Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave. Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save.”
Those sentiments, from Fanny J. Crosby, express an urgency for reaching out to the lost that is mostly absent among us.
Who are the perishing?
(Luke 13:3) “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
(John 3:16) “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 10:28) “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
In each of these texts Jesus is quoted using the Greek word, appolumi. Almost every English translation of the scriptures, translates it as “perish.”
There are some places where the word perish translates the idea of a physical death (Mat. 8:25,32; 26:52). But the examples we have noted before have a different meaning. Repentance will not keep a person from dying physically. All of us will die (Heb. 9:27). Therefore, the perishing in these passages is about something other than physical death. Those perishing are lost in sin and if they die in this state, they will be separated from God for all of eternity.
We cannot “rescue” the perishing until and unless we believe they are perishing. We cannot “rescue the perishing” until we “care for the dying.” We cannot “snatch” them from sin and the grave unless we are willing to teach them about salvation. We cannot and will not “weep o’er the erring one” until our hearts are broken for those living a life of sin, because we know they will be lost from the love of God forever.
If we truly care about the lost, what force on earth would be able to stop us from “teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42)? Likewise, if we do not care about the lost, what force on earth would motivate us to?
- Tim Orbison