In Luke 18 we find a parable which Jesus gave us to encourage us to always pray and not lose heart:

widow-before-judgeAnd he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8 (ESV)

666antichristI believe this is a parable that ought to be dear to Christians in these troubling ‘post-postmodern’ days. In this parable I believe God has his church in view, for the Church of Christ is the elect, the remnant left in a world which is increasingly “anti-Christ”. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many will wax cold. This is why Jesus concludes his parable with “when the Son of God comes, will he find faith on earth?” Despite our best evangelistic efforts, despite tremendous advantages of internet, television and media podcasts and broadcasts, the church will find itself in a shrinking place in this world, a place that is more and more hostile to the Salvation in Jesus Christ alone. The Christian Science Monitor just cited a recently released Barna survey:

“In the Barna survey, 71 percent of American adults say they are more likely to develop their own set of religious beliefs than to accept a defined set of teachings from a particular church. Even among born-again Christians, 61 percent pick and choose from the beliefs of different denominations. For people under the age of 25, the number rises to 82 percent. Many “cafeteria Christians” go beyond the teachings of Christian denominations to embrace parts of other world religions. Half of Americans also believe that Christianity is now just one of many faith options people can choose from (44 percent disagree with that perception). Residents of the Northeast and West were more likely than those in the South and Midwest to say Christianity has lost its status as the favored American religion. Christians expressed a variety of unorthodox beliefs in the poll. Nearly half of those interviewed do not believe in the existence of Satan, one-third believe Jesus sinned while on earth, and two-fifths say they don’t have a responsibility to share their faith with others. The most striking divergence from orthodoxy, however, was first revealed in the 2007 US Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. That comprehensive survey of 35,000 Americans found a majority of Christians saying that people of other religions can find salvation and eternal life.

As Jesus said: When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? Perhaps we should revise that to Will He find faith in modern evangelical churches?”

Cry out to GodAs times become more and more “anti-Christ”, we will be moved to cry out to God, just as the widow did to the evil judge. When we are moved to cry out to God day and night, God will hear and send His justice speedily. I believe that even now, God is listening to His church, listening for our cry unto Him, wanting us to cry out to Him!

A man whose writings I admire, T. Austin Sparks, faced a world that was rapidly falling into war in 1940. He penned these words about this very same parable in “The Cry of the Elect”:tas

As regards the parable in Luke 18…“Thus it becomes perfectly clear as to what the Lord was really saying. There is an adversary, and that adversary is here set forth as the adversary of the elect, the adversary of the Church, and that adversary is seen to be engaged in a persistent pressure upon the Church, a persistent and growing pressure, which is bringing the Church more and more to the place of crying to be avenged”… “It means this, that we have to take account of what lies behind things. We have to take account of what lies behind this world situation, what the implications of it are, so far as the Church is concerned, and we must not just accept this present world conflagration, this international situation, this war, as merely a bit of the history of this world, the course of things here on this earth. No, there is something at the heart of this thing which is eternal and which is heavenly, and the adversary is prepared to throw all the nations into conflict and carnage in order to get that “seed royal”, that “man-child”, to injure that “elect”, to defeat God’s purpose as bound up with the Church. If you have spiritual eyes open, that is the focal point of your present observation; not simply the fact of a war between this nation and that, these and those, but that which lies behind it, and so in every other connection. What is behind this pressure and assault upon the bodies of the Lord’s people, and especially where spiritual interests are the more bound up, this seeking to put out of action, to render incapable of functioning because of physical conditions? What lies behind the spiritual pressure and the circumstantial pressure, pressure coming in all these different ways? Oh, beloved, ask the Lord to open your eyes to that, to get you engaged with that, for it is in that realm that the Church’s effectiveness is seen to obtain. When you get back of things to the adversary and bring that adversary up before the Throne of God and the Church cries, “Avenge me of mine adversary”, you have touched the realm of spiritual effectiveness, you have got behind things. My longing, my craving, is to find the Lord’s people seeing this and acting accordingly. Oh that, while not always occupied with the Devil and talking about the Devil and demons and so on, and getting that kind of mentality, we were nevertheless alive to this great reality, that back of things is an adversary, and that we went behind things and did not just pray for the things themselves. You see, you may pray for the Lord to heal, for the Lord to raise up, to make better, and oh! you have not really touched the realm of effectiveness in prayer. What is there of the adversary in this? Until you have touched that, you have not really touched the issue. We have no real ground for effectual prayer over these situations in the world until we have got behind them to the adversary who, in his own interests, for his own ends, is bringing them about, precipitating them. Oh for the day when our prayer gatherings will be more characterized by this seeing, and acting accordingly, in the heavenlies! That is the thing. We shall recognize what this pressure is meant to produce; a cry, a united cry, a one-voiced cry in the saints: “Avenge me of mine adversary!” The Lord bring us into that.

We must look behind what is going on in the world. We must see our adversary at work. God is listening for His people to cry out to Him! The church must be moved to plead “give us justice against our adversary”. When that happens, look up, for the God of justice will be appearing!

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