Summary: However, it clear from Scripture and history that many have perished, are perishing, and will perish. Only those who fight a good fight and finish their course will be saved.
TO FAIL, TO FALL, OR TO FINISH
II Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
However, it clear from Scripture and history that many have perished, are perishing, and will perish.
Some will perish because they fail to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, totally rejecting his sinless sacrifice. Jesus himself said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3). Others will receive Christ initially, but in the end will fall and perish due to many factors. Some of those who perish will do so because of the cares of this life. Others fall away from Christ due to trials and tribulations. Some, after having received Christ, will go about to establish their own righteous and therefore will fall away and be lost. Only those who fight a good fight and finish their course will be saved.
All of mankind will be found in one of the three categories mentioned.
I. TO FAIL
A. To Hear the Gospel Message
1. It is clear that “neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
2. Many do not attend [pay heed] to it at all. They do not even “listen” respectfully to it. Multitudes go not near the place where the gospel is proclaimed; and many, when there, and when they “seem” to attend, have their minds and hearts on other things. Barnes’ Notes
a. Husbands go to church to please the wife or vice versa.
b. Children go to church to please parents.
c. Some go to church because it is good for business or political reasons.
3. Many do not “believe” it. They have doubts about the whole subject of religion, or about the particular doctrines of the gospel — and while they do not believe it, how can they be benefitted by it? Barnes’ Notes
B. To Respond to the Gospel Message
1. The Rich Young Ruler
Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. (v. 22) And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
Doubtless he was perfectly sincere; but something within whispered to him that his keeping of the commandments was too easy a way of getting to heaven. He felt
something beyond this to be necessary; after keeping all the commandments he was at a loss to know what that could be; and he came to Jesus just upon that point. JFB
The rich young ruler must renounce self as an end and give his own life to the service of men. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Men undergo great agony of mind while they are in suspense between the love of the world and the love of their souls. Clarke
2. Felix, Festus and King Agrippa
a. Felix the Governor
Acts 24:24 “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. (v. 25) And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
He was living in adultery with Drusilla, and for this Paul wished doubtless to bring him to repentance. Barnes’ Notes
In view of his past sins, and in the apprehension of the judgment to come. The Greek (emfobov) does not denote that his body was agitated or shaken, but only that he was alarmed or terrified. That such fear usually shakes the frame, we know; but it is not certain that the body of Felix was thus agitated. He was alarmed and terrified, and looked with deep apprehension to the coming judgment. This was a remarkable instance of the effect of truth on the mind of a man unaccustomed to such alarms, and unused to hear such truth. It shows the power of conscience when thus, under the preaching of a prisoner, the judge is thrown into violent alarm. Barnes’ Notes
Acts 26:24 “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.”
In Festus we have a specimen of the manner in which the great, and the rich, and the proud usually regard Christianity. They esteem it to be a subject in which they have no interest a question about “one dead Jesus,” whom Christians affirm to be alive. Whether he be alive or not; whether Christianity be true or false, they suppose is a question which does not pertain to them. Strange that it did not occur to Festus that if he was alive, his religion was true; and that it was possible that it might be from God. And strange that the people of this world regard the Christian religion as a subject in which they have no personal interest, but as one concerning which Christians only should inquire, and in which they alone should feel any concern. Barnes’ Notes