“Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b).
This question of Jesus has echoed throughout time. It is a matter that has to be re-considered by each generation. Who will stand for Jesus? Who will accept what the Bible has revealed about Him?
This verse can be used in many kinds of preaching to ask pointedly about the future. The optimist finds many reasons why the faith will grow. The pessimist sees apostasy as just a generation away.
Yet, as with everything found in the Bible, we must consider the question in its context. Jesus is attempting to encourage the disciples to persevere in prayer and not to lose heart (Luke 18:1). He tells them the parable of the persistent widow– a woman with no legal rights who obtains justice from an unrighteous judge just because she is such an irritant to him (Luke 18:2-6). Jesus uses this parable as a contrast: in such a circumstance, if the constant nagging of a woman with no rights is finally heard by an evil judge, how much more will the righteous Father avenge those whom He loves who cry out to Him (Luke 18:6-8)? This is when Jesus asks whether the Son of Man will find faith on the earth or not (Luke 18:8)!
Therefore, Jesus’ question really is not about whether there will be people who profess faith in Him when He returns. He knows that there will always be such people (James 1:22-25, Matthew 7:21-23). Instead, the question focuses on the matter of truly trusting God. When the Son of Man returns, will He find people on earth who fully trust in God despite terrible circumstances?
This is a much more challenging question. All kinds of people are always willing to profess knowledge of and belief in Jesus Christ, but who is willing to really trust Him? When we prosper and things go well, is our confidence still in God or is it “converted” to the material prosperity (1 Timothy 6:17-19)? Are we willing to trust in God’s love, goodness, mercy, and justice even when we are oppressed, downtrodden, wronged, and suffering? Are we willing to pray constantly and fervently even after it seems that God is not there or is not answering? In short, when it seems that we have every reason not to trust in God, will we trust in Him regardless?
It is very important for us that we believe in Jesus and accept the truth of the revelation regarding Him in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and work diligently to commit these truths to the upcoming generations if we have opportunity (2 Timothy 2:2). But let us remember that Jesus’ question is much more personal and a much greater challenge. If He were to return today, would He find people truly trusting in God in all things? Will He find you and me trusting entirely in the Almighty? Let us consider this question, and learn to trust God more!
Ethan R. Longhenry