All Should Reach Repentance


The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 ESV

This verse falls within the context of Peter exhorting the brethren concerning the coming of the Day of the Lord. (verses 1-13) God is not sitting idle, wasting time while his people endure hardships. Rather, God is allowing enough time to pass so that all of His elect will repent and come to faith in Jesus.

That being said, I would like to focus on the second half of this verse and show how God’s will is multi-faceted in nature.

[God] is patient towards you…

Peter addressed his immediate audience (believers) and reminded them of God’s patience. Then, Peter broadens his subject and talks about humanity in general:

…not wishing that any should perish…

God does not want anyone to perish. This is interesting because people do indeed perish. God hardened the heart of Pharaoh and used Esau as an example of the reprobate. Satan and his demons will be cast into the lake of fire along with anyone whose name is not in the Book of Life. Unless we subscribe to the heresy known as universalism, we know that people perish and go to hell—even though God does not desire it.

The last part of the verse also speaks of what God wishes:

…that all should reach repentance.

God clearly desires everyone to be saved. He wants everyone to turn from their sins and come to faith in the Savior. Does this mean that God’s will is thwarted? Certainly not! When talking about the will of God where He desires certain things (even things we know will not come to pass), we are talking about what R. C. Sproul calls the “Will of Disposition.”

So while Scripture tells us that God is sovereign and He does as He wishes (Psalm 115:3), we also know that God reveals his disposition towards certain things. God desires repentance from everyone. God does not desire eternal damnation for anyone.

Finally, this one verse gives us incredible insight into how we can preach the Gospel. We can say with full assurance that the call to repentance is for everyone! We can call out to every man, woman, and child to leave the life of sin and rebellion and turn to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.

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