AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
The Faith Equation
November 3, 2013
Luke 18 - "When the Son of Man returns
will He really find faith on earth"
Jesus asked this: When the Son of man returns, will He really find faith on earth! Faith ? It is defined in Hebrews 11:1 in such a manner as this. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and convincing testimony of the unseen, resulting in conviction.
To what is it equal or how does it work ? In the FAITH EQUATION, we see to what it may be compared, in similarity or in contrast, to sharpen the image.
FAITH THAT LIVES
Faith can be seen as a living thing. Thus in the Parable in Luke 18:1-7, you have the unjust judge, too lazy to get up to meet the ardent request of the troubled widow, but so troubled by here repetitious call that he does get up and act. Will not, the Messiah asks, God avenge His elect though they cry long to Him ? He will avenge them speedily, though patience may indeed be required.
There is the living faith that finds by doing. The ship turn around for Monica Farrell is a good example, when it came back to collect her, through an industrial dispute, having gone first to Sydney. She, having missed it in her testimonial trip to England, to expose evils in Romanism, found it come back for her.
FAITH AS A VACANCY
You see this in the parable to follow in Luke 18. Here you see the famous case of the self-satisfied Pharisee and by contrast, that of the worn-down sinner lamenting his sinfulness and begging for mercy. It was the latter who prevailed rather than the ostensibly so fortunate former man in his self-rejoicing. Faith is not self-congratulation but in man, that mourning for sin which breeding repentance not to be repented of, seizes mercy as a drowning man seizes the hand to lift him out, and does not fear to speak of the marvel in just terms of praise. In the case of Christian faith; this time, the diver being the Lord who came down that He might raise us to His own presence, by saving faith in Him, there is a praise spectacularly in place!
FAITH BY CONTRAST AS AN ALTERNATIVE
Believers like Elijah (James 5:17-18), Elisha, Daniel, yes and even Job in his own at times petulant but ultimately patient way (James 5:11): where are they to be found, as false education, foolish cultures making themselves often enough into sacred shrines of self-worship to their own downfall, abound; and violence replaces virtue as if by right.
Theirs was a fervour that constantly surprised an alerted earth, but every endeavour is made to cut them off before they grow; and if it were not for the power of God direct through the Gospel, the pollution of the supplies of the new generation would fester till faith died. But that is without God, so the battle continues, for the souls of men. Faith, like Spring, comes; it is propelled by truth, enabled by God, found when sought with all the heart, because God remains gracious and His invitations have a divine right which is not to make faith happen, but to prevent its suppression and enable its expression.
Another reason for faith's continuance amidst this eminently polluting generation is simply that the one in mind being Christian faith, the objective evidence is so overwhelming that even a magician would sweat in vain to avoid it, were sin not as blinding with its darkness as a dazzling illumination is with its light. The Spirit of God enables sight, and Christ is that light (John 8, 9).
Meanwhile the absence of faith in a heart made in God's image, remains ready for every infestation, like an airless lagoon where mangroves, algae and weeds exist in the dim light with festering smells.
In the generational surge, by statistical report, not so long ago well over 90% of Australians are reported to have called themselves Christian, while now far less are religious. Already a prepared world with a prepared inclination to its axis, distance from the sun, night illumination, set of chemical, physical and mathematical laws, on which it runs, with prepared hearts for prepared faith in the designing and destining God, through trusting in itself while asleep at the wheel, screeches with rending tyres towards the trees of stoppage, its wars so extraneous, hideous, uncontrolled, devised in subtlety, executed in cruelty, its thoughts like a bombed bomb shelter, that it becomes like a bad dream, watched when one is awake..
Sometimes faith is misplaced by attaching itself to traditions, ideas, plaster of Paris in which its limbs are to be set! You see examples of this, in such sites as the Presbyterian Church of Scotland recently, in this area: the position of Israel. Starting, by report in Israel My Glory (latest) in a move to deny Israel place where it is, it moved to affirmation that there was no biblical place for it where it is.
How ludicrous is that! Genesis 17:7-8 gives a straightforward, unconditional promise of the land to this defined people, without any eventual removal in view (though when the earth is removed, that too, and the lands of the Gentiles will all be gone as in Matthew 24:35), but steadfast continuation. It is dubbed an everlasting covenant concerning an everlasting possession. How vast can a contradiction in a Church be!
This Church body states that the New Testament is the basis for doctrine, and acts as if God in one Testament would contradict the other (contrary to Ezekiel 36:22ff.), and then misinterprets this to squash the repeated prophetic statements of the restoration of Israel, found in the prophets and mirrored in much in Romans 11. The word of God is the basis of interpretation, and the New Testament often expands and increases understanding, but not to a jot, diminishes what has been sealed. ALL will be fulfilled, and that to the uttermost. God is not a sleazy lawyer, in cunning, but the very Spirit of truth is His.
In Romans 11, Paul shows an Israel cut out through unbelief, but as if life from the dead, one to be restored to faith when at a certain time God so acts (as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1). While James indeed cited Amos 9:11-12 in Acts 15:15-16, as in agreement with the concept of the Church (staffed then largely by Jews), this was soundly based, for certainly Israel, the nation, lost its testimonial place on the murder of its King, through faith in its own traditions and hopes. It was the Church which continued that work. But in Amos 9:13-15 we find that ALSO Israel will be back and the description of the details of this restoration occupies Amos to the end to the end of the Book. It lost much. It would gain more.
What is often not fully realised is this: that sometimes the Bible moves from the outcasting of Israel to its return to faith and to the kingdom; and it can also add the Gentile position in one faith theme, thus making of all the residues, Jewish or Gentile, one believing body, depending on the topic and theme in view. You see this in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, where the basis being Israel, yet the outcome is adorned with the thrust on to the Gentiles, as also in Isaiah 66, Jeremiah 16:14-21, Isaiah 60:1-3.
This of course happened THROUGH the initial establishment of the Christian Church through its Jewish believers by the power of God, and will happen in the consummation as in Romans 11:25ff.. Israel in Isaiah 50 is not a matter of sinners becoming Christians, as in the Church, but of a wife becoming a divorcee being offered a free restoration, doubtless through the same Gospel, and it glories in its impact on that special people in combination with the Gentile work in the interlude and to that point and to come. The same kind of thrust is seen in Jeremiah 30, where a restored Israel, one imprisoned, in chains, becomes a prelude to the grace of God extending in message to the isles of the sea (Jeremiah 31:9 cf. Deuteronomy 32:43, Isaiah 24:16). This leads in context to the rule of the Messiah in the land (Jeremiah 30:9-11).
What does the Lord say: "Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd foes his flock. For the Lord has redeemed Israel ...", paralleled by Jeremiah 33:9. Indeed in Isaiah 42, we find Israel so far from being the Church, by some magic, in context to be the blindest of all, a servant extraordinary for deafness; and such a people as Israel there noted, is the opposite of the Church. The subject gives value for attention as is given it in Ch. 1 of Department of Bible and Spiritual Affairs, Vol. 2, Ch. 1.
As to the command to the nations just noted, for the Presbyterian Church of Scotland to declare to the nations what the Lord is to do for Israel (already in stage one, brought back to their land as in Ezekiel 37): this is scarcely to be obeyed by declaring without any grounds, the very opposite. BOTH the returning Israel AND the found Gentiles become no more, not My people, but My people.. (cf. Romans 9:24, where this is explicit).
Again, we read in The Australian of a brilliant address at the world headquarters in Jerusalem, of B'nai Brith, that Israel is a light to the nations, misusing Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6. Certainly Israel had a leading situation to promulgate the faith, but to provide it, not BE the light. Alas as seen in Isaiah 30:8-11, and 65:13-15, ONLY GOD is the Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), and this salvation is the Messiah, who is also the covenant in Himself, which is given, the word of God first written, then smitten in salvation as in Isaiah 52-53. Indeed, in Isaiah 65, vast is the chagrin of Israel whihc was and then was not in the field of the work of God, and the rejoicing of God's servants, called by another name !
While as in Isaiah 41, God sees NO ONE in Israel to take the post of light and deliverer, counsellor, He DOES find one, sent from eternity (Isaiah 48:15ff.), in whom His soul delights!
This is the Saviour and here is the position of being an Israel in whom He has relish, unlike that other Israel which failed Him for so long, and in the end murdered the Prince of Peace. For all that, it is true that anti-Semitism as in this brilliant B'nai Brith speech made in Jerusalem, despite the lack in that address through having the core in Christ missing, is a child of many evils. Indeed, it does appear as claimed, that for some people, Jews mean trouble; and even the Holocaust, being rejected by some, becomes a chiding ground for withering scorn, following the ceaseless Arab propaganda.
Israel, the writer declared, will never be forgiven the Holocaust! How many evil thoughts does that crystallise for those far from God, and founding their own faith on their own scampering thoughts and intimations. Sin, salvation, repentance, all these are elements in the Old Testament, its predictions scrupulously fulfilled in the New, and as Christ declared, they WILL be fulfilled to the last jot and tittle (Matthew 5:17-18).
Thus does faith become misplaced, in little or in much; but as with mathematics, so in this biblical system: make one mistake and colossal can be your failures, as with Israel in its spiritual lapse, and the Church in Scotland, in its contra-scriptural claim concerning Israel.
II Timothy 4:8 shows the glory of saving faith's outcome, John 1:3 the light shining in uncomprehending darkness which needs penetration by Christ, the light of the world.
But WILL He find faith, will He really find it when He returns, faith in a hearing and answering, personal creator who being God, has sent salvation via the contumely of the cross, and rent death like paper through the power of the resurrection! Did not this same Jesus say that even if one rose from the dead they would still contrive not to belief! Indeed, in the Greek there is a particle added, which means that the question is set to receiving a negative answer.
With this in the text, it is well translating: Will the Son of man when He returns really find faith on earth! Where it is, then the surge, urge and desire for to have a heart in which there is no part in darkness, as in Matthew 6y:23, Luke 11:35-36, It is to be whole, wholesale, divinely inhabited; for Christ declared this, I will not leave you orphans (John 14:18), for the very Spirit of God like electricity activativating detached machinery, or water flowing over a mill-wheel, brings to the heart the flavour and the savour, the nearness and the abiding of Christ.
This world with its sub-cultures, has its ways. To showers of refreshing presenting the centre of faith, it presents asphalted hearts, and to the meteoric message of the Messiah and His work, it presents a resistant face, closed eyes. As to this world, it does not merely appear lost; it is lost. And as to the love of it, as in James 4:4 and I John 2:15, following it is enmity with God. Back then to the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16) and the look of the Lord (Luke 22:61), and that repentance which is prelude to faith, since it turns in the oil of pardon, to the work of flaming spirits for the word and work of God, until Christ DOES RETURN. For that, WAIT! HE will surely come. Faith waits and finds grace from God as it does (Isaiah 64:5).