"What about how the Bible says that those who do not believe will perish?"
Whenever you see Jesus use a word such as “perish” or “destroy,” the original word is “apollumi.” The Greek word “apollumi” means to “to lose, or to be lost.” It is the same word Jesus used when He said
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 15:24).
"Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep”" (Luke 15:4-7).
This word, “apollumi,” is used to describe a sheep which was lost and then was found and restored. And Christ uses this same exact word in the following verse:
"Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28-29). (The word translated as "Hell" in this verse is actually Gehenna, the city dump outside of Jerusalem)
The original word for “destroy” there is “apollumi” which means “to lose or be lost.” This verse is not speaking of an eternal annihilation of a soul, but of a temporary losing of the soul, just like the “lost” sheep that was later found. It is the same with all the times you see Jesus speaking of someone “perishing.” Such as in John 3:16:
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.
A better translation would be “whoever believes in Him should not be lost.” We are all lost until God finds us. Those who die yet unbelieving will experience further “apollumi,” or being “lost” in the lake of fire, which is the second death. But God has promised to destroy all death once and for all and grant belief to all at the consummation of the ages.
If apollumi or apollumi meant destruction according to the traditional definition by those who believe in eternal torment or annihilation, then Jesus is lost forever:
"But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and DESTROY (apollumi) Jesus." Matt. 27:20
So then, will you hold to the "traditional" view which makes the word of God of no effect? Or will you have the courage to go against the traditional hell-fire or annihilation view which denigrates the precious victory Jesus bought through conquering death on the Cross for all mankind?
Those who are “lost” or “perished,” are like the lost sheep. The lost sheep was perished, but the shepherd sought it out and restored it. We are all like the lost sheep before God finds us. Even now we are. We are all “apollumi”, or “lost and perished” as the lost sheep was. We are separated and alienated from God. But the lost sheep did not stay that way. And neither does anyone else. The Good Shepherd does not stop looking until He has found the last one.
A careful read of the Parable of the Lost Sheep makes it very plain that for Jesus, ninety nine is NOT ENOUGH!
A full treatment of the teaching of Annihilation (Conditional Mortality) may be found at:
by Gary Amirault