“If God loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him, why doesn’t He just save everyone now?” This question and others like it often keep people from seeking God further, as they assume that this question is the mountain that cannot be scaled. But the question itself is based upon some faulty assumptions. When those assumptions are corrected, the question of why God doesn’t save everyone no longer carries the weight it once did.
Any time we ask a question about God from our limited earthly perspective, we are working under a handicap. In essence, we are tiny dust specks looking up into the universe and demanding that it make sense to our finite minds. Often, when we ask, “Why doesn’t God just save everyone?” we start with the assumption that we are more compassionate than God is, and that puts us on the wrong track from the get-go. God is perfect, and His ways are far beyond human comprehension (Isaiah 55:8–9). When we accept that reality and align our thinking with His perspective, we position ourselves for greater understanding.
Knowledge begins in heaven with God (Proverbs 9:10). He is infinitely creative, and at some point, He created our universe (Genesis 1:1). He spoke everything into existence (Genesis 1) except man. When He created Adam, He got down in the dirt and formed his body from clay. Then He blew into the man’s nostrils, “and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). It was the image of God that separated mankind from all other living creatures. That “living soul” was immortal, meant to last forever. God had chosen to create a being so like Him that the man could reason, reflect, intuit, and choose his own paths. Without that right to choose, human beings would not bear God’s image (see Genesis 1:27). God respects what He has created to such an extent that He will not allow even His overwhelming love to violate our free will. Why doesn’t God just save everyone? Because He will not violate the free will He has given us.
One astounding facet of God’s human creation is that He made Himself emotionally vulnerable to us. He didn’t have to do that. The triune God has forever been the very definition of joy, love, and peace; He is complete in Himself with no needs or unmet desires. Untold millions of created beings worship and serve Him day and night (Daniel 7:10; Revelation 5:11; 7:11; Isaiah 6:1–3). Yet He gives human beings the high privilege of bringing Him pleasure or sorrow. We can reflect His glory in ways unique to our design (Proverbs 16:7; Psalm 147:11; 149:4). Or we can reject His love and His commands (Ezekiel 8:17; 33:11; 2 Kings 22:17). God’s act of creating us can be compared to a husband and wife who are perfectly happy and content in themselves, but they decide to have a child. That decision brings with it the potential for exceeding joy and exceeding sorrow. They have chosen to alter their lives by creating a vulnerability that they did not have to create. As they love and care for that child, they long for the child to love them back. But they won’t force the love, because forced love is not love at all. Why doesn’t God just save everyone? Because our love for Him must be voluntary.
God pours out His love and provision on this earth (Matthew 5:45), desiring that His human creations acknowledge His truth and love Him back. He makes Himself known in thousands of ways (Psalm 19:1; 97:6; Romans 1:19–20), working behind the scenes to bring us into a position to reach out to Him (Isaiah 46:10–11; Proverbs 16:33). He provides, protects, and blesses, giving mankind numerous opportunities to look up and find Him (Matthew 5:44; Jeremiah 29:13; Romans 2:4). But He won’t force salvation on the unwilling. Why doesn’t God just save everyone? Because gifts must be willingly received.
God has given His very best—His only begotten Son—to settle our sin debt (John 3:16–18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He does not take the rejection of that offer lightly. The Father who watched His own beloved Son be tortured to death for the benefit of an ungrateful mob refuses to degrade that sacrifice by deciding later that it was not truly necessary (see Acts 4:12; Isaiah 42:8). Why doesn’t God just save everyone? Because salvation can only come through faith in Christ. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).
We err when we, from our earth-bound perspective, magnify the love of God out of proportion to His justice, righteousness, and wrath toward sin (Romans 1:18; Isaiah 61:8). Sin is serious, and the debt against our Creator must be paid (Colossians 2:14). We can accept Jesus as our substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21), or we can pay for sin ourselves in eternity (Matthew 25:46; Jude 1:7). C. S. Lewis has famously stated, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. Those who knock, it is opened” (from The Great Divorce).