleasure of the Father’s will. Who will be honored and glorified by this act of God? (Verses 6 and 7.) Answer: The glory of His free grace is elevated. God has made us accepted in the Beloved (which is in Christ), in whom we have been redeemed (bought back) through the shedding of His blood and His death on the cross by which we have received the forgiveness of our sins. This is called Atonement for sins. (Sins? Where did those sins come from?) The glory of His free grace is manifested according to the riches of His grace. And so, what do we see here? Only the elect are faithful and will remain faithful, not because we are much better people than others, but because we have been given the grace to remain faithful in our understanding of the Gospel. It is not that we are lesser sinners than other people (for we are all sinners, Ecc 7:20) but we have been forgiven by Christ on the cross, and that is why we are righteous in God’s sight. The only way anyone can be righteous before God is when all our sins have been paid in full by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, in other words, when all our sins have been atoned for our souls are spotlessly clean.
· How Shall Anyone Be Right With God?
God looks upon the souls of every man, and God sees immediately if there are any unpaid sins. How shall anyone be right with God? Answer: It is in the righteousness of Christ alone. His perfect, complete, finished work upon the cross of Calvary, accredited to me by the grace of God and embraced by faith (which is also the gift of God), is all of my hope and my standing before God. He earned for us eternal righteousness. This is the Gospel. This is the good news. This is the only good news. And it is sure, for God does not leave it to someone else to fulfil, for someone else might mess it up. He makes sure that those who become saved are saved under His terms. The faithful are all the elect. Only the elect will receive this grace to be faithful, for remaining faithful is the work of God.
#3. When Christ Comes Again (Luke 18:7-8, Eph 4:5, Col 2:9, 1Pet 1:2, Gal 2:16, Phil 3:9, 2Thes 1:6-10)
Now we place ourselves in the time period of the return of Christ. Compare now the actions of the unrighteous judge with the actions on the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall come as the Righteous Judge. What does the Lord say of Himself? We read in Luke 18:7-8,
Luke 18:7, And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.
“Though he bear long with them” is the opposite of what the unrighteous judge did. Christ is bearing long with His own children, His elect, and He is not getting tired of hearing them. He has a reason for not immediately fulfilling their requests, for when the end of time has arrived all the elect must have been saved. But when the end of time has arrived Christ will avenge them speedily. Speedily? What does that mean? Can we harmonize this with the eschatology of the Bible? Before we get into eschatology, let us first finish the development of Luke 18:8.
When Christ comes again He will first of all gather all His children, all His elect, to avenge them on their enemies, which are those who were oppressing them and caused them to suffer. For example we read in 2Thes 1:6-9 about God our Avenger:
2Thes 1:6, Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Turn back now to Luke 18:8.
And then we read in the remainder of verse 8, Luke 18:8, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This portion of the Gospel of Luke begins with the word, “Nevertheless.” This was an unfortunate choice of the KJ translators, for this word boxes us in. It is the Greek word, “plen” with Strong’s Concordance number 4133, which most of the times has been translated “But”, so that verse 8 should read as follows: “But when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” With whom does He find faith? Please turn in your Bibles to Eph 4:5. The gift of Faith is a gift from God, and it is found only with the saints, those who are the elect of God. We read in Eph 4:5,
Eph 4:5, “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.”
We have resolved long ago that the One Baptism refers to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, for that is the Baptism we receive when we become “Born Again” for this is the only Baptism received by mankind that has spiritual value. We have resolved long ago that the One Lord refers to the fact that all three Persons of the Holy Trinity constitute One God, and each of the three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each fully God. We read of Christ who is God the Son in Col 2:9,
Col 2:9, For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
And we read of God the Holy Spirit in 1Pet 1:2,
1Pet 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
But what does the One Faith in Eph 4:5 refer to? We read in the Bible about all kinds of faith, but the faith which characterizes salvation is “the faith of Christ,” which is a gift of God. Is it possible that all the saints have received the faith of Christ? That is indeed the case. God speaks extensively about “the faith of Christ”, but you need to read the King James Version to discover what that means. Consider the following two verses: Gal 2:16 and Phil 3:9,
Gal 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Phil 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
These are two verses out of 14 which speak of the faith of Christ or of the faith of God. It tells us that the faith that we have received from God is for every saint the same quality faith: it is the faith of Christ. This explains why every saint receives the same inheritance. A small child who became saved receives the same eternal life in Christ as a faithful saint who has struggled for 90 years, because they have the same faith. We should not be envious about this, because eternal life is not given as a reward for works done on this earth. Eternal life with Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth is a free gift. God is handing out the free gifts. And thus, when we read Luke 18:8, we should modify the language so that it reads more faithfully.
Luke 18:8, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. But when the Son of man cometh, shall he find many who have the faith of Christ on the earth?” It is a rhetorical question. The answer is: “NO! He shall not find many who have the faith of Christ on the earth.” In other words, “He shall not find many saints on the earth.” This result can be interpreted two ways: First, all the saints have been raptured up to be with Christ in the air before Christ will arrive on the earth. But this is a result which will be true at all different conditions on the earth. This answer does not teach us anything regarding the vengeance of the Lord, or the wickedness of people on the earth. Remember the tie-in: Christ as the righteous judge will avenge His saints speedily. The Second question and answer is more logical: Shortly before Christ enters the earth, will He find the faith of Christ on the earth? Or shortly before Christ comes again will He find many saints on the earth? In other words: When Christ comes again will there be many saints who are oppressed by the enemy who need to be delivered from their oppressors? Does God not speak of those in 2Thes 1:6-10, and there we read:
2Thes 1:6 “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.”
And indeed, this is where the parable of the unjust judge ties in with the remainder of Luke 18:8. We do not need to be wizards in eschatology to see this connection. The Lord Jesus is not focusing on the eschatology of His vengeance on all the wicked of the world, but rather He focusses on our perseverance in prayer. This is quite condescending of the Lord, for many of our prayers are full of doctrinal errors. His ears must be hurting! (2X) Nevertheless, our Lord covets our prayers because it is through these that He edifies us, and that He teaches us doctrine. It is through our prayers that we get to know Him and that we are drawn closer to Him. Please understand what I am saying here. I do not say that we should continue to be barking up the wrong tree, for that is idolatry. But if we are barking up the wrong tree, it may be that God the Holy Spirit will use this route to teach us the truths of the Gospel. Praise God for getting to know Him as the merciful Judge who does not require perfection in our language, but who looks upon our hearts and who judges us for our sincerity in that corner of our being, and who teaches us while we think about what to pray for.
Consider the Israelites. All their life they have been slaves who had to work hard, and had very little time to meditate on the works of God and on the wickedness of man. We might call them stupid, but God had pity on them and God gave them a set of commandments which were very easy to follow. The only thing they had to work out was the question if they loved the Lord. And even this question they sometimes found too hard to answer. This was the Old Covenant. God did not give them the Old Covenant to deceive them into another Gospel. God is not a deceiver. But God gave them the Old Covenant as a first step to learn Gospel truths, which later would be fully explained in the New Testament. But most of Israel had a difficult time learning the ways of God.
Instead of seeing in all these ceremonies and commandments that God was teaching them principles concerning the coming of Messiah and His salvation, they focused on the commandments themselves and on the obedience to these commandments as a requirement for salvation. And so most of them were developing a salvation program that was highly legalistic and absent of grace. It was a-do-it-yourself salvation. It was a denial of Christ as the ultimate Judge of the living and the dead who is full of grace. Even today most people have a concept of Christ as the Person who was created on Christmas Day 2014 years ago, and O Yes, He is God also. They do not know that they are barking up the wrong tree. But when we come to realize that the ultimate Judge of the living and the dead is ruling this world by His incomprehensible grace, we gain hope that we are not lost altogether. He is full of mercy for those whom He loves.
And so, have pity on those who are willing to pray, but are not able. Pray for God’s grace to descend on them. And pray that they may read the Word of God and begin to understand who the Lord Jesus Christ really is. Pray for God to give them wisdom and strength, spiritual strength. And pray that same prayer for us also, for we too lack wisdom and spiritual strength to walk wisely in this world of sin. Our only hope is in Christ, who chose to save us.
And so, we have arrived at the bottom line: When Christ comes again will He find many saints who have to be delivered from their enemies? The righteous Judge is always ready to avenge those who have hurt His precious children. It is the famous rhetorical question: Instead of starting with: ”Nevertheless” we should start with: “But when the Son of man cometh, shall He find much faith on the earth?” The answer is “NO”. Most people have drifted into a theology of idolatry. That is why all the nations will wail at His appearance because most of them were expecting a different Christ. And that is why most of them will end up under condemnation, like in the days of Noah. And the ratio will be just as bad as in the days of Noah.
Therefore, pray for wisdom and strength in these last hours. The Lord tells us to pray without ceasing. That is why the Lord brings afflictions in our life, so that we will learn how to pray without ceasing. But we will not learn it without afflictions.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.