The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness
Where's the Faith?
1 Peter 4:16
But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name!
A little over a year ago the nation was in the grip of terror and concern as terrorists struck on American shores. Virtually every church of every denomination saw a dramatic increase in attendance. Yet, within a few weeks, attendance levels had fallen back to, or below, those just prior to September 11th. On a personal level, at the September 12th Wednesday night service of Calvary Road Baptist Church, it was standing room only. This year, on Wednesday, September 11, 2002, the crowd was good, but far from standing room only. While many churches held special memorial services, many did not take time from their schedules to reflect upon the events of the past year. Those who did hold services, I believe, saw a great decrease in their attendance levels.
All of which reminds me of Christ's question:
Luke 18:8 (NKJV)
8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
Well, will He?
Faith is the belief and trust in God - that the Words and actions of God are true, a confidence in Jesus. So, when Jesus asks the question, He is really asking if He will find men who trust in Him. The events of the past year show how little the world exercises this trust, confidence, and belief.
The verse quoted comes at the end of a short parable about a human judge and a woman attempting to obtain justice.
Luke 18:1-8 (NLT)
1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. 2 " There was a judge in a certain city, " he said, " who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. ' I fear neither God nor man, ' he said to himself, 5 ' but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests! ' " 6 Then the Lord said, " Learn a lesson from this evil judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith? "
The point of the parable is that the judge attempted to ignore the persistence of the woman seeking justice. In the end, the evil judge awards the woman's persistence. Christ's meaning is that, in the end, God will reward the persistent cries of His church for justice. Yet, asks Jesus, will there be anyone of faith crying out for justice upon the return of Christ. Will His church be exercising faith?
I have encountered many different and varying circumstances that have led me to prepare this study. At the heart of this study is the question of what characteristic(s) should shine forth in the church to exhibit the faith sought by God?
Here, there, and elsewhere I have frequently taught that the Bible teaches but two things:
- First, the Bible teaches mankind HOW TO FIND GOD. This is the process of salvation. It commences with the initial exercise of faith in Jesus. One exercises this faith to come into a lasting relationship with Christ.
- But, having found God, there is a second teaching of the Bible. This
teaching is about HOW TO LIVE ONCE YOU HAVE FOUND GOD. This process
of living for God is the process of sanctification. It is, hopefully,
a continual process of growing more and more Christlike. It is not
a straight, always increasing, line, but more of an up/down process
as we grow through trials and fight to maintain a close relationship
Different aspects of this process are found in a discussion on sanctification and in the studies about Witnessing and Discipleship.
The question of Christ finding faith on the earth, at the point of His return, must be viewed as a question of whether or not His church will be exercising faith. There may be some on the verge of salvation, but the real question involves whether or not the faithful will be beating at God's door demanding His righteousness just as the persistent woman continued to knock of the evil judge's door. I fear, as one looks at the state of faith today that Jesus will find relatively few people knocking on the door of heaven.