I’m going to cheat and give you the answer to that question right now at the beginning of the sermon. The answer is YES YES YES!!!
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 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 people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people…“ – 1 Tim 2:1-6
Paul made this point about politicians because just like today, the Christian community was very judgmental of political leaders in society. Paul’s point was God wants EVERYONE to be saved and Jesus died as a ransom for ALL PEOPLE. We too need to have this mindset towards all of our neighbors!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:16-17
When warning about the impending judgement of mankind, Peter explained why the end times had not yet come.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” – 2 Cor 5:14-15
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2
“They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” – John 4:42
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” – 1 John 4:9-16
Scripture so often repeats that Jesus died for everyone, because God loves everyone, and anyone who believes will be saved… that some have come to mistakenly believe in a universal salvation!
‘That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” – 1 Tim 4:10
“ Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” – John 3:18
Now if God wants all people to be saved, why are not all people saved? We’re going to do our best, with the time we have, to answer that question today.
There are many responses I have heard over time, and one verse I often hear cited is John 6:44. Let’s take a look.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” – John 6:44
As a result of this verse, some have come to believe that what Jesus says in John 6 implies exclusivity with regards to salvation. ‘Since I am saved I know I was elected to be drawn, and since many are not saved they must not have been drawn, for who can resist God’s supernatural attraction?’ is the basic conclusion.
Yet only six chapters later Jesus prophetically makes a definitive statement of what will happen when He is raised up to be crucified. To me, His words put to rest the question arisen in John 6 of ‘who then is drawn by God, some or all?’
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” – John 12:32
Furthermore we consistently see a very inclusive and inviting offer of salvation coming from our Lord.
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:37-38
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
So to recap… Jesus declared He “will draw all people” to Himself. Paul proclaimed God “wants all people to be saved.” Peter insisted God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” John testified that the “Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”
All of these statements are very inclusive, transparently revealing God’s will for “all people” wouldn’t you agree?
So why are not all people saved?
The stoning of Stephen sheds a great deal of light on this question. Before his death he reminded the Sanhedrin of why, even though Jesus had come for the whole world, they would still be perishing.
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” – Acts 7:51
Why would these people not be saved? They resisted the Holy Spirit and the draw of Jesus to salvation. Not only they but the generations before them had done the same. They were a “stiff-necked” people who “always resist the Holy Spirit”.
When someone perishes, it is not ever because God does not love them, not ever because they were not drawn or not “special enough” to come to Jesus. Thankfully the Lord is an equal opportunity savior, and “whosoever believes” will be saved.
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” – Mark 16:16
If then someone is not saved, we know they willfully resisted God’s love and guidance.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” – Matthew 23:37
In resisting Jesus, a person willfully choses separation from fellowship with their Heavenly Father and denied salvation for their soul, which was equally offered to them and the whole world through the sacrifice of Jesus.
God is the only one who could sovereignly offer us the gift of salvation, we could not even have the opportunity to love Him and be saved if He alone had not elected to send Jesus and demonstrate His love to us.
“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
Yet He has also, from the very beginning, sovereignly elected to do something else for us that He did not have to… He gave us choice.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” – Deuteronomy 30:19
In closing, if we can agree with Peter, Paul, John, and Jesus that God wants all people to be saved… then we must ask; how do we best partner with God in seeing that happen?
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Cor 5:14-21