Study 9 GOD’S LONGING FOR THE SALVATION OF SOULS
THE SECOND LETTER OF PETER
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Luke 15: 1-24
God’s attitude towards the human race is clearly defined in 2 Peter 3:9, upon which verse this study is based. What is God’s attitude towards men and women? The answer is that He loves them and longs for their salvation.
- (1) The words “not slow” refer to the Second coming (see verses 3-4). They tell us that God “is not slow in keeping his promise”. He may seem slow because of the way we measure time (verse 8).
- (2) “He is patient”. If judgment seems slow it is not because God has forgotten or is unwilling to fulfil His word, but because of His deep concern and love for men and women who are lost. He is exercising patience in order that those who are lost may have the opportunity of being saved.
- (3) Notice the words “anyone” and “everyone”. Within the context of the verse we see God’s attitude towards men and women, His intense longing for the salvation of souls. He does not want anyone to perish. He could have cut sinners off but He has not done so. This does not mean that no-one will perish; indeed, some will refuse salvation (John 5:40); some will ignore salvation (Hebrews 2:3); some will lose their souls (Mark 8:36), some will not obey the gospel (1 Peter 4:17). There will be those who are not saved, but God does not desire this – look up Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; Luke 19:41.
We shall turn to seven Bible verses to prove this:-
1. God’s longing for the salvation of souls is declared in Genesis 3:15.
This verse is the first emphatic statement of God’s promise to send a Redeemer. It was made by the Lord Himself in the Garden of Eden in the presence of Adam and Eve, who had sinned. Notice that immediately sin entered in through their disobedience and they became spiritually dead, God at once promised to send the Saviour. He could have banished Adam and Eve but instead He promised to send the Lord Jesus. In Genesis 3:21 we read that after having made this promise of a Redeemer, God Himself provided a covering for His disobedient children. This is a type of the “garment of salvation”, the righteousness which all who trust Him as Saviour wear. Here is our first proof that God longs for the salvation of souls.
2. God’s longing for the salvation of souls is clearly portrayed in Genesis 7:1.
Chapters 6 and 7 of Genesis record the account of God’s instructions to Noah to build an ark, a place of refuge, for those who would believe His word and be saved from judgment. We have a terrible statement in Genesis 6:5, but look at verses 6-7, which prove that God longs for man’s salvation. God must punish sin because He is just and righteous, but He loves the sinner. He allowed Noah to go on preaching for 120 years before His judgment fell (1 Peter 3:20). Why did He wait so long? Because He longed for the salvation of souls.
3. God’s longing for the salvation of souls is predicted in Isaiah 53:5.
Isaiah 53 is prophetic of the Saviour’s death. Written 700 years before Christ came, we have a revelation of the fact, the significance and the purpose of Christ’s death. In the New Testament we have a confirmation that these words refer to the promised Messiah (Acts 8:26-40); notice verses 32-35. Here is another proof of God’s longing for the salvation of souls, promising to send His Son to die, in order that He might be our Sin-bearer, Substitute and Saviour.
4. God’s longing for the salvation of souls is illustrated in Luke 15:20.
Luke chapter 15 contains 3 parables: the lost sheep who was stupidly lost, the lost silver which was carelessly lost, and the lost son who was wilfully lost, and in each case we notice the attitude of the owner to that which was lost. The shepherd sought the sheep until he found it; the woman sought the silver until she found it; and the father waited patiently, lovingly, longingly until his son returned and was found. We have a picture of the Triune God – the Father, pictured in the father whose son went into the far country; the Son, pictured in the shepherd who went in search of the lost sheep; and the Holy Spirit, pictured in the woman who searched for her lost piece of silver. But look again at the Prodigal Son (verse 20): surely this one verse illustrates the longing of the father for his boy to return into fellowship, a beautiful illustration of God’s longing for the salvation of souls. This is how God feels towards men and women who have wandered from Him. He longs for them to return.
5. God’s longing for the salvation of souls is emphatically stated in John 3:16.
This verse tells us that God loves everyone and that He has made provision in the gift of His Son for “whoever” to escape the punishment of hell and to receive the gift of everlasting life. God indeed longs for the salvation of souls.
6. God’s longing for the salvation of souls is demonstrated in John 19:18.
We choose this verse because it centres our attention upon the death by crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. See Him there dying in great agony. Remember, it is God’s Son who is dying. What further proof could we have of God’s love for all men than the fact that He sent His only Son to die for us, not to die an ordinary death, but he “became obedient to death – even death on a cross!_ (Philippians 2:8). Compare John 15:13.
7. God’s longing for souls is finally emphasised in Revelation 22:17.
Before John finished his writing he recorded the fact that God longed for the salvation of souls in this appealing invitation. God’s longing is for the salvation of your soul in particular – look up 1 Timothy 2:4.