REPENT OR PERISH
Jesus was very clear that there are only two responses when it comes to one’s spiritual life and direction in Luke 13:3 & 5, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” One must surely repent which means to turn away from the destructive path of death and destruction. However, to turn from the ways of death means we are also turning to God in true humility and brokenness after realizing that there is a great gulf that exists between us and God. We do this to seek the bridge of Jesus’ redemption that leads us from the ways of death and destruction to eternal life, knowing in our very being we will perish if we do not change course.
As Christians, we know according to Matthew 7:13 & 14 that the way to eternal life is narrow; but as I listen to some Christians talk about the matters of life, death, and eternity, I must admit that if I did not know the truth of the Bible, I would walk away in either complete delusion, or denial, or confusion about the issue of eternal destination. Although such matters are rarely discussed, even among the religious groups in order to avoid sounding too negative, there are very few who bring out the Bible’s many warnings about those who are unprepared to meet the holy God when they enter through the door of death.
Sadly, instead of standing distinct in this world, it seems that much of the visible church has succumbed to a gray environment where there are no absolutes, no real wrongs or rights, and any such distinctions will be considered wrong, prejudicial, and intolerable to this present age. Although Hebrew 9:27 is clear that it is appointed for man to die once, then judgment, it appears that the church must tiptoe around the matters of righteousness, judgment, and hell so as to keep everyone happy.
Because of the conditioning of our society, certain truths that prove to be liberating for a troubled soul, are now considered too unloving and negative, and must be avoided at all costs in order to show a type of tolerance lest the “cultural police” of our times, will crucify them with their venomous tongues. For example, one of the most liberating truths for me was when I discovered that I could not be perfect because I was a sinner. I could not change my status and it was that one revelation that caused me to seek God, for He alone was the only one who could change my pathetic state. Sadly, some in the church have let the godless opinions of the wicked push them into morbid corners of silence that keeps them from sharing the good news. Such an environment would have left me years ago struggling under the great weight of sin as I remained lost and hopeless in my sins.
The agenda of these evil people is obvious. If a matter is an abomination to God, they speak of tolerance that is akin to indifference, even though the land will ultimately vomit the inhabitants who practice them out with great disgust (Leviticus 18:25). If a person is a fornicator among the religious, they speak of God’s love so that lost individuals can comfortably stay in the church while merrily ignoring the judgments of hell that awaits them. If a person is pagan in practices, they fudge the lines of righteousness, while emphasizing grace so the rebellious and lawless can be content to remain in a poisonous mixture that will take their soul captive, while opening wide the way to perdition. For those who have sins that leave great destruction behind to souls and relationships, it is referred to as a bad habit, some disease, or the product of the past instead of the result of wretched attitudes, wrong decisions, and rebellious ways.
I am sure you are getting the message, but such presentations are contrary to Scripture. Take John the Baptist who instructed the religious people of his time to “flee the wrath to come” in Matthew 3:7. What about the message of Jesus in Luke 13:3 & 5? If you do not repent, you will perish in your sin with no recourse but to taste the bitter dregs of tormenting judgment. What about the warning of Hebrews 10:27 to those who know better about such matters, “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries,” along with Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” We also have Jude who wanted to share the Gospel but admitted in verse three that he had to contend for the faith that was first delivered to the saint. In Jude 20-25 he makes this statement, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
I could go on and on, but I am sure the reader will get the idea. I am not trying to scare anyone into heaven, because scare tactics do not produce a true conversion in a person’s soul. The purpose of any warning is to bring sobriety to a soul so that that the hearer can somberly consider a matter in a reasonable way. The truth is, a person scared out of their mind is not able to weigh matters to reasonably make a sound decision as to what needs to be done.
However, I can tell you from experience that unless sober truths are presented, people will see no need to flee God’s wrath and judgment. The reality of my sinful condition did not insult me; rather, it identified my problem, allowing me to see the solution so I could receive the precious gift of life. It did not hurt my psyche; rather, it caused deferred hope to rise out of the ashes of various broken dreams, failures, and despair to land on the runway of faith.
I was saved in 1976 and I have never regretted my choice to look up and trust the Lord to save me in just the manner He promised me. He has never let me down, forsaken me in my struggles, or left me to flounder in the darkness of adversity.
This brings me to the state of things. I can understand why the world goes the way of the world, but my question is how can those who call themselves Christians come under the influence of the world to such an extent that they end up being taken out by the different tides of its lies? The matters of the world put us at odds with God and reveals we do not possess the love of the Father (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17).
The Bible tells us there is a couple of states in which people perish. As I consider the seducing, indoctrination techniques of the world, I can see how they can even take a Christian captive. Granted, we can debate about eternal security, but such a debate is unprofitable and does not reveal a balanced Scriptural knowledge or spiritual maturity on the part of believers; rather, it exposes the sin of pride, spiritual immaturity, and concrete dogma.
The truth is we need to avoid pinnacles of pride, shallow stagnant waters of man-made doctrines, and allowing ourselves to think more highly of our spiritual life than we should (Romans 12:3). We need to do as Hebrews 10:25 exhorts us to do, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” I must state this Scripture is not in reference to simply going to church; rather, it is talking about true fellowship where people are exhorting—warning, comforting, encouraging, and upholding others in their walk with the Lord according to His Word.
I have already mentioned the first reason people will perish is because they will not believe God’s word and repent of their sins and seek His salvation. Granted, some are putting it off, but today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Some are thinking it is foolish because in their heart they are saying there is no God (Psalm 14:1). There are those who think the unseen realm does not exist and the truths of the Bible are obsolete and do not address our times. Whatever the reason behind their excuse to not believe and repent, it will become the point of great mocking, torment, and contempt in the end.
The second reason people perish is found in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepth the law, happy is he.” It is clear that people perish because they have no vision past this present world. Another word for “vision” is revelation. “Revelation” means something has to be unveiled to you before you can see it, and for Christians that means a spiritual truth has been unveiled by the Holy Spirit.
People operate within three realms. The first realm is that of self. All they can see is what affects their personal reality, desires, and dreams. To them, past self is nothing but darkness that represents the condition of their soul that is blinded by a spiritual darkness so thick that they can’t imagine any other world beyond what they can experience.
The second realm that man operates according to is personal perception. Personal perception comes down to a person’s reality. Such an individual can’t see beyond their particular reality that is perverted by shadows of fantasy, shades of wicked imaginations, and dark clouds of self-serving conclusions. To maintain their own reality, each one will do all they can to control the narrative of something, including truth. Some let that which challenges their reality to fall to the wayside, counting it as insignificant, others mock and shout over it to bury it under a deluge of nonsense, and some violently rage at it.
The third realm is the world. The world has its own glimmer and glory that deludes people into selling their souls to possess it, but it is a temporary façade. Behind the façade is a spiritual vacuum that seduces people into something that sucks the very life out of them.
The third reason people perish is found in Hosea 4:6. People are destroyed, or perish, because of lack of spiritual knowledge concerning God and His ways. They are ignorant of His Person, His work, and His Word. Wherever there is such ignorance, there are lies, superstition, vain imaginations, and fear. Lies pervert reality, superstition does away with true faith and discernment, vain imaginations establish and maintain the environment of idolatry, and fear harbors pride, delusion, and oppression, which proves to be the opposite of faith and is a form of worship.
It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul contended with those at Mars Hill about who they were worshipping. He made this statement in Acts 17:23, “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” It was clear they did not know the one true God and failed to realize, “Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” Paul went on to exhort them to “…seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” He concluded his exhortation with this warning in Acts 17:30-31, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
Regardless of the reason people are perishing, the warnings surrounding spiritual destruction will bring men back to what they need to do to be saved and that is to stop hiding behind the darkness of their soul which is rebellion, and excusing themselves of their ignorance which is nothing more than unbelief and REPENT or they indeed will PERISH.