!! *Philadelphia Baptist Church*
!!! 9~/9~/2007 *Sun.
*Who’s to Blame When Towers Fall?*
*verse 3* *“…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”*
*Introduction:* This week, the news, ceremonies, and perhaps our own minds will remind us of the terrible tragedy of September 11, 2001.
When tragedies strike, who is responsible?
Some well-known TV Christian personalities pronounced September 11th as God’s judgment on America for their sins.
Some people blame governments, some people blame God, some people blame the victims for their sin.
So who is to blame?
Jesus was once asked a very similar question that will help us sort out this issue.
This passage is not intended for those whose lives have been broken because of their personal falling towers.
This is written to those of us who at a distance observe tragedy, observe falling towers, and wonder, “Why God? Who’s to blame?
The disciples and Jesus were discussing two events:
*A Story of Terrible Personal Suffering (v.
Pilate apparently discovered a plot by the Galilean Zealots, the violently nationalistic Jews, to attack the Roman army or authorities.
When these Galileans came to Jerusalem, to the temple to offer their sacrifices, Pilate instructed his soldiers to go into the temple to the altar and kill these Galileans.
Their own personal blood was mingled with the blood of the animals they brought for sacrifice.
*A Story of Inexplicable Personal Disaster (v.
The next story Jesus brings up as an example: It’s about a falling tower.
Nobody killed the people in the tower, but the tower simply fell.
It had to be a rather large tower by first-century standards, because 18 people were inside.
Without warning, without notice, the tower falls and they are killed in the rubble.
*Questions Raised by Jesus.*
*Were the Victims Worse Sinners (v.
The essence of Jesus’ question suggests that terrible personal suffering, or inexplicable national disaster, can always be traced to personal sin.
If you were a first-century Jew, and you heard about the Galileans you would say, “They deserved it.
God zapped them, they were terrible sinners.”
So Jesus raises the question: Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they died such a terrible death?
*Were the Victims Guiltier (v.
The people in the first century thought that God had this ledger or this scale and when you do something wrong, you become indebted to God, you are guilty before God, and you owe God something.
Somehow the people in the tower of Siloam had accumulated such a heavy debt to God, that God had had enough of them.
*Jesus’ Answer (v.
I love the answer of Jesus, *“I tell you, Nay:”* However, with Jesus, just about the time you take a “Whew, great answer,” He turns right around and says: *“but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”*
Jesus’ point was that being killed or not being killed is no measure of a person’s unrighteousness or righteousness.
Anyone can be killed.
Only God’s *grace* causes any to live.
This point is brought out in verses 3 and 5—unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Death is the common denominator for everyone.
Only repentance can bring life as people prepare to enter the kingdom.
*We Are All Sinners.*
Jesus is saying to the crowds, “You’re in the business of making judgment about who’s the worse sinner?
Who is more indebted to God? Who is guiltier before God?” Jesus said, “I’m here to tell you, ‘You’re a sinner as well.’
*We All Need to Repent.*
What is repentance?
It’s a change of heart and a change of mind that leads to a change of direction.
Paul said being sorry for your sin is not enough *(2 Cor.
It must be a godly sorrow that through the working of the Holy Spirit in your life brings about genuine repentance, a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of direction—turning to the Lord.
It is important for us to get a good definition of what real Biblical repentance is.
I like J.W. McGarvey’s definition of repentance where he defines repentance as a change of the mind or will caused by a sorrow for sin and leading to the reformation of life.
The actual Greek word that we translate as repent is the word μετανοέω, which literally means to have another mind.
Others have defined repentance as a one hundred and eighty degree turn or an about face, or a change of direction.
With repentance the idea is that you were headed in the wrong direction and you turn around and head in the right direction.
My favorite definition of repentance is that repentance is a change of the mind, a change of the heart, and a change of the will that leads to a change in action.
**We All Need to Repent While We Can (v.
We’re the fig tree in this story.
The gardener who allows more time for repentance is God, but He’s also the One who cuts the tree down when it doesn’t bear fruit.
A fig tree requires three years to bear figs, but since this one did not produce, the owner said, Cut it down.
His vineyard keeper asked him to give it one more year.
This parable illustrates the point made in verses 1-5 that judgment comes on those who do not repent.
Jeffrey Dahmer was a convicted murderer and cannibal who cooked and ate his victims.
You don’t really get much more heinous than that.
He was awarded 16 life sentences.
While in prison, Dahmer turned his life over to Jesus Christ.
\\ We may scoff at jailhouse conversions, but within months of Dahmer’s conversion, people noticed a Christian spirit in him.
His father noticed the difference, and his younger brother also had a conversion experience of his own.
\\ \\ Dahmer was killed in prison by a fellow inmate a few months after his conversion.
That may have been Dahmer’s last chance for repentance, and he took it.
But many of us think he shouldn’t have been given another chance.
He didn’t deserve it.
And that’s true.
He didn’t deserve another chance.
*/But neither do we!!!/*
God chose to work through David Berkowitz as well.
The Son of Sam killer who murdered six people in New York City in the late 1970s was involved in the occult and Satan worship.
\\ \\ Ten years into his prison sentence, Berkowitz met a man named Rick in the prison yard who told him about Jesus.
He explained that no matter what a person did, Christ was ready to forgive him if he would turn away from the wrong things he was doing and put his faith in Jesus.
Rick gave him a Gideon’s Pocket Testament and Berkowitz gave his life to Jesus later in his cell.
\\ \\ This was in 1987.
Since then, Berkowitz has refused to be considered for parole, works as a chaplain’s clerk, and assists in the Special Needs Unit of the prison where men with various emotional needs are housed.
He lives each day now to serve Christ.
THE LORD IS LONGSUFFERING, BUT IT DOESN’t LAST FOREVER... \\ \\
We see the longsuffering of the owner of the vineyard
He had given the fig tree three years to produce fruit \\ b.
He was persuaded to give it another year with special care \\ c.
But that last year was the final opportunity the tree would be given
We see the longsuffering of the Lord in His dealing with the nation of Israel