14th August 2023

John Piper reminds us to


Always Pray and Do Not Loose Heart

He told them a parable.

"In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Vindicate me against my adversary.'
For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'"
And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.
Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming.
They meant: When will Messiah come and overthrow our enemies and establish the throne of David and bring peace and righteousness to the world?

Jesus' answer was baffling to people who didn't acknowledge him to be the Messiah.
He said in effect: If your only way of recognising the kingdom of God is by miraculous signs, that bring down the Roman tyranny, then you will surely miss it, because the kingdom of God is already in the midst of you.
It should not be translated "within you" because Jesus would not have said that to unbelieving Pharisees..

Then he warns against the opposite mistake.
He warns against thinking that the final appearance of the Son of man could be anything but catastrophic.
The second coming of Jesus will be obvious to all from horizon to horizon, like a streak of lightning.

Jesus describes what the days will be like, leading up to the coming of the Son of man.
He compares it to the flood in Noah's day and to the destruction of Sodom by fire and brimstone, and he says that the days before His coming will be like the days before those two catastrophes, namely, full of busy, ordinary life.
That is, in the hour of crisis, don't love the world.
Don't turn back with longing, or you'll be unfit for the kingdom.
Remember, when the Son of man comes, he will separate the 'sheep and the goats'.
One will be taken into safety, the other left.

"Left where?" the disciples ask.
"Where the body is, there will the vultures be gathered together".
Not to be gathered to Jesus at his coming is to be left for destruction.

Will the warnings of Jesus to remember Lot's wife, to keep the heart fixed on Jesus, and to not love the world - will these warnings secure the faith of the disciples?
Will they endure to the end?
Will the Son of man find us trusting him, or busy securing our lives in this world?

I think a natural question the disciples would ask (and which we should ask) is:
How can we endure to the end?

Did you notice that Jesus doesn't mention sodomy in the list of what characterised Sodom, just before its destruction?
In fact, he doesn't mention anything in itself, sinful.
Judgment didn't come upon Sodom merely because it had practicing homosexuals in it, but also because all the good, ordinary activities of life were godless.
The good things in life can make us just as insensitive to the reality of God as the gross things in life can.

Jesus says concerning the last days before his coming:

"Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved."

Jesus could have asked, "When the Son of man comes, will he find fervent love on earth?"
The danger we face is that our faith in Jesus, will be swallowed up by opposition or by the sheer ordinariness of daily life.

So Jesus tells a parable to give the answer.
Jesus' answer to the question how to endure to the end is, Pray! Pray! Pray! And don't grow weary of praying.

The parable is of the unrighteous judge and the widow

So here the point of comparison is not that God is an unjust judge but that he responds with help to those who cry to him day and night.

If you always pray and don't lose heart, you will not be like Lot's wife: you will not be left in judgment; you will endure in faith and love, and God will vindicate you when the Son of man comes.
Therefore, always pray and don't lose heart.

The pressures of worldliness will become greater as the end draws near, therefore, all the more must we watch and be sober unto prayer, and not lose heart.

Un-edited version and Bible references avaiable, on request

John Piper (@JohnPiper)
is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Come, Lord Jesus.

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