Sermon #129 Luke Sermons
Title: The Parable of The Unjust Judge
Text: Luke 18:1-8
Subject: God Shall Avenge His Own
Date: Sunday Evening — August 22, 2004
Tape # Y-38b
Readings: Merle Hart & Bob Duff
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God is our Savior. We live by…
· The Merit of His Imputed Righteousness!
· The Efficacy of His Sin-atoning Blood!
· And the Power of His Omnipotent Grace!
And our great Savior was and is in all things our example. Let none imagine that his life was nothing more than an example. Yet, we must never fail to see that he is our example (1 Pet. 2:21-24).
(1 Peter 2:21-24) “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (24) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
He says, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done” (John 13:15). He shows us by example how to love God and one another. He shows us by example how to suffer patiently, committing ourselves unto our God. He shows us by example how to live in this world by faith, believing God and serving him. In all things, Christ himself is the pattern we are to follow.
As in all other things, our blessed Savior was supremely exemplary in prayer. When he exhorts us to continue in prayer and to “pray without ceasing,” he is only telling us to do as he has done. If ever there was a man who might have no need to engage in prayer, it would have been the God-man! He was never defiled with the sins that constantly beset us. He had no lusts of the flesh warring in his members. He is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He knew no sin, did no sin, and had no sin. He walked with God perfectly, in complete obedience to the Father’s will, ever doing those things that please him, always glorifying him in thought, in word, and in deed. Add to that the fact that this man, the God-man, had (even while he walked on the earth) in his possession all omnipotence as God, and you cannot help being astonished that he is the supreme example of faith and prayer.
I have said all that so that will read the opening words of our text as they ought to be read, with all the emphasis and authority of One who always prayed and never fainted. — “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). What a mighty word this is coming from him! — “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint!”
Proposition: Luke tells us, as he introduces the parable of the unjust judge that the lesson, the message of the parable is just this — “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint!”
As one of the old writers put it, “He hangs the key at the door.” With that in mind, let’s read the parable.
(Luke 18:1-8) “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; (2) Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: (3) And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. (4) And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; (5) Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. (6) And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. (7) And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? (8) I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
I. The first thing we see in this parable is a word of instruction about prayer. — “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.”
The subject of prayer is one that always arouses my interest, though it always causes me to blush with shame. I fear I know very little about it. Prayer is the life breath of the believing heart. J. C. Ryle was exactly right when he wrote, “Here it is that religion begins. Here it flourishes. Here it decays. Prayer is one of the first evidences of conversion (Acts 9:11). Neglect of prayer is the sure road to a fall (Matt. 26:40-41).” Our Savior says, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”
In this parable he Lord instructs us in the matter of prayer by telling a story. It is a story about a poor, needy widow, who obtained justice from a wicked judge simply because she would not leave him alone until she got what she needed from him. She would not leave him alone because she was in a pinch. She had to have what he alone could give her. She would not leave him alone because she had no one else to whom she could turn for help. She got what she needed by the sheer force of her importunity. The judge said, “Though I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her (I will see that she gets justice), lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
The Savior tells us the meaning of this in verses 6-8. — “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” He says, “The day is soon to come when the Lord God will avenge his chosen. He will do that which is right and just for them and with them. He will satisfy all their needs, all the cravings of their souls, for which they continually cry unto him day and night. He will not put them off forever. He will avenge them speedily.”
If the constant, importunate cries of this widow stirred up the heartless judge to avenge her of her adversary, how much more shall the cries of our hearts to our God stir up our heavenly Father, the Judge of all the earth who must do right, to avenge us of our adversary!
But is it possible for us to pray always? There are some who take these words very literally and vainly imagine that they are praying as they try to constantly repeat prayers, usually rubbing their magical prayer beads as the do. That is the whole notion behind monastic and cloistral religion. Needless to say, that is not what our Lord is teaching! Such religious insanity, self-righteousness, and idolatry is not prayer.
Our Lord words here, “Men ought to pray,” simply mean that we ought always to live looking to our God in faith, constantly carrying our needs and our hearts desires to him. Our Master gives us similar instructions in other places (1 Thess. 5:17; Col. 4:2; Heb. 4:16).
(Colossians 4:2) “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.”
We are to “Continue in prayer.” That is the sense of our Lord’s doctrine in Luke 18. He does not tell us to pray all the time. That would be impossible. He tells us to We live in the spirit and attitude of prayer and fellowship with God. Again, I am not suggesting that we neglect the act of prayer, or fail to spend time alone with God in pray. Not at all! Let us pray more! Pray frequently about all things.
‘‘Watch in prayer.” — Let us ever be watchful over our souls and watchful for one another in prayer, ever looking to our God for mercy and grace. How we need to take care, to be watchful, lest we sleep! “With thanksgiving” — To live in watchful prayer and faith is to live with thankful hearts before God.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) “Rejoice evermore. (17) Pray without ceasing. (18) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
It is the will of God that we rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks to him in everything. Whatever our present situation is at anytime is the will of God for us (Rom. 8:28). We should rejoice and give thanks always (Phil. 4:4-6).
(Philippians 4:4-6) “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Rejoice in prosperity or adversity. Pray always. Live prayerfully, trusting the Lord. Let praise, prayer and thanksgiving constantly rise from our hearts to our God. Let us place such high value upon Christ, his righteousness, his boundless grace, his blood atonement, and life eternal from him, in him and with him that nothing in this life to overshadows God’s unspeakable gift. How can I complain about anything when I am an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ?
Our Lord does not require that we be constantly engaged in the exercise of prayer, but that we always live prayerfully. By all means, spend much time in the exercise of prayer but more, importantly, live prayerfully.
Let us never weary of faith. Let us never get tired of living upon the bounty of our God, of coming to the throne of grace. Can you imagine the hungry widow becoming weary of going to the barrel God constantly filled and getting food for her and her son? Yet, our flesh is so opposed to all that is good for our souls that our Lord constantly reminds us that we must watch, and pray, and faint not! Why are these admonitions so often repeated and in so many ways? Because they are admonitions we need, and need constantly!
Our Lord is not telling us in the parable that if we have a great desire, if we want something bad enough, we ought to just keep asking God for what we want until he gives it. James tells us plainly that such praying is praying amiss (James 3:3).
(James 3:3) “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.”
God never promised to gratify our lusts, not even when our lusts seem to us good and reasonable desires. We do not twist God’s arm in prayer. In prayer we pour out the groans of our hearts to him and bow to his will. Have you no groans, groans for which you cry unto God day and night, groans created in you by his grace, groans that will not allow you rest until they are fulfilled? Of course you do. I do, too.
· Freedom from sin!
· Conformity to Christ!
· Love for my God!
· Glorifying God my Savior!
· End of strife!
· An end to sorrow and sighing, toil and temptation, pain and causing pain, grief and causing grief!
In the parable of the unjust judge, our Lord is telling us to never quit seeking God’s grace, to never quit living by faith, looking to him and looking for him (Phil. 3:7-14; Heb. 12:14). His grace will prove sufficient and satisfactory, even when he denies us what we crave for ourselves. Our Lord’s promise, the promise drawn from the parable of the unjust judge is just this. — As that unjust judge avenged that helpless widow of her adversary, so too our heavenly Father will soon avenge us of our adversary (Rom. 16:20; Rev. 22:4-7).
(Romans 16:20) “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
(Revelation 22:4-7) “And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (6) And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. (7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
At the appointed hour the God of Glory, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ gave him the glory he promised him. And at the appointed hour he will give us the glory he has promised us. Let us therefore pray always and faint not (Heb. 10:35-39; Hab. 2:3).
(Hebrews 10:35-39) “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. (36) For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (37) For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (38) Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (39) But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
(Habakkuk 2:3) “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”
II. The second thing we see in our Lord’s explanation of this parable is the fact that there is an elect people in this world, loved of God and the objects his constant care.
(Luke 18:6-7) “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. (7) And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”
The Lord Jesus declares that God will “avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him.” “I tell you,” he says, “that he will avenge them speedily.”
God’s elect are his own special, peculiar people, whom he has loved with an everlasting love. We are his by his own sovereign good will and pleasure, chosen in his Son Jesus Christ unto everlasting life and salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. He will avenge them of their adversary and vindicate them before all worlds at the last day, right all wrongs concerning them, do them justice, and deliver them into his heavenly kingdom and glory. And he will do so in accordance with absolute, strict justice, through the merits of and efficacy Christ’s obedience, death, and intercession.
A Bag, A Book, A Bottle
Like this poor widow, they cry unto him day and night. — He hears our cries, puts our tears up in his bottle. In a word — He cares for us and takes care of us at all times, in all our needs, and forever!
God takes great care to comfort his people in their many trials and sorrows in this world. He commands his preachers to have for one of their goals the comfort of his people. He says, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” Here are three things described in the Word of God that should be of great comfort to every believer.
God has made A BAG FOR OUR SINS. — Job said, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity” (Job 14:17). In ancient times, when men died at sea, their bodies were placed in a weighted bag which was sewn together and sealed. Then they were cast into the depths of the sea. That is what God has done with our sins. They are cast “into the depths of the sea.” When Christ died, by his one sacrifice for our sins, which were imputed to him, he put away all our sins. They were buried in the sea of God’s infinite forgiveness, put away, never to be brought up again. God almighty will never charge us with sin, impute sin to us, remember our sins against us, or treat us any the less graciously because of our sin. That is forgiveness! “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
The Lord has written A BOOK FOR OUR NAMES. — Take heart, child of God. Your name is written in the book of God! Before the worlds were made, the Lord God inscribed the names of his elect in the Lamb’s book of life. In that book, God has recorded, not only the names of the chosen heirs of heaven, but also all things pertaining to them. “In the book all my members were written” (Psa. 139:16; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 13:8; 17:8). The Lamb’s book of life is the book of God’s eternal purpose of grace, predestination, and election. The fact that our names are written in that book means that our salvation is a matter of absolute certainty and that all things work together for our good by God’s arrangement to secure our predestined end, which is perfect conformity to Christ (Rom. 8:28-30). When our Lord says, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven,” he is telling us that we have nothing to fear. All is well for those whose names are written in heaven.
Moreover, the Lord God keeps A BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS. — “Thou tellest all my wonderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?...This I know; for God is for me” (Psa. 56:8-9). It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small cloth or sponge to wipe away their tears. Then, they were squeezed into a small vial, a tear bottle, and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who had died. Even so, the Lord our God, our heavenly Father, our almighty Savior, and our holy Comforter tenderly cares for us. In all our afflictions he is afflicted. We are the very apple of his eye.
Could anything be more comforting in this world of sin, sorrow, and death? The Lord our God has put our sins in a bag and buried them, our names in a book to remember them, and our tears into a bottle to show his tender care for us. All this shows our Father’s care for his elect.
How we rejoice in God’s electing love! It is one of the sweetest, most blessed, most soul-cheering things revealed in the Book of God (John 15:16; Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).
(John 15:16) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
(Ephesians 1:3-6) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Election is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he has decreed in sovereign predestination to deliver the objects of his eternal love from sin, the curse of the law, and eternal damnation, and to deliver them unto eternal glory in and by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Election is the guarantee of eternal salvation by Christ our Surety and the source of all spiritual and eternal blessedness. Little wonder that David danced before the ark when he thought about God’s election (Ps. 65:4).
(Psalms 65:4) “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”
Election calls for unceasing praise and thanksgiving to our God. Except God had chosen and called us, we would never have chosen and called on him. Except he had chosen us of his own good pleasure, unconditionally, we could never have been chosen, for we could never make ourselves worthy of his choice. Let the Arminian, the works-monger, the will-worshipper rail, and rant, and rave on. We rejoice in electing love! We bless God for the blessing wherewith he has blessed us — Eternal Election! We know and rejoice to sing…
“‘Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me:
Thou, from the sin that stained me,
Hast washed and set me free,
And to this end ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.
‘Twas sovereign mercy called me,
And taught my opening mind,
The world had else enthralled me,
To heavenly glories blind:
My heart owns none before Thee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst —
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first!”
Marks of Election
Are there any marks of election, any tokens by which I can know whether I am one of God’s elect? Indeed, there are! — These marks are clearly laid down in Scripture. Election is inseparably connected with faith in Christ, and conformity to his image (Rom. 8:29, 30). When Paul saw the working “faith,” and patient “hope,” and laboring “love” of the Thessalonians, that he knew their “election of God.” (1 Thess. 1:3, 4.) Our Lord gives us this mark of election in the passage before us. God’s elect are a people who “cry unto him day and night.”
And, yes, God shall avenge us. He shall avenge his own elect, “though he bear long with them.” Perhaps these words refer to our adversaries, oppressors, and persecutors. They are vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction. The Lord God endures their wickedness with much longsuffering toward his elect until the sufferings of his people are accomplished and the iniquities of these reprobate are full.
However, I think the words, “though he bear long with them” are most properly to be understood as referring to the elect. They might be better translated, “and is longsuffering towards them.” He delays the execution of vengeance upon the world of the ungodly until all his elect are gathered in from among them. Then, our Savior says, “I tell you, He will avenge them speedily” (v. 8; 2 Pet. 3:9, 15).
(2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
(2 Peter 3:15) “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;”
A Solemn Question
III. The third thing we see in this passage is the fact that true faith will be a scarce and rare thing in the last day.
Our Savior shows us this by asking a very solemn question in verse 8. — “When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” The answer is obvious. As it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so shall it be when the Lord Jesus comes again. In the days of Noah, only eight souls entered into the ark. In the days of Lot, only three were delivered from wrath and judgment. All the rest perished! So shall it be in the end of the world.
Now, I have a solemn question for you. — “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” If you do, bless God for his free electing love and the gift of his grace upon you. If you believe, salvation and eternal life is yours in Christ. But, if you believe not the Son of God, the wrath of God abides on you and you shall never see life (John 3:36; 8:24).
(John 3:36) “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
(John 8:24) “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
(2 Corinthians 5:10-21) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (11) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (12) For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. (13) For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. (14) For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (16) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. (17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
(2 Corinthians 6:1-2) “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”