Some will enter into eternal perdition. We should lament this as Jesus lamented over Jerusalem. We should preach repentance as God preached it to Israel. We should pray for all people and offer Christ the saviour for all men to all and sundry. And we should desire above all that everyone be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
We die once and then enter into judgment (Heb 9:27). In that judgment, Christ will distinguish between sheep and goats, between those who walk the narrow path and those who the wide path, and between the faithful and the faithless. According to Jesus, the first will enter “eternal life,” while the second “will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt 25:46).
When the Lord judges, he will justly judge those who enter eternal punishment. Yet we should still grieve for every soul that falls into eternal perdition. We should desire the repentance of everyone. And we should take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Every Christian should desire that all people repent and come to a knowledge of the truth. And we should do so because God desires the same.
God desires the salvation of all.
Peter explains, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). In context, Peter explains why God has not sent another flood-like judgment upon the world. The answer is that God’s patience extends over centuries (2 Pet 3:8).
God desires that everyone would receive salvation. Yet since Peter applies these words to his audience, it seems likely that “everyone” here means the “you” that God “is patient with.” Put simply, “everyone” refers to everyone in Peter’s audience.
Despite this, the reality that some in Peter’s audience may not “come to repentance” and therefore fall away to judgment means that God still desires people to become repentant people. So God patiently waits for people to change.
Nevertheless, the day of judgment will come like a thief in the night (2 Pet 3:10). Peter’s audience ought to do remain faithful, therefore, while God’s patience extends to them. “Bear in mind,” writes Peter, “that our Lord’s patience means salvation” (2 Pet 3:15).
Peter closes his argument by exhorting his audience to remain on guard: “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Pet 3:17–18).
Two things become clear. First, God patiently desires people to come to repentance. Second, his patience will eventually turn to judgment, and so we ought to do all we can to avoid falling into error and lawlessness and thus falling, “from [our] secure position.”