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The Greek word for “perish” is “apollumi” (ap-ol’-loo-mee), and it means to destroy entirely, to die, or to lose.

Scripture speaks of perishing 156 times.  Sometimes, it concerns nations, lands, crops, money, etc. Examples include:

  • When all the people of Ninevah repented, God delivered the nation from judgment and destruction, i.e., perishing (Jonah 3:10).
  •  In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God instructed Israel to be humble, pray, and repent. Then, He would heal their land, thereby preserving their crops from perishing.
  • Repeatedly, the Bible says that money will perish (Prov 23:5, Prov 27:24, Eccl 5:14).
  • And Jesus warned against all earthly things (treasures) that are perishing when He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Mat 6:19)

The land, crops, money, earthly treasures, etc, are all tangible things of this world, and they will perish.  But what about our souls?  Souls are eternal, yet the Bible also speaks of their perishing.

The Perishing of Mankind

First, let it be understood that for those who are in Christ, their souls will never perish:

John 3:15-16  “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The gift of salvation and everlasting life means that our souls are protected from harm (2 Thess 3:3, 2 Tim 4:18). We have abundant life (John 10:10, Col 2:6-7, 9-10a), and we are victorious in Christ.

But those who have rejected God’s gift of saving grace are now perishing.  And Jesus warned that they will perish eternally if they die in their sins.

Luke 13:3, 5  …unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
John 8:24  “… if you do not believe that I am He [from above], you will die in your sins.”

A Living Soul? Or a Perishing Soul?

In the context of salvation, as already stated, for those who are in Christ, there is no perishing of the soul. Paul defined this clearly when he wrote to the church at Corinth.  He proclaimed that for Christians, the body will perish, but not the soul and the spirit.

2 Cor 4:16  Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

Those who trust in Jesus have been saved.  Their souls have been regenerated from death unto life.

Eph 2:1  And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
Col 2:13  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made [you] alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

In contrast, Paul also wrote about those who have rejected Jesus and are perishing.  While their souls will exist eternally, their souls will be forever “dead” because they did not believe God and trust in His plan of redemption unto life.

1 Cor 1:18  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…

So what will their perishing be like?

James Smith, a long-departed saint who is now part of the Great Cloud of Witnesses (18021862), spoke about those who have rejected the message of the cross:

To Perish is to be…

  • banished from God forever, and to be shut up with devils and damned spirits!
  • excluded from Heaven, and to be confined in Hell
  • driven from the rivers of pleasure which are at God’s right hand
  • doomed to the lake of fire to dwell in everlasting burnings and
  • thrust into blackness, darkness, and eternal woe!

If, therefore, you live impenitent, then you are condemned already. Your destiny is fixed, and fixed by yourself. Hell is your eternal abode! And in Hell, you will be forever deprived of the glorious presence of God. There you will be shut up in prison with all the enemies of God; shut up in a prison where there is …

  • no order, but horror
  • no voice, but of blasphemers cursing God, themselves, and each other
  • no sounds, but the dismal howlings of the tortured
  • no society, but devils and the damned! And these being tormented themselves, will eternally torment you!

In Hell, you must experience . . .

  • punishment, without pity
  • misery, without mercy
  • sorrow, without support
  • crying, without comfort
  • mischief, without measure, and
  • torment, without ease!

There the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched [Mark 9:44, 46, 48].

The wrath of God, like flames of liquid brimstone, will seize upon your soul and body; and in that flame, you will be forever burning but never consumed, ever dying but never dead, ever writhing in the pangs of the second death and never for one moment be free from those pangs, nor know an end of those pains.

Your torments will be always beginning! Your cutting reflections will be, “All this I procured by my sin! All this I chose in preference to Heaven!

To this dreadful place, I forced my way–though warned, invited, and entreated by the servants of God! I despised the solemn warnings, but now I feel the dread reality! I slighted the invitation to embrace the Savior, and now I am banished forever from His presence! My destruction is of myself! I chose the path, I pursued the road–and now I am lost! Lost! Lost forever!

Justice condemns me, holiness punishes me, mercy and grace pass me by without pity, all around curse me, all within condemns me. And I am obliged to confess that in this tremendous punishment, that God is fully just!”

Tell Someone About Jesus

Rom 10:13-14  For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. 

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  

Today can be the day of salvation for anyone who does not belong to Jesus!

Remember, you are not perishing.  You are being renewed every day! So, tell people how they can receive the same blessings in which you live.

Rom 10:15b  As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace [peace with God], Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 

Share the love and saving grace of Jesus with someone today!!!

1 Tim 2:3-5  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,



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***A Hidden Message in Psalm 23?***  

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A Room with a View of Eternity—The Last Will & Testament of Jesus Christ   Take a seat at the Master's table. Learn about the riches He gives to all who are His. This book will bless and encourage you, give you hope, and help you live in the joy of your salvation and the riches of Christ that are yours.

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There is much to be learned from those who have gone before us in the faith.  Check out our Cloud of Witnesses category that features the words of departed saints who are now with the Lord in glory.  Their words equip and encourage us even to this day.  Take a few minutes to hear...

  1. ONLY ONE LIFE, Twill Soon Be Past – by C.T. Studd (1860 – 1931)
  2. “The Love of God is Greater Far” by Frederick M. Lehman (1917)
  3. Prayers from Billy Graham
  4. Who Was Robert Robinson? What’s the Story Behind “Come Thou Fount”
  5. “Immanuel” — A Poem by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  6. Who Am I? A Poem by Deitrich Bonhoeffer (1905-1945)
  7. Understanding the Everlasting Arms of God, by J.R. Miller (1840–1912)
  8. 24 Reasons Why I Love America, by John Wayne (1907-1979)
  9. Give Me Perpetual Broken-heartedness (from The Valley of Vision)
  10. Abide with Me, by James Smith, 1859

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