(Luke 13:1-5) “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
There are many people today in society who think that they are not as bad as others. They do not cheat in business or on their spouses or abuse their families and in many cases are quite charitable towards others and do many good and worthwhile things in their community. While these ‘good works’ are commendable from the human standpoint spiritually they achieve nothing as far as making a person right with God. From God’s standpoint every person regardless of their birth or upbringing or by virtue of their good deeds have all sinned and fallen short of the standard of life He requires for any person to enter into His eternal kingdom (Romans 3:23).
In fact in God’s estimation of human character there is none who have inherent goodness but are corpses spiritually speaking, whose best intentions are marred by sin and selfishness even though humanly speaking good deeds themselves may be beneficial to others (Romans 3:9-20). We are also told in God’s Word that the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately evil and who can know the depths of this evil except God alone (Jeremiah 17:9). Religious people have problems with this Biblical truth who sit week after week in a Church pew without ever realising that what they need is to be spiritually reborn from above and made a new person deep down on the inside supernaturally by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3).
The Lord Jesus spoke about two groups of people who all perished. One was a religious group of people actually involved in a worship meeting who were murdered and the other a secular group of people who were not religious as such but were walking past a tower when it collapsed, killing them all. The problem with the people in both groups was that they had not repented of sin and their lives were not in a right relationship with God or to God for that matter.
When the Lord Jesus mentioned these two groups He had in mind that fact that whether one was religious and attended the temple worship, or just worked in the secular world, that if they did not repent then they would perish. The idea of perishing He conveyed was not just of physical death but of a spiritual death which all that reject the salvation found only in Him would experience in the afterlife (John 3:36). The Bible nowhere speaks of annihilation after one dies but it does speak of an eternal judgement (Hebrews 9:27) (Revelation 14:9-11; 20:11-15; 21:8).
No matter who we are all of us have broken God’s commandments and laws. God gave us the 10 Commandments, not to stop us from enjoying life as He created us to do and to enjoy fellowship with Him, but because of our inherent sinful, selfish indulgent nature which cause us to violate His commandments and unleash hell on the world. For example God said; “Do not steal.” Ask yourself the question, “Have I stolen anything?” the answer of course would be “yes” which would make you a thief would it not? Or take God’s commandment; “You shall not commit adultery.” Have you ever looked with lust upon a woman who is not your wife?” An honest answer would be “yes” which would make you an adulterer. In fact the Lord Jesus Himself said that when one lusts after a woman in his imagination that he already has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).
Now it needs to be said that sexual desires between a man and a woman are normal and within the marriage bond the sexual life of a married couple can even be erotic and should be mutually pleasurable and even the Jewish sages have said that “The Shekinah (God’s presence) hovers over the marriage bed.” Adultery then is not merely a physical act but an attitude of the heart as are all matters related to sin and lawlessness (Matthew 15:19).
All of us born in to this world are by nature and birth great rebels and sinners in God’s sight and deserve eternal torment in the lake of fire alienated from the life of God and His love. We love the things God hates and hate the things God loves (Psalm 51:5). If we are honest all of us have violated all of the 10 Commandments. According to God’s Word the Bible when you break just one law you have broken them all (James 2:10). You may argue, “It says that you shall not kill and I have killed no one.” Well, have you ever hated someone’s guts and gone out of your way to get back at them and have denigrated them and damned them with your mouth? Well God’s Word says that if you hate another person then you are a murderer and a murderer does not have eternal life within them (1 John 3:15). The Commandment “You shall not kill” should really be rendered in the Hebrew text “You shall not murder.” You can “murder” someone with your mouth! We are told in God’s Word that “the power of life and death are in the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
God saw our problem with sin and in His redeeming love and compassion for all sinners He decided to provide an answer which He did in the person of His one and only begotten eternal Son, the Lord Jesus, of whom we are told; “God made Him who knew no sin to be a sacrifice for sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21). At the cross the Lord Jesus exchanged places with us. God punished Him as a sinner, even though the Lord Jesus was without any sin and had never committed sin, so that He might receive us back to Himself as His sons and daughters and impart to us His righteousness we can never earn or deserve, being by birth and by nature, great rebels and lawbreakers in His sight and without excuse.
As the Lord Jesus Himself said; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
Man’s greatest need is for righteousness, to be put into right standing with God. He wants all men to be saved and not to perish, but to repent and be rescued from the power and penalty of sin and to come to a knowledge of the truth which is only found in the Lord Jesus Himself, who is the only way, the truth and the life, and that no one comes to God the Father except through Him alone (2 Peter 3:9) (1 Timothy 2:4) (John 14:6). God’s righteousness comes through the Lord Jesus, the righteous one of God and is received by faith. It is a righteousness that is bestowed by faith and not by trying to do good works or live an upright life (Romans 3:21-24). Our righteous acts in God’s sight are at best like a filthy smelling discarded woman’s menstrual rag (Isaiah 64:6).
The salvation of your soul is the most important thing that you must experience in this life. Your life without God is like a vapour which is here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). It is like the flower of the field which blossoms for a very short time and then withers away and dies. As it is written; “For, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25). Compared to the vast ocean of eternity your life span down here is like a very small drop of water in that vast ocean of eternity that has no boundaries. You need to be born again and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the righteousness that comes from God and is received by faith in the Lord Jesus to save you and not by works (Philippians 3:8-9) (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If you would enter God’s eternal kingdom and you have never been spiritually reborn from above and received the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and if you realise that you have sinned greatly towards God and made a mess of things spiritually speaking in God’s sight, and you have come to the realization that you only have two options in this life after you die physically being heaven or hell, and you want God to save you and impart to you His eternal life which will ultimately bring you to heaven, then this is what you need to do. It is the only fire escape from the lake of fire and from this present evil age. God’s Word tells us.
(Acts 2:38) “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Firstly, you need to repent. This is not just feeling sorry for what you have done in the past or even being filled with a sense of remorse. Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord Jesus and was filled with remorse, but Judas never repented and went to his own place of eternal torment. Repentance involves the emotions but repentance if it is to be genuine, must go further than the emotions. It is an act of the will, a desire to turn over the control of your whole life to the Lord Jesus to deliver you from sin’s power and penalty. You must be willing to change from a Jesus hating, Jesus rejecting way of life to a Jesus loving, Jesus accepting way of life, keeping in mind that you cannot save yourself and cry out to the Lord to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. This is what it means to repent. It is not only a change in your behaviour and lifestyle but also in the direction of your life.
You are walking in one direction and you stop and turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. You turn away from all that you know to be sinful and turn to God for mercy and pardon and when He pardons He does it abundantly and without reserve. As it is written; “Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). You forsake what you know to be wrong and reach out by faith to cling to what you know to be righteous and pleasing to God.
Secondly, you must be willing to be baptised by immersion in water. Baptism demonstrates publically that you have died to your old way of living and have been spiritually reborn to a new way of living. As it is written; “If any man is in the Messiah he is a brand new creation, the old life has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Baptism spiritually speaking is a death and resurrection (Romans 6:4). Of course faith is also involved when one is baptised in water. This faith is a result of the new birth which precedes water baptism.
As it is also written, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16) The moment you believe on the Lord Jesus for your salvation the Holy Spirit goes to work using the seed of God’s Word and planting it into the soil of your heart bringing about the eternal life and spiritual fruit God has promised to all who believe (1 Peter 1:23) (Galatians 5:22-25). It is only by trusting and resting by faith in the Lord Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him that you can live a spiritually fruitful life that pleases God (John 15:1-7).
Thirdly, you need to receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Without His full power resting upon your life and on your service for the Lord Jesus you will not be able to live the life of a Bible believer. You will not be able to witness effectively or serve the Lord in the way He wants you to serve Him. You may become involved in the Lord’s work but you will find there will be a lack of spiritual power resting on your labour in the Lord. As it is written; “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This is the mighty Baptism with the Holy Spirit that John the Baptist spoke about and that the Lord Jesus gives to all who have been spiritually born again by the same Spirit (John 7:37-39). There is a difference between the Spirit indwelling and the Spirit outpoured. One needs both the Spirit dwelling within and outpoured upon the life to witness and serve the Lord effectively. The promise of the Holy Spirit’s power is for every believer in every age (Acts 2:39).
Without the gift of the Holy Spirit a believer is like a soldier enlisted into the army and trained for combat but without weapons and armour to fight the war. It is only the power of the mighty Holy Spirit resting upon a saved believer that can break the spiritual strongholds in their own life and in the life of others (2 Corinthians 10:4). Without repentance first there can be no seasons of spiritual refreshing from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
So then, the religious group who were offering sacrifices to God were murdered while they were participating in their religious activity and the secular group who were engaged in their daily work were killed when the tower fell on them as they passed by it. In both cases the people had not repented and were eternally lost. The only hope for eternity is to cast yourself upon the Lord and call on His name to save you now because it is written; “Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). And again it is written; “Behold, now is the time of favour; now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2b) And again it is written’ “As it has been said: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15a).
God loves you and wants to rescue you from the power of Satan and from the grip of sin and from its penalty in the eternal fire and the one He has designated to save you from this present evil age is the Lord Jesus because, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The blood of the Lord Jesus has atoned for your sin and will protect you in the day of God’s wrath upon all lawlessness and wickedness (Romans 5:9). The blood of the Messiah was the purchase price for your redemption and the only basis upon which God can forgive your sin (Ephesians 1:7). It is only His blood that can cleanse you from all that is unrighteous and loose you from its grip in your life when you repent of it without reservation, confess it to God, and receive the Lord Jesus as your personal saviour and Lord (John 1:12-13) (1 John 1:7-9) (Revelation 1:5b).
Here once again the words of Isaiah the prophet; “Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Will you come?