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God’s Word for You

Luke 18:8 will he find any faith

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, December 4, 2018

8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice done, and done quickly. But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

Justice will be done “quickly” (ἐν τάχει, “without delay”). The dilemma faced by some Christians is that what seems quick to God may be longer than a lifetime for us. He says he will come to do justice quickly, but he seems to be delayed. Others are not troubled at all. They simply use this perceived delay as an excuse for doubt and even for mockery as they slide into unbelief. This is the theme Peter takes up in the third chapter of his shorter letter. He says:

“ 3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3:3-10).

Peter reminds us of God’s great grand plan, stretching out over the whole history of the world. The Lord wants all people to be saved, and although some reject him, he still has children who are as yet unborn who are meant to be part of his holy church. Therefore when the end comes, it will come swiftly, as swiftly as it did when the world was destroyed in the days of Noah, when Sodom was destroyed in the days of Lot, and when Jericho was destroyed in the days of Rahab. The quickness of the Lord’s coming is summarized by Peter with the same words Jesus used with John and the Sardisians: “like a thief” (Revelation 3:3).

With that in mind, we come to the question Jesus asks: “But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?” He does not say, “The Son of man will not find any faith on earth.” He asks, “Will he find any?” That is to say, “He won’t find very much faith.” This has always been the case. At a time when Jerusalem was ruled by believing kings like Asa and Jehoshaphat and the combined armies of just two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) numbered 180,000 fighting men (suggesting more than 2 million people in all Israel), the Lord counted a mere 7,000 people in Israel “whose knees have not bowed down to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18). How many were spared when Rahab was taken away from Jericho? Only her, and her household (Joshua 6:23). How many were spared from the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim? Six were urged (Lot, his wife, his daughters and their fiancés), four were pulled out (the young men refused), and just three were spared when Lot’s wife turned back. How many were spared when the flood came? Just eight (1 Peter 3:20). The list could go on. The number of the faithful today is not known to us, and maybe this is a blessing. Perhaps we would be too shocked to know how few trust in Christ. But in the end, Jesus warns, it will be even worse. There will be almost none left at all. But for their sake, when the end comes, it will come very quickly. Jesus said, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).

Share the faith that you have. The Lord may be waiting for you to proclaim the gospel to just one person in order for all his long and patient work to be completed. We have heard the warning, the warning of the law, and knowing our Savior we want to apply the gospel to as many as we can with the time and resources that we have.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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