"SHALL HE FIND FAITH ON THE EARTH?"
1. Luke chapter 18. My friends, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose birth we will celebrate in just over a week, is coming again. He came once, to a poor virgin who delivered Him in poverty and laid Him in a manger. He grew up in obscurity, appearing on the scene of what seems to us a remote corner of the earth.
2. At the end of a three year itinerant ministry He died the ignominious death of a criminal, crucified between two thieves. But He was innocent. That would have been the end for anyone else but Him, would it not?
3. But being God incarnate, the eternal Son of the living God, the One Whose goings forth have been from everlasting, this perfect and sinless man born of a virgin didnít just suffer a criminalís death.
4. In fact, the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world," in a body prepared for Him by God, took upon Himself the sins of mankind on that cross. He suffered the unspeakable wrath of God on that cross. He paid the debt that I owed for my sins against God on that cross. He poured out His blood an atoning sacrifice on that cross. . . and then He died.
5. They took His body and buried it in a never before used rich manís tomb. That would have been the end for anyone else but Him, would it not? But being the unique Son of God, the Author of life, the One death could not hold in the grave, He rose up after three days and three nights in resurrection glory, appeared to hundreds of witnesses, and showed Himself alive with many infallible proofs.
6. Then He ascended to His Fatherís right hand on high until His enemies are made His footstool. Men and woman actually saw Him taken up, a cloud receiving Him out of their sight, Acts 1.9. That would have been the end for anyone else but Him, would it not?
7. But being exalted at His Fatherís right hand, this same Jesus bestowed upon His disciples the ascension gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, Who then was Executor of the spread of the Christian faith by means of Gospel preaching and Church planting throughout the known world.
8. That is the essential history of Christianity in a nutshell. If Christianity was like Islam, or like Hinduism, or like Buddhism, which religions have only a speculative past and an unjustified present, then we could all now go home. But unlike Islam, and unlike Hinduism, and unlike Buddhism, Christianity has a future; so letís stay a bit longer.
9. You see, Jesus is coming again. Mohammed is not coming again. There is no one in Hinduism who is coming again. Buddha is not coming again. The fictional Sikh religion has no one to come again. L. Ron Hubbard is not coming again to his Scientology disciples. The founders of those religions are all dead, their bodies decayed, and their souls suffering in Hell. But Jesus is coming again!
10. My friends, what will it be like when Jesus comes again? Youíve turned to Luke 18, so letís stand and read verses 1-8 together, you reading silently while I read aloud:
1And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
11. The purpose of the parable the Lord Jesus Christ spoke is given in verse 1. He taught the parable to show "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
12. The parable illustrating a woman who is relentless in her pursuit of what she wants from the judge serves as an example of persistent prayer to every believer.
13. In verse 6 the Lord Jesus Christ focuses attention on the judgeís willingness to respond to the widow and grant her request, and then moving from lesser to greater, shows how much more ready God is to answer the prayers of His Own elect.
14. As the widow in the parable went to the judge for justice, the people of God cry out for God to do something about their persecutors. And in verse 8 Jesus says this about God, "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily." So, God will seek vengeance against those who mistreat, who persecute, who harm His children.
15. But my text for this morning, which answers the question "When will God avenge His Own elect?" is the question the Lord Jesus Christ asked at the end of Luke 18.8: "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
16. It is obvious that this question presumes the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is coming again. But further study shows something else of interest. When the Lord Jesus asked "Shall the Son of Man find faith on the earth?", or "Shall He find faith on the earth when He returns?" He was referring to "the faith."
17. Jude 3 exhorts us to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Itís in that same sense that the Lord Jesus asks if He will find faith on the earth when He returns in power and great glory. Will there exist on earth at the second coming of Christ the kind of Christians who could be described by this parable, who are like the widow who wonít give up on the judge until she gets justice, who are persistent and stouthearted to the end?
18. If you look around in the world and take inventory of whatís going on you have to wonder, because of three relatively obvious indicators of the spiritual health and vitality of the so-called "Christian community," as determined by things that are more meaningful than a Churchís attendance and offering figures.
1A. First, THERE IS THE CORRUPTNESS OF OUR CULTURE
Do we live in a corrupt culture? Ask yourself if a culture is corrupt that butchers 40 million of its own unborn children. Do we live in a corrupt culture? Ask yourself if a culture is corrupt in which a judge running for reelection in Orange County who is arrested for having child pornography and who then gets almost every judge in Orange County to endorse him for reelection is a corrupt culture? Do we live in a corrupt culture? Ask yourself if a culture is corrupt that flocks to the movie theater to boost to record levels a movie about witches, sorcerers, and rebellion against authority is a corrupt culture. Do we live in a corrupt culture? Ask yourself if a culture that claims to have more different sex partners than anywhere else in the world, according to a international recent poll, where bastard children are paraded around among family and friends like they are something to be proud of, and where sexual activity begins at around 17 years of age on average is a corrupt culture. The answer to these questions, unless you are reprobate yourself, is "Yes, we live in a corrupt culture, a terribly corrupt and wicked society."
1B. Turn to the last half of First John 5.19, where we will see the reason for the corruption
"the whole world lieth in wickedness."
1C. Folks, "the whole world" here would refer to all mankind, would refer to this worldís societies, to this worldís cultures. I use the term "culture" so you will grasp the implications of this statement more readily.
2C. "But pastor, this statement states that all cultures lie in wickedness. That would mean that all cultures are corrupt." You are absolutely correct. But let us first focus on the culture we are a part of, shall we?
3C. The reason for the corruption is the "wickedness," which such a notable Greek scholar as A. T. Robertson interprets as meaning "the evil one." My friends, the apostle John is actually stating here that the worldís cultures, the worldís systems and societies, the people of the world, are in the grasp of the devil!
4C. He is the god of this world, is he not? He is the prince of the power of the air, is he not? So, our culture is in the firm grasp of that foul spirit Satan. No wonder itís so corrupt. And to deny the corruption of our culture, as some so-called "Christians" and "men of God" do, is to admit to blindness and to challenge the truthfulness of Godís Word.
2B. Now turn to First John 2.15, where we will see what our reaction to the culture should be
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."
1C. John is telling us here that we are not to love our culture, our society, neither the things that comprise our culture and society. Why? Both it and they are corrupt, remember?
2C. The second sentence in this verse so much as says that if you do love the world, if you do love the culture, the society, you donít have any of Godís love in you. Godís love is selective.
3C. "How can this be?" you ask. My friend, how can you, for long, love that which entices the lost, and which is Satanís tool for dragging people into the yawning jaws of Hell with its temptations; that social mechanism that is arrayed against the Gospel, against Christ, and against God?
4C. Our culture is corrupt, hatefully corrupt to a Christian. And our culture is hatefully corrupt to others, as well, such as that young Taliban fighter from Marin County, John Walker Lindh, and that Australian Taliban fighter, David Hicks. They saw our culture in all its wickedness. Thatís why they converted to Islam and went to Afghanistan. I wonder how many more will convert?
2A. Next, THE CRIMES OF THE CLERGY
More than 400 years go the Puritan pastor and theologian, William Perkins, in his book The Art of Prophesying, complained about "ministers who sit still while they see great and grievous stains on the church and corruption in the state, and are content never to reprove them . . . ." He denied such preachers have been called to the ministry by God. He went on to say that such men seem to think that "ministers were persuaders only, and not reprovers. But when this is weighed in the balances of a good conscience it will become clear that it is not the pleasing tongue but the fiery tongue that is the principal grace of a good minister."
What Perkins wrote four centuries ago is even more applicable in our dark age of pleasure and vice, our season of self-indulgence and satisfaction, our culture of corruption. Let me make two observations about modern ministers, which helps to explain why they will not reprove, why they will not beat down wickedness with their preaching, why they will not preach as Paul commands in First Timothy 4.2: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
1B. First, modern ministers will not reprove because many of them are not converted
1C. You heard me correctly. Many of the men who stand before people on Sundays simply are not converted, are not Bible Christians, do not know Jesus in a saving way. They reject Jesus.
2C. How else do you explain their refusal to condemn sin and extoll Christ? You donít have to be called of God to do that, you only have to be converted to know to do that.
3C. Monroe "Monk" Parker, famous southern evangelist who is now in heaven, was convinced that fully one half of the preachers in America were unconverted. I think he was overly optimistic.
2B. But there is another reason why modern ministers commit the spiritual crime of not preaching
1C. Notice, Iím not focusing on adulterating preachers, drinking preachers, pornography watching preachers, divorcing and remarrying preachers, thieving preachers, lazy preachers, heretical preachers, or women preachers. I could spend all day on such so-called "preachers."
2C. But I will instead focus on the most cowardly of them all, the preacher who is improperly influenced by his wife. He wonít preach hard, or stand against sin hard, or devote sufficient time to the ministry. And itís all because his wife doesnít like it. Mustnít displease Poopsie.
3C. Because she doesnít like yelling he wonít preach hard any more. Preachers have said that to me. Because she doesnít like it when heís forceful and dogmatic he wonít stand against sin. Because she wants him to spend more time with her and the kids he wonít devote sufficient time to his ministry. In short, he does what he does, and doesnít do what he doesnít do but should do to serve God, to make her happy, to eliminate her griping, to get her to purr like a kitten for him when heís home. Good Lord, what a sickening fellow such a husband is.
4C. Excuse me, but such a preacher has done the one thing a preacher of the Gospel must never, ever do . . . follow the leadership of his wife. Listen to what Solomonís mother, Bathsheba, told him in Proverbs 31.3: "Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings." Guard yourself against a womanís influence, my son. Itíll be your ruin.
5C. Yet we have ministries all over the United States that have abandoned manliness, have abandoned a masculine approach to the ministry in favor of a unisex neutrality that feminists like, and featuring the kind of blandness that unconverted old women feel comfortable with.
6C. You wonder why Islam, with itís strong assertion of male leadership, is attractive to a young man from Marin County, when the ministers of Churches in Marin County are effeminate sissies who never sweat on Sunday mornings because they never make war against sin?
7C. A boy wants more than anything in the world to become a man. But what is that boy to do when there is no man around? Either his dad is gone or his dad is a sissy boy whoís an embarrassment to his own mother. And the preachers, for the most part, are even worse.
8C. I understand why that Lindh boy looked elsewhere. Donít you? And Iím sad to say that even more young boys are doubtless looking to the Middle East for direction on becoming a real man. If there is no man in the home, and if there is no man of God, that boy feels like he has to go elsewhere to become a real man. Heís wrong, but thatís how he feels.
9C. God deliver us from pantywaist preachers who listen to their wives when they shouldnít, and sissified men who are a disappointment to their mothers, who wished that they had raised a boy to be man enough that he wouldnít tuck tail around his loud and bossy wife.
3A. Finally, THE CONFUSION OF OUR KIDS
Most young people are confused. They are so confused about so many things, and they have been so confused for so long that they have lost sight of their confusion and they think they know whatís going on. And young people will stay confused, and will make terrible choices in life as a result of their confusion, unless something dramatic takes place. What goes wrong?
1B. One road confused young people travel is toward crass materialism and carnal self-indulgence
1C. This is the path traveled by kids who follow their parentís lead. This is what happens when kids mindlessly buy into their parentís materialism, their parentís selfish and self-centered manner of life, and their parentís secular, no time for God, view toward life.
2C. How many parents in the USA do you suppose provide such a pitiful and wrong-headed example to their kids? John Walker Lindhís parents are two people with no personal standards, no personal convictions, providing no direction for their sonís life, holding him to no standards, and lifting up nothing in front of him more worthwhile than self-indulgence.
3C. The tragedy is that most parents in the USA are just like this, and most of their kids follow their lead. Is the kid a bum? Parents donít care. Is the kid a fornicator? Parents donít care. Is the kid a murderer of an unborn baby? Parents donít care. Is the kid a secular atheist? Parents donít care. Is the kid dabbling in occultism and witchcraft? Parents donít care.
4C. My friends, in a self-centered and selfish culture, the reason parents donít care what their kids say or do or become is because they just donít care for anyone so much as they care for themselves. They donít care enough for them to set a godly example for them, just as they didnít care enough for their kids to forcefully stop them from turning badly when they could.
5C. But what most parents donít realize, is that itís just as bad if their kids turn out just like their parents, because in this country the parents are all fouled up, refusing to bow down and worship the living God, refusing to honor Him, refusing to serve Him. What a disgusting life!
2B. The other path for a kid is to reject their parentís bankrupt value system and world view
1C. My friends, this is what the hippies did in the 1960s and early 1970s. They totally rejected the value system of their timid, spiritually anemic, spiritually lifeless parents.
2C. As well, this is what John Walker Lindh in Marin County and David Hicks in Canberra, Australia have done. They looked around and saw that their parents were pathetic, living utterly meaningless and pedestrian lives, believing in nothing really, standing for nothing really, having no moral absolutes around which to order their lives, and nothing greater than themselves to believe in.
3C. Of course, the problem with John Walker Lindh, and the problem with David Hicks, just like the problem with the hippies during the so-called "summer of love," is that though they have seen the corruption and moral bankruptcy of their parentís culture, and have rejected it, they have replaced what they have rejected with something else thatís just as bad.
1. Hippies could do not better then their parents because the problem with the hippies was the same as the problem with their parents, only revealing itself in a somewhat different way.
2. And the young today who choose not to follow their morally bankrupt parents down the pathway of life to the bland and meaningless existence they endure each day, can only go from one path that leads to Hell to another path that leads to Hell, from one illogical and meaningless existence to another illogical and only apparently meaningful existence.
3. Folks, some of the young look but see nothing wrong with anything. They are the ones who will follow their parentsí example and become the same thoughtless and mindless spiritual zombies their parents are. But there are others who are young who look around and are disgusted by what they see.
4. They see the selfishness all around them, and know life should not be that way. They observe the meaninglessness of peopleís lives, and realize that life should mean more and that perhaps it can mean more.
5. These are the people that we can reach, that we must reach, that we will reach. But to be useful to God in reaching this kind of person we must be the determined and persistent prayer warriors and servants of God Jesus illustrated in His parable. And what we do as a Church we must all do as a Church.
6. Some few comments after we stand to sing before our baptismal service. Brother Isenberger now comes to lead us.
1. The culture and society that we live in is morally corrupt, spiritually bankrupt, and going nowhere good fast. It commands the respect of no one on earth, and invites the ridicule and scorn of anyone who recognizes that selfishness and self-satisfaction are far beneath what each person ought to do with his life.
2. Do you want to reach your own children for Christ? Do you want to reach other peopleís children for Christ? Would you like to see your grandchildren come to Christ someday?
3. Then you have to do three things. And these three things are not optional.
1A. First, YOU HAVE GOT TO STOP THEM FROM BECOMING LIKE EVERYONE ELSE
1B. If your kids become like everyone elseís kids then your kids will go where everyone elseís kids are going . . . to Hell. How do i know? Folks, thatís the purpose behind Satanís organization of the people on this planet, making use of manís already depraved and sinful nature to oppose the plan and purpose of God in peopleís lives.
2B. So, unless you want to surrender your children to this evil world you have to stand against this world, and against its values, and against its lifestyle, and against its propaganda, and against its agenda. For you to succeed in persuading your child to reject this world and its enticements and allurements you have to energetically and vocally stand against this world and all that it stands for yourself. But youíd better do this in church, lest your kids think you are the isolated weirdo with ideas only a nut case would believe.
3B. If you donít stand against this world then this world will suck your children in and they will be lost to you, lost to the gospel, lost for eternity. But how can you stand against this world when you are in the world? You are, after all, in the world, John 17. But you should not be of the world. You should not be worldly.
4B. If you are worldly, and if your children follow your example and are worldly, they will remain lost and will die in their sins and go to Hell. Will you be godly to reach your kids?
2A. Second, YOU HAVE GOT TO STOP THEM FROM REPLACING ONE CORRUPT CULTURE WITH ANOTHER CORRUPT CULTURE
1B. This is precisely what John Walker Lindh Has Done. He looked at his parents, though he seems to love them, and totally rejected their manner of life, and their values in life, for a religion that calls for death or conversion for his mother and subjugation for his father.
2B. He saw the corruption of our society. He saw the effeminate men of our society, pushed around by their feminist shrewish wives. He saw the materialism, the immodesty, the pitiful meaninglessness of the American way of life and he found it abhorrent.
3B. You want to know something? My feelings and concerns leading up to my own conversion were very much the same as this young manís are. Look at this country. And this is all there is? There has to be something more than this to make existence meaningful.
4B. And there is. But John Walker Lindhís mistake, and David Hicksí mistake, was to assume that while this culture was corrupt the same would not be true of another culture. Their mistake came from seeing the problem being the culture rather than seeing the problem being the people who make up the culture. There is none righteous, no not one.
5B. The reason the whole world lieth in wickedness is because every single man and woman alive on earth today is in bondage to sin and subject to satanís control and manipulation at any time . . . except for the child of God. Except for the man or woman who is truly converted.
3A. Finally, STANDING AGAINST THIS CULTURE, STANDING AGAINST EVERY CULTURE, WHAT YOU MUST STAND FOR IS THE CAUSE OF CHRIST
1B. A person is simply naive who does not realize that before you can build up that which is true you must tear down that which is false, that which is dangerous, that which is evil and wicked. And so it is with this culture, and with every other culture, because the whole world lieth in wickedness.
2B. So, you must speak out and stand against the evils of the day and the culture in which we live. But nothing is done for eternity by being only opposed to evils. You must also stand for something. do you stand for something? Do you really stand for anything?
3B. What do you stand for, my friend? What would your children say you stand for? Would they say you stand openly and energetically against wickedness and sin? If they donít youíre doing it wrong. For unless you stand openly and energetically against wickedness and sin you cannot stand for Christ And for the Gospel.
4B. Stand against the prevailing culture of the day and you may raise children who are principled, who are moral and upright, and who value hearth and home. Stand against all cultures and you may succeed in raising kids who do not become taliban fighters, who do not become hindus, who do not become the next generationís red brigades or green peace militants. And that would be good, insofar as it goes.
5B. But will that satisfy you? Does a son with a good income who wears a suit to work make you happy? Is a daughter who gets married before she has children, or before she gets pregnant, or before she has sex, enough to make you happy?
6B. What if your son is a successful businessman who dies and goes to Hell? What if your daughter is lovable and sweet, just dead in trespasses and sins? You see, sir, and you see, maíam, that no one on earth has more influence on your child than you do. No one. For good or ill, you are the dominant influence in your childís life.
7B. What does that mean? It means, if you do not stand for the cause of Christ and for the gospel your child will likely not be reached. If you are an occasional church attender you succeed only in inoculating your child against the gospel, rather than infecting him with the gospel. Thereís already too much of that brand of Christianity around, donít you think?
1. Let us understand that the response of John Walker Lindh to his weak and pathetic parents is entirely understandable, perhaps even predictable, though we do not agree with him at all.
2. Rejecting their values and way of life, he opted for something even worse, more demonic and spiritually dark. You see, his parentsí lives are just mindless and stupid, while Islam is very obviously demonic.
3. Jesus asked the question, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" If Churches and Christians are much like John Walker Lindhís parents the answer to that question is "No."
4. If the only option to the ugliness, the silliness, the stupidity of this culture is Muslim culture, or Hindu culture, or Buddhist culture, or Scientology, or Mormonism, or the Charismatic movement (which is entirely worldly), then the answer is again "No."
5. But if there are genuine Christians who love God, genuine Christians who want to see their kids converted, genuine Christians who are willing to stand against worldliness and self-indulgence, genuine Christians who are willing to make serving God in their Church their real lifeís work, then the answer is "Yes."
6. In the end "the love of many shall wax cold," Jesus said in Matthew 24.12. But He didnít say "the love of all shall wax cold." Let us pray and not faint. Let us stand in the evil day. Let us be a counter-cultural congregation who stands for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
7. This done, perhaps God will use us in His preservation of "the faith." And this done, perhaps God will give to us the souls of our children. For if we will not stand against this culture, if we will not stand against worldliness, and if we will not stand for the Gospel with every fiber of our being, we will succeed only in throwing our children into the fire.