Jesus asked this rhetorical question in Luke chapter 18:
…”Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
Why would Jesus Christ ask this question about faith? Jesus asked this question right after describing His return to earth and the general tenor of the times before His return. He refers to Noah and Lot when describing the activities and heart interests of the human race prior to His return to illustrate that mankind will not be thinking about His return and the sure judgment they will experience.
26 “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, the built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Luke 17:26-30
It is noteworthy to consider that just a very few people were saved when God sent the flood upon the world in the days of Noah and rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah. The days will be spent in mundane and “normal” human activity without a thought about God or about the condition of the soul, much as we see the situation around us today, keeping in mind that this also applies to those who are religious.
Jesus goes on to give two parables after this warning about His return, one before the question we are considering and one following. I don’t want to get into the details of either parable, but I do want to make the point that there will be severe persecution of believers before the return of Jesus Christ, and those who belong to Christ acknowledge their sin before an holy and awesome, but merciful God.
6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 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?” Luke 18:6-8
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
Although, this parable doesn’t directly relate to the days before Christ comes, it does relate to faith, and it is this faith Jesus is asking about in Luke 18:8. We see much of the self-righteousness displayed by religious people who love themselves, but don’t love God or their neighbors. We see few who humbly call upon God confessing to be sinners. We live in the times described by Paul in
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than loves of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5
We see these attitudes and behaviors in churches all around us today!
In the thirteenth chapter of Mark, Jesus Christ again warns about the proliferation of evil before His return.
5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. 9 But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Mark 13:5-13
21 “Then if anyone says to you. ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.” Mark 13:21-23
Jesus is specifically warning His followers, those who belong to Him that deception and persecution are going to be rampant before His return. Jesus definitely spent a great deal of His teaching ministry warning both believers and unbelievers about persecution and deception.
When Jesus Christ began His teaching ministry He taught His disciples and the religious about His kingdom and He also warned them about deceit and deception.
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:13-23
So Jesus Himself constantly warned His disciples and others about self-deceit and deception of others.
Deception surrounds us like cellophane covering a package. It has been ushered in by many but there is a common thread that joins the religiously deceptive together, that is they divorce faith from the Word of God, the Bible. Friedrich Schleiermacher wrote On Religion in the late 1700’s where he divorced faith from the teaching of the Scriptures, and so it has gone on and on and on. Today many Christians follow the writings of those who despise the Scriptures. One such highly esteemed individual, C. S. Lewis, wrote what is considered to be a treatise on the Christian faith, Mere Christianity, without once quoting the Bible. It seems odd that a “Christian apologist” would defend the Christian faith without reference to the Bible. This seems particularly strange when we are told in Scriptures:
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 1:22-2:3
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21
That Satan has raised up these false teachers who divorce faith from the sure Word of God should cause us all to be very careful about whom we give our allegiance to and to make sure that we heed the warnings of Scripture and the Holy Spirit so we are not led astray and away from biblical faith.
So we can see and understand the urgency of Jesus Christ’s question in Luke chapter 18:
…”Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
Based upon the deceit of the human heart, the deception that we daily imbibe, the persecution of Jesus’ elect, and the evil of the world, is genuine faith even possible?
26 And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27
And so like the humble tax collector we need to throw ourselves upon the mercy of God pleading for the gift of faith, knowing we deserve only the evil of this world for we also are vile wicked sinners who merit only God’s just judgment and wrath. We need to beseech God our Father to deliver us from the deception of the devil that lies hidden in the works of false teachers. We need to plead with our Savior Jesus Christ to bless our hearts with a love of His Word that shuts out the barrage of evil from the world. We need to implore the Holy Spirit to raise up the truth of God’s Word as a bastion of faith against the wiles and lies of the evil one. These are the prayers that we must entreaty the Father with due to the wickedness of these times. Yet, those who continue in the deceit of their hearts and the deception of this world are justly receiving what they have earned and do not realize that the condemnation of God in this life is tempered by His mercy and grace for His elect, but in everlasting judgment there is only fiery wrath and torment with no relief or respite.
Here is a link that bears witness to the hypocrisy of evangelical leadership towards false teachers: