The first in my new “Questions I Hope No One Asks” Series

As an evangelical Christian, I seek to share Christ with others. Often, in doing so, people have a lot of questions. Many times these are “soft-ball” questions about which I am more confident in my response.  However, there are many questions concerning the Christian faith that that are much more difficult to answer and about which I am less confident in what I have to say. Most of the time it is not simply that I don’t have the answer, but that they are questions that I myself would love to present before the throne of God.

Questions I hope no one asks #1:

Why doesn’t God save everyone?

Insufficient Answers:

“Because he does not interfere with free will.”

This is the answer that would be given by some of my friends who don’t hold to the same particular theological persuasions that I have. I think it is the best of all the insufficient answers out there and does contain a certain element of truth. The idea is that God provides the means for salvation for everyone, but it is up to the individuals to choose God. As the old saying goes, “God casts a vote for you. Satan casts a vote against you. You hold the tie-breaking vote.” The emphasis is on the “you.” God has done his part, you are now the master of your faith and the captain of your soul.

However, this is problematic for me for some substantial reasons. Most importantly, I don’t think Scripture teaches this. I believe that we all have cast our vote against God. Hence, we have already exercised our “free will,” submitted our ballot, and checked the box next to “I stand with Adam; I hate God.” Satan has no vote for anyone. He only casts a ballot for himself. Therefore, we are in a very precarious situation. Humanity took a stand with Adam in Eden and exercised its freedom collectively and voted against God. In this sense, we are “in Adam.” Our choice was made “in and with” him (Rom. 5:12-21). If anyone is to be saved, our will and choice already made “in Adam” must be changed from the outside. In the end, God’s “vote” or election is all that matters. If we are to be saved, we must have our vote vetoed.

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy [or vetoes]” (Rom 9:16).

Yes, man’s choice does matter. But mankind was condemned long ago with Adam. Our wills are in bondage to our sin. We have no ability to turn to God or choose him (Rom. 3). If anyone is to be saved, God must sovereignly do the saving.

But, unfortunately, the question remains: Why doesn’t he save everyone?

“God does not love everyone.”

I also know many people who take this “out.” For them, God’s only saves those whom he loves. For them, there are many who are hated by God. Therefore, God does not save them because they are objects of his hatred.

Although I have a knee-jerk reaction to such emotionally rapping explanations, my emotional disposition toward anything has no vote in truth. I could not say, “This cannot be. I would not serve a God who is so vindictive, trivial, and evil.” If God is this way, then so be it. He is still God and I am not. However, this option does not find any valid biblical support. The Bible says that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). As well, Titus 3:4 says that his love is for all mankind. According to 2 Pet 3:9 he does not desire any to perish. While I believe that God has a particular type of “elective love” for those who are being saved, I don’t believe the others are hated in an unqualified sense. God loves all his creation.

But, again, this begs the question: Why doesn’t he save everyone?

“He is going to save everyone.”

This is my favorite answer. This is the answer I want to be true. Give me enough reason to find a loophole to get out of the doctrine of hell, and I will take it. Help me to find a way to get everyone a reservation in the kingdom of God, and I will bite. However, I have searched and searched for such a loophole and cannot find it. There is an ever terrifying truth that escalates in the Scriptures concerning the reality of ultimate destruction for so many of God’s creation. “Enter by the narrow gate,” Christ warns, ” for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Mat 7:13-14). And Christ even makes it more clear when someone asks him the question of the hour:

“And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He [Christ] said to them, ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out (Luk 13:23-28).

Though I would like to opt for some sort of universal salvation (universalism), I find no warrant other than wishful thinking. Therefore, I yield to a source greater and higher than my opinion and remain confused by the question, Why doesn’t God save everyone?

My Answer:

The best answer I have is “I don’t know.” God has not seen fit to tell us why all are not saved. We know these basic facts: 1) All people are part of a race that chose against God. 2) God did not have to save anyone and he would still be just. 3) God loves all people. 4) God has the power to save all people. 5) God is only saving certain people.

But we also know that God could have told us why he is not saving everyone, but he has chosen not to. There are many things that God has kept in the secret council of his will (Deut. 29:29). He is not saying, “This is for me to know and you to find out, nah, nah, na boo boo.” He is saying, “Listen. There are some things that are good questions, but I have seen fit to withhold the answer. I am good. Trust me when I say I love everyone. Trust me when I say I know what I am doing. Trust me that I know best. Can you trust me?” Many of us take the moral high-ground on God and say “No. You are condemned by my hand.” Others adjust what the Scriptures say to make things more palatable. In the end, I just encourage all of us to trust him. This is what faith is all about friend. He does know what he is doing, even when we don’t have the answers.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

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