Driving down an interstate highway recently, I noticed the gasoline gauge was sending me a message. I understood the message. Find a gas station!
Soon I was driving up an exit ramp where a traffic signal made me stop long enough to see a man walking energetically up and down the street, holding high a Bible and a sign that read “Repent or Perish.” Both of those objects in his hand made a strong statement, even if most did not know his intentions.
In what we characterize as “John the Baptist boldness,” the street preacher obviously wanted to say something. He was passionate, and he had an audience with travelers at a busy intersection.
I don’t know how many drivers and passengers understood the man’s message, and I’m not sure his method is the best way to witness, but I will not condemn the man. I’m not God, and I’m not in charge of that man’s life.
But, I admit – he made me think about what it means to perish.
At a church event the night before, a good friend quoted a scripture verse that included the word ‘perish.’ It stuck in my mind. Now, the street preacher underscored the significance of ‘perish’ again.
In Matthew 18, Jesus said His mission is “to save that which was lost.” He followed that statement with the parable of the lost sheep.
Jesus explained that if a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, the shepherd will leave the 99 and go to the mountains to look for the one that is lost. The parable closes with this, “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14, NKJV).
Jesus said it – perish!
He said it several more times in Luke 13. In a discussion about “worse sinners,” twice Jesus said, “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish,” (vv. 3, 5). In other words, if you want to talk about who is the worst sinner and whose sin is worse than yours, know this: everyone must repent or perish.
I decided to look up the meaning of the word ‘perish’ in Strong’s Concordance. It means, “to destroy fully.” It means to die – and even worse, to die with no hope, to face a time of judgement. That’s a horrible prospect to face.
Think about it. Lostness dominates our state. In the cities and towns where we live, most of the busy people around us will perish.
They face eternity with no hope because they did not repent. Maybe no one has ever called on them to turn from sin and take a deliberate turn to God through His only Son, Jesus Christ. They will perish, and that should not be acceptable to a follower of Jesus.
In His mercy, patience and grace toward us, God said He is, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV). The message is plain. God does not want anyone to perish.
Even that often quoted, favorite scripture text says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).
Jesus did not simply talk about the problem of perishing, he personally gave Himself to provide the solution.
Perish or everlasting life – those are the conclusive options. There are no other choices. If we believe the Bible, there are no second or third religious systems that are pleasing to God.
North Carolina Baptists will gather in Greensboro Nov. 6-7 for our annual meeting. On the agenda will be a budget, strategies, breakouts, reports and elections – all to reach those who are perishing, to impact
We can’t lose sight of our purpose. We are the bearers of God’s gospel that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and rose from the grave in order to give us eternal life.
You and I may not be walking around with a sign that says, “Repent or Perish,” but everywhere we go that message must be lived out and communicated in everything we do.
Because of the love of God for every tongue, tribe, race and nation, I will not perish. But too many around me have not yet heard John 3:16.
That is not acceptable to God. He does not want one of them to perish.