A few Scriptures I’m meditating on:
31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
1 Corinthians 12:6
6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
1 Timothy 2:1-6
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–
2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men– the testimony given in its proper time.
1 Timothy 4:8-10
8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance
10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
13 while we wait for the blessed hope– the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
2 Peter 3:9b
9b … He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Who did Paul want to see saved? He says so in his purpose statement:
28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
And from the OT:
23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
A simple but profound truth: God wants to save every single person that has ever existed, and every single one that ever will.
God loves mankind, and wishes for “all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
If this is true, how should it affect our lives? Our churches? Our priorities?
While it is true that God wishes for all men to be saved, does that mean all men will BE saved? How could a loving God send anyone to hell?
your question at the end is a tough one. But God can send people to hell because he is just. He attains many attributes that are all constantly in action. They are not like hats he puts on and off. And those that do not know Him deserve hell, as harsh as that sounds, but it is just.
I wanted to add that when one really thinks about it, it is not God who sends an individual to hell, it is the individual who sends himself/herself to hell. God, however, is more of the hero who provided a way out…just like the man who sat on a roof during a flood waiting for God’s help while a few boats passed by, I have been convinced that God sending somebody to hell and God allowing somebody to go to hell are two different things. I guess what I’m saying is I believe God allows us to make the choice.
[…] I wanted people to grasp the deep level of love God has for all mankind, and His desire to use the church to reach all mankind (I posted several Scriptures that highlight this about God here). […]
James – you’re right, God is just 100% of the time. I don’t believe anyone who goes to hell will get there and feel that they don’t deserve it or that they were sent there unjustly.
Josh – I think you’re right too. I don’t personally believe that God would ever abandon any of His children, but His children certainly would (and do) abandon Him.
I believe Isaiah 53 teaches that Jesus Christ came to earth to give us a chance, but ultimately the choice IS up to us as you’ve said.