Have You Been Converted?
HAVE YOU BEEN CONVERTED?
Have you been converted? The question has an old fashioned sound to it. Your immediate reaction is probably
to dismiss it as being irrelevant. Before you dismiss the question, you need to consider what Jesus says to us. If
we take His word seriously, no question could be more relevant. Let me ask the question another way, the way
Jesus would probably have asked it, “Have you repented?” Now it really sounds old-fashioned.
"Repent" is the word. On the lips of Jesus this word called for a radical conversion of the life. "Except ye repent,
ye shall all likewise perish" is a call for a decision about God to be made and a direction for the life to set. It is a
call for a decision about turning from sin and turning to God to live a life of obedience under His rule.
The “you” in the admonition is plural and to emphasize this Jesus added the word “all”. So whatever is meant in
these words is applicable to every person present in the service.
I. THE UNIVERSALITY OF SIN MAKES CONVERSION NECESSARY
A. The Historical Incident:
These words were spoken "at that season". It was just after Jesus had spoken to the crowd about the urgency
of getting right with God now that the people came with the observation about the Galileans being killed by
Pilate. Evidently Jesus interpreted their coming as an attempt to justify themselves, and to indicate that they did
not need to get right with God. They did not need conversion, they thought, since they were the sons of
Abraham and lived in Jerusalem.
We know nothing about the tragic death of the Galileans except what is found in the text. Such a slaughter
would not have been unusual for Pilate. The Galileans were an inflammable group so it may be that they were
involved in some kind of political insurrection. What we do know is that they were in the process of offering a
sacrifice in the temple when Pilate found them. His soldiers cut them down and caused their blood to become
mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus' response to the people who brought Him the information indicates that He thought they felt like the
Galileans had it coming to them. They were reflecting an idea that has been around for a long time that when
tragedy falls upon a person or a group, it is always related to their sin. The Judeans always suspected that the
Galileans were deserving of judgment But Jesus responded in a very direct way. "Suppose ye that these
Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay; but except ye
repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Jesus denies that the tragic death was evidence of greater transgressions
before God on the part of the Galileans.
Instead of accepting their interpretation of the event, Jesus reminds them of an event that had involved
Judeans. "Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners
above all men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Again
we do not know the details of this inci¬dent. Probably these eighteen were working on a defense project near
the pool of Siloam. Efforts were made to build defense installations around some of the key water projects of the
city. It was evidently an accident. The wall under construction fell on these men and crushed them to death.
Was this a sign that they had been guilty of some great transgression? Jesus denies it. In fact, a little
observation will reveal that such accidents happen to the good and the bad about equally. Rather, what Jesus
affirms is that "all", including the Judeans, will perish unless a radical turning from sin and turning to God takes
place. The great underlying assumption of our Lord in this passage is that all of us are sinners against God and
are thereby deserving of the judgment of God. He is indicating that there are no exceptions. All will perish
unless they repent.
B. The Present Application:
Let us be honest about it, modern man has a hard time accepting this view of man, especially this view of
himself. He has come up with other explanations for his moral shortcomings. He does not want to think of himself
as deserving the judgment of God. He does not want to think of himself as a sinner. How important is the word of
the Son of God to you? He asserts that "all" are in need of conversion because "all" are sinners. Would you
admit that He might know more about human nature and human need than you? Conversion is needed now!
II. THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD MAKES CONVERSION URGENT
A. The certainty of the judgment makes it urgent.
"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish". "Repent" is an imperative. It is an impera¬tive urged upon us by
the certainty of perishing without it. "Likewise" does not mean that we will perish in the same way as the
Galileans or the Judeans on whom the wall fell, rather it means "also". It is an indication of the certainty of it. It is
as sure as life itself that we will perish under the judgment of God if repentance does not take place.
The great truth underlying this word from Jesus is that everything that is not rightly related to God will perish.
The only thing that will abide the fire of the judgment is that which has been brought under the saving protection
Have You Been Converted?
B. The justice of the judgment makes it urgent.
Jesus emphasizes the justice of the judgment with the parable of the fig tree. The details of the parable are
familiar. The owner of the vineyard has come to inspect his fig trees again. There is one tree that he has been
watching carefully for some time. For three years he has been expecting fruit from the tree, but there has been
none. The owner had every reason to expect fruit from the tree, but all he received was disappointment. At last
he calls for the keeper of the vineyard to cut the tree down. If they remove the tree from the vineyard something
that will bear fruit can be planted in its place. Otherwise, it is just using up the resources of the vineyard without
giving anything in return.
This little parable disturbs me. Anytime I begin to think about God's claims on my life, I begin to become
uncomfortable. Surely He would be just in cutting me out.
But some of us may be like the old man that C. S. Lewis told about. The old farmer had come to death, and his
pastor had come for a visit. The pastor spoke to him of the necessity of repentance. The farmer replied, "What
harm have I ever done Him?" We think that the worst we have done to God is to leave Him alone why can't He
return the compliment? Why not live and let live? But we are forgetting who He is and the claims that He has
upon us. He is the Creator and we are the creature. He is the Owner and we are the fig tree. He has the right to
demand that any fruitless tree be out down. He is God! All of this makes conversion extremely urgent. There is a
judgment of God to be averted!
III. THE GOODNESS OF GOD MAKES CONVERSION POSSIBLE
The little parable does more than warn of the impending judgment of God. It calls our attention to the goodness
of God that makes repentance possible.
A. We see the goodness of God in His provisions.
The tree in question was a fortunate tree. It was not left to tend to itself out in the wild. It was planted in a
vineyard where it received the best of care. Its needs were provided day by day. It was ever under the careful
eye of the keeper of the vineyard. Some have seen this as a picture of the care that God had bestowed upon
the people of Israel, and so it is, but it is also a picture of the goodness of God toward all of us. God has been
good to us.
Paul speaks to this in his reasoning with the Jewish people of his day. He writes, "Or despisest thou the riches of
his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering: not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to
repen¬tance?" (Romans 2:4) Everything God had done for Israel was designed to bring forth fruit. The fruit that
He desired was repentance, genuine conver¬sion of life to Him. So it is with us.
B. We see the goodness of God in His patience.
This is really the thrust of the parable. The owner has been patient for three years. He could have justly
condemned the tree after the first fruitless year, but he waited and watched. O the patience of God! The
intercession of the keeper of the vineyard is probably meant to remind us of the intercession of the Lord Jesus
on our behalf. The only reason that we have not already perished is that God is patient and longsuffering.
Do you get the message? It is the goodness of God that makes it possible for you to have the opportunity to
repent. You must not presume upon this goodness. There will be a day when it will run out.
Have you been converted? This is the question that is in my heart this morning. Unless there has been a radical
conversion in which you turned from sin and turned to God, you are on a collision course with the judgment of
God. Surely you mean to repent some time. An aged rabbi would tell the people that they needed to repent on
the day before they died. They would reply to him, "But we do not know the day of our death." He would wisely
answer. "Then you had better do it now." This is the word that Jesus is giving to us. You need to be converted
to God now!