We're turning to Luke's gospel, the gospel of Luke and chapter 13. Chapter 13 of the third gospel, and I want to read just five verses with you. We were thinking last evening of three things that the Lord Jesus Christ repeated: 'Ye must be born again, ye must be born again, ye must be born again. Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God'. Three times the Lord Jesus Christ said those words, but the words that we're going to look at this evening He said twice within this same passage of Scripture.
Verse 1: "There were present at that season some that told him", the Lord Jesus, "of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish".
Let's ask the Lord's help in a word of prayer as we come to His word. Our Father in heaven, we have read Thy truth and we know that Thy word is truth, that it is the sword of the Spirit, that it cuts the very bone and marrow in two, that it has the power to convict of sin. But, our Father, we know that the word without the Spirit is dead. We pray, dear God, that the Holy Spirit, Thy Holy Spirit - that power of Pentecost, as it came upon them in that upper room, that this evening it would come upon this gathering, but Lord that it would come in salvation. That He who convinces the world of sin, righteousness, and of judgement to come - that He may come this evening and save souls. Lord, fill me I pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.
The text I want to bring to you this evening is found in verse 3 and verse 5 of chapter 13. Jesus said, twice He said it: 'I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish'. We learnt that when Jesus says something it's very important to listen, didn't we? We learnt that when He says something two times - twice, He repeats Himself - remember that this is God in flesh, the Son of God, and He is bringing Himself to us this evening by His Spirit, and He is repeating something to you. He wants you to prick your ears up, He wants your consciousness to become attentive to what He is saying. He is saying: 'This is of utmost importance to you, that you listen - My child - to what I am saying: except you repent, all of you will perish'!
I know it's not a very popular subject - but don't I know! For every preacher of the gospel in this land knows that people don't like hearing about repentance, but it's one of the most important subjects in the gospel. You could take a poll, look at the statistics, within our land of all the pulpits where a message is preached from, and ask the question: Do you hear about repentance? The answer is 'No'. Why? Because, sad to say, men are afraid to preach it because people don't like it! Sure, you know and I know that if we're half human beings, and we're half nice, you don't like to bring bad news to a person, do you? But you see the gospel, although it is good news, the beginning of it for the sinner is awful news! You see, preachers want to bring a message of happiness, they want to bring a message of a new life, they want to bring a message of salvation, but the word of God teaches that until you realise that you're born in sin, until you realise that you're bound for hell, that you've no hope, that God's wrath abides upon your head and upon your soul - and except you repent, you'll all perish!
Oh, it's hard to be told you're wrong, isn't it? Oh, sure, you can criticise - and it happens in life, doesn't it? You hear your neighbours and they're talking about this one, and that one, and the other one - and sadly it happens in churches that they're backstabbing one another everywhere! But what happens when someone comes to you and points the finger at you, you don't like it sure you don't? We're all the same, it's human nature. You don't like being told you're wrong about anything. Oh, it's easy to load the gun at other people, isn't it, and shoot at them?
I remember hearing about a young preacher, and he came into a meeting just like this. He was walking up the aisle through the back doors - it wasn't this church, now - he was walking up the aisle and one man stopped him and said: 'Now son, when you're preaching whatever you do when you get into that pulpit don't mention discos'. He says: 'Why ever not?'. He says: 'Well, it's a bit sensitive because there's a deacon in this church and his son is running to the discos all the time, and he doesn't like anybody to condemn him or mention it'. He thought: 'Well, I suppose I could steer clear of that'. He walked a little bit more up the aisle and then another deacon stopped him, and said: 'Now, you see when you're preaching? Whatever you do don't mention drink, not drink! Because there are some people in this fellowship and they have shares in the breweries. You know, if you mentioned it or condemned them, or frightened them off, maybe we wouldn't get the revenue in the collection plate week by week. Don't mention wine, because there's some of the congregation - and they're not alcoholics or anything, but they like a wee glass of wine many once a week with their family meal. Just a wee social one. Don't mention Sunday observance, because the Grand Prix is on on a Sunday afternoon. Don't mention that, because they like to watch the match. It's harmless, it means nothing, whatever you do don't mention those things'. The young man, by the time he got to the pulpit, he turned round and he said: 'In heaven's name, what do you want me to preach?'. There was a wee voice came up from the back, and he said: 'Give it to the Jews, for there's none of them'.
Isn't that what we're like? Oh, give it to them, as long as it doesn't come near me! Hit out against that one and the other one, preach against that sin or this sin, but whatever you do don't preach against my sin! You're like David, remember the king, and he committed adultery with Bathsheba - a married woman. Then what happened? He knew of his sin, he realised he was going to have to do something about it, and he made sure that woman's husband was murdered - put him on the front line of the battle, made sure he was wiped out. Then, like you, the one sin grew into another sin and it multiplied, and over and over again and again he found himself in this morass of iniquity and transgression in the face of God. Then one day his door knocked, and the prophet Nathan came to him. He says: 'I've a story to tell you King, and you're not going to like it. It's about a wee man and he has no kids, not married. He has a wee lamb, a wee pet lamb, and he nurses it. It sleeps in the same bed as him, it eats from the same cup as him, it's like his own child. But there's another man, he lives a wee bit up the road, and he's got plenty of flocks and plenty of sheep. He has a great farm and barns, he's wealthy, he's got everything going for him. One day there was a visitor coming to this rich man, and do you know what he did King? He went down to the wee poor man, and he took the wee poor man's lamb and he roasted it! He prepared and he served it for the traveller for his meal'. David says: 'Tell me who he is, and I'll sort him out. I'm not going to have that in my kingdom'. You know the story, Nathan - I can see him now - turned round to the King, and he could have lost his head for it, and he pointed the finger and he said: 'You are that man'.
Oh, it's different when it comes near home, isn't it? It's different. Oh, make me a preacher, Lord, like John the Baptist. Make us all Christians like John the Baptist - not a fear of man in any of the bones of his body. He lost his head, you remember. Do you remember why he lost his head? Because he stood in front of the king, King Herod, and he loaded his gospel gun with the seventh commandment: 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' - this old king had gone off with his brother's wife. He pointed it at the dirty old rascal and he fired it, and he lost his life for it. My friend, there's a cost in preaching repentance - and can I say this from the depth of my soul, and I mean this before God: if it costs your praise upon this preacher, well, that's a big price to pay but I'm going to pay it. For unless you realise that you need to repent of your sin, Jesus Christ said: 'Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish'.
You know, Paul preached the gospel of repentance - not just Jesus, but Paul preached it. There's a story told about a minister, and he used to go to what's called a minister's fraternal - and there's nothing wrong with that. All the ministers of the district met round and talked over a cup of tea. They used to exchange notes and ideas about their pet doctrines, and they were all sitting round one day and the meeting was over. He went home, and he went to his bed. As he was lying there in his sleep he had a dream, and he saw into the next week of when they were in the ministers fraternal. They were all dressed in their long robes and garbs, and with their fancy books - they were all sitting round, and all of a sudden Paul, Paul the apostle, burst in the door! His hair was dishevelled, his face was scarred and he was limping. He had a bruised arm and a black eye. He looked around the circle and he said: 'Where, men, in God's name have you been preaching?'.
You see, when you preach repentance you suffer for it. That's maybe why you'll hear a message here this evening that you haven't heard before. Maybe you haven't heard it in 50 years, well you're going to hear it tonight - because it's the message that Jesus Christ the Son of God preached! As soon as His mouth was opened in His ministry on earth He said: 'Except ye repent, all of you will likewise perish'.
Why do people not repent today? Why is it not preached? Why is there a fear of man? Do you know why? Because repentance is admitting that you're wrong. If you look at this passage you'll see in verses 1 to 5 that the Jews came to the Lord Jesus Christ and they cited two things that were happening around the environment of where Jesus was living at this time. They were all talking about it, it was in the newspapers, they were gossiping about it: 'Did you hear what happened the Galileans? They were sacrificing in the temple, and Pilate sent his troops in and he slew those people worshipping God, and they mingled the blood with the sacrifice! What an abomination unto God! Blasphemous! Did you hear what they did?'. Do you know what was behind the Jews thinking? Their theology, whether written down or only in their mind, was this: that if something terrible happens to you, oh, you must be sinful.
So they deduced - they put two and two together and made five - they deduced: 'These people must be awful sinners for something to happen like that'. Then they said: 'What about those of whom the tower of Siloam fell? They must have been doing something in secret that only God knew about'. It's all told in the story about the blind man - do you remember that blind person? The Jews came up to the Lord Jesus Christ and said: 'What did his parents do that he's been born blind?'. There are so many in the world like that, aren't there? 'If you're in trouble it's because of sin'.
But do you see the thing that the Lord was trying to get across to them? Listen: 'You're running around our district and you're talking about this awful thing that has happened with the Galileans and the tower of Siloam. You're looking at the awful calamity and you're saying: 'They must be awful sinners', but I say unto you except ye all repent, you'll all likewise perish. Don't you think for one moment that they're worse off than you are, that because this accident has happened to them that they're a bigger sinner than you are'. Jesus Christ was drawing, like a curtain, all of humanity together and saying there's no difference - whether it be a King, whether it be a pauper - no matter who is born into this world: except they repent, they'll all perish!
Did you know that? You must repent. I want to tell you that repentance isn't knowing you're wrong - sure there are plenty of people that know they're wrong. This is something that must happen by the Holy Spirit of God, He must come into your life, He must show you that you need Christ, that you need to turn from your sin. There are plenty of people that know they're wrong, and they're carrying on in their wrongness and their sinfulness - but they won't ever stop it or repent. There are some people, you know, and they can't lay their head on the pillow at night because they know they're wrong. They've wronged their wife or their children, they've known the many things that they've done in their past and it destroys them, it tortures them - but they've no intention of repenting. One day they will walk into the mouth of hell knowing that they were wrong, but never repenting!
It's more than being sorry. Oh, you can know you're wrong, but it's more than being sorry that you've done wrong as well. Paul says: 'Godly sorrow worketh repentance'. You can be sorry about something, but it might never turn into godly sorrow that makes you repent, that makes you turn away from your sin for good - leave it, trust Christ and His cross and be saved. Sure a prisoner, you go down to a prison and you talk to one, sure they're all sorry, aren't they? But what are they sorry for? They're sorry that they got caught! They're very remorseful, but because the long arm of the law has caught them red-handed, that's what they're sorry about.
You go into intensive care to a man who has been rushed in all of a sudden in an emergency, and his liver is shrivelled up because of his drinking - alcoholism. You look at him lying there in pain, poisoned, and he's crying out, he says: 'I wish I hadn't done this'. But what is he sorry about? He's sorry about the consequences - but if he got better tomorrow, where would you find him? In the public house. What about the young person that's sleeping around? They get a venereal disease - are they sorry for the illicit sex? Are they? Or are they sorry for the illness it has brought? What about the wee fellow that gets his girlfriend pregnant? You've heard all about it, it's all over the television and papers - and he's sorry, what's he sorry for? Is he sorry that he's defiled this young girl's innocence? Not a bit of it! He's sorry that his plans are destroyed, and something is going to have to come out of his pocket, and he hasn't got a job - and that's why the whole world, and even their own family, tells them: 'Get an abortion! Get rid of it quick! It'll destroy your life!'.
My friend, knowing you're wrong is not repentance, being sorry about it is not repentance - and let me say this: even confessing your sin is not repentance! You've heard of deathbed conversions, and sometimes the world - people that aren't saved - are sceptical about it. You know, to tell you the truth, I'm sceptical about it - some of them. Because I think many a man or woman lying on their deathbed, who have probably lived a life under the sound of the Gospel and through a church, and has said: 'Well, I'll wait till I'm on my deathbed and then I'll cry to God for mercy'. Do you know what they're sorry for? Not their sin, now - they're sorry that they're dying. It's a fear of death! Don't you, whatever you do, wait till you die - because you might be lying on your deathbed, and you might have a pain in your chest, or cancer oozing across your whole body, and you think that you're crying unto God - but you can't differentiate from what is repentance and what is the fear of death! Don't make that confusion for yourself whatever you do.
It's amazing how men can be as pious as a pope when they're on the way out, isn't it? You might even confess your sin this evening, and some are too proud even to confess it - do you know how hard it is for a psychiatrist to get an alcoholic to admit that they are an alcoholic? Sure, that's what AA are always trying to do. They say that you've taken the first step when you say: 'I am David Legge and I'm an alcoholic'. Why? Why is it so hard to do? Because deep in the heart of men and women, and boys and girls, there's a thing called pride: 'Everybody in the world can be wrong, but I'm not wrong - not me!'.
Are you repentant of your sin, my friend? Have you repented? That means this: that you have left off from your sin - and you know what I'm talking about, the person beside you doesn't know what it is, sure they don't? But you know, and God knows - have you turned around from it? That's what repentance means: to turn away, to forsake it and say: 'I've left that, Lord, and I'm turning to You. I'm giving my life to You Lord, take me' - have you done that? For my friend, if you have not done that, you will perish - I don't care what your name is, I don't care what church you go to, I don't care if you take communion, you've been baptised - I don't care, because Jesus didn't care! He said: 'Except you repent, you'll all perish'!
What does it mean? What do you have to do? Well, here's the beauty of it - these blessed folk were singing about it this evening - listen, do you know what you have to do? Nothing, nothing! That's the second thing that hurts the pride of men and women - not just that they're a sinner, but that they can do nothing to get themselves out of it. You say: 'David, but you've just been telling us all to repent or we'll all perish!'. My friend, you can only repent this evening if you turn from your sin - who are you turning to? You could turn to yourself, you could turn to a church, you could go into a convent or into a monastery and turn to religion - but, you see, the only person that can help you, the only person that can save you is if you turn from your sin and turn to Christ! He's done it all you see. It's finished, that's what they were singing.
Jesus, you remember, was hanging on the cross - and men put Him there, and the word of God says your sin put Him there. As He hung there they were many beautiful things that dropped from His lips, and one of the things was this: He lifted His head high, He opened His mouth, and those lungs that had borne the weight of the sin of the world cried out, 'Tetelestai! It is finished!'. That means that everything that you need to be saved has been done, that Jesus Christ died for you at the cross, that He took your place, that He bore your sin, that He went through your punishment - all that you need to be saved has been done - but, my friend, you've got to realise that you need it, and you need the Holy Spirit to reveal that to you - and I believe that He's doing it for some of you now. The Holy Spirit is doing it because you're dead in your sin. Please, God, that the Holy Spirit would come to you and turn your eyes to Calvary to see there the bleeding Lamb of God, that you may behold the Lamb of God that taketh away your sin! My friend this evening, if you don't you'll perish.
Do you see that wee word 'perish'? Do you know what it means? Eternal death. Not just death - you know these boys that tell you that once you're dead you're done for: 'Your life is like a candle and it's great when it's burning away but don't worry about after that - it'll go out and that's the end of it. You die like a dog, and you'll be buried and rot in the grave - no afterlife, you don't go anywhere - a lot of nonsense!'. My friend, even some so-called Christian churches are preaching that - but the Greek word for 'perish', do you know what it means? 'Eternal death'. You'll go home tonight, maybe you're taping something on the television, are you? You'll go home, maybe it's a football match, and you'll switch it on, you'll put the tape in and you'll press play. You'll see a goal when it's scored, and maybe you missed a wee bit of it, or you didn't see the lead up - so you rewind it and you play it again. You think: 'That's terrific!', and you rewind it and you play it again, over and over again and again and again. That's what 'perish' means: you'll die over again and again and again, but you'll not be able to die finally. It will be an eternal hell over again and again and again - and you'll not be able to stop it. Half the world, if not all the world, are fearing dying - but they shouldn't be fearing dying, they should be fearing eternal death, perishing! They should be fearing not what will take the body, but what will take the body and the soul and throw it into hell - God!
Do you fear God? It's a hard thing to come by these days, fearing God. Do you fear meeting your Maker after you die? Are you prepared to meet your God? Are you prepared to look Him straight in the eye and say: 'Well, I did alright you know. I tried my best and I went to my church, and I gave into the collection and it's all written down with the amount beside it. I was baptised and catechised, and I was this, that and the other'? Can you do that? I couldn't! My friend, unless you repent of your sin, unless you turn to Christ an answer from the sky is sent: 'Ye who from God depart while it is called today: repent and harden not your heart'. Jesus said in Luke 23 that there is a day coming when men and women will call out for the mountains and the rocks to fall upon them. They'll cry out for mercy to God because they'll realise that Jesus has come again and it's too late now to repent, they can't do it - but there'll be so many people coming up aisles then, won't there? There'll be hundreds of people and they'll all fall on their knees and they'll cry to God: 'Lord, you said in your word whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Lord, save me, save me now' - but it's too late!
Maybe you'll be one of them. Oh, there are millions of penitents in hell tonight. If you could look into hell, and if God could open it up for us for five minutes - or for one split second - and look in: you would see men and women reciting prayers that they learnt at the foot of a Sunday School teacher! They'll be reciting the catechism of what it is to repent of sin! They'll be crying for mercy upon God, that He may pour the blood of Christ over them to wash them and loose them of their sin - but it's too late!
What are you going to do? Are you going to wait? Jesus says that on that day Nineveh - have you heard of Nineveh? You know Jonah and the whale, and Jonah was sent to preach to these people in Nineveh - and you know they'd never heard the Gospel in their life before, but the first time they heard the Gospel through the prophet of God they repented of their sin! There was a mighty move of God, and there were thousands getting saved the first time they heard! Oh, there's people in this building this evening and they've heard it all their life - and what a hell you'll go through, my friend, for rejecting Christ. Jesus says that those poor souls in Nineveh will rise up one day and say: 'You're a fool! You heard it about 20 times, 20 years perhaps, and you rejected Christ and look where you are now!'. Will you not repent and be saved?
There were two women on a boat, a bit like the Titanic. You remember, you've watched the film haven't you? What happened? The boat began to sink - what did they all start singing? 'Nearer my God to Thee' - I doubt it was repentance, it was probably the fear of death. The boat sinks - not the Titanic, now - and there's a lifeboat put out. These two women are floating in the sea, one is a poor woman and one is a rich woman. The rich woman is clothed in garments that are beautiful, heavy chains and rings, everything that you could want in this world and what the world strives after. The other woman has ordinary clothes on. The man on the lifeboat says: 'Now dear, that is weighing you down, and if you don't take it off you'll not be able to get into this boat. You'll not be able to get out of the water, and we won't get you out of the water'. But she wouldn't part with it - wouldn't part with it! Do you know what happened? The lady and the garments drowned, both of them - she was ashamed to be naked, she was ashamed to leave those things that she lived for. She was like some of you here this evening: you can't leave your sin, and you would hold out a hand, perhaps if you could, to Christ - one hand, and you'd hold onto your sin with the other hand. The other wee lady stripped off those garments that were weighing her down, and she was saved. Saved!
Let's bow our heads. Will you strip off those things that are weighing you down, my friend? Will you repent of your sin? For except you repent, you'll perish. You need to ask the Lord to save you, you need to admit your sin - not just be sorry for it, but you need to turn away from it and be willing to leave it for good. You need to see Jesus Christ shedding His blood there at Calvary, and you need to say: 'Lord, I trust You, that Your death finished it all for me there'. You need to ask Him to take your life, and to save you and make you His own. You can do it now where you sit, just lift your heart to Him.
If you have done that, the word of God says that we are to confess with our mouth - why not tell me on the way out the back door this evening? If you want to talk to me about your soul, there's something stopping you but you want to get saved, talk to me - I'll be here for as long as you want. If you're a backslider and you want to come back to the Lord, do something! Speak to us, but whatever you do: repent. I have books at the door as well, you can take one of them. If you even just want to sit where you are in your seat, draw no attention to yourself, do that and I or the Pastor will be in to speak to you. My friend, listen once more: except you repent, you'll perish.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Kilkeel Baptist Church, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "Except Ye Repent, Ye Shall All Likewise Perish" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word
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