Multitudes of men and women shall one day perish (taste eternal death and destruction) in the pit of hell (Rev. 20:11-15). The reason they shall be there, is plain and simply, because their iniquities (sins, transgressions, wickedness) have separated them from God and He has hid His face from them (Isa. 59:2). But the scriptures tell us that there is a remedy for this sin; that there is a Way of restoration to God's favor. In light of this fact we want to ask this question, 'Why do men perish?'
It is not because God delights in destroying them. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (Ezek. 33:11) Nor is it that He has shown no love for them. "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"(Jn. 3:16). Neither is it that He has designed their condemnation by the death of His Son. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved"(Jn. 3:17). They do not perish because He has provided no sacrifice of sufficient worth to pay their sin debt. Because in the infinite value of the death of Jesus Christ, we see Him as the "propitiation (atonement; reconciliation, place of mercy) for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2). Neither do they perish because there is no one able to save them, for Jesus Christ is the "Savior of the world" (1 Jn. 4:14); "Who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6), that He might be "the Savior of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10). Nor do they perish because He has hid the proclamation of the gospel from them. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Tit. 2:11). Why do men perish? It is not because God will not save them for He "will have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4). Nor is it that He has not tenderly called them to Himself even as He wept over Jerusalem."O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not" (Mt. 23:37)! He has stretched forth His hands all day long to a disobedient people and even this moment calls to men to "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" (Isa. 45:22).
Man has from the very beginning been ready to put the blame for his condition on someone or something other than his own wickedness (see Gen. 3:11,12). The same is true even now as men slowly but surely slide into hell (see Deut. 32:35). They grasp at any excuse for their failure to walk in the pathway which the Lord God has set down, rather than owning their sin, confessing it before the Lord, repenting of it, and desiring no more to walk in it.
How heartbreaking it is to consider the multitudes of people who shall perish in the blazing inferno of hell, not because God was unwilling to save them, nor that no sacrifice of sufficient merit was made to wash away their sins, but simply because:
And now dear reader, to ask a more personal question: 'Will you perish'? and if so, 'Why?' Why will you die in your sin when you may live by coming to Christ? He has promised to receive all who come. Will you not repent of your sin and turn to Him? "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:7). He refuses to hear the prayers of none but the proud. He is always ready to show mercy to those whose hearts are broken for their sin and who fear Him and tremble before Him (Acts 10:35, Ps. 103:13, 147:11).
My brother, my sister, if you perish, you cannot lay the blame at the Lord's feet. He is easy to be entreated (Jas. 3:17) and does not turn a deaf ear to those who call on Him for mercy in Christ's name. Even now He says, "Come now, and let us reason together… though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red as crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good of the land" (Isa. 1:18,19). But just as surely as He promises these blessings on those who walk with Him, He promises destruction to the rebellious; "But if ye refuse and rebel ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa. 1:20).
I plead with you my friend; repent of your sins this moment calling on the name of the Lord. "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die"? No longer make excuses but own your sin before Him and turn from it. Know this one thing: if you are saved it is owing totally to the free grace and mercy of God, but if you perish it is owing totally to your stubborn refusal to come unto Him and live. Oh, come to the Savior without delay! May the grace of the Father enable you to do it is my prayer in Christ's name.
Hark! the voice of Jesus calling,
"Come, thou laden, come to Me;
I have rest and peace to offer;
Rest, poor laboring one, for thee;
Take it now, and happy be."
Yes, though high in heavenly glory,
Still the Savior calls to thee;
Faith can hear His gracious accents;
"Come, thou laden, come to me;
Take it now, and happy be."
Soon that voice will cease its calling,
Now it speaks, and speaks to thee;
Sinner, heed the gracious message,
To the blood for refuge flee;
Take it now, and happy be.
Life is found alone in Jesus,
Only there 'tis offered thee;
Offered without price or money,
'Tis the gift of God sent free;
Take it now, and happy be.
Albert Midlane (1828-1909)
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." John 7:37
The beginning of all true Christianity is to discover that we are guilty, empty, needy sinners. Till we know that we are lost, we are not in the way to be saved. The very first step toward heaven is to be thoroughly convinced that we deserve hell.
Those words, "Let him come unto Me," are few and very simple. But they settle a mighty question which all the wisdom of Greek and Roman philosophers could never settle: they show how man can have peace with God; they show that peace is to be had in Christ by trusting in Him as our mediator and substitute, ...in one word, be believing. To "come" to Christ is to believe on Him, and to "believe" on Him is to come. The remedy may seem a very simple one, too simple to be true. But there is no other remedy than this; and all the wisdom of the world can never find a flaw in it, or devise a better.
To use this grand prescription of Christ, is the secret of all saving Christianity. The saints of God in every age have been men and women who drank of this fountain by faith and were relieved. They felt their guilt and emptiness, and thirsted for deliverance. They heard of a full supply of pardon, mercy, and grace in Christ crucified for all penitent believers. They believed the good news and acted upon it. They cast aside all confidence in their own goodness and worthiness, and came to Christ by faith as sinners. So coming they found relief. So coming daily they lived. So, coming they died. Really to feel the sinfulness of sin and to thirst, and really to come to Christ and believe, are the two steps which lead to heaven. But they are mighty steps. Thousands are too proud and careless to take them. Few, alas, think; and still fewer believe!
J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)