Summary: On this Intrernational Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, when Jesus comes, will He find faith on the earth?
When the Son of Man Comes,
Will He Find Faith on the Earth?
Rev. Brian Bill
Today is Veteran’s Day. Could I ask those of you who have served our country to please stand? Some of you have a son or daughter or spouse or parent in the service right now. Could you please stand as well so we can express our gratitude? I came across a very sad statistic this week. Did you know that one in four homeless people in the U.S. are vets, even though they make up only 11% of the population? By the way, one way to increase your awareness is by visiting the War Museum here in Pontiac.
Information like this is unsettling, and we’ve certainly been unsettled by some of things that the Savior has said in the Gospels during this series called, “What Jesus Wants to Know: Questions Christ Asked.” Here’s where we’ve been so far:
* Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
* How many loaves do you have?
* Has it not been written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer?’
* Do you want to get well?
And today the question we’re going to ponder is a bit perplexing and certainly unsettling. Turn in your Bibles to Luke 18:8: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
When Jesus looks at the church in America, what does He see right now? Have you ever wondered about the state of the church in our country today?
[Play “State of Church” video]
I read a study this week from SermonCentral.com in which this question was asked: “Do you think the church in America is appropriately reflecting the character of God?” Only 13% of the respondents said “yes.”
“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Three truths stand out to me from this question.
1. Christ is coming. Note that it doesn’t say “if” He comes, but “when” He comes. The Bible indicates that He will come “like a thief in the night,” when we least expect Him. If we back up a bit to Luke 17:26-28, while people are partying and thinking only of themselves, just like in the days of Noah, the Son of Man will come. It’s way too easy to play and not pray.
Friends, while we don’t know when Jesus is coming, we know He can come at any time. Having said that, Matthew 24:14 indicates that His return is somehow contingent on our obedience to the Great Commission: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
2. The faithful will be few. The question Jesus asks expects a negative answer. When Jesus returns will he find faith on the earth? He will find more people faltering than faithful. This reminds me of Psalm 12:1: “Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men.”
3. Persecution will be prevalent. We know from other passages that persecution will become prevalent the closer we get to Christ’s coming. Some of us have bought into the belief that once we have Jesus in our life, everything will go great. Maybe we’ve even thought that we should be successful and financially well off. Actually, the Bible says that the exact opposite will happen for those who honor and obey Christ. Listen to Acts 14:22: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus never taught the “prosperity gospel,” but He did preach the “persecution gospel.” Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
John Stott suggests that we should not be surprised if anti-Christian hostility increases, but rather be surprised if it does not. In John 15:20, Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” In John 16:33 He adds, “…In this world you will have trouble…” The Augsburg Confession defines the church as the community of those “who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel’s sake.” Speaking of their futures, in Matthew 24:9, Jesus told the disciples that they would face incredible struggles: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
2 Timothy 3:12 says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Could it be that the American church in general, does not face persecution like believers in other countries do, because we are not living godly lives? Philippians 1:29: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” When Paul wrote to the young church in Thessalonica, he reminded them that Timothy was sent to them, “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know” (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4). Peter, after witnessing all that Jesus went through, wrote in 1 Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”